JJ 06/63: Chuck Berry – Chuck Berry

Jazz or not, 60 years ago, Graham Boatfield welcomed an album from his favourite performer in Jazz On A Summer's Day. First published in Jazz Journal June 1963

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People may argue about Chuck Berry, and purists gnash their teeth at any sug­gestion that he is worthy of serious con­sideration, but for the record, I thought he was the best single act in the film Jazz On A Summer’s Day and I have enjoyed nearly all his records.

One of the really contemporary genera­tion of rhythm and blues singers – like Fats Domino, Shakey Jake, or Bo Diddley – Berry plays a very insistent ampli­fied guitar and uses material which is largely blues based.

The song Maybelline has been avail­able on a London EP (RE-U 1053) in a slightly different version, but to me most of this is new material. It is varied and there are several things of interest – the anti-education of “School Day”, the teen­age consumer version of Midnight Special; the affectionate sense of geo­graphy found in several tracks; and the love for cars.

Chuck Berry is a sly and insinuating singer, a compulsive rocker, a performer who moves about all the time. Built in to his music is the melody sense of American popular song; the big beat; and all the punch and sardonic disrespect of the Negro blues of the big town. Music­ally brutal; good to hear.

Discography
Maybelline; Down The Road A Piece; Mad Lad; School Day; Sweet Little Sixteen; Confessin’ The Blues; Back In The U.S.A. (18 min) – Johnny B. Goode; Oh Baby Doll; Come On; I Got To Find My Baby; Betty Jean; Round And Round; Almost Grown (17 min)
(Pye NPE 28024 12inLP 30s. 7d.)