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Waxed - Record Review from Issue #22 July-Aug 1999

Carl Sonny Leyland

I'm Wise (HMG / HighTone)

I’m a weird guy who fixates on things I can’t do a damn thing about. Lately, I’ve been wondering why it is that no record label can figure out a way to get Jerry Lee Lewis to put out a new record. I mean, it tortures me that the Killer is still out there poundin’ and hollerin’ away, and yet he hasn’t put out a record in years. I ask you, what the hell is wrong with this world anyway?

Well, while we wait, at least we can be thankful for this jewel by Big Sandy’s ivory master. Englishman Carl Sonny Leyland, who has previously issued four import-only titles, really lets us have it with I’m Wise. Its 14 rippin’ takes easily prove that if there is ever gonna be a successor to Jerry Lee, Carl Sonny is first in line.

Leyland can play, and play well, just about any style of roots piano there is. He swings easily between classic boogie, pre-war jazz and roadhouse honky-tonk, but he really makes you wanna get up and shake it down with the Lewis-isms he exhibits on originals “The Honky Tonk Wine”, “I Believed” and “Get Used To The Blues”, as well as on wisely chosen covers such as country great Al Dexter’s nugget “Wine Women & Song” and boogie godfather Cripple Clarence Lofton’s classic “Done Tore Your Playhouse Down”.

Maybe the best thing about these tracks is not just Leyland’s flat-out proficiency, but the overall production, which sounds as if ol’ Sam Phillips was at London’s Rag Studio twiddling dials and brought that famous Sun compressor with him. This is no goofy oldies act; Leyland has produced a genuine masterpiece of roadhouse boogie-woogie that will only get better with age. And that’s just fine by me. At least until somebody puts out The Killer’s next one.

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Originally Featured in Issue #22 July-Aug 1999

Cover of Issue #22 July-Aug 1999

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