California makes wine, Wisconsin makes cheese and Vermont makes maple syrup. Louisiana, however, makes piano players. Thats not pianists, its piano players. The short list is most impressive: Jelly Roll Morton, Professor Longhair, Champion Jack Dupree, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint, James Booker, even Harry Connick, Jr. And though hes mostly associated with the musical mecca of Memphis, Jerry Lee Lewis is, first and foremost, the proud son of Ferriday, LA. If you dont believe me, hell make sure you know it one way or another.
Since his supernova-like ascent in 1956, Jerry Lee Lewis has seized life and music with an unbridled intensity and nearly wreckless abandon. Simple observation will tell you that this tactic has not always served him well. Be it the wild man image or a scandalous marriage (and subsequent public excommunication), the battles with drugs, alcohol, the IRS and more demons than purgatory may contain, The Killer continued to pound his piano and sing his songs. His bones probably look just like piano keys.
Some thirty years down the line, The Killer was still on the road playing concert halls, rock and roll revivals, and in the case of this document, the country circuit. His Nashville renaissance of the late 60s introduced him to a whole new generation and revitalized his core audience. The crowd may have been wearing Wrangler jeans and itching for a line dance, but ol Jerry Lee came to rock. Bare knuckled and fierce. His speed bag vocals and unfailing left hand are the one-two punch that make these performances stand out. Whether its tearing through his own stellar catalog or co-opting classics from his pal Chuck Berry, Jerry Lees signature is clear. This is the sound of a working band, warts and all, steered by a master. If you dont hold on tight, you just might find yourself knocked flat onto Gilleys enormous dance floor.
Jerry Lee may be crazy, but hes outlived virtually all his contemporaries. He can still outplay any of the pretenders to his throne. And in the decade-plus that has followed these recordings, Jerry Lee has put more miles behind him than most face in a lifetime. Dont ask how he does it. Mystery is better than the truth.
The Killer takes no prisoners. He makes no apologies. Cross him and hes likely to whup yo ass. Consider it an honor.