Search - Various Artists :: Chess Rhythm & Roll

Chess Rhythm & Roll
Various Artists
Chess Rhythm & Roll
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Country, Blues, Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, R&B, Rock
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (24) - Disc #4

Compiled with the same care and attention to detail as the landmark Chess Blues box set, this set presents the rhythm & blues side of Chess Records and, in many ways, is the more entertaining of the two. Ninety-nine tracks...  more »


CD Details

Compiled with the same care and attention to detail as the landmark Chess Blues box set, this set presents the rhythm & blues side of Chess Records and, in many ways, is the more entertaining of the two. Ninety-nine tracks cover the label's astonishing breadth of jump blues combos, vocal groups, and rock & roll pioneers. You can't help but be overwhelmed by all this great music. The work of giants like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley sounds even more exciting in context with underrated gems from the likes of the Moonglows, Paul Gayten, and the Dozier Boys. No one is going to deny the greatness of Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88" or Etta James's breathtaking performance on "At Last." But you haven't lived until you've laughed at Roscoe Gordon's "Booted," sung broken falsetto to Clarence "Frogman" Henry's immortal "Ain't Got No Home," or wrung tears from your hanky to the ambient strains of the Corsairs' gorgeous "Smokey Places." --Ken Hohman

CD Reviews

****1/2. Why the hell don't Amazon stock this?!
Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 06/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is one impresssive box set, four discs and an excellent 64-page booklet.
"Chess Rhythm & Roll" brings together excactly 99 Chess singles recorded between 1947 and 1967, and while Chess records is better known as the home of men like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, the Chess brothers also had many of the earliest (and best) rock n' rollers in their stable. This is rock n' roll, R&B, and a bit of soul, pop, blues and doo-wop as well, and this lavish collection far exceeds your average "oldies" package.

The sound is every bit as good as you can expect from material dating back to the 40s and 50s. Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley are here, of course, two of the label's biggest stars, but it's the attention given to lesser-known artists and "one hit wonders" which makes "Chess Rhythm & Roll" so remarkable.
We all know "See You Later Alligator", "At Last", "Johnny B. Goode" and "Suzie Q", but how about "Goin' To The River" by Bill & Will, "Country Girl" by the Four Tops, Paul Gayten's driving instrumental "Nervous Boogie", or Clarence 'Frogman' Henry's swinging "Lady With The Hat Box"?
Some of these tunes are probably more familiar to all you Americans than to a thirty-something European like me...but there are numerous songs here (39 in all) which are not just rarities, they have never been available in LP format before, and in many cases have not seen release at all until this collection came out in '94.

Not everything is top-notch, obviously, but very few of these 99 songs are anything less than good. "Chess Rhythm & Roll" is a find for anyone with an interest in "proto-rock n' roll", an exceptionally handsome and well-made box set, and a terrific companion volume to Chess' other big box set, "Chess Blues".
Pick up "Chess Rhythm & Roll", and you'll be surprised at the overall quality of the material assembled here."
"...They Call Me Mr. Big Wheel...Because I Love To Roll..."
Mark Barry at Reckless Records, Lon | UK | 08/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Following on from MCA's 4CD "Chess Blues" box set in 1992, this 1994 US-only complimentary set seems to have slipped through the net - because for my money, it's one of the best box sets of its type - and somehow criminally ignored. Here's a basic breakdown...

DISC 1, 1947-1955, 25 Tracks, 68:52 minutes
DISC 2, 1955-1957, 25 Tracks, 61:47 minutes
DISC 3, 1957-1959, 25 Tracks, 65:45 minutes
DISC 4, 1960-1967, 24 Tracks, 64:58 minutes

Of the 99 tracks, 14 are previously unreleased - and even in 2009 with wads of Chess stuff in my possession, a good 'half' of the rest are rarities exclusive to this set. Hard to find songs by artists like PAUL GAYTEN, TV SLIM, JIMMY NELSON (lyrics above) and JUMPIN' GENE SIMMONS are all on here. The quality of the unreleased tracks too is shockingly good and of course there's early artistic genius everywhere you look - MINNIE RIPERTON with THE GEMS, EDDIE FLOYD with THE FALCONS, CHARLES STEPNEY with THE DELLS on their truly delicious "O-O, I Love You" (not on their "Standing Ovation" 2CD set - see separate review).

Long time ace engineer ERICK LABSON (has over 800 mastering credits to his name) remastered the first generation tapes and the sound is WONDERFUL throughout - especially on the more soulful stuff on Discs 3 and 4 (BILL INGLOT of Rhino fame helped out on a few tracks). It's all good frankly - a joy to listen to throughout.

But the real peach for me is the superlative 64-page box-length booklet by PETER GRENDYSA (does a lot of Bear Family's stuff - see my review for Louis Jordan's 9CD box set "Let The Good Times Roll"), which gives detailed annotation on every single track - and not just a couple of lines, but whole paragraphs to each entry (discography details too). The text is peppered with classy period photos (forgotten Doo Wop group THE DOZIERS are in there), trade adverts and an interview with Phil Chess. It's a well of great info and a proper informative read. Good names like ANDY McKAIE and COLIN ESCOTT were involved in the interviews and research, so you know it's a class act.

"Chess Rhythm & Roll" has been deleted years now, so it's acquired a bit of a price tag, but if you get a chance to buy one - don't hesitate.

PS: see also reviews for - "Chess Blues", 4CD Box set from 1993, and "The Chess Story 1947-1975", 15CD Box Set from 2000"