Country Songs for City Folks

by: Jerry Lee Lewis

Country Songs for City Folks (later repackaged and retitled All Country) was one of those albums from a period that, for most of us, can safely be called Jerry Lee Lewis' "lost years," in between his legendary-'50s rise to fame and subsequent flame-out, and his comeback as a country artist and subsequent return to rock & roll as a living legend on the oldies circuit. Apart from Live at the Star Club, which was a sort of British Invasion-related crossover oddity; few except serious fans know a lot about Lewis' records from this period. Country Songs for City Folks is an astoundingly good country album, presenting Lewis as more of a rich-voiced crooner than a piano-playing wild man (not that there aren't some places where the ivories ripple, especially on "Wolverton Mountain"), throwing his pipes hard into numbers like Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away" and the old Hank Thompson hit "The Wild Side of Life," interspersed with more pop-oriented songs such as "North to Alaska" (on which he duets with his sister Linda Gail Lewis), "Walk Right In," "King of the Road," and even his old labelmate Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" (on which Lewis does astonishingly well). "Crazy Arms," in Lewis' third studio rendition of the song -- most closely associated with Ray Price -- could have been the single off the album, and might well have conjured up images of Lewis' classic sound, but by 1965 that sound was more of a novelty out of music's past than something that was going to scale the charts, at least in rock & roll music. ~ Bruce Eder

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