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The Listening Room: Jerry Lee Lewis, Robyn and more...
Jerry Lee Lewis
"Mean Old Man"
There's a fine line between firebrand and the, well, "Mean Old Man" rock 'n' roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis purports to be on his first new album in four years. But that's a distinction The Killer has treated with careful consideration during nearly 55 years since world-changing rock anthems such as "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire." And if he truly was the mean cuss he's cast as by this album's title track, Lewis probably wouldn't be able to attract the veritable hall of fame guest list that joins him on "Mean Old Man," which comes in a 10-track standard edition and an 18-track deluxe set. It's an assemblage that, like so many of these projects, looks much better on paper than it sounds on disc, but there are plenty of moments that approach a higher strata -- particularly a pair of gospel numbers, "Railroad to Heaven" with Solomon Burke and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," with Mavis Staples dueting while Robbie Robertson and Nils Lofgren play guitar, and, ironically, the hangover song "Sunday Morning Coming Down." Elsewhere we get Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ron Wood on three separate tracks, Kid Rock and Slash rocking through "Rockin' My Life Away," Ringo Starr and John Mayer helping to "Roll Over Beethoven" and John Fogerty and Willie Nelson recreating "Bad Moon Rising" and "Whisky River," respectively. Lewis certainly keeps good company for a "Mean Old Man," but there's too much filler to say this is all Killer.
Robyn, "Body Talk Pt. 2" (Konichiwa) **
Swedish singer Robyn Carlsson certainly has ambition on her side with a planned series of three "Body Talk" mini albums, and it's likely that between them there will be one killer collection of dance-pop tunes. "Pt. 2" is not quite as urgent or as edgy as its predecessor; we get more glimpses of the "Show Me Love" singer on tracks such as "Hang With Me" and the lush "Include Me Not," while "In My Eyes" offers an unapologetic Madonna homage. Snoop Dogg's turn on "U Should Know Better" is the eight-song set's highlight, but much the clubbier fare fails to generate dance floor heat. Here's hoping for an upswing on "Pt. 3," due in December.
New & Noteworthy:
Anberlin, "Dark is the Way: Light is the Place" (Universal Republic): The faith-based Florida modern rockers recorded their fifth album -- whose title pays homage to poet Dylan Thomas -- in Nashville with producer Brendan O'Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots).
Bachman & Turner, "Bachman & Turner" (RBE Music/Fontana): Canadians Randy Bachman and Fred Turner are taking care of business again, this time without the Overdrive (and it's other two members) attached.
Sara Bareilles, "Kaleidoscope Heart" (Epic): The California singer-songwriter emerges from the writer's block that delayed the follow-up to 2007's gold-certified sophomore album "Little Voice."
Eden Brent, "Ain't Got No Troubles" (Yellow Dog): The second album from the Mississippi winner of the Blues Foundation's Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year award.
Mina Cho, "Originality" (Blink): Influences from classical to gospel to jazz and Afro-Caribbean surface on this Korean-born, Boston-based pianist's debut.
Cloudland Canyon, "Fin Eaves" (Holy Mountain): The third full-length album from the Brooklyn band led by former Panthers guitarist Kil Ulhorn.
Debutaunts, "Why Can't We Have Fun" (self-released): The first recorded outing from the hard-hitting Atlanta modern rock quartet.
Issac Delgado, "L-O-V-E" (Sony Masterworks): Cuban singer Delgado offers up a set of Spanish songs sung by Nat King Cole, with help from the singer's brother Freddy Cole.
Dorrough, "Get Big" (Entertainment One/Ngenius): The Dallas rapper's sophomore set features guest appearances by Slim Thug, Juvenile, Yo Gotti, Ray J, Jim Jones and more.
Helmet, "Seeing Eye Dog" (Work Song): The intellectual headbangers' seventh studio outing, and first in four years, comes after frontman Page Hamilton took some time off to work on jazz songs.
Interpol, "Interpol" (Soft Limit/Matador): The New York group's fourth studio album is also its last with original bassist-keyboardist Carlos Dengler, who quit after it was completed.
Brendan James, "Brendan James" (Decca): The singer-songwriter relocated to Los Angeles to make this follow-up to his 2008 debut release.
Jukebox the Ghost, "Everything Under the Sun"
Ludo, "Prepare the Preparations" (Redbird/Island): The St. Louis rock group's fourth album was preceded by the first single, "Whipped Cream."
Megadeth, "Rust in Peace Live" (Shout! Factory): The thrash metal vets celebrate the 20th anniversary of this landmark album with a concert recitation of the set recorded March 31 in Hollywood.
Franke [cq] Prevete and John De Nicola, "Dirty Dancing Demos" (self-released): This digital only four-song EP of songwriters demos from the "Dirty Dancing" soundtrack is raising funds for the Patrick Swayze Pancreas Cancer Research Fund at Stanford University.
Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, "Legacy" (Compass): The veteran picker is joined by Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings on his latest album.
St. Lola in the Fields, "High Atop the Houses and the Towns" (Nettwerk): The debut outing by the Nashville duo who had previously spent time writing for others.
The Steeldrivers, "Reckless" (Rounder): The sophomore outing by the rockin' bluegrass quintet that recently contributed songs to the "Get Low" soundtrack.
Stone Sour, "Audio Secrecy" (Roadrunner): Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root deliver the third studio album from their other band.
Thermals, "Personal Life" (Kill Rock Stars): Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla returns to produce the Portland, Ore. trio's fifth full-length release.
Unicycle Love You, "Mirror, Mirror" (Highwheel): The Chicago indie pop group pared down from a quintet to a trio between releases.
Various Artists, "Supernatural: Original Television Soundtrack Seasons 1-5" (Watertower): Fans who populate the CW series's cult following are most likely to know these songs by Jay Gruska and Christopher Lennertz.
New Music DVDs: The Beatles, "The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Beatles" (UMe); Lang Lang and Christian Kurt Weisz, "Live in Vienna" (Sony Masterworks); Megadeth, "Rust in Peace Live" (Shout! Factory); "Tommy: The Movie" (Sony Blu-ray) --
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