Billboard Music Awards

Jerry Lee Lewis, "Mean Old Man"


"If I look like a mean old man," 74-year-old Jerry Lee Lewis informs listeners at the start of his first album in four years, "that's what I am." He will always be the Killer, enveloped by the legends of his past. But one only need hear his bluesy solo piano version of "Miss the Mississippi and You" to appreciate that Lewis still has his chops after 50 years. And he's still a hero to the legion of all-stars who join him on "Mean Old Man." The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ron Wood appear on three separate tracks, while Sheryl Crow joins in on "You Are My Sunshine." Ringo Starr and John Mayer romp with Lewis through "Roll Over Beethoven," and Kid Rock and Slash rock out on "Rockin' My Life Away." Mavis Staples chimes in on "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," while John Fogerty and Willie Nelson re-create "Bad Moon Rising" and "Whisky River," respectively. The album, which comes in 10- and 18-track editions, sounds better on paper than in reality. But there is the odd moment-such as "Railroad to Heaven," with Solomon Burke at his God-fearing best-that rises above its creditable but decidedly rote surroundings.