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Chuck Berry – The Great Twenty-Eight

March 21, 2016

chuck berry 28

This is one of the most important LPs in my collection.  Not because it is valuable (it is worth approximately twenty bucks), but because of all the founding fathers of rock and roll, Chuck Berry is my favorite.  The only cool thing I can do on a guitar is the opening riff of “Johnny B. Goode.”

This double LP came out in 1982.  It was a high quality compilation of Chuck’s greatest hits on Chess records from 1955 to 1965 – his best work.

I didn’t get into rock and roll music until I went to college in 1977.  By the time I came across the compilation in 1982, I was a serious student of popular music and well into my obsession of collecting LPs.  I was in the right mental state to truly appreciate the brilliance of Chuck Berry when I bought this compilation.  I was obviously aware of Berry, but with this album I really dug into his music.  I must have played this album a 100 times in the first year I got it.  What was the appeal?

First of all it was so fundamental – so foundational.  These riffs had been copied by the Beatles, the Stones, Dylan, the Beach Boys and on and on – they were already embedded in my consciousness.  The opening riff of “Johnny B. Goode” is rock and roll.

Second where the lyrics – Chuck’s lyrics are deceptively simple – but they are a novel in two and half minutes.  Again they have influenced everyone: Beatles, the Stones, Dylan, the Beach Boys, Springsteen and on and on.

Third is the visuals – if you have ever seen a clip of Chuck performing – it is spellbinding – he is handsome, charismatic and the duck walk may rival the James Brown split as the greatest stage move in pop music (fortunately I was able to see both these moves live before Brown and Berry where over the hill).

And finally it the sheer joy of the sound – it is pure fun. When Chuck went to Chess, he found the perfect place for his genius to blossom – the house session players were some pretty amazing artist in their own right, for example: Willie Dixon and Johnny Johnson.

Introducing yourself to classic artists like Check Berry can be daunting.  There tend to be dozens of greatest hits package – some of which are not very reliable.  This one is reliable and frankly perfect.  Good enough to be ranked number 21 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

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  1. RIP Chuck Berry | Axl's Catch Groove

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