Artist: Jerry Lee Lewis
Album: Rock & Roll Time
Label: Vanguard Records
Release Date: 10/27/2014
In September, Jerry Lee Lewis will turn 80 years old. For most people, that’s a lifetime; for some, their lives have ended. For “the Killer,” it’s a new beginning. Who would have thought that Jerry Lee would still be breathing, let alone singing and pounding the piano keys as mercelessly as he does? To be recording on the Vanguard label, a label originally commissioned to record Bach cantatas, proves the power Jerry Lee Lewis still possesses.
Ironically, the opening title track of Rock & Roll Time is a country song that tells the story of a life steeped in rock’n’roll. His evil laugh at the end says as much about Lewis as the song itself. With help from Keith Richards and Ron wood, Jerry Lee next pounces on “Little Queenie,” recognizing his old friend and competitor, Chuck Berry. We always knew the man could rock but, at his age: his singing is as good as ever and his blues chops destroy the piano keys like he did nearly 60 years ago. If anyone wonders why he’s still “the Killer,” try relaxing while he blasts away on “Stepchild.” “Bright Lights, Big City” sparkles with backing vocals from Neil Young and some Ivan Neville guitar licks.
Throughout, Derek Trucks, Robbie Robertson, Nils Lofgren, Doyle Bramhall II, and others draw life from the old master while he shows them how it’s done. When Jerry Lee Lewis rocks, there’s no stopping him. When he plants his feet squarely on the piano keys, you can see the bench topple and his wild blond hair slap the air as if it were 1958.
– Gene Knapp