Hey there folks and Welcome to Retro Dee Reviews!
In this section I will be reviewing music albums. I hope this will help other retro fans who are looking to add to their CD collection. (Yes, there are still people who buy CDs) So maybe this review will reveal that an album is just what you’re looking for. Or maybe it will show you that it’s just not your cup o’ tea.
So to buy or not to buy? Let’s have a look at this entry of “Retro Dee Reviews”!
Disclaimer: These reviews are my personal, independent opinions. I do not get paid or compensated in any way to endorse anything.
Retro Dee Reviews: “The Definitive Collection: Chuck Berry” (by Chess Records)
Where would music be without one of its most prominent Pioneers, Chuck Berry? I don’t want to know. Chuck Berry was one of the first Rock n Roll guitarists and his music is a must-have in any collection.
The CD I chose to buy to fill my Chuck Berry needs is called “The Definitive Collection: Chuck Berry”. It’s one CD with 30 songs. The cover (see above) has a not-so-flattering sweaty picture of Chuck on it. When you open it up, it has a very nice booklet with Chuck’s story and some more photos. The paper is high quality and the songs are all listed with credits and the date the song was recorded, all neat and easy to read.
The back has another photo of Chuck rockin’ on his Gibson and lists the 30 songs in the CD in small print.
And here they are!
1. “Maybellene” (1956) This compilation starts off with this rockin’ early classic from the Fabulous Fifties. 2. “Thirty Days” (1955) Same beat as “Maybellene” and has a Zydeco sound to it. 3. “You Can’t Catch Me” (1956) More typical Chuck Berry Rockabilly. Not that I’m complaining.
4. “Too Much Monkey Business” (1956) This fantastic, fast-paced song is another classic from the 50’s. 5. “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956) Another of my very favorites. It’s a fun Rockin’ Rhythm and Blues classic and even mentions “Blue Suede Shoes”.
6. “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” (1956) Buddy Holly covered this one, which is always worth noting, in case you want to hear it in his boyish-yet-manly voice. Oh, but Chuck sings it well too. It’s a cute song, with more great guitar. 7. “Havana Moon” (1966) Things slow down with this next song, which I find kind of a repetitive drag to listen to. It’s different from Chuck’s other stuff. It reminds me of those half-ass, mellowed-out slow songs from the 70’s. Like Van Morrison, only not as good. 8. “School Day” (1957) “Ring Ring goes the bell!” I don’t get why this song has the same exact tune as “No Particular Place To Go”. Have I missed something? “School Days” came first, but I’m more familiar with “No Particular Place.” Maybe he just didn’t want to write a new tune.
9. “Rock N Roll Music” (1957) I have another one of my “terrible confessions” regarding this song. This was my favorite Beatles song until I found out it wasn’t theirs originally. When I learned that it was actually written and recorded by Chuck Berry in the 50’s, I was once again disillusioned Beatles-wise. But that still isn’t the confession. The confession is: I like the Beatles version better! How dare I?! This is practically never the case when The Beatles do a cover. I just like John’s voice better and the Beatles have more energy.
10. “Oh Baby Doll” (1957) This one is alarmingly similar to Maybellene in both rhythm and tempo. It is, however, a little more low-key. 11.”Reelin’ And Rockin'” (1958) I like this one because it’s typical early Rock N Roll. Fun to listen to, even more fun to dance to and has that classic sound.
12. “Sweet Little Sixteen” (1958) Another super classic rockin’ 50’s hit. I believe this is one of Chuck’s biggest, if not the biggest hit. This song just encapsulates the excitement of the youth in the USA in Rock N Roll’s early days. It even mentions American Bandstand! Quite an iconic tune. It has some great piano and bass in it too.
13. “Johnny B. Goode” (1958) After all’s been said and done, this is undoubtedly Chuck Berry’s most well-known hit. With the classic guitar riff and the story-telling lyrics, Johnny B. Goode is a 1950’s favorite the world over. It was featured in the classic film Back to the Future and I think they even sent it into space or something.
14. “Around and Around” (1958) This song is kind of basic, but it’s got all the bells and whistles: good beat, Rockabilly guitar and you-can’t-sit-still rhythm. It’s a little repetitive, but it’s all good. 15. “Beautiful Delilah” (1958) This song has a touch of Zydeco in it. Other than that it’s pretty typical: Delilah is beautiful and sweet as pie and she can’t stay true. 16. “Carol” (1958) Not to be confused with “Oh, Carol” by Neil Sedaka. This song is definitely better and it actually rocks. I’ll cover this topic in a different post.
17. “Memphis, Tennessee” (1959) I really like this song. Someone else covered it, but I don’t know who. I thought it might be The Beatles, but the resident Beatles fan here says no. 18. “Sweet Little Rock N Roller” (1958) Yes she is. 19. “Little Queenie” (1959) My relatives from Boston had a Boxer named Queenie in the 50’s. But not because of this song. 20. “Almost Grown” (1959) Repetitive back-up singers and some Honky Tonk piano make up this song followed by some more great guitar.
21. “Back in the U.S.A.” (1959) This one has an opening riff that sounds a lot like Johnny B. Goode, but it’s not. 22. “Let It Rock” (1960) Again, the beginning sounds quite similar to Johnny B. Goode. 23. “I’m Talking About You” (1961) This one has some great guitar in it, and does not sound like Johnny B. Goode.
24. “Come On” (1961) In this song he’s talking about having one of those days when you just can’t get started. Even the car won’t star up. We can all relate to that. 25. “Nadine (Is That You?)” (1961) I remember hearing “Nadine” somewhere as a child and it left a great impression. I went around singing it for a time: “Nadiiinne! Honey is that you?!” Then I wanted to name my guinea pig Nadine, but I ended up getting a boy.
26. “You Never Can Tell” (1964) Pulp Fiction ruined this song for me. I really do like it a lot, but all I can picture is Uma Thurman dancing with John Travolta. Although, I still managed to enjoy it when Gator Nation (a local Zydeco band) did their version of it at their concert. Goes to show, you never can tell. 27. “Promised Land” (1964) This is another song where the beginning starts off like Johnny B. Goode, and a few notes later, you find out it’s not.
28. “No Particular Place To Go” (1964) Okay, I’m stumped as to why this has the same tune as “School Day”. I’ve been familiar with this song for years, so when I heard “School Day” I thought it was a parody of “No Particular Place.” Sometimes I really feel like I don’t know what’s going on. That said, I think I prefer “No Particular Place” because I like the lyrics better. 29. “I Want To Be Your Driver” I can’t find year for this one. I can’t find much I like about it either.
30. “My Ding-A-Ling” (live, single edit) (1972) I guess by the time 1972 rolled around, it was OK to have a song called “My Ding-A-Ling”. When I first heard this I was like, “What the actual f—?” It’s pretty weird. This recording is basically a live sing-a-long with the audience. It’s kind of funny, especially the part where Chuck teases that the non-singers in the audience are playing with their own ding-a-lings. 🙂 Ole Chuck definitely had a sense of humor.
As far as this compilation goes, I really don’t see anything super major missing. The only one of my favorite Chuck Berry songs that isn’t on this album is “Run Rudolph Run”, but that’s understandable since it’s a Christmas song.
The audio quality on this set is quite good. Overall, I recommend this compilation to any and all Rock N Roll lovers.
Retro Dee Unofficial Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2 out of 5 Stars
So thanks for reading, and please stay tuned for the next installment of Retro Dee Reviews. If you like, you can follow me here on Word Press and on Twitter @RealRetroDee and on Instagram @mariepascal82
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