Whole Lotta Shakin': The Best of Jerry Lee Lewis at Sun Records

Whole Lotta Shakin': The Best of Jerry Lee Lewis at Sun Records

by Jerry Lee Lewis

CD

Overview

Forget about overstating the importance of Jerry Lee Lewis -- it can't be done. There were only ten initial inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and he was one of them. Without his influence, it's impossible to say where the music would have headed, but we're all damn lucky it didn't go there. Sun Records was, of course, where it really all began. Scholars can debate the origins of rock endlessly, but the oft-retold story of what emerged from that small Memphis recording studio -- Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, et. al. -- is that of rock & roll's most perfect storm, and that's all there is to that. But try to imagine that story without the colorful persona, wildman antics and, most importantly, the timeless records cut by "The Killer" at Sun -- it's like trying to imagine American history minus Lincoln or an airplane without wings: the mind can't fathom it. You can choose from any number of compilations that include Lewis' Sun sides, from Rhino's earlier 18 Original Sun Greatest Hits to several that combine the Sun material with Lewis' later country and rock recordings. But this 20-song selection from the U.K. may just be the best single-disc representation of his early years yet. Less than half of its tracks also appear on the Rhino comp, and those of course include all of the major hits: "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," "Great Balls of Fire," "Breathless," "High School Confidential," and more. But the Metro set slightly edges out the Rhino by including a couple of key Sun tracks inexplicably absent from the American label's volume: the scorching Otis Blackwell-penned rocker "Let's Talk About Us" and Hank Williams' ballad "You Win Again." (How both labels missed the driving "Down the Line," the B-side of "Breathless," is altogether confounding.) No matter how many times you've heard these sides over the years, and especially if you haven't, primal rock & roll doesn't get more essential than this.

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