Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade Volume 3 (Chess 6641 177)

The final stop on Chess’s exhaustive trawl through Berry’s most creative 10 years, you won’t find “Roll Over Beethoven” or “Maybelline” here and though his blues performances aren’t anywhere near as powerful as some of his Chess lablemates, it’s still all the more enticing for unearthing the obscurities.  In fact, chez Asbo needed more Chuck as I’ve only got Berry ’75 (Chess 9109 101), a tepid recreation (showcasing the affectless tones of his eldest female progeny) of these sorts of earlier glories.

A 24-track double Lp housed in a great Rock Dreams-style gatefold cover, I was happy to part with a deuce yesterday for the pleasure of owning it.

Published in: on August 1, 2011 at 7:37 am  Comments (7)  

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  1. chuck has attracted much notoriety and flak for his “work to rule” approach to playing gigs (did he actually stop playing mid-song when the time went a minute over his contract, like the musicians did when they had tea breaks at the insistence of the MU whilst doing top of the pops sessions?), but i respect him for that. i mean, in how many other professions would you volentarily do another half-an-hour’s work in return for nothing other than a few compliments?

    the trouble is that because the audience likes it, they always make the gross assumption that the performers do too. chuck may be somewhat of a rarity at his level, but further down the food chain there are plenty of musicians who are playing stuff (usually covers) strictly for the money and not the for the thrill of it… one of the reasons i stopped playing in pub bands was because you did 3 quarters of your contracted 2 hour gig to utter indifference, and then once the booze kicked in the punters would get excited for the last half hour before baying for encore after encore after the set was over, without as much as thinking to pass around a hat or anything…

  2. I’d have a lot more respect for Mr. Berry if, during his allotted time, he put on a decent show. Chuck is not only notorious for “working to rule”, as you say, but also for some seriously slipshod, under-rehersed, self-aggrandising concerts. As a legitimate contender for the title of the King of Rock & Roll, Chuck seems to think that simply being in the same room as him, regardless of his performance, justifies the ticket price.

    Or so I’ve read.

  3. due to either absurd immigration policies and/or equally absurd musicians’ union rules, there was actually a time (up until the mid 60’s i think) when the big american stars couldn’t bring their own regular backing musicians to blighty with them for shows. instead they were forced to use local talent that wasn’t always overly familiar with their work… i suppose chuck just carried on that tradition long after common sense prevailed, as it suited his own ends i.e. the cheaper his hired hands were, the more money went in his own pocket!

  4. Read the man’s autobiography. For decades he has shown for gigs with just his guitar. The assumption is any aspiring garage band on up the food chain of rock and roll will at least know ‘the great 28.’ He negotiates for top dollar, and the promoter provides the band.

  5. That still seems like a pretty half-assed way to run a show business career, let alone present your ‘great 28’; a promoter will inevitably provide the cheapest of backing bands having paid top dollar for Berry himself, hence a mediocre gig.

  6. as chuck’s songs never seemed to stray far from their basic 12-bar template (even regurgitating at times i.e. “johnny b goode” becomes “bye bye johnny”, “school days” becomes “no particular place to go”, etc), maybe he reasoned it didn’t need much in the way of familiarity or expertise to provide adequate/functional backing? and after all, for chuck it seems all about the dollars at the end of the day…

    if dissatisfied punters had voted with their feet (rock n roll legend or no), perhaps he might have re-evaluated his miserly approach?

  7. […] I think there’s maybe five here, but it’s still a great set, far stronger than Volume 3. In some ways, by eschewing the more obvious songs and cherry picking the best of rest, I’d […]

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