The Michigan Daily - Friday, July 12, 1985 - Page 9
OJerry Lee Lewis - real hits - "Whole Lotta' Shakin'
o (Goin' On," "Great Balls of Fire,"
Milestones (Rhino) "Breathless," and "High School Con-
Call me sick but I'm inclined to fidential." Twenty-eight years later,
think that Jerry Lee Lewis would these songs still sound startling vital
have been better off - or at least his and ferocious, with Lewis bashing out
legend a lot less tarnished - had he hard boogie woogie flourishes on the
died in a plane crash back in '58. piano and howlerin' with the
Lewis had only a scant couple years in gloriously demented soul of a gospel
the spotlight and a handful of brilliant singer turned suddenly licentious,
singles to his claim when his getting outright lewd with "Whole
}marriage to his thirteen year old Lotta' Shakin"' and "Great Balls,"
cousin had him effectively censored but never sounding crass by simple
from the airwaves, forcing him to virtue of his sheer self-impressed
languish in the lounge/bar scene and arrogance. Like Presley, Lewis
cutting one futile single after another milked his brash sexiness to the hilt,
until finally finding some measure of but Lewis had the kind of egotism and
success as a country crooner twenty real cocksureness that Presley didn't,
years later. and made Presley look like the class
Milestones is a double record set twerp in comparison.
that attempts to chronicle Lewis' Lewis was probably no more in-
career through the last almost thirty telligent a hick than was Presley -
years, from his initial crucial singles both had to rely on other talents for
on Sam Philips Sun label, to his material and neither had a very
tnumerous comeback attempts, and strong sense of direction in their
ends summarizing his career as a careers. But Lewis had by far more
country singer. Like much of the raw instinct and passion, which show
retrospective projects put together by up powerfully in the albums odds and
the Rhino label, it's thoughtful, ends selections like "When The Saints
authoritative, and above all Go Marchin' In" - that Lewis just
thoroughly enjoyable, paying due shakes the daylights out of - and a
respect the established classics, :surprisingly touching cover of Frankie
throwing in some neglected gems, and Laine's inspirational "That Lucky
generally coming up with some Sun," while a song left languishing in 'The Killer' is still pounding away but not as boldly or brilliantly as he once did. Fortunately, 'Milestones' sup-
overall scope of the career of a much the vaults for almost two decades' plements the typical 'greatest hits' with a selective overview of Lewis' more obscure and later works.
maligned - and maybe justifiably so "All Night Long," is as ribald and
- but very important talent. wild as any classic Lewis hit.
The first disc of the set concentrates When Lewis found himself banished tempts show a distinctly dampened "Big Blam Baby" sound not only Country seems to be where Lewis
on the essential Lewis, and the first from commercial radio, he kept spirit. "It Won't Happen With Me" is dated but like retreads of Lewis' old came full circle - one of his first
two years of his career where he laid plugging at it, to little success, and full of shallow boasting and cheap hits with the latter hurt in particular recordings was country styled, and
claim to a position as one of the true though still possessed with a mean shots at current teen idols like Presley by an incongruous chorus singing in a he'd always flirted with the style -
progenitors of rock despite only four talent, a long string of subsequent at- and Rick Nelson. "I'm On Fire" and flimsy bubblegummy harmony that and when Lewis set himself to the task
sounds horribly out of place. with determination, he unleashed
o ' e u n o o i i a a m v s o Out of desperation Lewis turned to previously unseen gifts. With the
(17 rstrict revivalism to make ends meet, country recordings, Lewis shows
and it would have been fascinating if some measure of real wit - which
this collection had included a live always seemed too boyishly cute on
(Contnued frO Pate5) cornball moralizing - flaws that film. A dded to that are some track of Lewis singing one of his old his old records - and an honest sense
inton -is frightfully breathtaking became quaintly dated and kind of mediocre opticals - the effects were standards during one of his mid-'6os of maturity, or at least a sense for
land intense. But this is just the kind of cute years later on television - doned inue and s where s p gigs, which ish r w k n gk
thingany hdindrkbedr hasReturn keeps its innocence by seldom anchildinadarkbd- and a tendency to fill up the its retrospection, the only missing link later work appealing even if one isn't
imagined coming out of his half- patronizing you. Maybe Fairuza Balk between the quintessential Lewis particularly charmed with country
opened closet. is too low-key a Dorothy to carry the background witha shabby assortment material and the subsequent cracks music.
