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In Rotation: Jerry Lee Lewis 'The Killer Live! 1964-1970'

October 13, 2012|By Randy Lewis
  • Jerry Lee Lewis 'The Killer Live! 1964-1970'
Jerry Lee Lewis 'The Killer Live! 1964-1970' (Hip-O-Select / Mercury…)

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In early 1964, Jerry Lee Lewis’ career couldn’t have been in worse shape. The Beatles had exploded on U.S. shores, igniting the British Invasion that rendered the seminal American rockers who preceded — and profoundly influenced — them virtually obsolete. In addition, Lewis was a pariah in many circles for having married his 13-year-old cousin Myra, leaving him off-limits to disc jockeys, TV show hosts, record company executives and many fans who had originally supported him a few years earlier when he was one of the prime architects of rock ’n’ roll.

Any lesser talent — or ego — might have been crushed by the weight of the forces working against him. But the man known as the Ferriday Fireball has never suffered any shortage of either quality, so despite the hurdles in front of him, he kept plowing ahead with live performances, where he was free to go wherever his muse would lead him.

These three CDs pull together four live albums, plus a full disc of outtakes from those sessions, recorded from 1964 to ’70, by which time he’d rejuvenated his career as a straight-ahead country singer of hits including “She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye,” “Another Place, Another Time” and “Once More With Feeling.”

Lewis was and remains one of the great musical stylists of the 20th century, and it’s a treat to hear — and feel — the fire from within as he tears through the vintage rockers, and the heartache he draws from country ballads such as Buck Owens’ “Together Again” and Vic McAlpin’s “How’s My Ex Treating You.” His elastic vocals and utterly spontaneous piano accompaniment on Charlie Rich’s “Who Will the Next Fool Be” is a sterling example of how to obliterate artificially drawn lines separating country, blues and pop.

In his introduction to “Lovin’ Up a Storm” on the outtakes disc, he tells the crowd, “I really don’t ¿know what it is, I just call it Jerry Lee Lewis music.” It’s a good description of this whole set and, for that matter, pretty much the Killer’s entire career.

Jerry Lee Lewis

“The Killer Live! 1964-1970”


Follow Randy Lewis on Twitter: @RandyLewis2 


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