Just in case MCA's latest Chuck Berry anthology isn't sufficiently diverting, this CD from England's Beat Goes on Records, containing remastered versions of his second and fifth LPs, is a good place to start looking further into his Chess Records history. Apart from their intrinsic musical merits, between them, these albums -- his first two LP releases in England -- provided the British bands of the early '60s a big chunk of their repertory, the Rolling Stones alone pulling no less than three of their early songs from Juke Box Hits. The charted hits -- "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Reelin' & Rockin'," "Rock & Roll Music" -- speak for themselves, but there's a lot more music to enjoy here that usually doesn't make it onto any compilations: "Oh Baby Doll," a brash, stomping account of teenage life and romance that has somehow been overlooked for 40-some years; the instrumentals "Rocking at the Philharmonic," "Ingo," "Low Feeling," and "Guitar Boogie" (the source for the Yardbirds' "Jeff's Boogie"); the slow blues numbers "How You've Changed," "Sweet Sixteen," "Away From You," and "Stop and Listen"; the high-wattage Elmore James-inspired "Run Around"; the rollicking hillbilly flavored "It Don't Take but a Few Minutes"; "I'm Talking About You," a rocked-up adaptation of a Memphis Minnie number; the cocky Tampa Red adaptation "Don't You Lie to Me"; and his pounding rendition of the Nat "King" Cole hit "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66." Not everything worked, such as the attempts to turn Berry into a crooner aimed at the teen market on "Diploma for Two" and "The Way It Was Before," although "Little Star" is pretty in a rough-hewn way. The remastering brings out all kinds of nuances in Berry's playing and also the bass and drums that were only suggested in earlier editions of these albums, but the clarity doesn't detract from the punch of the finished recordings.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder