Rock & Roll Time
Jerry Lee Lewis
Vanguard Universal 2014
Review by David Bowling
Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the grand old men of rock and roll. His career now spans seven decades. He was 79 when he entered the studio to record his latest album Rock & Roll Time.
His last two studio efforts, Last Man Standing (2006) and Mean Old Man (2010) were duet albums. His latest release is all Jerry Lee. It is still heavy in star power but the likes of Keith Richards, Neil Young, Nils Lofgren, Robbie Robertson, Doyle Bramhall II, and Shelby Lynne are regulated to guitarists and background vocalists.
The title of the album is somewhat misleading. While he can still rock as seen on covers of Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie” and “Promised Land;” much of the album is more in tune with the country side of his career.
The title track, written by Kris Kristofferson, has a plaintive and nostalgic feel. Lynyrd Skynrd’s “Mississippi Kid” is transformed into an emotional country-tinged performance. “Keep Me In Mind” is a pure country ballad, reminiscent of many of his country hits during the 1970’s.
He reaches deep in the Bob Dylan catalogue with a sincere version of “Stepchild.” In a tribute to his Sun label days, he straddles the line between rock and country with “Folsom Prison Blues.”
His voice may not have the explosive power of his younger days but he more than makes up for it with a laid back and smooth approach. He can still play the piano but also uses the array of guest guitarists to fill in the sound.
Jerry Lee Lewis has produced a remarkable album at an age when most of his contemporaries have retired or passed on. It may not shake your nerves and rattle your brain but there is still some fire in the music.