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.
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.)