Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry in Memphis

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Chuck Berry in Memphis was the artist's first effort to record an album of new material under his contract with Mercury Records -- it followed a blatant cash-in attempt, Golden Hits, on which Berry had cut new versions of his classic Chess Records hits. Recorded over a three-day period in Memphis in March of 1967, the record features Berry mixing blues and pop with rock & roll. None of it is bad, though his version of the Nat King Cole hit "Ramblin' Rose" raised a few eyebrows. Much more encouraging were the bluesy "It Hurts Me Too" and "Back to Memphis," and the recut "Sweet Little Rock and Roller." The main problem with the record, however, was that it was too slick-sounding, especially when compared to Berry's classic Chess Records sides -- backed by the Memphis Horns and a contingent of the city's top session musicians, the resulting sides also lacked the inherent "dirtiness" of those earlier sides, as well as a measure of excitement. Still, it's not a bad album, and shows that as late as 1967, Berry was still serious about making records.

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