Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Jerry Lee Lewis
Live At The Starclub Hamburg

Released 1965 on Mercury
Reviewed by Ian, 17/04/2000ce

Now we all know Jerry Lee Lewis is a TERRIBLE MAN.

But this record contains too many moments of gone-too-far immediately, no-way-back monorail-to-oblivion rock and roll, and all the gun-happy backwoods fundamentalism and associated madness becomes incidental. If you want to know why they call Jerry Lee THE KILLER, proof is here. Also, think Americans in Germany - The Monks and Malcolm Mooney for example - if you know what I mean and I think you do. And it was recorded in 1963! Truly, an unrecognised document.
Jerry Lee's two minutes of hit records and acceptance had actually passed about five years before this was taped. So he was filling the void of an anachronistic none-career by touring-in-exile. Here his backing group were the Nashville Teens, jobbing musical hacks yet to score their 'Tobacco Road' hit. Like Mark Smith does with successive line-ups of The Fall, it seems that Jerry made them his group. Which meant total commitment to the boogie, ego-less minimal flourish (except for Jerry Lee, who's allowed to show off like crazy and play with his feet) and the most awesomely basic one-arm-and-one-leg beats from drummer Roger Groom. Murdering familiar standards before re-animating them and making them dance, the howling mad piano-destroyer drags the band along in his frenzied wake; consequently, manky over-familiarities like 'Good Molly Miss Molly' and 'Whole Lotta Shaking Going On' are revealed anew in all their primeval porno-crazyness. The best track is undoubtedly 'High School Confidential'. A piano and drums speed trial of mesmeric wildness, the booze and pilled-up Jerry constantly cranks up the pace and screams that he's at your door, honey, to take you to the high school hop. Roger Groom doesn't know what to do but clings on for dear life. Boss.
Saying that, the band actually knacker themselves out quite early on and do wind down to a level not unlike Dr.Feelgood's also-ace 'Stupidity'. I won't say more, other than the Star-Club fans do a Springer-styled "Jer-ry, Jer-ry" chant in between songs and the whole thing has the atmosphere of a contractual obligation that can't help rising above itself and being ace. In fact, anyone who's ever got off on Can's 'Mother Sky' (and in no way is that a comparison) will have to respond to the sub-thought propulsive rage of it. So hear 'Live At The Star-Club' and read the fabulous biog.'Hellfire' by Nick Toches. We need our psychos.

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