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Jerry Lee Lewis

Greatest Live Performances of the '50s, '60s, and '70s (DVD) – 2007 (Time Life)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Jerry Lee Lewis

Less than thrilled by the geriatric somnambulance of the "Last Man Standing" DVD? Check out this delightful compilation of vintage Jerry Lee Lewis performances.

Bolstered with a 1993 interview at Sun Studios, Lewis' story is sketchily woven together by bare-bones narration that neatly sets up each cluster of performances. The 1950s are represented with oft-seen appearances on "The Steve Allen Show" ("Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On") and "The Dick Clark Show" ("Breathless") wherein the peroxide blonde bomber bashes the keyboards with Pentacostal delight. By contrast, the poorly lip-synched footage culled from "Dewey Phillips' Pop Shop" ("You Win Again," "Great Balls of Fire") is only valuable for extra glimpses of Dewey Phillips.

The 1960s section sports a wild performance on British TV where Lewis, reveling in fan adoration, plays his signature rock hits and a current single (I'm On Fire") with unbridled fury. Further, the first stateside appearance of two Hank Williams tunes ("You Win Again," "Your Cheatin' Heart") makes this section bedrock vital.

However, the best moments come via the rare 1977 duet with cousin Mickey Gilley on "Pop Goes the Country." Sitting at pianos side-by-side, the cousins play songs from their childhood ("Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue," "Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age") before Lewis feels the heat of competition ("Drinkin' Wine Spod-Dee-O-Dee") and nearly rocks his cousin off the stage ("Lewis Boogie").

This extremely entertaining set doesn't encapsulate all of the Killer's great TV performances by any means, but it deftly showcases the riveting genius of this legendary icon.