In April, I saw Linda Gail Lewis warm up the piano for her older brother Jerry Lee under a merciless Las Vegas sun. Two months later I watched my alt-country hero Robbie Fulks blaze his way through a house concert as the sun set in Missoula. Imagine my surprise to learn these two had teamed up on a rockabilly salvo called Wild! Wild! Wild! Sometimes you just get lucky.
Still full of fire and feeling, Lewis has boogie-woogie in her blood and a cozy relationship with fast living. On “Round Too Long,” she introduces herself as “the sister of a hell raiser and the daughter of an alley cat” in a robust Memphis twang that leaves no doubt this ain’t no oldies revival exercise.
As for Fulks, Wild! Wild! Wild! is the closest he’s come to circling back to the classic honky-tonk sound he displayed on his alt-country masterpieces of the mid-1990s. “That’s Why They Call It Temptation” is a real gem, a throwback duet that could have been sung by George and Tammy or Conway and Loretta.
Fulks’ deviant humor is on full display, from the bottoming-out guitar solo on the title track to the dark wordplay on “Till Death,” where the singer takes her wedding vows quite literally: “No more honky-tonk angels/ Only actual angels.”
Their cover of “Your Red Wagon” is flat-out hilarious, thanks to Fulks’ unhinged phrasing and complete waterboarding of the melody. It’s vintage Fulks, and Lewis is the perfect foil. More! More! More!