Jerry Lee Lewis
Rockin' My Life Away: The Jerry Lee Lewis Collection
By Ken Ficara
Though it masquerades as a greatest-hits album, this "Jerry Lee Lewis Collection" is actually a collection of tracks recorded in 1979-1980. But this is an instance when the semi-misrepresentation just isn't necessary: "Rockin' My Life Away" is superb.
The album opens up with a "One, two, three, four," and a classic Jerry Lee walking bass piano line. By the end of the opening cut, "Don't Let Go," you've turned the volume up, stopped doing whatever you were doing, and have found yourself shamelessly playing air piano on the table. With your feet.
For the most part, the album never sags from there. Jimmy Guterman, who is credited with compiling and annotating the disc, took the best of two albums Lewis recorded in 1979 in Hollywood and in 1980 in Nashville, putting together one solid hour of great rockabilly music.
Lewis is in full voice, singing as well as he ever has, and playing like a demon. Jerry Lee is no Professor Longhair, but with his energy, you don't care. There's a surprising range of material here, ranging from "Over the Rainbow" (yeah, that one, and it's not bad) to a Dylan cover ("Rita Mae," an unreleased Desire-era track).
The title cut could be Lewis' theme song. On quite a few tracks, he looks at what it's like to be an almost-50 teenage rebel. Some of the songs, like "I Wish I Were Eighteen Again," are uncharacteristically poignant, but "Rockin' My Life Away" seems to answer all the fears and worries: "Rockin' my life away/My name is Jerry Lee Lewis and I'm durn sure here to stay."
"Watch me now," he says, and runs up to the high notes for another solo.