Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jerry Lee Lewis Greatest Live Performances of the 50s, 60s and 70s

Reading Joe Bonomo's book reminded me of the footage of Jerry Lee that I have in a much-duplicated video tape of a TV show in which rabid fans are practically burying the Killer as he sweats and stomps through some of his best tunes. I wondered if this was available on DVD and, lo and behold, found this!

Great music abounds here, starting with the iconoclastic appearance on the Steve Allen Show where Allen was so possessed by "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On" that when Jerry pushed back the wooden chair (no idea why he didn't have an actual piano bench here) that he was sitting on, Allen grabbed it and threw it back across the stage!

I assume that Dewey Phillips' Pop Shop was a local show and here we see "You Win Again" and "Great Balls of Fire" before Lewis' fabulous "Breathless" on The Dick Clark Show.

The afore-mentioned show from the 60's was a British TV special named "A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On", with Lewis backed by a local group, the Flintstones (after an argument with the Nashville Teens, who would then back him on the rest of the tour and the Live at the Star Club album recorded during this same European jaunt). Jerry is just a few years older, but a bit puffier, a bit worse for the wear after his scandal and subsequent decline of his career and even looking a little more square, but he manages to put on a fierce performance.

The set is terrific - "Great Balls of Fire", "You Win Again", "High School Confidential", "I'm On Fire (his then-new single), "Your Cheatin' Heart" and the show-stopping closer, "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On". From the initial entrance from the ceiling via a hydraulic stage to the climatic ending, Jerry gives it his all and the kids respond in kind. They are dancing, jumping, surrounding the man and pounding their heads and their fists on the piano. It is almost bedlam - but just barely controlled! Apparently, the producers went into a panic when Lewis started the final number because they needed more time so the man puts on a show - drawing out verses, taking off his jacket and tie, doing solo after solo and ending up bellowing out the finale and dancing on top of his piano! Utterly fantastic!

The 70's numbers are from Pop Goes the Country, with a much more subdued Jerry Lee and a somewhat generic backing band, but he does a cool medley with his country star cousin Mickey Gilley (who I know nothing about) and while the cousin was apparently the bigger star at the time, Lewis takes over the show and lets no one forget who he is and what he is all about!

A great collection that can be found at a very reasonable price - get it, you won't regret it!