Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing

5.0 8
by Jerry Lee Lewis
     
 

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To quote from one of his own songs, Jerry Lee Lewis was at the end of the road -- commercially nowhere, physically decrepit, spiritually threadbare -- when producers Jimmy Rip and Steve Bing cooked up this project. Something happened when he found himself in the studio accompanied by some high-profile rock and country guests: something like a wholesale transformation… See more details below

Overview

To quote from one of his own songs, Jerry Lee Lewis was at the end of the road -- commercially nowhere, physically decrepit, spiritually threadbare -- when producers Jimmy Rip and Steve Bing cooked up this project. Something happened when he found himself in the studio accompanied by some high-profile rock and country guests: something like a wholesale transformation from fossilized rock 'n' roll pioneer into the Killer, the baddest, most uncompromising, and arguably most gifted artist of his time. This is a great record, one of the year's big surprises, imbued with an energy lacking in most rock 'n' roll and country these days -- salacious, ferocious, heart-tugging, and swaggering to the hilt. It never ceases to be Jerry Lee's show, even with guests on the order of Bruce Springsteen (contributing a rambunctious "Pink Cadillac"), Mick Jagger (on a boozy gem, "Evening Gown," singing more effectively than he has in ages), or B. B. King (offering some soaring, elegant single-string commentary on "Before the Night Is Over"). Or, for that matter, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Jones, John Fogerty, Neil Young, Little Richard, et al. Jerry Lee doesn't even have to try hard to command the spotlight -- he just seizes it by the sheer force of his personality. And wisely, none of the top-drawer drop-ins attempt to upstage him. The producers sometimes employ the old Sun echo on the Killer's vocals, and at other times they go for the clear, clean sound Jerry Kennedy fashioned on Jerry Lee's great Mercury albums. It all works. And in the end, it'll leave you, oooh -- breathless!

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
It often seems like there are only two ways for rock, country, and blues veterans to launch comebacks when they're senior citizens: confront mortality head on or surround yourself with superstar guests to help carry you through a half-hearted stroll through your back catalog, scattering a few new tunes along the way. At first glance, Jerry Lee Lewis' Last Man Standing seems to fall into both categories: the title suggests that Jerry Lee is in the mood to take a long look back, and certainly the very concept of the album -- pairing Lewis with 21 other stars for a succession of duets, often on material that his guests either wrote or made famous -- seems like a typical superstar duet record. But the Killer has never been predictable, and nowhere is that truer than it is here, where Jerry Lee treats Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, John Fogerty, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Page, and 16 other stars as he treated the Nashville Teens at the Star Club in 1964 -- as game amateurs who have to sprint to keep up with the master. This is the only guest-studded superstar album where all the guests bend to the will of the main act, who dominates the proceedings in every conceivable way. Jerry Lee doesn't just run the guests ragged; he turns their songs inside out, too -- and nowhere is that clearer than on the opening "Rock and Roll," the Led Zeppelin classic that is now stripped of its signature riff and sounds as if it were a lost gem dug out of the Sun vaults. Far from struggling with this, Jimmy Page embraces it, following the Killer as he runs off on his own course -- he turns into support, and the rest of other 20 guests follow suit (with the possible exception of Kid Rock, who sounds like the party guest who won't go home on an otherwise strong version of "Honky Tonk Woman"). The label might sell Last Man Standing on the backs of the duet partners -- after all, it's awful hard to drum up interest in a record by a 71-year-old man no matter how great he is, so you need a hook like superstars -- but the album by no stretch of the imagination belongs to them. This is completely Jerry Lee's show from the second that he calls out, "It's been a long time since I rock & rolled," at the beginning of the record -- and those are true words, since he hasn't rocked on record in a long, long time. Ten years ago he cut the Andy Paley-produced Young Blood, but that was a typically tasteful self-conscious comeback record; it was driven as much by the producer's conception of the artist as it was the artist himself. The opposite is true here, where the production is simple and transparent, never interfering with the performances; it has the welcome effect of making it sound like there is simply no way to tame Jerry Lee, even though he's now in his seventies. And that doesn't mean that this is merely a hard-rocking record, although "Rock and Roll," "Pink Cadillac," and "Travelin' Band" do indeed rock harder than anything he's done since the '70s -- so hard that they stand proudly next to his classic Sun records, even if they don't have the unbridled fire of those peerless sides. No, this album touches on everything that Jerry Lee has done musically through his career, as the furious rock & roll is balanced by pure hardcore country, piledriving boogie-woogie, rambling blues, old-timey folk songs, and, especially, reinterpretations of familiar songs that are so thoroughly reimagined they seem like they were written specifically for Jerry Lee. And he does this the same way he's always done it: by singing and playing the hell out of the songs. His phrasing remains original and unpredictable, twisting phrases in unexpected ways -- and, yes, throwing his name into the mix frequently, too -- and his piano is equally vigorous and vital. This is a record that stays true to his music, and in doing so, it's not so much a comeback as it is a summation: a final testament from a true American original, one that explains exactly why he's important. But that makes Last Man Standing sound too serious, as if it were one of those self-consciously morbid Johnny Cash records -- no, this is a record that celebrates life, both in its joys and sorrows, and it's hard not to see it as nothing short of inspiring.
Rolling Stone - Gavin Edwards
Despite all the high-powered guests, Lewis stays in charge throughout Last Man Standing -- while his throat is in better shape than you might expect, most of his command now comes from the slamming, swinging passion of his barrelhouse piano.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/26/2006
Label:
Artist First
UPC:
0878722000123
catalogNumber:
20001
Rank:
2777

