on 8 June 2010
Make no doubt about it Chuck Berry is the master and his unique guitar sound,his fabulous collection of rock n roll and blues material is as popular now as it ever was. It's the rhythms that get the feet tapping,the songs everyone knows a line or two of, just think 'Sweet Little Sixteen','Carole','Roll Over Beethoven','Lttle Queenie','Route 66','No Particular Place To Go','Come On','Memphis Tennessee',the hits roll on and they are all on this fabulous three disc set.They still sound as great as they ever did, this is legendary music by one of the greatest rockers of all time and still going strong in his eighties.
Everyone should have a Chuck Berry disc in their collection,great for parties,and great for live gigs,his music goes equally well across the age range such is the popularity of pure rock n roll.If you get one collection this is it and at fantastic value for three discs of the best original and exiting rock n roll.
Chuck always a great lyric writer but it's that rockin' beat that makes this stuff still so catchy fifty years plus on.He also can do a superb blues just listen to his version of 'Things I Used To Do',maybe just about the best version you'll ever hear. So 'Come On' (yes it was The Rolling Stones first single as well) done by it's writer and get hitched to this music that defies time and gets those feet a dancing.Recommended Highly!.
For any serious, as opposed to obsessive fan, this largely excellent collection contains about as much Chuck Berry as anyone could ever want, and the contents are mostly well chosen. There are a fair number of obscure gems here that will please anyone who's enjoyed a single disc compilation and wondered if there was any more worth hearing: Childhood Sweetheart, Betty Jean, Little Marie (a surprisingly good sequel to Memphis Tennessee using the same tune but far better played and recorded), a fine cover of The Things I Used To Do, plus (nearly) all his classics and some fine minor hits such as Almost Grown, I'm Talking About You, You Can't Catch Me.
So it seems churlish to point out the defects that make this a 4 star collection as opposed to a 5 star one, but defects there are. First and foremost is the omission of the wonderful hit version of Sweet Little Rock And Roller in favour of an alternate version. This isn't just an alternate take but a completely different arrangement. The hit version, with its spine-tingling guitar solo, is essential, this is merely an interesting alternative version, only of interest to completists - and it seems likely the inclusion of the wrong one was careless, not deliberate. Secondly, while the sound quality is good to excellent throughout, far too many of the 60s tunes are presented here in stereo. As a general rule, pop singles (and we are talking rock'n'roll here) from before about 1966 should be presented in mono - the stereo mixes were always an afterthought, the mono ones almost always sound better - as for instance on the Rolling Stones' Singles Collection; note also that the first stereo single came out in 1968. These aren't the worst examples I've heard by any means, but what's wrong with the mono versions? And finally, there are a few tunes here that really didn't need reviving. Foremost among these, of course, is the hideous and perhaps unavoidable My Ding-A-Ling, but several far more obscure tunes have either dated badly (Havana Moon), are cheesy, contrived novelties (Too Pooped To Pop) or just lame and out of tune (House Of Blue Lights). It's notable that of those four, Chuck only wrote Havana Moon, and that's a thinly disguised re-write of Louie Louie.
So not a perfect compilation - I'd hoped I'd never need any other Chuck Berry CD but I'm going to have to hold on to the one with the proper version of Sweet Little Rock And Roller on it - but having said all that, 90% of this is completely brilliant, stereo mixes or not, so if you want a lot of Chuck's classics and you're on a budget, this is unbeatable.
on 1 July 2007
I can only reiterate the previous review. I own alot of Chuck Berry cds and this is without a shadow of a doubt the best of the lot. If you are a Chuck Berry fan, as I am and have not already purchased this superb box set, I urge you to buy it now! It has the best sound quality of any of his cds.
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.)
"Chuck Berry: The Ultimate Collection," is one of the best, most inclusive of the numerous compilations of the great early guitar hero/rocker's work. It includes most of the big hits, going way back to the seminal mid 1950's, when they were new, and so was rock and roll, and Berry was helping to make it. "Maybelline," his first hit, for the Chicago studio Chess, reached #5 on the Billboard Pop chart in the summer of 1955, months before Elvis Presley signed with RCA Records. "Roll over Beethoven," and "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," followed in spring, 1956.
