Chuck Berry

The Latest and the Greatest

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This album is one of a handful of Chuck Berry long-players that were exclusive to England. By mid-1964, in the midst of the British Invasion, Chuck Berry was a lot more popular in England than he was in America -- the result was a reversal of what took place in America with the Beatles, as Chess Records' British licensee, Pye, spun a pair of Chuck Berry albums out of recent singles and odd B-sides, getting the jump on Chess by putting the single tracks "The Things I Used to Do," "No Particular Place to Go," and "You Two" (due to appear on From St. Louis to Liverpool that fall) on an LP, and throwing in cuts like "Guitar Boogie," "Don't You Lie to Me," "Bye Bye Johnny," "Liverpool Drive," and "Driftin' Blues" (off of One Dozen Berrys, New Juke Box Hits, Two Great Guitars, and Rockin' at the Hops), along with the single edit of "Jaguar and Thunderbird" (previously only available on the fake-live On Stage album) onto The Latest and the Greatest. The most interesting and unfamiliar track here is the blues instrumental "O Rangutang," which, with its saxes backing Berry and his core band, sounds like it could have come from the same January 1964 session that yielded "Nadine." The funny thing is, for all of the overlaps with other Berry albums and the slapped together nature of the album, The Latest and the Greatest is a very solid album -- it is almost certainly the place where Jeff Beck and the Yardbirds heard "Guitar Boogie," which they promptly redid (without credit) as "Jeff Boogie" the following year, and the harder rocking numbers intersected with the repertories of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of British bands.