Jerry Lee Lewis

The Essential Sun Records Country Hits

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Jerry Lee Lewis’ recording career began with Sam Phillips’ Sun Records in the 1950s, and classic sides like “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On” and “Great Balls of Fire” made him one of the first and best of the early rock & rollers, but he also recorded a lot of straight country sides for Sun, the best of which are included in this concise 14-track set. Lewis wasn’t just moonlighting in country -- from the '60s through the '80s he charted more than 60 country songs, with 19 of those hitting the Top Ten and four of them reaching the number one spot. At Sun, Lewis was paired with producer Jack Clement, who in turn had him work with guitarist Roland Janes and drummer J.M. Van Eaton -- Lewis' strong left hand at the piano rendered a bass player irrelevant -- and the trio made everything count. Listeners familiar only with Lewis’ gospel-inspired rock & roll rave-ups may well be startled at what a refined and nuanced country singer he was, and it’s no accident that his later and subsequent musical career has been more based in country than rock. Lewis has repeatedly listed his strongest musical influences as Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams, and it’s easy to see the truth in that with the tracks presented here. Sides like his version of Rodgers’ “Waiting for a Train” and Williams’ “I Could Never Be Ashamed of You” are crisply played and wonderfully sung, and will be a revelation to those only familiar with Lewis’ more rambunctious rock & roll releases. The phrase “a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll” was made for this guy -- he did both with proper spirit.

blue highlight denotes track pick