Jerry Lee Lewis

Original Golden Hits, Vols. 1-2

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It's difficult to imagine now what a powerful effect Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" had when it first hit the national airwaves in 1957. Elvis was one thing, but this was a dangerous, lustful single from an absolute wild man who seemed to understand instinctively what rock & roll was really about -- sex and attitude -- and had the balls and fervor to give his performance plenty of both. Other songs Lewis released in this same period like "Breathless," "Great Balls of Fire," and "High School Confidential" were cut from the same combustible cloth, all delivered with gospel intensity and each one cut at Sam Phillips' now legendary Sun Studios in Memphis. Lewis tracked some 240 sides for Phillips between 1956 and 1962, a fascinating mix of early rock & roll, piano boogies, blues pieces, sexed-up gospel, and straight-out country that was all Killer no Filler, as the saying goes. Sun eventually released the best of these sides on two LPs as Original Golden Hits, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, which this disc combines into one 22-song CD. Lewis went on to record for other labels (often doing new, less ferocious versions of his first Sun hits) and survived both controversy and tragedy to build a long career in American music, but his incendiary start with Sun Records still remains at the heart of his legacy. That's what is contained here, and few in the whole history of rock have made a stronger opening statement.

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