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Jerry Lee Lewis Southern Swagger

Southern Swagger
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1-CD-Album with 28-page booklet, 32 tracks. Playing time approx. 73 mns. A unique collection of... more

Jerry Lee Lewis: Southern Swagger

1-CD-Album with 28-page booklet, 32 tracks. Playing time approx. 73 mns.

A unique collection of Jerry Lee Lewis' most confident/sexually aggressive performances. Because sexual energy fuelled Jerry Lee Lewis' best music, 'Southern Swagger' is a very powerful collection that stands with his 'Best Of' compilation. The collection covers his entire Sun period through his early 1970s recordings and includes rare alternate takes and mixes.

Southern Swagger Nobody had more of it than Jerry Lee Lewis. He was the menace every parent had in mind when the cry went out, 'Lock up your daughters!' A wild man on the loose. 'If the good Lord made anything better than a woman,' Jerry Lee famously observed, 'He kept it for himself.' Jerry Lee Lewis had no illusions about himself. Through a long and varied life, he has remained true to his inner demons. And we have those demons to thank for some of the rawest, most honest and inspired music in the history of rock 'n' roll.

The tracks on this album are drawn from Jerry Lee Lewis' earliest years on the Sun label in Memphis, with a few added examples from the next decade at Mercury Records. Jerry Lee Lewis was barely past his teenage years when he began recording the music we present here. Each track, in its own way, reflects something about Jerry Lee Lewis' view of the universe and his place in it. As philosophies go, this one is pretty simple: Raising hell and chasing women are what it's all about.

As this disc reveals, Jerry Lee Lewis' swagger was not something he developed as his career and reputation grew. It was there from the very earliest days. Even on his later country-based sides for Mercury,
Jerry Lee Lewis is still irrepressible. Whether he's playing the role of pathetic loser, beaten-down lover or dumb schmuck who's about to get left behind, Jerry Lee Lewis still manages to sound like he's come out on top. That, of course, is part of his enduring appeal.

Jerry Lee Lewis could hardly keep that confidence, that bravado, that Southern Swagger under control. Sometimes it reared its lustful, sneering head in his music. A phrase here, an aside there. Until now, samples of Jerry Lee Lewis' Southern Swagger have been scattered over his entire career, buried like little time bombs among hundreds of singles and albums. For the first time, we gather a lusty collection of such performances on a single CD - both the issued tracks as well as some originally unissued alternate takes. For good measure, we throw in some unguarded studio chatter. This CD offers the best look ever at what makes Jerry Lee Lewis the royalty of Southern Swagger. In a field dominated by super-size egos, Jerry Lee Lewis is still King.

Article properties: Jerry Lee Lewis: Southern Swagger

Lewis, Jerry Lee - Southern Swagger CD 1
01 Mean Woman Blues
02 Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee O Dee
03 Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On
04 Big Legged Woman
05 Lewis Boogie
06 chatter
07 Great Balls Of Fire (movie version)
08 Keep Your Hands Off Of It/Birthday Cake
09 Ubangi Stomp
10 End Of The Road
11 Dixie
12 Deep Elem Blues
13 It'll Be Me
14 Introduction & Cool, Cool Ways (Sexy Ways)
15 Honey Hush
16 All Night Long
17 You Can't Help It
18 Good Rockin' Tonight
19 Lovin' Up A Storm
20 Rockin' With Red
21 I've Been Twistin'
22 Down The Line
23 Sixty Minute Man
24 Ooby Dooby
25 Wild One (Real Wild Child)
26 Carrying On (Sexy Ways)
27 Baby, Hold Me Close
28 Break My Mind
29 Since I Met You Baby
30 Time Changes Everything
31 Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
32 Meat Man
Jerry Lee Lewis rocks. Well, of course he does. "I come out feet first and been jumpin'... more
"Jerry Lee Lewis"

Jerry Lee Lewis rocks.

Well, of course he does. "I come out feet first and been jumpin' ever since," he has told interviewers for many years. He has been rocking for as long as most of us can remember, and now his face is a personal geography that speaks of the toll that rock 'n' roll can exact.

Rock 'n' roll music and the rock 'n' roll lifestyle; Jerry Lee has done as much as anyone to define both. The miles, the wives, the hits, the pills. He has lived and sung without compromise. Surely no one has damned the torpedoes more often, and lived to tell. He saw his career rise meteorically, plummet meteorically, and rise again.

True talent cannot be denied. "Other people," says Jerry, "they practice and they practice. These fingers of mine, they got brains in 'em. You don't TELL them what to do - THEY do it." There are but four stylists in music, he'll tell you: Jimmie Rodgers, Al Jolson, Hank Williams, and himself. It was a foregone conclusion that Jerry Lee Lewis would be a charter inductee to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

 

Jerry Lee Lewis & Sam Phillips

Fifty years ago as of this writing, Jerry Lee Lewis and his father, Elmo, drove up from Ferriday, Louisiana to see Mister Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Jerry Lee was sure that Phillips would understand him. He'd been turned away in Nashville, yet Phillips would see his potential. They were destined to come together: Lewis the former divinity student tortured by an unfathomable religion, and Phillips the former mortician's assistant who had persuaded unlettered country folk to give up their dead. Jerry Lee's indomitable mother, Mamie, had stopped him from listening to records because she didn't want him to sound like anyone else. Every day, Jerry Lee would pound the old Starck upright, slowly discovering something that was truly his.

