Preview Chuck by Chuck Berry
Chuck by Chuck Berry
2016 was notable for the death of Rock and Pop legends and depending on your record collection then someone you probably collected shuffled off this mortal coil. This year has been collecting casualties and in March Chuck Berry left us.
Chuck joined the celestial choir at the not too rock ‘n’ roll age of 90 and so maybe his departure wasn’t tragic. However as social media usually explodes and gets teary over icon departures then Chuck’s legacy to popular music simply puts the others in the shade but didn’t move the needle on the gauge of popular media emotion.
John Lennon, who was well placed to note a tune and social phenomenon when he saw one, said, “if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'”.
The posthumous release of Chuck shows that he was enjoying life with a wicked grin and capable of making worthy music to the end. The album was recorded in 2016 and scheduled to be released at the time of his birthday in 2017. There are eight new compositions and two covers, however, fear not about dabbling with something we are not familiar with as there is the hallmark sound, narrative lyrics and that complete mastery of pacing a song that moves at the right speed but is never hurried.
“Wonderful Woman” kicks things off and we immediately hit that foot shuffling rhythm groove whist a rock riff, such a signature, backed by harmonica lays down the melody. The album is dedicated to his wife and we can assume that he’s talking about Thelmetta.
It’s hard not to reference his classic hits and to be honest the instrumentation and most of the song structures are similar. “Big Boys” could have been composed 50 years ago and it’s fab. There are, however, some surprises and “Dutchmen” has a heavy blues guitar chug and Chuck tells a story over it – you could imagine this as a soundtrack commentary. Creative, original and a storyteller to boot.
“You Go To My Head” is one of the covers and is a nice nod to his love of jazz. This was composed in 1938 and has had versions by Billie Holiday, Fats Waller and Judy Garland. This version features some attractive bluesy piano from Robert Lohr and a shared vocal with his daughter, Ingrid Berry.
For those who like classic Rock n’ Roll by the legends then you’ll be acquiring this and for those interested but worried it wasn’t worthy then relax: I shall be spinning this long after the young pretenders fade.