Somewhat embarrassing admission: I was a suburban New York high schooler then, and there was the piano in the living room. One day, Dave Goddard, a friend from Valley Stream Central High School, who'd had his very own rock and roll hit with his group "The Aquatones," was over visiting. Mom found out he could play piano, and begged him: he sat down and asked, "Mozart or Beethoven?" "Oh, Beethoven," she said. "Roll over Beethoven" came booming out. It was the greatest moment of my teen-aged life. (By the way, Goddard can still play a mean "Roll over Beethoven.")
Well, shortly after that, Chuck Berry got himself into trouble, serving 20 months in prison for violating the federal Mann Act, supposedly taking a young girl across state lines for immoral purposes. The man did write "Sweet Little Sixteen,""Schoolday," and "Sweet Little Rock & Roller," after all, not to mention, "Almost Grown."
Be that as it may, Berry still tours, I believe: I caught him a few years ago, in New York. He was a long way from high school, but he still had that swaggering duck walk. Can't personally vouch for the truth of it, but the professional musician with whom I caught that show said that, almost unique among touring performers, Berry didn't carry a band with him. All he had to do in any city was walk into the local musicians' union hiring hall, and say, "I'm Chuck Berry and I play Chuck Berry, any questions?" There never were any. How could there be?
Why do I like this one? Well it's Chuck. It's got 56 tracks, 55 if you skip "My Ding-a-Ling". And it's lovely and cheap. What else?
- it's got lots of the more obscure tracks which don't often make best-of sets, like "Oh baby doll", "Around and Around", "Talking about you" and the later "Lonely school Days"
- it has all of Chuck's ladies, Maybellene, beautiful Delilah, Carol, little Queenie, Betty Jean, Nadine, and not forgetting six year old Marie in Memphis, Tennessee
- and one of his most Chicago sounding tracks in the great car song, "No money down"
- there are several blues tracks - I particularly like the rather obscure "Merry Christmas Baby" originally sung by the great Charles Brown, plus Chuck's take on the Elmore James standard "It hurts me too"
- and there's one of his best non-Berry written tracks in "Route 66" - I suspect that there are a lot of people who think this is a Berry song - well it does have all those place names which he obviously loves
- the Chess backing band, particularly Johnny Johnson, provide consistently interesting support - it's not all the Chuck show
- it may seem a minor point but it's great to have the tracks in order of recording - so many compilations don't do this
- but what really comes through loud and clear is the sheer inventiveness that has gone into the creation and realisation of all these songs - there's hardly a dud here - all right I know I'm ignoring the dreaded "Ding-a-Ling" but that wasn't his song in the first place - for futher comment about the importance of Chuck Berry please see my review of "The Best of Chuck Berry".
As a postscript I'd add that, whilst I agree with the comment on "Sweet Little Rock'n'Roller", I think it should be stressed that this is a budget set. There are fuller sets available at more conventional pricing from Chess themselves.
on 7 July 2010
I would urge anybody who likes music to buy this very important collection from a real rock n' roll legend. I saw Chuck Berry perform live in Edinburgh about 15 or more years ago. he was about 70 years old at the time and the guy was absolutely magic.
His influence on music throughout the years is there for all to see and hear.
Buy this, you won't regret it!
on 8 August 2011
I have some old Chuck Berry on Vinyl including the London Sessions (side 1 recorded at Lanchester Arts Festival in the old Locarno Ballroom in Coventry 1972. This included the now famous My Ding a Ling). As I was there on that night, I thought I'd try this compilation. Just one word to describe - "Brilliant".
on 5 August 2011
All the "hits" and much more, in decent sound - but ONE oddity - Sweet Little Rock n Roller is not the version we all know and love, but a different arrangement with saxophone rather than guitar predominating. The only "caveat" for this fine, and good value collection.
on 21 April 2012
Honestly, I'm not a massive Chuck Berry fan, but there were a few tracks of his that I wanted to own. This offered me exactly what I wanted - all his best material, with the addition of some music I'd hadn't heard before, and later grew to love.
With 56 tracks, if you have any interest in the genre, you're bound to find something you like!
Many of the reviews here will be left by dedicated fans, but if you're not one of those, then take it from me, this is certainly worth the money.