A little boogie woogie, a little gospel, a little Hank Williams, and a little beerjoint blues. The Lewises lived in Ferriday, Louisiana, and Jerry Lee was born there on September 29, 1935. Six months after his cousin, Jimmy Swaggart. He was twenty-one when he arrived in Memphis. Telling the people at Sun Records that he played piano like Chet Atkins. Sam Phillips encouraged him to write songs, but the only tangible result was the B-side of his first record, End Of The Road.

Phillips copyrighted it without realizing that it had been loosely adapted from Ballard McDonald and James Handley's 1922 song At The End Of The Road. The only other song from Jerry Lee's pen on this collection is the monumentally egotistical Lewis Boogie. For Jerry, about Jerry, and by Jerry.  

 

SUN Records

Very quickly, Sam Phillips saw that, unlike Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis would interpret rather than write. He would reveal himself to us through the words of others. Phillips also understood that he must let Lewis plunder the musical reliquary in his head before encouraging him to return to the one song out of ten or twenty that held promise.

That's how Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On came to be recorded. Jerry Lee had probably heard Roy Hall play it at an after-hours club in Nashville (Hall claimed to be the mysterious co-writer 'Sunny David' although that seems very unlikely).

In the opening four bars, Jerry Lee Lewis and Sam Phillips made the piano into a percussion instrument. In feeding the signal back upon itself at just the right increment of tape delay. Phillips fattened the sound to the point that the record throbs with its own hypnotic life by the time J. M. Van Eaton's drums come in.

 

Jerry Lee's first hit

Van Eaton is exactly where he needs to be: it's textbook stuff, and Van Eaton wrote the textbook. In the two or so years that Jerry Lee had been fooling with Shakin', he had refashioned it in his image. Stripping away the opening couplet and inserting a half-spoken segment before storming back to close with a triumphant glissando. Wondrous and imperishable. It became Jerry Lee's second record and first hit. The record was pegging out half-way up the charts when Jerry made his first networked television appearance on 'The Steve Allen Show'. It was a landmark date in the history of rock 'n' roll; Sunday July 28, 1957.

He hammered the piano, eyes fixed above with messianic intensity. He glared at the camera with wild-eyed fury. "Whose barn? MAH barn!" Shakin' resumed its upward movement, eventually peaking at #3. The entertainment business realized that Jerry Lee was an up-and-coming act and he was offered a cameo movie appearance. It's a testament to his genius that he took a slight song manufactured for an equally slight movie, 'Jamboree,'and transformed it into one of the era's classics.

That song, of course, was Great Balls Of Fire. Carl Perkins and the movie's other stars had already turned it down, but it became Jerry Lee's defining moment. His biggest pop hit. Some claim to hear a rhythm guitar, but it's essentially Jerry Lee Lewis and drummer J. M. Van Eaton. If there's a third instrument, it's Sam Phillips' reverberation, adding depth and presence.

Great Balls Of Fire

Two New York-based R&B songwriters, Otis Blackwell and Jack Hammer, had written Great Balls Of Fire and were offered a chance at the follow-up. Blackwell came up with Breathless while Hammer presented Milkshake Mademoiselle. Blackwell got the nod, and Milkshake Mademoiselle was left for wideeyed European researchers to find some fifteen years later. Blackwell's submission was yet another 'exclamation' song, and Sam Phillips engineered a promotional tie-in between television.

Host Dick Clark and Beechnut chewing gum in which kids could send in 50 cents and five Beechnut wrappers to receive a 'free' autographed copy of Breathless. Everyone at Sun's tiny operation, including lesser artists, were put to work autographing and mailing Jerry Lee's records. The television appearances jump-started the single, and it eventually rose to #7. Jerry Lee's last Top 20 hit was the title song for another quickie exploitation movie, 'High School Confidential'. Starring Mamie Van Doren (whose website has to be visited to be believed).

It was supposed to be an exposé of the high school drug problem. (yes there was a high school drug problem in 1958) The song was written by Ron Hargrave, a struggling MGM recording artist and protégé of Lou Costello (Hargrave can be seen in Abbott & Costello's last movie, 'Dance With Me Henry'). Try as he might, Hargrave couldn't quite work the title into the song, and had to surrender half of his writer's share to Jerry Lee. In the movie, Jerry performed the song on the back of a flatbed truck. It was released just as he left for a tour of England in May 1958.

Excerpt from BCD16396 - Jerry Lee Lewis Jerry Lee Lewis -

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Tracklist
Lewis, Jerry Lee - Southern Swagger CD 1
01 Mean Woman Blues
02 Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee O Dee
03 Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On
04 Big Legged Woman
05 Lewis Boogie
06 chatter
07 Great Balls Of Fire (movie version)
08 Keep Your Hands Off Of It/Birthday Cake
09 Ubangi Stomp
10 End Of The Road
11 Dixie
12 Deep Elem Blues
13 It'll Be Me
14 Introduction & Cool, Cool Ways (Sexy Ways)
15 Honey Hush
16 All Night Long
17 You Can't Help It
18 Good Rockin' Tonight
19 Lovin' Up A Storm
20 Rockin' With Red
21 I've Been Twistin'
22 Down The Line
23 Sixty Minute Man
24 Ooby Dooby
25 Wild One (Real Wild Child)
26 Carrying On (Sexy Ways)
27 Baby, Hold Me Close
28 Break My Mind
29 Since I Met You Baby
30 Time Changes Everything
31 Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
32 Meat Man