Tracks

  1. Rock and Roll  - Jimmy Page
  2. Before the Night Is Over  - B.B. King
  3. Pink Cadillac  - Bruce Springsteen
  4. Evening Gown
  5. You Don't Have to Go  - Neil Young
  6. Twilight  - Robbie Robertson
  7. Travelin' Band  - Jerry Lee Lewis
  8. That Kind of Fool  - Keith Richards
  9. Sweet Little Sixteen  - Ringo Starr
  10. Just a Bummin' Around  - Jerry Lee Lewis
  11. Honky Tonk Woman  -  Kid Rock
  12. What's Made Milwaukee Famous  - Rod Stewart
  13. Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age  - Jerry Lee Lewis
  14. Couple More Years  - Jerry Lee Lewis
  15. Ol' Glory  - Toby Keith
  16. Trouble in Mind  - Eric Clapton
  17. I Saw Her Standing There  - Little Richard
  18. Lost Highway  - Delaney Bramlett
  19. Hadacol Boogie  - Jerry Lee Lewis  - Buddy Guy
  20. What Makes the Irish Heart Beat  - Jerry Lee Lewis
  21. The Pilgrim  - Jerry Lee Lewis

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jerry Lee Lewis   Primary Artist,Organ,Piano,Vocals
Merle Haggard   Vocals,Human Whistle
Kris Kristofferson   Vocals
Willie Nelson   Guitar,Vocals
John Fogerty   Vocals
Don Henley   Vocals
Mick Jagger   Vocals
Little Richard   Vocals
Ivan Neville   Organ,Hammond Organ
Jimmy Page   Guitar
Robbie Robertson   Guitar
Bruce Springsteen   Vocals
Ringo Starr   Vocals
Rod Stewart   Vocals
Ronnie Wood   Pedal Steel Guitar
Neil Young   Guitar,Vocals
Keith Allison   Guitar
Kid Rock   Vocals
Delaney Bramlett   Vocals
Jim Keltner   Percussion,Drums,Finger Snapping
Mickey Raphael   Harmonica
Toby Keith   Vocals
Eric Clapton   Guitar
Phyllis Duncan   Background Vocals
Bernard Fowler   Background Vocals
James "Hutch" Hutchinson   Bass
Jewell Jones   Background Vocals
B.B. King   Guitar
Kenneth Lovelace   Guitar
James Stroud   Drums
David Woodford   Saxophone
Jimmy Rip   Fiddle,Guitar,Percussion,Hand Clapping,Finger Snapping,Foot Stomping
Bill Strom   Organ
Brandy Jones   Background Vocals
Paddy Maloney   Pipe,Human Whistle
Dave Woodruff   Saxophone
Bobby Cunningham   Bass

Technical Credits

Jimmy Reed   Composer
Kris Kristofferson   Composer
Shel Silverstein   Composer
Chuck Berry   Composer
John Fogerty   Composer
Mick Jagger   Composer
John Lennon   Composer
Jerry Lee Lewis   Composer
Paul McCartney   Composer
Jimmy Page   Composer
Robert Plant   Composer
Robbie Robertson   overdub engineer
Bruce Springsteen   Composer
Cindy Walker   Composer
Richard M. Jones   Composer
John Paul Jones   Composer
John Bonham   Composer
Lou Bradley   overdub engineer
Gary Burden   Art Direction
Peter Guralnick   Liner Notes
Roland Janes   Engineer
Dennis Locorriere   Composer
Van Morrison   Composer
Leo Payne   Composer
Keith Richards   Composer
Dave Rouze   overdub engineer
Toby Scott   overdub engineer
Glenn Sutton   Composer
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys   Composer
Jimmy Rip   Producer,overdub engineer
Richard Hanson   overdub engineer
Dan Leffler   overdub engineer
Jaime "Robbie" Robertson   Composer
June Murakawa   overdub engineer
Bill Nettles   Composer
Mack Vickery   Composer
James Saez   Engineer,overdub engineer
Boo Macleod   overdub engineer
Jenice Heo   Art Direction,Cover Image
Shelby Darnell   Composer
John Saylor   overdub engineer
Steve Gamberoni   Engineer,overdub engineer
David Cambell   String Arrangements
J. Carter Tutwiler   overdub engineer
Paul Robert   Composer
Steve Bing   Producer

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