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Live At The Star Club
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Live at the Star Club, Hamburg __________________________________________________

“Live” at the Star Club Hamburg with the Nashville Teens
Jerry Lee Lewis

Rhino R2 70268

1. Mean Woman Blues

2. High School Confidential


3. Money (That’s What I Want)

4. Matchbox

5. What’d I Say – Part 1

6. What’d I Say – Part 2

7. Great Balls Of Fire

8. Good Golly, Miss Molly

9. Lewis’ Boogie


10. Your Cheating Heart

11. Hound Dog

12. Long Tall Sally

13. Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

What do you think of when you think of the Star Club?

“Well, that’s obvious. That’s the club in Hamburg where The Beatles played.”

Right and wrong. If you’re a regenerate rocker, you’d say, “That’s where Jerry Lee Lewis recorded the greatest album ever made.”

Check it out. Jerry Lee Lewis playing in the cramped Star Club on the whore-filled, drug-soaked Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany to an audience of what could only be called raving Jerry Lee Lewis fanatics (well, they might have been drunks). He was 29 years old and angry pounding the piano like it was the British press, screaming like nobody’s business, and rocking in the most frenetic fashion ever heard.

It’s a pent-up young panther ripping at his music with a ferocity unseen on the planet.

It’s rock ‘n’ roll at its most insane.

Incredibly, this is the first time this record has been released in America, if there was ever a crime against rock ‘n’ roll, this album’s suppression was one. Imagine if the Mona Lisa had been put in storage right after it was painted, or “Stairway To Heaven” was left off Led Zeppelin IV! All these years this masterpiece has been hidden.

It was recorded on April 5, 1964, rushed to German pressing plants, and released in Germany – and that was it!

Was it nobody in Mercury Records U.S.A. found it release-worthy? Or did they deem the intensity of this performance too much for American audiences? Did it “inspire” Mercury to record a July 1 show in Birmingham, Alabama and release it in the fall as The Greatest Live Show On Earth?

Jerry Lee’s U.S. career was floundering in early 1964. He had recently signed with Smash Records, and possibly the record company decided not to confuse things by releasing anything that would conflict with the comeback effort they had just released, the incredible “I’m On Fire.”

They didn’t know it, but the cards were immovably stacked against a 1964 comeback. If he’d had a chance any time since his disappearance (banishment) from American radio after his 1958 marriage to his 13-year-old cousin (see the film Great Balls Of Fire for the pinpoint-accurate story) (jes’ kidding), this heady year of British Invasion was not it. With the charts dominated by The Beatles – who, ironically, had cut their teeth at the Star Club just a year and a half earlier-old-guard American rockers just didn’t stand a chance.

But that didn’t keep him from rockin’.

Photos from that period show a somewhat chubby Jerry Lee Lewis, but audiotapes – especially the one transferred onto the CD in your hands – show that his extra poundage didn’t slow him down. On the contrary, the frisky Louisiana boy with the secret of rock ‘n’ roll was rocking harder than ever – some say he was better than all the Brits combined.

But lest we be called xenophobic, let’s quickly add that the backup band on this particular night was a young British band from Weybride, Surrey, who had yet to make a record, the soon-to-be-famous Nashville Teens (hit: “Tobacco Road,” fall 1964). They were harnessed by promoter Don Arden and promised wealth and fame (neither came, at least on this tour) to back up Lewis on a month-long cross-country tour of England, to be topped off by two weeks at the Star Club.

Indeed, the band played there two weeks, but Lewis only played on night, the one you’re hearing here, the marvelous night of April 5.

What was in the air that night? Surely The Nashville Teens were accustomed to the breakneck Lewis style after a month’s touring. (And they were none too crazy about it: “Let’s say he was a bit difficult to work with,” said Ray Phillips, the group’s lead singer, who only watched from the wings.) But the pacing, which starts out at a machine-gun rate and never lets up, summons up two different emotions in the listener: awe at Jerry Lee’s breathtaking vigor, and pity for the drummer trying to catch up with him. (That drummer, Barry Jenkins, later joined the Animals. And for the record-er, CD-the other heroic players were John Allen on guitar and Pete Harris on bass.)

The German audience was like the rioters you see in newsreels of that 1950s Bill Haley concert in Germany, where kids wrecked the place. Same sentiment: fans (maybe the same fans, only older) whipped to a frenzy by the beat (the beat! the beat!), slamming their hands and heads on the stage shouting “JERRY LEE! JERRY LEE!”

More hoppin’ than Col. Parker’s dancing chickens!

More pure rock than a crack house!

Baby, this is rock ‘n’ roll.

Jerry Lee has said that The Greatest Live Show On Earth is the greatest live album ever made. I don’t want to be the one to tell him, but THIS is the best album, and possibly THE best album ever made.

And now, through the miracle of digital technology and the grace of Rhino Records, you, the patient American music appreciator, get to hear it.

Kinda makes you glad you lived this long.

- Art Fein


Recorded 4/5/64
Originally issued as Philips #842 945 (West Germany)

Featuring Jerry Lee Lewis, vocal/piano
& The Nashville Teens: Pete Shannon, Guitar
John Allen, Guitar
Ray Phillips, Bass
John Hanken: Drums

Original Recordings Produced by Siggi Loch
Remastering: Bill Inglot & Ken Perry
Recording Data Courtesy: Colin Escott & Richard Weize
Art Direction: Geoff Gans
Design: Rachel Gutek
Photo: R.A. Andreas

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This compilation (P) 1992 PolyGram Records, Inc. © 1992 Rhino Records, Inc. 2225 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, Ca 90404-3555 Manufactured by PolyGram Special Products, a Division of PolyGram Group Distribution, Inc., 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10019

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