If we were to look for a bigger hellraiser in the annals of Rock & Roll than Jerry Lee Lewis the search would never end. And if we were to look for an exuberant instrumentalist in the decade of the ’50s, the search would start and end at the Killer’s fingers. Much like Keith Moon, his personality and temperament were what turned him into a matchless musician. This compilation gathers together the singles and noteworthy tracks he put under the Sun label at the beginning of his career. That was when he saw some serious chart action, too, so a case can definitely be made that if you were to have just a Jerry Lee album this is it.
The tracks on offer include “Great Balls Of Fire”, “Whola Lotta Shakin’ Going On”, “Wild One”, “Breathless” and the theme tune from the movie “High School Confidential”. Also featured is the song that was to be his final hit, a cover of Ray Charles “What I’d Say”. All these are good, enjoyable songs that provide us with a true blueprint for every rock and roller that was to make the piano his predominant instrument. Conversely, there are covers of “When The Saints Come Marchin’ In”, “Matchbox” and “Jambalaya” that are not very enticing on record. Whether they worked better live is besides the point – here, they don’t deliver.
Something which is missing from the album are a ballad or two. Jerry could play them well, and that is something which is obviated here.
For someone who is mad about Elton John, Billy Joel and Fats Domino such as I am, an album like this is priceless as it has all the hits that made Jerry Lee Lewis a timeless figure. Listeners that want to have an overview of the years rock & roll was shaping itself will also find it valuable. But I fear that the interest of casual listeners will greatly wander once the first five or six tracks (the true hits) have finished playing. Even I get a little bored, and I am not really that inclined to buy other albums of his after sitting through this one in its entirety. But the classic are timeless, and they make the CD a sound purchase.
Would I recommend purchase of this compilation: Yes
Do I feel like digging deeper into his catalog after listening to it: No