Twenty-two rock and country legends duet with Jerry Lee Lewis on this incredible package, celebrating The Killer's impact on American music. Among the luminaries igniting these all-new recordings of seminal rock 'n' roll are Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, Little Richard, Merle Haggard, Neil Young, and more.
How do you drum up interest in a Jerry Lee Lewis record, since the Ferriday Fireball is 71 and hasn't put out an album since 1996? First, you pair him with 22 of the biggest stars of rock (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards), country (Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard), and blues (Buddy Guy, B.B. King), to show how he put his stamp on nearly every genre. Then, you hire the dean of music chroniclers, Peter Guralnick, to give the liner notes heft. And--oh, yes, you also make sure the piano-pounding pioneer displays the best finger form he's shown in 25 years. Throughout, the Killer crows, struts, and self-mythologizes with the brio of youth, and who could resist him? At times, one may question the wisdom of turning an obvious guitar tune (Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll") into a piano-dominated performance, just as it seems odd to not make the best use of such guests as Toby Keith or Delaney Bramlett. But Lewis never yields the throne for a second, even surrounded by the likes of Robbie Robertson, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton. For that reason, most of these aren't true duets--the star instrumentalists take their solos, and the harmonies of some of the most legendary vocalists (Don Henley, Little Richard) stay too far in the background. But when things really work--as they do with Bruce Springsteen (the rave-up "Pink Cadillac"), Neil Young (a crackling rendition of "You Don't Have To Go"), Kid Rock (an even blacker "Honky Tonk Woman"), George Jones (the novelty-framed "Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age"), and Kris Kristofferson (an especially poignant take on "The Pilgrim: Chapter 33"), the rock of ages cleaves for thee and me. Last Man Standing
refers to the famous cover of Million Dollar Quartet
, on which he's pictured with fellow Sun artists Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins, all now jamming in the great beyond. Yet in a spoken-word reprise at the end of the Kristofferson song--"From the rocking of the cradle / To the rolling of the hearse / The going up was worth the coming down"--the Last Man seems to suggest his own fine epitaph. It's hard to argue with a hellraiser extraordinaire. --Alanna Nash