Chuck Berry qualifies as a legend. He made his unsuccessful recording debut in 1954 under the name of Chuck Berryn backing singer Joe Alexander, but this was but one pointer on the way to him being the seminal figure he is now, one without whom the popular music landscape would be radically different even now.
As the proclaimed Poet Laureate of Rock `n' Roll he had a title to live up to when the breaks finally came, but that didn't keep him or Chess Records from lingering `on the blues side' as this collection of sides shows. Berry was still recording in the form in 1966, as shown here by "Ain't that just like a woman" which by accident rather than design carries the weight of all the implications of the figures that came after him and -as it were- drank deeply from his well.
Six years earlier he was cutting "Wee Wee Hours" in the company of a pianist who might well have been Sunnyland Slim (now I've written that I've made myself a hostage to fortune I know) and the thing is so deep within the blues vernacular that for as long as it lasts it's not so easy to see how that baby the blues had came to be known as rock `n' roll.
As of 2013 "No Money Down" lyrically puts Jeremy Clarkson in his place, some fifty seven years after Berry committed it to wax. It also fits right in with a culture of aspiration, albeit a little surreally. For all that Berry could do laments too, as he proves on "Stop and Listen" from 1961, a song which of itself shows how his artistry evolved at a hothouse rate.
On a practical note this seminal programme is enhanced considerably by the processing-out of the fake applause which has marred previous reissues of some of these sides. That absence makes this even more essential for anyone aspiring to knowledge of the history of that mercurial thing we know as pop music.