Jerry Lee Lewis is not as good as he thinks, but on 1973’s The Session he comes very close.
Jerry Lee Lewis was a Sun Label mate of such artists as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins. His ‘50s recordings of “Great Balls Of Fire,” “High School Confidential,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” and others made him one of the biggest stars of early rock & roll. His pumping piano and deep voice set again a bass and drums came together in a lasting high-fueled sound.
However, Lewis’ career came to an immediate halt when it was revealed that he had married his thirteen-year-old cousin. Radio stations banned his songs from the air; country stations, though, agreed to play his records if he would abandon rock & roll. During the 1960s, Jerry Lee Lewis would carve out a country niche for himself with a number of well-crafted and popular albums.
The ‘70s would bring change. Societal morals were evolving and in many ways disappearing. Rock music had moved in new directions and country music was beginning to evolve as well, And Jerry Lee Lewis was poised for a comeback.
The Session, released in 1973, marked a triumphant and unapologetic return to rock & roll for Jerry Lee Lewis. He surrounded himself with such talent as Rory Gallagher, Kenny Jones, Albert Lee, Gary Wright, Peter Frampton, and Matthew Fisher and released an album that rocked from the first song to the last.
The lead song from the album, “Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee,” can be called country rock, but is the only song to fall explicitly into that category. It is as if Jerry Lee Lewis is stating, ‘This is where I have been and I’m not going back.’ By the time he reaches the last song on the album a little over an hour later, his rock & roll rebirth is complete. “Rock & Roll Medley” keeps building song by song, and his combination of “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Jenny Jenny,” “Tutti Fruitti,” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” leave the listener breathless by the time this opus draws to a close.
On this record, Lewis takes few chances with his song selection: “Sea Cruise,” “No Headstone On My Grave,” “
The only problem is that The Session on CD has been out of print for years. This album is well worth the effort of seeking out a used copy. Of course, you can always find a vinyl copy and listen to it in its original form.
Jerry Lee Lewis’ career and personal life would have a lot of ups and downs over the next thirty plus years, but there would be no greater up than The Session, and it is fitting that he proclaimed on The Session that he was a sixty minute man, and for at least this one brilliant album, he was right.
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