Like any major artist with roughly five decades of recording under his belt, Jerry Lee Lewis has been subjected to plenty of compilations over the years, but Hip-O's 2006 set The Definitive Collection is the first comprehensive single-disc compilation to span his career from his Sun sides in the '50s through his Smash/Mercury singles of the '60s and '70s (1999's 20th Century Masters was culled from both labels, but at 12 tracks it was half the length of this set). While this makes the disc a good one-stop introduction and overview of one of the giants of 20th century American music, The Definitive Collection doesn't necessarily live up to the promise of its title, mainly because his timeless Sun sessions are summed up with a mere six songs. Six great songs, to be sure, but big Sun singles like "Crazy Arms" and "It'll Be Me" are missing, which makes this something less than definitive. That said, this 24-track comp still is quite excellent. The biggest Sun singles -- "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On," "Great Balls of Fire," "Breathless," "High School Confidential" -- are here, along with the best and biggest hard country he cut for Smash/Mercury, highlighted by "What's Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me)," "Another Place Another Time," "She Still Comes Around (To Love What's Left of Me)," "She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye," and "Middle Age Crazy." Rhino's now out of print double-disc 1993 comp All Killer, No Filler provides a similar but more exhaustive overview of this same period, so it's worth seeking out for true fans, and any serious listener will need to supplement this with a good Sun collection (of which there are many), but as a single-disc intro to the Killer's prime years, The Definitive Collection is very good indeed.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine