Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine called Live at the Star-Club "the purest, hardest rock & roll ever committed to record... words can't describe the music here -- it truly has to be heard to be believed." Rolling Stone said it is "not an album, it's a crime scene: Jerry Lee Lewis slaughters his rivals in a thirteen-song set that feels like one long convulsion." To anyone who appreciates great live music, the intensity of Lewis's performance is beyond compare.
Yet the album has largely escaped the public consciousness. Speaking from personal experience, I learned of the album only a few years ago through its inclusion in Tom Moon's fantastic book 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. It was never mentioned or discussed during my four years at Berklee College of Music, despite countless conversations about the pioneers of rock music and debates over the all-time great albums. Very few people I mention the album to have heard of it, including many rock music aficionados and professional musicians. Whereas classic live albums such as Johnny Cash's Live at Folsom Prison and Peter Frampton's Frampton Comes Alive are familiar to even most casual music listeners, Live at the Star-Club is relegated to the status of an obscure rock relic.
What a shame. Not only does the album provide a unique glimpse into the dynamism of early rock'n'roll, it also captured something rarely heard in current music: a sense of rebelliousness and danger expressed through a masterful musical performance. It is not particularly difficult to shout "fuck the police" over a looped James Brown sample or wail cliches about society's ills over a wall of digitally edited guitars (though the cultural impact may be significant). Nor is it hard to find artists displaying high levels of technical mastery - for example, any run-of-the-mill jazz/fusion or "progressive bluegrass" artist - who enjoy the imprimatur of sounding polished and professional, but without actually saying anything. Show me someone who goes against the grain and does it with virtuosity.
My purpose in this website is to create a repository of information about Live at the Star-Club and eventually document the circumstances surrounding its creation. The website is a work-in-progress, but I hope to have much new information coming in the months ahead. Feel free to contact me through the contact tab above if you have questions or would like to contribute to this site.