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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Jerry Lee Lewis

The Ballads Of Jerry Lee Lewis

Review by Gary Hill

Bear Family Records really delivers quality. This new collection of Jerry Lee Lewis tunes is no exception. The total package of this is nice, as the disc is contained in a classy digipack with a large and informative booklet. I've always felt that Lewis was one of the more talented people of his generation of musicians, and this disc benefits from that talent. Most of this holds up remarkably well so many years later.

You will find bonus video footage of this release is available at the Music Street Journal Youtube channel here: .youtube.com/watch?v=5jtdfX2UXEU

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Crazy Arms
Honky tonk piano brings this into being. The cut is bouncy and fun. I really dig the classy instrumental break mid-track.
Invitation To Your Party
With a real country edge to the piece, this is another entertaining one. There are some hints of European cafe music in the mix here, too. The strings go a little over the top, as do the backing vocals, but this works well nonetheless.
Born To Lose
There is a real country-meets-bluegrass feeling to this number. It has a real hillbilly edge to it. The instrumental break brings some real magic to this tune.
I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You
A bouncy, playful tune, this has catchy hooks, cool guitar work and a fun nature to it.
Tomorrow Night
Slower, this has a real blues and rockabilly vibe to it. Of course, the piano is great on this thing.
I'm The Guilty One
Here we land more in the pure country music vein.
Fools Like Me
A bouncy little rock and roll number this is another fun one.
Will The Circle Be Unbroken
I love the piano work on this tune. The number has a great roll and groove to it.
Sail Away (duet with Charlie Rich)
Country music is the concept on this number. It features the vocal duet and some classy piano work at the center of the song.
Set My Mind At Ease (Stereo)
I really love the piano playing on this number. The tune has some cool hooks and a great energy. The organ lends a different flavor to the arrangement.
I'll Make It All Up To You
A slow moving number, this has a good flow and vibe. It is particularly effective and somehow seems less dated than some of the rest here.
It Hurts Me So
I like the lead vocal performance on this a lot. The backing vocals are a little cheesy, though. The piano paints some great pictures, as well.
Love Letters In The Sand
The piano on this lends a real bouncing driving groove to the song. It's a lot of fun.
How's My Ex Treating You
I love the fuzzy bass at the start of this cut. The tune has a great vibe to it. The hooks works great, and the piano playing is all class. This is one of the highlights of the disc.
You Win Again
There are some doo wop backing vocals on this cut. The tune has a great vibe and is another standout here.
I Know What It Means
This has a great tone to it that is a bit more modern than some of the rest. This is all class and another that's among the highlights. The mostly spoken portion is a nice touch, too.
Turn Around
Old school rock and roll with plenty of country music in the mix is at the heart of this number.
The Ballad Of Billy Joe
This starts with acapella vocals. After the first vocal section the instruments join. This is bouncy and pretty classy.
It All Depends
I'm not overly crazy about the backing vocals on this. The number stands pretty tall despite that. Part of that resilience comes from the understated, but cool, guitar work on the piece.
Love On Broadway
Old school country and rock and roll make up the concept here. This has some hints of blues and jazz, too.
Seasons Of My Heart (duet with Linda Gail Lewis)
The duet on this tune brings both a blues edge and a lot of pure country music. This is a slow moving number that has some killer piano work.
Someday
Bouncy old-school rock and roll is on hand here.
That Lucky Old Sun
More of an old time pop meets rock and roll sound is at the heart of this number. The tune is solid, but not a standout.
Cold Cold Heart
Serious country music is at the heart of this. It sounds dated largely because of the backing vocals. It has some hints of the blues on-hand, too.
Love Made A Fool Of Me
With vocals punctuated by piano, there is a real gospel kind of feeling to this number. The backing vocal arrangement is dated but still works pretty well.
Goodnight Irene
This old chestnut gets a pretty standard rendition here.
I Can't Seem To Say Goodbye
Backing vocals bring this in without accompaniment. The track has a slow moving, classy arrangement from there. This has a dated vibe, but still works well. It seems more tied to the pop music of the time than to any meatier styles.
 
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