Picks and Pans Review: Class of '55
Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash
Anyone who has ever gone to a high school reunion and come away disappointed will recognize the likely reaction to this record: Maybe they should have left the memories well enough alone. It's not that any of these four rockabilly pioneers is past his singing prime; indeed there are ways in which all of them are better singers now than they were when they hit Sun Records back in the '50s. But this album, produced by Memphis mogul Chips Moman, is curiously dry and staid. Lewis' version of the old Crests' hit Sixteen Candles and a few moments of jamming on Waymore's Blues exhibit some of the gutty, lived-in sound that might have been expected from this foursome (though given Lewis' real-life predilections in the nubile-female department, he might have chosen a less pointed tune). Most of the album, however, consists of uninspired solo turns. Even Big Train (from Memphis), with everyone in a rowdy mood-backed by the composer, John Fogarty, as well as the late Rick Nelson, Dave Edmunds and the Judds—never manages to accumulate much energy. And the Paul Kennerley tribute to Elvis, We Remember the King, belongs in the file of embarrassing Presley homages. The 1982 Cash-Lewis-Perkins collaboration, The Survivors, really served the purpose of saluting rockabilly's '50s roots. This is one of those albums that beats nostalgia to death with a stick. (America/Smash)
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