Classic Chuck Berry
Steve Vrana | Aurora, NE | 08/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chuck Berry spent much of 1962 and all of 1963 in jail after being convicted on a Mann Act charge. When he emerged in January of 1964, the popular music landscape had been forever changed by the British Invasion. Fortunately artists like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones worshipped the founding father of rock 'n' roll. [The stones included "Carol" on their 1964 debut, and the Beatles included a cover of "Roll Over Beethoven" the same year on their second U.S. album.] Berry used this momentum to go into the studio to cut one of the strongest albums of his career. In addition to the hits "No Particular Place to Go" (No. 10), "You Never Can Tell" (No. 14), and "Little Marie" (a sequel to "Memphis" that went to No. 54), it also includes the standard "Promised Land." To some extent, this is Berry's final hurrah. A year after the album's release, he turns forty, and the elder statesman of rock seems to have lost much of his drive. He has one final hit (the double entendre novelty song "My Ding-A Ling" goes No. 1 in 1972), but by then Berry seems content to spend the remainder of his career on the oldies circuit. But ST. LOUIS TO LIVERPOOL is classic Berry, and it's made even better with the addition of three bonus tracks: "Fraulein," "The Little Girl From Central" and "O'Rangutang." If you need proof that Berry was still a vital artist after the British Invasion, this album proves it beyond a doubt. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
+1/2 -- Berry responds to the British Invasion
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 04/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having toured the UK in the early '60s, Berry was aware of the impact he was having, and perhaps had an inkling of the British tsunami that was about to flood American shores. This album, released in 1964, doesn't greatly change Berry's formula of clever lyrics, memorable guitar licks and Johnnie Johnson's ever-present piano backings, but it does add a few classics and some fine album tracks to the canon.Best known are the hit "No Particular Place to Go," and the oft-covered "You Never Can Tell. Both are heard in crisp, expansive stereo - sure to confound listeners weaned on AM radio. A trio of slow blues includes the original "Night Beat," a cover of Guitar Slim's "Things I Used to Do" and a late-night reading of the Charles Brown chestnut "Merry Christmas, Baby." The original album's tracks include a follow-on to "Memphis" titled "Little Marie," and this release's bonus tracks include a follow-on to "Sweet Little Sixteen" titled "The Girl From Central."Berry sounds energized on album cuts like "Our Little Rendezvous" and "Promised Land," and especially on the original instrumental "Liverpool Drive." With the Beatles and Rolling Stones just then beginning to cover his catalog on record, his singing, lyrics and guitar playing still sound contemporary-for-the-time. Even when he's recycling his own riffs and melodies, Berry adds new tempos, arrangements or lyrical twists that reinvent the original spark. Three bonus tracks include the non-US ballad, "Fraulein," the B-side instrumental "O'Rangutang," and the aforementioned "The Girl From Central." All tracks appear to be original stereo, except for 2, 10-12, and 14.4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings."
Chuck rocks on into the 60s
Laszlo Matyas | 07/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This may be rock's first great comeback album. Released in 1964, in the early ecstasy of the British Invasion, St. Louis To Liverpool captures the middle-aged Chuck Berry doing what he did best: pounding out song after song of relentless rock 'n' roll brilliance without much regard for anything else. The fact that Chuck had just been released from prison when he recorded this music seems to add to the urgency, the sense of release that you can feel on every one of these tracks. His guitar playing is unbelievably athletic, an exhilerating string of notes that ties together blues, country, and R&B to form that beautiful package called rock 'n' roll (okay, that was cheesy. But you get the point). The disc also benefits from a crisp, clear production that lets you hear every gorgeous nuance of Berry's playing and singing, as well as the delicious contours of Johnnie Johnson's barroom piano.
The songs are some of the best in the entire Chuck Berry catalogue: Opener "Little Marie" sets the pace brilliantly, with its churning guitars, a strutting rhythm section, and a nearly hypnotic vocal. That song was also one of the album's three hit singles. The other two are just as good: "No Particular Place To Go" recycles the stop-start melody of Berry's earlier "School Days," throwing in some hilarious lyrics for good measure. "You Never Can Tell" (which was used quite mrmorably in Pulp Fiction) proves that Chuck was one of rock 'n' roll's greatest storytellers, and includes some smokin' guitars and pianos for those of you who don't speak English (how would you even be reading this review?!). The album tracks are marvelous as well- "Our Little Rendezvous" is an endearingly greasy rocker with a hillbilly backbeat and lyrics that grow progressivly more bizarre as the song goes on. "The Promised Land" is every bit as joyous and exuberant as "Johnny B. Goode," and "You Two" is a delicious, swingin' number with an incredible guitar solo. Covers of "Things I Used To Do" and "Merry Christmas Baby" show how adept Chuck was at playing the blues- he attacks the songs with some stinging guitar acrobatics and soulful vocals. "Liverpool Drive" is a high-speed instrumental pounder with a great burger-joint atmosphere. The album's other instrumental, "Night Beat," is a slow-burning blues rocker that really burns. "Brenda Lee," with its sumptuous guitar fills and thundering drums, is icing on the cake.
So, what the heck are ya waitin' for! This album rocks! Buy! Buy! Buy!"