There’s some sort of twisted justice in Jerry Lee Lewis’ having survived his own hard living to produce both personal and professional longevity. Rejected by Nashville, he built foundational rock ‘n’ roll pillars at Sun, faded at Smash, rebuilt himself as a country star in the late ‘60s, rode a wave of nostalgia in the ‘70s, faded from the country charts, and regained critical acclaim with late-70s and early-80s records for Elektra. It’s these latter recordings that are the subject of this fourteen track collection, highlighted by his eight charting singles (including the double A-side “Rockin’ My Life Away” b/w “I Wish I Was Eighteen Again”), and select album tracks.
His eighteen months on Elektra produced three studio albums and a greatest hits collection, and though the production has the clean sound of the era, nothing Lewis recorded ever really sounded clean. In addition to songs by Sonny Throckmorton, Charlie Rich, Bill Mize, Johnny Cash and Roger Miller, Lewis also picked songs from Arthur Alexander, Bob Dylan, and even tackled “Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye” and “Over the Rainbow.” It’s a mark of Lewis’ stylistic strength that even the most outside of these songs succumbed to his country and rock charms. Reissues of the original Elektra albums [1 2 3] provide a deeper helping, but this sampler is a great place to get an earful of highlights. [©2016 Hyperbolium]