Jerry Lee Lewis, Sun Recordings, vol. 3

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Jerry Lee, naturally, always thought he was the Bigger Talent than Elvis: in his mind, he became the Killer and Elvis the King only because Presley was willing to compromise himself and Jerry wasn't. The desire for blood is nearly palpable during the six-song session (probably February or March, 1958) at which he cut four songs associated with Elvis, three of them RCA hits that Jerry Lee doubtless considered to be more the product of a producer than of Presley ("Jailhouse Rock," "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel").

Was vengeance really his? You'll have to listen and decide for yourself, but Jerry Lee's interpretations were charged and full of original approaches, and no '50s rock hound should be without them.

"Cool, Cool Ways" turns Hank Ballard's "Sexy Ways" into a new song. "Milkshake Mademoiselle" is an archetypal rocker that would've been a hit if Jerry Lee hadn't been blacklisted. Bolstered by two guitars, "Real Wild Child" is more teen virility/braggadocio ("Come on baby shake all night long/ Shake until the meat come off the bone") fueled by palpable lust. "Hello Hello Baby" is a tuff-enuff blues, and, oh yeah, the single-entendre blues "Big Legged Woman" is far and away the dirtiest song Jerry Lee Lewis recorded, and he milks it for every ounce of hubba-hubba he can manage. It's gonna crack you up.