JJ 07/62: Chuck Berry – New Juke Box Hits

Sixty years ago Tony Standish admired Berry's blues belters while lamenting the teen-targeted slush. First published in Jazz Journal July 1962


The very mention of Chuck Berry still evokes memories of the press show­ing of “Jazz On A Summer’s Day” – of John Jack and myself at bay, proclaim­ing in the face of derisive snorts from sundry experts that Chuck’s act, along with Buck Clayton behind Big Maybelle, was the most exciting thing in the whole film.

And I still maintain that Chuck Berry is the Papa Charlie Jackson of his day – a fine rhythm-novelty singer operating well within the mainstream of Negro folk music.

Unfortunately, like most of his kind, Chuck alternates the rockers with pop ballads, one of the more nauseating manifestations of our time. So for every belting piece like “Don’t You Lie” and “I’m Talking ’Bout You” there’s a “Little Star” shining wet and sickly towards the dopey teenager market.

In this collection, seven tracks are likely to be of interest to the blues people, although there’s nothing to approach earlier masterpieces like “Let It Rock” and “Roll Over Beethoven”. The two al­ready mentioned are the best, followed by “Rip It Up”, “Run Around”, “Route 66”, “Thirteen Question” and “Sweet Sixteen”. The rest is rubbish.

I’m Talking About You; Diploma For Two; Thir­teen Question Method; Away From You; Don’t You Lie To Me; The Way It Was Before (13½ min) – Little Star; Route 66; Sweet Sixteen; Run Around; Stop And Listen; Rip It Up (14 min)
(Pye NPL 28019 12inLP 34s.)