Is it Rock? Country? Blues? Folk? Maybe all of the above…

Album Cover for "The Cream of Country" by Jerry Lee Lewis

Album cover of "The Cream of Country"

Sun Record Label

One of the most famous record labels in History "Sun Records"

This record came to me through one of my friends who asked me to record it for him.  The story of how he came to own this record is worth telling because those times are long, long, gone…

So his story is this:  My friend grew up in Wichita, Kansas in the 1950’s.  Not much went on in Wichita in the ’50s and ’60’s.  Not much goes on there today, come to think about it.  But when my friend was a junior in College, Jerry Lee Lewis was going to come through town and play a concert.  My friend didn’t even really know who Jerry Lee Lewis was.  One afternoon, a flat bed truck came through the campus grounds with a bull horn announcing a rock and roll show and where to get tickets.  As  a crowd began to gather, the promoters just started throwing copies of Jerry Lee Lewis albums out into the crowd.  My friend is a tall gentleman now, and he was tall back then too.  He easily caught one of the records.  So here it is “The Golden Cream of Country” by Jerry Lee Lewis. This record was released in 1969.

This record is on Sun Records.  The famous studio of the producer, Sam Phillips.  Sun records is hallowed ground.  It is one of the birthplaces of Rock and Roll.  Take a look at this photo:

 

The Million Dollar Quartet

Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley at Sun Records

At sun records in the 1950’s Rock, Country, Blues, and Folk music collided all at the same time. The results changed music forever.  Sam Phillips was the baby Doctor that assisted in it birth.  This record is a great example of what was going on at the time.  The tittle states it’s a “Country” record, but I would guess that when you listen to some of the songs you may think differently.

 

 

Side 1

Invitation To Your Party

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 A country song but with a honky tonk Rockabilly piano sound going on too.  Hmmm….

Jambalaya

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 This is such a famous song and it has been recorded by “everyone and their dog!”  I bet there are a lot of people that would be stunned to know that it was written by Hank Williams.  Here we have a Louisiana man singing about the bayou.  This is a great version and “The Killer” nails it!

Ramblin’ Rose

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When I saw this song title I thought it was going to be the “Ramblin’ Rose” of Nat King Cole.  This is a different song.  By the way, this song doesn’t sound anything like country and western music to me.  This is very Rhythm and Blues with it’s boogie beat and the style of singing it is really a very cool song.  This could have just as easily been Ray Charles.

Cold, Cold, Heart

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Another song by Hank Williams. When you call an album “The Golden Cream of Country” , you have to include some Hank Williams, Right?  There is a great new CD out that is a collection of unfinished songs of Hank Williams.  The CD was put together by Bob Dylan and a who’s who of great singer/song writers.  I haven’t heard it yet, but initial reviews have been very positive.  Jerry Lee definitely gives this song the country effect.  I especially like the gospel roll he uses in this arrangement.  The piano solo in the break is classic Jerry Lee Lewis.

As Long As I Live

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This song is much more Rock n Roll than country. The lead guitar sound is definitely more Rock sounding than country.  Once again The Killer tears up the piano with a great solo.

Seasons Of My Heart

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I don’t know who the woman singer is. She is not credited on the album anywhere. It’s interesting how they purposefully sing slightly out of sync with each other. It gives an edge of emotion to this song it wouldn’t otherwise have.

Side 2
One Minute Past Eternity

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This song is the most country song on the LP. This is in the style of old country like Patsey Cline.

I Can’t Trust You In My Arms Anymore

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This sounds more like Fats Domino than Willy Nelson.

Frankie and Johnny

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This is the only song on the LP that Jerry Lee Lewis wrote. This is straight ahead rock and roll. Not any country going on here. This is a great little rock and roll ditty.

Home

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A twangy guitar and a singing style like Roger Miller. A very country sounding song, with a slight blues edge to it.

How’s My Ex Treating You?

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Once again the walking blues bass appears. I like the fuzzy sound of the bass in this song. It’s a great tittle for a country song. It just sounds like rock and roll more than country. The Hammond Organ is not a typical C & W instrument ether.

And with that, “The Golden Cream of Country” comes to an end.  It’s Not the greatest album I ever heard.  It is interesting that a record like this was released with a tittle like this in 1969.  Consider what other albums were released in 1969.  The Beatles released Abbey Road, the Rolling Stones released Let it Bleed,  Led Zeppelin released Led Zeppelin I and II, The Who released “Tommy”.  There were also classic albums released that year by bands like The Velvet Underground, King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, and Nick Drake.  That is a very diverse group of musicians.  Music was going in a million directions in 1969.  Maybe the competition for Jerry Lee was so intense he felt he had to call it a country album to sell any copies.

So the point to me is that it is dumb to label music.  Country?  Rock?  Jazz?  Classical?  Then you get really silly with labels like:  Fusion, Alternative, Dubb step, Heavy Metal, Punk, Indie, etc…  On and on it goes, till nobody know what it really means anymore.  I don’t know.  I could be wrong.  What do you think?

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About John

I taught myself how to play the piano and read music when I was 9 years old. I've been been consumed by music ever since. I majored in Piano performance in College and I still play, although not as well as when I had time to practice 4 -6 hours per day. This blog is about music. Music is the sound track of our lives. All it take is one song, one composition; and we are transported across time and space. I think it was Beethoven that said: "Music is the landscape of the soul."
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