Shaking Things Up, Jerry Carlson
New Talent Records, RAW-JC03

Jerry Carlson is well know in Sweden for being one of the all-time best boogie woogie piano players around. And also for being one of the few full-time touring professional piano players in his category. He made his first succes in Sweden winning a national TV contest in 1996. Many concerts followed and his heavy boogie woogie piano style left no-one untouched. Jerry made more TV and radio and soon his first CD "Burning 88 Keys" was released. Later Jerry recorded another CD in Nashville with Elvis Presley's guitarplayer.

This CD "Shaking Things Up" is pure rock 'n' roll time. As the cover reads, there are 12 songs plus a bonus track. It could, of course, just have said "13 tracks", which comes down to the same thing. The mix of 10 faster and 3 slower songs, suits Jerry great. Two songs were recorded live to bring Jerry's stage-sound and rock 'n' roll feeling right into your living room.

Yes, this CD is all about rock 'n' roll, Big Time. The tracks were recorded in various studios in Sweden and the overall sound is quite modern. This is certainly not a 50s style live-to-tape recording. Jerry's backing band is something else too, it includes three (!) electric guitars, pedal steel guitar, fiddle, electric and upright bass, trumpet, trombone, and four saxes (tenor and baritone). And of course, Jerry himself on piano and lead vocals. All recorded in full stereo, with a large team of recording, mixing and mastering engineers.

The CD is beautifully packed in a three-folded cardboard sleeve with full color artistic photographs. No cut down on the expenses of making this box. Well, all of the above only guarantees good looks and sound perfection, but how about the music itself? And because of the high quality sound of the music, I'm gonna play it on my brand new stereo set, with active sub-woofer and everything, instead of on my usual crummy cd-player-with-headset that sits next to my computer :))

The first track, titled "I Keep My Fingernails Long", thunders into the livingroom like a wall of sound, with horns and saxes and a heavy drum, very well mixed down so that the piano keeps playing the leading part and Jerry's voice is clear as a whistle. "Call Mama On The Phone" (the Ben Hewitt song) is of the same calibre, a pumping slow rocker with great sound. "I Wish They Could Bottle Love Like Yours" is an uptempo country song, complete with pedal steel and a low down deep lead guitar, great lyrics too, written by Jerry himself.

The fourth track is a Bob Dylan song titled "Rita May". I don't know much about Bob Dylan, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't in the rock 'n' roll business, so I guess the arrangement of the song was done by Jerry, because this song rocks, although it still has a kind of 60s beat influence. "Whiskey Nights" has got little to do with rock 'n' roll, it's a slow song, modern country style, but because of the high sound quality, it still sounds pretty good.

"Save Me" is another Jerry Carlson orginal, which picks up the right speed again, and then some. A pounding rocker with saxophone and guitar solos and lots of piano, Jerry Lee Lewis style. "Hot Damn, I'm A One Woman Man" keeps up the pace, the thumping drums kinda remind me of Wild Bob Burgos' very own hammering rock 'n' roll style, great song!

"I'm Gonna dance All Night" was recorded live before a real audience, and they surely seem to like what they hear, actually so do I, a great Jerry Lee style boogie woogie rocker. Next is "Jukebox Party", great tempo if you wanna do the stroll a bit faster, again with that pounding drum rhythm. "Come On In" is another slow song, good sound, but still I like Jerry's uptempo stuff a lot better. The howling steel guitar makes it more of a country song, and heck, we wanna rock and roll!

One more live recording, "Elaine's Boogie Woogie", with Jerry showing off his talented boogie woogie capabilities. A piano-only instrumental and since it was recorded live, I presume Jerry can do all this wizardry with only 10 fingers on 88 keys. The crowd seems to love it too. "Hodoo Vodoo" brings back that wall of sound, with the horns and saxes, a pumping slow rocker like the first two tracks on the CD. Last track, "Brand New man". Why this is called bonus track, and not just "track 13" still puzzles me a bit, but maybe it's because it has little to do with rock 'n' roll and it doesn't really fit in with the rest of the tracks.

All in all, this CD might just be a little bit too modern for the old rockabilly fans, but it's all rock 'n' roll nevertheless! And since I like the live recordings best, it might be a good idea to go see the man live on stage!

Jerry Carlson Music
Barebäckvägen 240
261 93 Lanskrona (Sweden)

Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2001
Additional information by Jerry Carlson