Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Jerry Lee Lewis - High School Confidential (1959/ No. 12/ 6 weeks/ London)
Now, to me, this sounds so much more authentically wild and untamed than pretty much any rock record made in the last 25 years or so...
Why should this be so? Perhaps its the primitiveness of the recording technology of 50 years ago. It certainly sounds as though every instrument in this song (especially Lewis' voice) is being bashed to pieces, with no life beyond the essential moment of recording. Particularly impressive is the rudimentary beat, an amphetamine heartbeat FUMP! that seems to be tearing up your speakers every single hit of stick on drumskin. The rough tune is certainly tight, and is best experienced as an alternating aural battle between piano and guitar to see which can make the most noise;
Frantic and enraged though the guitarist's contribution to this scrap is, there can only be one victor as Jerry Lee is ultimately running the show, hence the brief bridge - you'll never be made more aware that the piano is a percussive instrument!
This aural talk is all subsidiary, when we start to consider all of this this as an actual song;
"You better open up honey!
Its your lover boy ME that's a knockin'!
You better listen to me sugar!
All the cats are at the High School ROCKIN'!
Honey get your BOPPIN' shoes!
Before the juke box blows a fuse!
Got everbody HOPPIN'!
Everybody BOPPIN'! -
BOPPIN'! at the HIIIGH School HOP!"
This High school hop sounds like quite an event, even without such a remarkable consort. But just in case we were going to take him for granted, he lets us know;
Come ON little baby!
Llet me give a piece good news! Good News! GOOD NEWS!
JERRY LEE is going to rock away all his blues!
My hearts BEATIN' RHYTHM! and my SOOOUL is SINGIN' the BLUES!
Furthermore - WOOOAH! - he "gotta get with you sugar gonna shake things up tonight!"
Although the picture Lewis paints is unforgettably vivid, if you want added authenticity he was marrying his 13-year old cousin at the time...
This is both genuinely unhinged and genuinely astonishingly good. And how rare is that?