In anyone else’s hands, this song might have seemed like a curio. Not Jerry Lee Lewis, who remains the scandalous scamp, the flinty rocker, the unreconstituted rebel.
He’s joined on this raucous redo of Chuck Berry’s tried-and-true “Little Queenie,” as with elsewhere on the forthcoming Rock and Roll Time, by a crowd of very famous acolytes. Keith Richards and Ron Woods from the Rolling Stones, and studio aces Waddy Wachtel and Jim Keltner help stir up the shambolic din behind Lewis.
You were worries Lewis would get pushed out of the spotlight? Instead, he lands roundhouse punch after roundhouse punch, giving nothing away to age on one of Berry’s fleetest, most complex, most impishly salacious lyrics. “I got the chance,” Lewis crows, “I oughta take it” — and he could just as well be talking about this third-act project and everything it says about the ageless legend of Jerry Lee.
They always called him the Killer. Thing is, he’s still killing it.