The Ballads of Jerry Lee Lewis

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Known for pumping piano hits such as ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’, ‘High School Confidential’, and ‘Great Balls of Fire’, Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the most prominent Rock ‘n’ Rollers of his generation. Aside from the high-energy theatrics of his well-known material, though, Lewis was also quite a balladeer; Especially during his years as a Country artist in the 60s and 70s. Germany’s Bear Family Records has compiled an album showcasing the softer side of Jerry Lee Lewis’ output. The Ballads of Jerry Lee Lewis offers a whopping twenty-seven tracks, recorded between 1956 and 1963 for Sun Records. A new entry in Bear Family’s long-running Ballads Of series, Is this compilation worth picking up?

As someone more familiar with the wild side of Lewis’ output, this was a lovely surprise. The album offers a gentle selection of standards and deep cuts that make the most of his talents as a pianist and vocalist. The album begins with his debut, a cover of Ray Price’s ‘Crazy Arms’, which sets the tone for the rest of the compilation. Hearing him croon his way through classics from various genres such as ‘I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You’, ‘It Hurts Me So’, ‘You Win Again’, ‘Someday’ among many others is something you never knew you needed to hear. Other highlights include the album’s two duets, alongside Charlie Rich and Linda Gail Lewis, respectively. The combination of Sun’s unmistakable sound and Lewis’ skills delivers a musical experience that is pretty, varied, and heartfelt.

The sound quality of this release is excellent, but what else do you expect from Sun Records? Sourced from high-quality materials, the mix of familiar singles and vault recordings sound so pristine that you can hear every note.

A Little Something Extra…

Inside a nicely presented digipak is a 35-page booklet featuring a relevant biography, rare photographs, and a nicely detailed discography. As usual, Bear Family has provided a clear overview of the subject; expertly compiled by Bill Dahl.

Conclusion:

Bear Family Records has released a compilation that celebrates the softer sides that Lewis cut in the first part of his career. Those seeking a more comprehensive study of his work will need to look elsewhere. This compilation offers an overdue spotlight on material that proves his versatility. Well worth picking up if you want to experience another side of this artist.

Tracklisting:

  1. Crazy Arms
  2. Invitation To Your Party
  3. Born To Lose
  4. I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You
  5. Tomorrow Night
  6. I’m The Guilty One
  7. Fools Like Me
  8. Will The Circle Be Unbroken
  9. Sail Away (Duet With Charlie Rich)
  10. Set My Mind At Ease (Stereo)
  11. I’ll Make It All Up To You
  12. It Hurts Me So
  13. Love Letters In The Sand
  14. How’s My Ex Treating You
  15. You Win Again
  16. I Know What It Means
  17. Turn Around
  18. The Ballad Of Billy Joe
  19. It All Depends
  20. Love On Broadway
  21. Seasons Of My Heart (Duet With Linda Gail Lewis)
  22. Someday
  23. That Lucky Old Sun
  24. Cold Cold Heart
  25. Love Made A Fool Of Me
  26. Goodnight Irene
  27. I Can’t Seem To Say Goodbye

The Ballads of Jerry Lee Lewis is available from Bear Family Records.

The Ballads Of Jerry Lee Lewis

9

Rating

9.0/10

Jamie Dyer

Jamie Dyer is an experienced writer, broadcaster, musician and social media marketer. He enjoys Old Time Radio, vintage TV, collecting vinyl and supporting the New York Knicks.

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