Tuesday, 16 February 2016

"1-40 Country/Odd Man" In by JERRY LEE LEWIS (2015 Beat Goes On CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...The Alcohol Of Fame..." 

Two long-forgotten American LPs from the Killer’s Pure Country period at Mercury Records – "1-40 Country" from 1974 and "Odd Man In" from 1975 (neither of which received a UK release). Both are chockers full of society outcasts, habitual sinners, randy barroom trysts with cheating ladies of the night and alcohol-fuelled misdemeanours that chill the bones of the motel receptionist in the cold light of dawn (nice). Here are the other sides of life....

UK released November 2015 (December 2015 in the USA) – "1-40 Country/Odd Man Out" by JERRY LEE LEWIS on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1216 (Barcode 5017261212160) features 2 LPs onto 1CD and plays out as follows (62:40 minutes):

1. He Can't Fill My Shoes
2. Tell Tale Signs
3. A Picture From Life's Other Side
4. I Hate Goodbyes
5. I've Forgot More About You (Than You'll Ever Know)
6. Tomorrow's Taking Baby Away [Side 2]
7. Cold, Cold Morning Light
8. The Alcohol Of Fame
9. Where Would I Be
10. Bluer Words
11. Room Full Of Roses
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "1-40 Country" – released 1974 in the USA on Mercury Records SRM-1-710

12. Don't Boogie Woogie (When You Say Your Prayers Tonight)
13. Shake, Rattle And Roll
14. You Ought To See My Mind
15. I Don't Want To Be Lonely Tonight
16. That Kind Of Fool
17. Goodnight Irene
18. A Damn Good Country Song [Side 2]
19. Jerry’s Piece
20. When I Take My Vacation In Heaven
21. Crawdad Song
22. Your Cheatin' Heart
Tracks 12 to 22 are the album "Odd Man in" – released 1975 in the USA on Mercury Records SRM-1-1064

There's an outer card slipcase that lends the release a classy feel, the 16-page booklet has liner notes from ANDREW McRAE with album credits and there's new 2015 Remasters by ANDREW THOMPSON licensed from Phonogram. As usual with all BGO releases - it sounds great as always.

I was determined in many ways to hate these records. My memories of these string-laden LPs are that of horrid Country pap – the kind of piano-rolling pedal steel schlock Lewis could run off in his sleep. And in some respects on re-hearing these contractual filler albums those initial assessments haven't changed. But as ever with The Killer - both have their moments and remain stubbornly likeable precisely because of his languid delivery on boozy tales of infidelity and the headache-filled aftermath (and actually there's not a truck in sight). There's a knowing wink in the hit single "He Can't Fill My Shoes" and the sly stab of "I've Forgot More About You (Than You'll Ever Know)". But stuff like "Where Would I Be" and "I Hate Goodbyes" with their lonesome fiddle and paint-by-number pedal steel whines just feel like elevator music – and even a good melody like "Bluer Words" gets utterly drowned in strings and sappy backing vocals. And all that trucker CB Radio crap depicted on the cover was only pandering to the fad of the day...

At least the "Odd Man In" LP resurrected some of that old Rock 'n' Roll swagger and wit. The doctor tells old Jerry Lee to lay off the booze and pills – to which he promptly goes into a Rock 'n' Roll piano chorus which includes pleads to Jesus as he lashes the keys. It’s followed by a updated cover of Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle & Roll" – boogie that feels more alive than the entire "1-40 Country" LP. Back to the honky-tonk swing with the excellent "You Ought To See My Mind" and he even sounds drunk as he sings "I Don't Want To Be Lonely Tonight". Side 1 ends on a rambunctious "Goodnight Irene". He returns to real world problems with "...I took enough pills for the whole damn town..." as he tells us that "...my life would make a damn good Country song..." His stay at Sun Records finally comes through with "Jerry's Place" where he boogies through a song about a favourite watering hole - a bar where the girls don't have to worry about romance (peopled by nice guys and decent chappies). The same spirit of Fifties R&B permeates "Crawdad Song" - but it ends not surprisingly with a Hank Williams standard "Your Cheatin' Heart" - right back to the safety of his Country musical bread and butter of the day.

Neither album is a winner by any stretch of the imagination – but at least "Odd Man Out" shows traces of that old magic and some of the Country ballads on "1-40" put a grin on your face. Fans will love the presentation, the quality Audio and the chance to have these lesser-seen albums on their shelves. All others should hear first before they buy...

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