But Return is also delightfully fan- weight of being the film's protagonist, of the usual dressed-up dwarves and he took at country, which the entire
ciful and witty, with lunchpail trees but her naturalness is refreshing extras in animal masks, that detract last side of the second album is There are numerous hits collections
that sprout ready-made ham san- compared to Judy Garland's from the really ingenious touches. devoted to. that would better serve someone
dwiches on their branches, and ingratiating cuteness, and her simple Still, Murch's fantasy is fresh and Whether Lewis took to trying his looking for the quintessential Lewis -
characters like the wind-up metal playacting is at times touching. wholly distinctive, borrowing a little hand at country or if he genuinely had on the Sun, Smash, and Mercury
soldier Tik-Tok - imagine Teddy Not that Return to Oz doesn't have perhaps from Tolkien, a smidgen an inkling to change styles - the for- labels - but Milestones offers a more
Roosevelt reincarnated as a brass its flaws, it does. This is Murch's more from Terry Gilliam's Time mer seems more likely given the comprehensive, eventually more
boiler - that are wonderfully absurd. directorial debut, and he sometimes Bandits - but still showing more than man's apparent disposition - he suc- gratifying look at a truly great talent.
When Dorothy meets Jack Pum- stretches himself too thin to cover ample originality. It may not make ceeded surprisingly well. "Another Very worthwhile.
pkinhead, a Jack-o-lantern such a broad canvas, coming up with much money, but after it ends up on Place Another Time" shows a pure af-
scarecrow, he immediately bows lots of clever ideas but not always get- television and on video tapes, it will finity for the genre, soundingly
down before her and asks, "Willyou ting them on the screen effectively. A probably slowly find its own audience genuinely corny and sweet, and even -Byron L. Bull
please check my head for sign of lot of the movie feels rushed and who will be young, wide-eyed, and if his tone is too manipulatively heart
spoilage? I just came to life and would unrehearsed. Little effort is made to more than willing to explore this tugging - as in "What's Made
hate to rot before seeing anything." really forge a strong sense of marvelous little film. Milwaukee Famous" - one senses a
Murch infuses the film with un- camaraderie between Dorothy and wry self-conciousness of the fact.
supressed child-like whimsy. The friends, so that her farewell scene at Hello .. . is that right? wry sescocyuseks of the st.
whole thing is one grand dress-up- the end rings hollow. The Daily? Even the "peak SHIB yT
and-pretend realized to a child's A large part of the problem comes The Michigan Daily? with all the garish trappings endemic PR N
wildest dream. When Dorothy and from the fact that most of the cast is to popular country, sound thoroughly
,company are incarcerated in Mom- comprised of Muppet-like Carries Bloom County ... genuine. Ann Arbor's fastest!
bi's prison tower, she simply has mechanicals, which are bizarre and Fror 10-800 T-shirts screenprint-
everyone build a creature out of delightful but still lack a certain THE BLOOM COUNTY? ed within24o ourstof order n
what's lying around. They take an old warmth, especially the Scarecrow, a STANLEY H. KAPLAN edti 2oprinting our specialty.
couch with a mounted moose head - crucial character despite his small -s r s x
christened the Gump - stuck on the role here, who is rendered cheaply r odesign staffr
end, and shove palm leaves in the with a mime in a lifeless mask. rf
sides for wings, and then climb in and Murch comes from a distinguished $2 each oc surn cit
fly away. Murch's fantasy is free- background as a sound editor, playing 28 s Fc-s= s Pan 9941367
spirited and uninhibited where so a significant role in both George
many of its immediate predecessors Lucas' and Francis Coppola's more
like The Dark Crystal, Goonies, and notable films, THX-1138 and The Con- - FC G E E b d i v t T
IGremlins all got bogged down in versation; he docsnt have a par-/
exhausted cliches. ticularly strong visual sense. Return ///,a ' ? a w ou s
Where MGM's "original" - as it's to Oz is photographed in a kind of flat, - ! N 203 E. Hoover
often mistakenly referred to dull style like a'50s Hollywood period (1Jft B t ETAL$ H an ite i A i AI Ctnier
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