on 5 June 2014
While I was initially sceptical of this collection of re-recordings, the majority being a decade older than their much vaunted counterparts, I was greatly impressed by Chuck's energy here. In many cases, his sheer gusto elevates what might best have been a lame revisiting of former glories, motivated purely by financial or legal reasons (what with his just having switched labels to Mercury), to a most enjoyable alternative. The colourful instrumentation (including sax and bluesy organ fills), rich stereo mix, and Berry's own nimble fretwork, his verve, and his playfulness with the lyric, combine to distinguish these recordings from their better known forbears. As was always the case with Chuck, his recording sessions sounded like caffeinated, nicotine-fuelled jam sessions in which spontaneity and feeling were prized over clinicalness or mere technical proficiency. This disc is no exception. So, pour yourself a hot cup of java and hail, hail, rock 'n' roll to your throat is hoarse and your palms reddened from applause! NB: Check out the sole original composition, Club Nitty Gritty, which Chuck slyly slips in almost under the radar, perhaps as a concession or paean to the Go-Go craze then sweeping the States. Curiously, it holds its own amongst such distinguished company. *****
on 3 December 2014
As other reviewers have forewarned, be aware these are not Chuck Berry's original hit recordings. Even the packaging fails to inform the potential buyer that these are re-recordings made by Berry at the tail-end of the 1960s.
This album could have been a good exercise in Berry revisiting his classic hits and presenting them with a fresher and alternative colouring, but ultimately the vibe sits uncomfortably somewhere between a softened version of Berry's own brand of Rock & Roll and a stripped down and less professional variation of Elvis Presley's Vegas cabaret sound.
The tunes are functional enough. The stereo production leaves them polished in comparison to the originals, but the guitar is very thin and Berry's vocals are sometimes swathed in reverb. There are a number of cringe-inducing moments where the bass or electric piano lose direction and go out of tune - as does Berry himself occasionally.
The saving grace is the final track, Club Nitty Gritty (newly written at the time, and the album's only Mono recording). Returning to the 70's Elvis comparison, this is the best song Elvis never recorded during his Vegas period. With a funky pulsating R&B rhythm punctuated by a slammed double-chord hit, it's tailor-made for jump-suited air-punching karate-posed moves....and as such sounds out of place on this album of Rock & Roll re-treads.
So how would I rate Golden Hits?
For a Chuck Berry beginner it's certainly one to avoid. Stay away. Instead buy one of the multitude of compilations which feature the original recordings of his hits.
I can only see this album being of interest to Chuck Berry completists. These reinterpretations of his classic material just don't manage to stand up particularly well on their own merits, the irony being that if Berry had taken them deeper into the realms of a "Vegas" sound they may instead today have made for a more worthwhile and rewarding listening experience.
This is Chuck-lite. Cabaret Berry for the small hours. Background music when you can't sleep but just want to lie there trying.
It's OK for what it is.
on 8 May 2005
If this is going to be your first Berry cd,seek it with another cd.This is Berry's lean Mercury years,re-recorded hits Mercury demanded,and they sound not even close to the originals.But if you are abit of a completist you'll want to seek out his mercury sides,which are very rare.Golden hits you can get cheap also go for Live At The Filmore(His best effort at Mercury).The others have been deleted and so are not cheap.