The Killer’s little sister gets into the family spirit to celebrate Louisiana’s finest shaker.
“Baby, you’ve got what it takes”: when the Lewises adressed this line to each other back in the day, both of them were right, for the two could harness rock ‘n’ roll and boogie on like nobody else. That’s why, after Jerry Lee’s passing in October of 2022 robbed the world of the last, and most controversial, pioneer of the genre, only Linda Gail was fully qualified to pay homage to the fallen hero – a plan approved by him shortly before she entered the legendary Sun Studio to lay down the Devil’s dozen tracks. And that’s why there’s no pretension in her handling of familiar – and, of course, familial, given the presence of daughter Annie Marie as a back vocalist and son-in-law Danny B. Harvey as a producer – material she offers here; there’s only love.
The cuts selected by Linda Gail feel golden – and extremely demanding, too, for a voice approach on “Great Balls Of Fire” requires some ballsiness, indeed – but the lady’s delivery of her older sibling’s singles, including less obvious B-sides, seems exemplary; more so, the gender-role reversal of his repertoire – sung by Jerry Lee with the swagger of experience – imbues such classics as “Wild One” with innocent panache of a teenager. That’s always the case with female pipes: as well-maintained as this chanteuse’s are, they can sound eternally youthful – and they do so on Roy Orbison-penned “Down The Line” or “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” which serves as the album’s incendiary opener whose mighty groove Slim Jim Phantom’s rockabilly drums propel to catharsis. Yet it’s her ivories that’s the proper instrumental driver on display, the fiery piano strutting at the fore of “Lewis Boogie” and flirting with Harvey’s punchy guitar licks on “It’ll Be Me” and “Rockin’ My Life Away” where Linda Gail’s bottom-end chords puncture the listener’s cool.
Coming across as a sincere and impressive performer on the Southern balladry of “You Win Again” and leading “Let’s Talk About Us” towards finger-popping rapture, she establishes herself as her late brother’s equal – in talent, though not in status – and she easily outshines her cousin Mickey on bonus EP “Gilley’s Last Ride” which is attached to this CD. A star in her own right, long may she shimmy across the board!