ALBUMS

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The Independent Culture
Jerry Lee Lewis

Young Blood

(Sire 7559-61795-2)

No great surprises here: the Killer's first album of the decade comes with songs and production tailored to fit in all the right places by Andy Paley, who knows a bit about corralling the talent of legendarily difficult or renegade artists, having done the donkey work on Brian Wilson's comeback album of a few years back.

Here, Paley's fitted up Jerry Lee with custom-built new material like the rollicking car song "Crown Victoria Custom '51" and the country lament "Restless Heart", alongside a slate of judiciously chosen covers which, like the title-song, already fit him like a glove. Hank Williams's "I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive" opens the album in honky-tonk style, drenched in cavernous reverb, before Paley's own "Goosebumps" applies the "Keep a-Knockin' " template to Lewis's ivory-hammering style.

From there, it's a swift tack between rockers and country numbers, and a few tracks which don't seem to know exactly what they are: "It Was the Whiskey Talkin' (Not Me)", for instance, starts off country-style, takes a brief vacation in Dixieland, then cruises back to Nashville via fiddle and pedal steel guitar breaks. Mercifully, though, there's no overt pandering to the line-dancing Rockin' Country hype. Instead, through it all, Jerry Lee retains his dignity (even when yodelling on "Miss the Mississippi and You") - which, come to think about it, is probably the only out-of- character thing about the project. The title, though, begs the question: is he trying to suggest his own sustained youthfulness, or cast Draculate shadows over his own reputation? I do hope it's the latter.

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