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An essential collection

Jerry Lee Lewis - Last Man Standing: The Duets
(Shangri-La Entertainment))
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Oct. 17, 2006
Jerry Lee Lewis

Review by Andy Argyrakis

Fifty years have passed since Jerry Lee Lewis stormed the world with seminal smashes like "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire." Though he's slowed down significantly since those glory years of piano pounding and raising hell, the old timer is still plugging away occasionally on the road and has spent the past five years building the framework of his latest studio CD. While that may seem like awhile to make a single disc, one look at the guest list involved and it's a marvel that it only took him that long. In an absolutely stunning display of his friend base, Lewis assembles the finest possible cast of living legends leaving no stones unturned, including members of the most memorable bands or solo artists from the pop, rock, country and soul settings.

The disc starts off with a boogie-woogie bang thanks to a completely reworked "Rock and Roll" featuring the unmistakable guitar sounds of Jimmy Page. The mood soon morphs to the swinging blues for "Before the Night Is Over" with B.B. King, turning towards a roots rock direction with Bruce Springsteen on "Pink Cadillac." While Lewis and The Boss make for impressive duet partners, it's even more alluring to hear the project's figurehead trade lines with Mick Jagger and a band that includes the signature strums of Ronnie Wood. Fellow Rolling Stone Keith Richards turns up later on "That Kind of Fool," and while his weathered pipes certainly don't fit the soft spoken pacing, his star power almost overshadows the off key results.

Rod Stewart's crooning is much more tolerable come "What's Made Milwaukee Famous," returning the Mod rocker to his days fronting Faces rather than recent American Songbook standards albums. But all traditions were thrown to the wind come a collaboration with fellow piano man Little Richard for "I Saw Her Standing There," a runaway romp on this twenty one track highlight reel. Buddy Guy adds additional blues legitimacy to "Hadacohl Boogie," while the swap rock sears with John Fogerty on "Travelin' Band." Even Eagles' member Don Henley turns in a Celtic charmer with "The Irish Heart Beat," yet another example of Lewis' diverse pedigree. Additional guests include Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and Merle Haggard, making this album an absolutely essential purchase for anyone who even remotely considers themselves a music fan.

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