Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Berry driving a '67 Mercury (miss that '55 Caddy)
Phil S. | USA | 04/10/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"[Not live on stage. Live in studio?]
In the mid to late '60s, several '50s artists decided to cut some real off-the-beaten path albums, a little light where heaviness was expected, but not off the beat, if you will. Well, in a few places, it seems they settled for something a wee bit askew.
So Chuck cut this interesting album, complete with remakes ("Oh Baby Doll", "Sweet Little Rock And Roller"), and near rewrites ("Back To Memphis", a stirring, horn-adorned uptemp opener, sounding melodically close to another Mercury side, "Club Nitty Gritty", his best work for the new label; "Bring Another Drink", a strange tale of happy bar-hopping, very similiar to his superior tune in that rock-jazz vein, "You Two", a gem of a B-side, one of the greatest in history; and can't forget, "Goodnight Well It's Time To Go", credited to [Pookie] Hudson and Carter, obviously associated with the doo-wop Classic, but really a good new Chuck composition, which also turned up in part on the live album with Steve Miller - a fine vocal, I might add).
We also find a traditional blues, the Elmore James stalwart "It Hurts Me Too", a set piece for CB, and a traditional jazzer, "Flying Home", with the name Hampton found in that credit box - a number Chuck recalled on his return to Chess album a few years later, "Back Home"; plus a pleasant tribute to his idol, Nat King Cole, "Ramblin' Rose" - somewhat wilted but enlivened by that lively guitar.
Yes, that instrument really is the "glue" which holds this rickety vehicle together - there are some melancholy blues ballads, decidedly under-developed. There's a bright new song, "Check Me Out", a fast dancer with typically engaging Berry poetry and soloing, a completely successful amalgam of two decades.
The wide stereo separation doesn't help any of the tracks, though. Try to listen in mono!
If you love to trace the careers of Berry's contemporaries into the late '60s and the Rock and Roll Revival era, or maybe just short of that exciting time, this album has a lot going for it. It stands proudly, albeit sheepishly here and there, alongside efforts by Little Richard, Ruth Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Laverne Baker, and the Everly Brothers. There's a sense of shellshock over the Mersey Beat takeover of the Top 100, a certain soulful resignation...which is irresistable.
So don't expect 12 songs keeping pace with his best from Chess. Although, as I wrote, where the lyrics sink, the arrangement drags, and our star's eyelids get just a little heavy, that sturdy Gibson rises to the occasion, and delivers us from the boogieless doldrums of the Summer Of Love.