Chuck Berry

In Concert

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Recorded September 13th, 1969, at the Toronto Rock & Roll Revival (at the same festival where John Lennon performed with the Plastic Ono Band), In Concert captures part of one of Chuck Berry's most important shows. The sound quality is not exactly high-fidelity, but given Berry's energetic performance (miles away from some of his other lackluster concert recordings), the sound actually fits Berry's bludgeoning guitar assault perfectly -- no fancy-pants theatrics, no overblown show-off solos, just pure gutbucket rock & roll. The one problem, unfortunately, is that, for whatever mysterious reasons, the disc barely contains a fraction of the complete show, which was released on vinyl in 1978 as a two-record set on Magnum Records. Where are such key cuts as "Johnny B. Goode," "Sweet Little Sixteen," and Berry's cover of Willie Dixon's "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man"? If the full set was unavailable, perhaps due to copyright reasons, then at least the disc should add one of those songs rather than yet another version of the execrable "My Ding-a-Ling." Still, if the Magnum set is unavailable, and fans want to hear more of the performance than is captured on the Rock and Roll Music film, this disc will serve as a good start. Fans who already have the full Toronto show need not bother, and newcomers will probably be put off by the sound quality and song selection, but In Concert is good enough to whet listeners' appetites to hear one of Berry's landmark performances.

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