"Chuck Berry's music gets 100 stars, no question. But Hip-O select almost crushes Chuck Berry's legacy with these terribly packaged and way overpriced sets, designed to sell as few copies as possible. If these were done right, these issues would sell their complete run on the first day. The books and physical packaging are extremely poor and an insult to both Chuck Berry and the customer. Why is some of the greatest and most important rock & roll only available as a short lived limited edition? Only to improve some profit ratio, not to celebrate the music of Chuck Berry. If the German company, Bear Family were allowed to issue Chuck Berry's Music, this would be done with great respect for the music, and it would be available as long as the company survived. Nearly everything Hip-O select does is in this fashion. Take some of the greatest American music, and put it out in poor packages for inflated prices for a short time only"
Another Must Buy for all Chuck Berry Fans
Steve Wachholder | United States of America | 04/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well Geffen Records along with Hip-o Select has done it again by releasing this second installment of every song that was recorded at Chess Records by the most influential figure in the History of Rock and Roll, Chuck Berry. Every track that Berry recorded in the Chess studios from 1960 thru 1966 is presented here in this four disc box set, which is entitled after one of his 1964 singles, "You Never Can Tell" which peaked at number 14 on Billboard in September of that year. As with the first boxed set "Johnny B. Goode" His Complete 50s Chess Recordings, which was released in 2007, this set contains a total of 108 sides in the exact order in which they were recorded. Whether you are a casual listener of Chuck Berry or a devout fan like myself, this collection of music should come as a very enjoyable listening experience. During the early and mid 1960s Chuck Berry recorded some of the most powerful combinations of Rock and Roll and R & B which graced the air waves and record racks around the world. Tracks such as "I Got To Find My Baby", "Bye Bye Johnny," "Down The Road Apiece" and the fantastic "Confessin The Blues" along with "Come On," "Nadine," "Big Ben (Blues)," "Promised Land" and of course "No Particular Place To Go" influenced an entire generation of Artists including The Beatles and The Rolling Stones just to name a few. Aside from the 45 or so really great songs in this Boxed Set, the real highlight comes in the form of a live concert from October 1963, performed at the Walled Lake Casino in Detroit, Michigan. Having just been released from a 20-month Federal Prison incarceration for violating the Mann Act, Berry's live perfomance is flawless and the crowd just eats it up singing along on a few of the numbers. If Chess has any other recorded Berry concerts of this quality made during the 1960s, they should release them at once. This four disc set is packaged exactly like the first one was, which I am not crazy about. Again it would have been better if each disc came in its own individual case for easy transport instead of an open ended fold over flap box. Aside from the same cheesy packaging, the only real negative thing about this set concerns two of the songs. For some odd reason "Nadine" is presented here with what sounds like extra echo and or reverb which gives the song a flat sound. Why Geffen records did not include the original longer version of "Nadine" which can be found on the 1986 Chuck Berry CD "Chuck Berry Rock N Roll Rarities", baffles me. The same added echo can also be found on "Ain't That Just Like A Woman" as well. A 23-page pullout booklet with some Chuck Berry History, song information and various photos is also included along with several alternate versions and stereo remixes of various songs as well. The bottom line here as with the first Boxed Set from 2007, is that you get every song Chuck Berry recorded at Chess Records from 1960 to 1966 in glorious remastered quality. After 1966, Berry briefly changed record lables and moved over to Mecury Records with little or no success before returning once again to Chess Records where he then continued to record great music and earn his first number one single in 1972, "My Ding A Ling". For this reason a third and final Boxed Set of Berrys recordings during the early and mid 70s will hopfully be released in the not to far future. Chuck Berry was the greatest single influential artist and quintessential guitarist in the History of all Rock and Roll and for that reason alone this Boxed Set is another Must-Buy for all true Chuck Berry fans. Roll Over Beethoven, Dig These Rhythm and Blues."
"...Now If You Want To Hear Some Boogie Like I'm Gonna Play.
Mark Barry at Reckless Records, Lon | UK | 07/28/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
""You Never Can Tell..." is the eagerly awaited second volume of Chuck Berry's Chess recordings (his initial output for the famous label was released in 2008 as "Johnny B. Goode - The Complete 50's Recordings"). This February 2009 US Hip-O Select 4CD set has 108 tracks housed in a slightly oversized 4-way foldout digipak that is itself tied with a string on a lapel on the front. It's not numbered, but is a worldwide limited edition of 5000.
The 24-page booklet on recycled paper is in colour and features an informative and affectionate article by FRED ROTHWELL - author of the 2001 book "Long Distance Information - Chuck Berry's Recorded Legacy". There's also detailed track-by-track annotation and the whole set has been transferred and remastered by Universal's ERICK LABSON - a sure sign of quality (he has over 800 mastering credits to his name including almost all of the massive Chess catalogue). The sound quality is wonderful, especially on the STEREO mixes - full of punch and detail...
There isn't room in this review to list all the tracks and where they came from, but as there's stuff fans will want to know, I've posted a separate detailed list of all 4CDs in the 'comment' box. It outlines what track is from where...
Each of the discs is coloured to reflect a different era in the Chess label while beneath the see-through trays are 4 albums pictured in colour - "Chuck Berry On Stage", "Bo Diddley/Chuck Berry - Two Great Guitars", "Chuck Berry In London" and "Fresh Berry's". Across each of the foldout flaps are colour shots of Chuck, which are beautifully reproduced - really classy looking photographs.
Niggles - the booklet has some sloppy mistakes in it - quoting "No Particular Place To Go" as Chess 1848 when its 1898 - the singles discography forgets "You Never Can Tell" on Chess 1906 (the title of this box for God's sake!) - and worse - other than the pictured albums, there's no LP discography whatsoever. You can be damn sure that if Bear Family had been handling his box, the booklet would have been done with care and pictured stuff from worldwide sources to thrill fans rather than make them yawn (see my reviews of their Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent box sets). The packaging and booklet are nice - they are - cute even - - but for such a major release on such a seminal artist, it should have been so much better...
Back to the music - most dedicated fans will have the 3 "Rock & Roll Rarities" releases from 1986 and 1999 and the unreleased stuff on the 4CD 1988 "Chess Box" - what they won't have is the 23 PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED tracks surfacing here for the first time anywhere. They're a mixture of alternate versions, instrumentals and an unheard concert. My heart always sinks when I hear it's live (too much filler), but if anything the 11 on here are more lively than some of the studio stuff and capture the essence of the man and his music much better. It's from a gig in Walled Lake Casino In Detroit, Michigan in October 1963 and accompanied by good taping and an appreciative audience, Chuck's on rare old form - cracking jokes - playing the crowd like he does - launching into "Almost Grown" like he was 18 and his life depended on it - it's really great stuff...
A good set then - "You Never Can Tell" compliments Hip-O's Muddy Waters and Little Walter Chess boxes to a tee. I would have liked better presentation for sure, but it's the tunes and the great man's spirit I'll return too.
Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll! Deliver us from the days of old!
Never tired of Chuck Berry
Brian R. Straub | 05/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have the first Chess 3 CD box set and then the most recent 4 CD Chess box set as well as maybe 10 or so other Chuck Berry CDs, so I was a little skeptical to get this set, but there is plenty on there I've never heard before on my other CDs. I am very pleased with all the new and good material on this set. There were a few tracks, I think on the first CD, that have some awful, syrupy sounding backing vocals, kind of like the stuff that was added to Buddy Holly's music after he died, but thankfully, it's only a few tracks and the rest is really great. There are some live tracks on the set with some great audience participation that just makes you feel good. I love Chuck Berry and I love this box set."