Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry in London

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This album, along with St. Louis to Liverpool and Fresh Berry's, constitutes part of Chuck Berry's lost Chess years, and, for most listeners, a broader "lost period" for Berry. At the time, his music was never more widely copied and covered, courtesy of the British invasion bands streaming into the U.S. in person and on record, yet he couldn't chart a single or get top bookings in the U.S. Chuck Berry in London has its feet planted in 1965, offering harder blues-based numbers like "Why Should We End This Way" and "I Got a Booking," both influenced by Big Bill Broonzy (the latter, in particular, is Berry's rewrite of "Key to the Highway"), along with lean hot rockers like "St. Louis Blues" and the loud, sneering "I Want to Be Your Driver." The latter was a clear influence on Bob Dylan's "Obviously Five Believers," and demonstrates that Berry was still an influence on rock & roll as late as 1965. Therein lies the beauty of this record -- it shows Berry evolving as a singer and guitar player, exploring sides of his music and persona in a very contemporary way, and not at all awkwardly. He does revert back to past formula here and there -- "His Daughter Caroline" is the kind of sentimental ballad that Berry used to insert between his classic rock & roll on his early albums, in attempt to break the mood and vary the pacing. "Jamaica Farewell" and the Spanish-flavored "The Song of My Love" are more diverting and successful.

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