JJ 01/64: Chuck Berry – More Chuck Berry

Graham Boatfield's 1964 review reminds us that not only politicians can exert tremendous influence on American culture while indicted. First published in Jazz Journal January 1964


Putting our purist tastes on one side, there is not the slightest doubt that Chuck Berry is the strongest single influence in the whole field of rock and roll today. He has numerous imitators, and his material is very widely used.

It is notable too that most of it is good material, which has considerably more melodic and verbal interest than the average R&R opus. Berry is a musical story-teller as well as being a machine to induce the teenage sector to shake its body more or less rhythmically.

He is a versatile performer, and in this collection it is possible to see the three main lines of his work. Straight blues, well sung and tinged with feeling, as in Worried Life. Body-shaking rock music, as Little Rock And Roller or Thirty Days. Pure entertainment, based on good old tunes, like Monkey Business and Anthony Boy.

Several of these tracks have been heard before, in some cases in other guises or with slightly differently spelt titles. One can understand the recent anxiety of re­cording companies to issue Berry records while the man was still inside and only outdated sessions could be combed for potential singles.

Berry has not yet reached the same stage as Fats Domino, and the list of his LPs is so far quite small – only three during recent months. But he has a much wider appeal than Domino, and covers a good deal more ground, and with his reappearance in person we shall expect – and in my case welcome – a whole string of new issues.

Sweet Little Rock And Roller; Anthony Boy; Little Queenie; Worried Life Blues; Carol; Reelin’ And Rockin’ (15½ min) – Thirty Days; Brown Eyed Handsome Man; Too Much Monkey Business; Wee Wee Hours; Jo Jo Gunne; Beautiful Delilah (16 min)
(Pye NPL 28028 12inLP 32s.)