Jerry Lee Lewis - "Live" at the Star-Club, Hamburg (1964), 5/10

Jerry Lee Lewis had a knack for energetic performance, and it is palpable in his playing at the Star-Club. This spectacle is like murder on the keys and his command of the crowd is clear. While some of the compositions are better than others, the energy is remarkably consistent and Lewis sounds like a mature musician flaunting his talents, unlike any amateur. Moments like his laughing and playful vocal passages during “Money (That’s What I Want)” make an otherwise normative rock and roll song superbly entertaining and charming. Still, some songs are beyond redemption, or Lewis doesn’t do enough to resurrect their energy, and they end up amounting to nothing more than bland filler. This can also be felt from the band, sometimes they are fully invested in the propulsion of a song and its imagery, sometimes they flounder in reaction to its lack of interest or in reaction to Lewis dwarfing their efforts. His personal life and morally corrupt marriage didn’t do him any favors in terms of his legacy, but this performance helped save his musical reputation from the depths of despair. The placement of microphones directly against the band’s instruments and amongst the audience results in a booming audio experience that matches the group’s energy and the speeding race of an album that is Live at the Star-Club, Hamburg. The only real weakness of the performance is in the writing, making the execution nearly free from criticism; this is exemplified by “Good Golly, Miss Molly” which sounds years ahead of its time for its achieved sound despite a rather simple song structure and arrangement style. Jenkins' drums are particularly strong here along with Lewis’ growling vocals and brisk pace on the keys. Contributing even more to the praise of performance, the playful sway of the music largely overtakes the consistently standardized rock and roll compositions. Simply a masterclass in charismatic live performance.