JERRY LEE LEWIS
(P) 1991 Charly Records Ltd.
The Alternate Collection
CD SUND 35 (2-CD set)
© 1991 Charly Holdings Inc.
Note. The tracks 31 & 32 of CD1 are mentioned mistakenly (they are not present on this CD set).
There can surely be few artists whose Sun recordings have so extensively been issued as those of Jerry Lee Lewis (Johnny Cash may well come a close second, but the Killer certainly leads the field in this respect). By passing the wealth of material on vinyl, the object of this double CD is to look at the Sun output on CD by Jerry Lee, and come up with a compilation that is both of relevance to Lewis pervs and the more general collector. The inspiration for this collection comes from an article produced by Thomas Sobczak in the Dutch Fan mag "Fireball Mail" that was brought to my attention by Bill Millar, my thanks are due to both for enabling this set to come to fruition.
There have been two CD boxsets issued of Lewis material, one by Bear Family, a deluxe 246 track offering ["CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS", BCD 15420 HH (8-CD boxset), Bear Family Records, 1989. V. O.] and the Charly Boxset CD 1 which ran to 233 titles, which has now been deleted. Lewis, for once was not exaggerating when he suggested that Sun could carry on issuing albums by him for years, a prophecy that has in no small measure been fulfilled. If one also considers CD's issued by the likes of Rhino Records in the States, Bellaphone in Germany, Sonet in Sweden, not to mention various Charly, Pickwick and Trax releases in the UK, the wealth of material available is quite staggering. Allowing for the fact that a variety of recordings of given titles have been unearthed over the years, it is nigh on an impossible task for the avid completionist to acquire every recording by the Killer. This set is a start into rationalising the situation. As the CD Boxset has been deleted (a new one is on the cards from Charly ["Jerry Lee Lewis: THE ULTIMATE (The Sun years)", Sun Box 4 (12-CD boxset), Charly Records, 1993. V. O.]), the Bear Family Boxset has been taken as the benchmark, and this CD attempts to collate all the titles and or cuts that are not included on the Bear Family release but have been issued on CD by other labels. This if you have the Bear Family Boxset you can complement it with this double, safely in the knowledge that no material is being duplicated. The new Charly boxset will also be compiled so as to avoid duplication with this set.
So what do we have on these two CD's? Where more than one cut of a given title occur on the set every endeavour has been made to place them on separate CD's in order that each individual CD may provide as pleasurable listening programme in its own right as possible. It perhaps a justifiable criticism that on some sets, in the pursuit of completism, the listener is subjected to interminable alternate cuts of the same title. With the exception of "You're The Only Star In My Blue Heaven" on CD 2 (track 6 & 12), the duplication of the same tracks on the same CD has been avoided.
The recordings span the Lewis career on Sun from late in '56 through to August '63 and his departure to Mercury. The earliest recordings to be featured on this set date from December 4th, 1956, seemingly Lewis' second session on Sun and include five titles including a version of "Crazy Arms" where Lewis is heard off mike. In all he recorded some 50 odd sessions for Sam Phillips' label, and over thirty of them have at least one representative included here.
Of Lewis the man, his women, his career, his drinking, his inner turmoil with his deepseated biblebelt religious beliefs, more than enough has been written in recent times to stock the bookshelves of most branches of W.H. Smith. I shall therefore exercise restraint in this direction, suffice to say that many of the truly great rock'n'roll artists appear to have been hugely lacking in a variety of human virtues. Perhaps it is difficult to make the jump from rebellious teenage to mature adulthood and still maintain the rock'n'roll ethos, maybe selling your soul to the devil's music is the passpartout to all manner of sin, the Jerry Lee school of thought, or maybe it is just a coincidence.
That Lewis has had more than his fair share of misfortune and tragedy is undeniable. That his body has stood up to the abuse it has been subjected to is a miracle in itself. That he is one of the unique stylists of the rock era, an unreconstituted primitive of the genre remains as true today as it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago. It is upon the rocks of his musical achievements etched in electronic hyroglyphics, that his reputation stands. Just take a listen to this set and see if I'm wrong!
October 3rd, 1991
Audio samples Real Media (multistream 20 to 105 kbps)
All tracks are mono