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JERRY LEE LEWIS —THE KNOX PHILLIPS SESSIONS THE UNRELEASED RECORDINGS (Ace Records)

 

www.ace-records.com

 

Piano pumping rock’n’roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis has made a mountain high number of records, and as heard here a host more good stuff awaiting release. Some, at the time thought to be surplus or not the finished item as he swaggered (a little too much on occasions in the studio), but in truth some of his best work was when he was loose, performing ‘off-the-cuff’ and on occasions outrageous stuff as you will hear on these late 1970s recordings, thought to be mainly after he had left Mercury records. The material here is a little different because Jerry Lee was in Knox Phillips studio at his own request, restless and wanting to be there making music. 

 

Opening with a ‘killer’ version of Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown” Jerry Lee is in top form, full of add-libs as his ego trip is warmed in harmonica, fiddle, guitar and his own piano as he speaks of ol’ Leroy and him and fiddle player, guitarist, Knox’s cousin band leader Kenneth Lovelace being rougher than a razor-back hog. Moving on through the songs Lewis takes a few liberties as he reshapes some lyrics to his advantage. “Ragged But Right” becomes “Rugged But Right”. Another guy who used to sit with Lewis in the studio was songwriter, Mack Vickery who supplies “That Kind Of Fool” and some harmonica too at one of Knox’s late night, early morning sessions. Others to be given the JLL treatment include a rare rocking version of “Harbor Lights”, Fanny Crosby’s “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour”; an amazing talent, Crosby who was blind all but for a few of her 94 years wrote over 8,000 hymns, poems, libretti and patriotic songs. In more recent times recently deceased ambassador for country music, George Hamilton IV recorded an album of her work. Chuck Berry's “Johnny B. Goode”, Goerge Morgan hit “Room Full Of Roses” and even “Music! Music! Music! believe it or not.

 

Lewis’ has rarely sounded as creative and free rolling as he does here. His latter-day work with Mercury it has been said would have him turn up in bad shape, incapable of doing himself justice. But, this isn’t the case here. Just take a listen to his intriguing take of Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer”, one where Vickery does a monologue intro and Lewis (at times too gives an insight into arguably, America’s greatest writer) and on bringing a little of his earliest influences from Mississippi’s neighbouring state, Louisiana “Lovin’ Cajun Style” too stirs the pot. Is there more like it awaiting release Mr Knox Phillips? Some older stuff maybe from your father’s days on Sun Records, because in the words of Vickery he could take a piece of crap-like song and make it not a piece of crap song! Lewis is certainly an original, a good one too! 

 

                                                            Maurice Hope         

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September 2018

1
The Devil Makes Three
70 pts.
Chains Are Broken
New West
FC,JB,RK,TJ,LK
2
Jimmy LaFave
65 pts.
Peace Town
Music Road Records
PKO
3
Malcolm Holcombe
48 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
FB,JBO
4
Cody Canada & the Departed
47 pts.
3
Blue Rose Records
CVL,DHO
5
Jeffrey Foucault
43 pts.
Blood Brothers
Blueblade Records
MB,SZ
6
The War And Treaty
42 pts.
Healing Tide
Thirty Tigers
FCE,AL,MG
7
Martha Fields
40 pts.
Dancing Shadows
Independent
SP,DH,RST,RW
8
The Weight Band
35 pts.
World Gone Mad
Must Have Music
DD,CRS,BM
9
David Olney
32 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music
LM
 
The Black Sorrows
32 pts.
Citizen John
Blue Rose Records
 
11
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis
31 pts.
Wild Wild Wild
Bloodshot Records
GS
12
Hadley McCall Thackston
28 pts.
Hadley McCall Thackston
Wolfe Island Records
 
 
Nathan Bell
28 pts.
Er Gwaetha Pawb a Phopeth
Angry Stick
PK
14
Curse Of Lono
26 pts.
As I Fell
Submarine Cat Records
MM,JF
15
Ryan Martin
25 pts.
Gimme Some Light
High Moon
 
 
Stephen Simmons
25 pts.
Gall
Locke Creek Records
TK,HDB
17
Jason McNiff
23 pts.
Joy And Independence
At The Helm Records
 
 
Jim Lauderdale
23 pts.
Time Flies
Yep Roc
 
 
Kevin Gordon
23 pts.
Tilt and Shine
Crowville Media
MP
20
Eliza Gilkyson
21 pts.
Secularia
Red House Records
KG,JJC
21
Boz Scaggs
20 pts.
Out Of the Blues
Concord Records
BH,JSM
 
Lucero
20 pts.
Among The Ghosts
Thirty Tigers
JJ
 
Melissa Carper & Rebecca Patek
20 pts.
Brand New Old-Time Songs
Independent
MW
24
The Jayhawks
17 pts.
Back Roads and Abandoned Motels
Legacy
 
25
Lori McKenna
16 pts.
Tree
Cn Records

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