JERRY LEE LEWIS Live At The Star Club, Hamburg (Bear Family)
“Live At The Star Club, Hamburg” is one of the greatest live albums ever recorded.
What, you want more? Well…all right. The initial omens aren’t all that promising. Fading, scandal-dogged rock ‘n’ roll pioneer fetches up at a venue more famed for its former patronage by a Liverpudlian beat combo still on their irresistible up-and-up, backed by a British pop band also hawking their wares in the city. The result? On this 1964 date Jerry Lee rips it up from the first, dragging The Nashville Teens along in his slipstream, pounding his piano through some of rock ‘n’ roll’s sacred founding texts. It’s the raw, bleeding, still-beating, visceral essence of rock ’n’ roll, sweaty and violent, dangerous and inspirational. The cranked-up crowd supply the x-factor, baying for fresh kill between songs with their unquenchable chants of “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” There’s the briefest of respites during the hard-bitten country bawler “Your Cheating Heart” – even here Jerry fills every last space up with sound – but otherwise this is incendiary music to start riots to. Come on…”Money”, “Matchbox”, “What’d I Say” – twice!, “Great Balls Of Fire”, “Good Golly, Miss Molly”, “Hound Dog”, “Long, Tall Sally”, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”…can you in all good conscience name another platter that stacks up more rock with its roll? I’m halfway to suggesting that this – not “You Really Got Me”, not “Black Sabbath”, not Steppenwolf – is the grisly birth of heavy metal.
Bear Family have done great things with this 180 gram vinyl reissue, pressing it at one of Europe’s finest record plants, fashioning neat, cheeky updates of the original’s Philips labels and even fastening a giant pop-up cartoon map of Hamburg to the gatefold. Inevitably, though, “Live At The Star Club, Hamburg” can’t help but sound like what it is and always will be, a great big overheated non-audiophile mess of sound and confusion collapsing in on itself at countless beats per second. Lap it up.