It's been a few years since I last listened to Chuck Berry and now I'm asking myself: Why? You could subtitle this record 'The Joy of Rock'n'Roll' because one track after another is a joyful romp, an exhuberant celebration of rock'n'roll and rhythm & blues, of being being young with a girl on your arm, a fancy car, and listening to music with the open road in front of you.
Memorable classic track after classic track along with a few unexpected detours. There's a swamp-bluesish Downbound Train, a great version of blues standard The Things That I Used To Do, a cover of crooner Charles Brown's Merry Christmas Baby, the just odd but likeable Jo Jo Gunne, Havana Moon with its Louie Louie echoes, along with a plethora of Berry's lesser but still fun rockers. And, of course, there are all the big hits that made him a sensation.
In the unlikely event that you've never actually heard any Chuck Berry, you will certainly have heard several of his songs as he's one of the most covered artists in the history of Rock from Buddy Holly, The Beatles,the Rolling Stones up to the present. The sad thing is that such marvellous life-enhancing music comes from someone who is a notorious mean-spirited miserly curmudgeon who was never the same after a spell in jail in the early 60's.
But we have his marvellous music. If you're ever feeling down, just put on this collection and if it doesn't put a smile on your face then check your pulse because you aint down you're dead.
(And, really, it isn't compulsory to listen to My Ding-a-ling, indeed it's best avoided. But after everything else, we can forgive him this one.)