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Chuck Berry's Golden Hits

2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 July 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Import
  • ASIN: B000001FEQ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 116,649 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
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. *****
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x970b6558) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96da47bc) out of 5 stars It's not the amazing Chuck Berry of the 1950s, but what is? 23 Mar. 2008
By R. M. Ruda - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
My reaction to this album is just as subjective as everyone else's, but here goes: Obviously this collection of "re-recordings" doesn't have the freshness and exuberence of Chuck's early recordings of these classics, but that shouldn't be held against it. After all, as other reviewers have pointed out, there are ample digitally-remastered alternatives for people who are interested only in the young and uncontrollably brilliant Chuck Berry of the 1950s. Why shouldn't an older and more mature Chuck Berry have had an opportunity to "re-record" these songs in the late 1960s, and why shouldn't they have a different feel? What sense would it have made for him to try to duplicate what he had already done 15 years earlier? I personally think these versions, while clearly less electrifying than the originals, have a lot of value for Chuck Berry fans, but agree that those listening to him for the first time would be better off with his earlier recordings.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0540bac) out of 5 stars Fairly good recuts 17 Jan. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
And at the forefront of the "entertainment value" versus "artistic integrity" debate, we have this deceptive, pointless, worthless, surprisingly entertaining piece of decent garbage. Chuck Berry re-records his biggest hits, hoping that you won't notice it's been 10 years since he wrote them. Whee. How many other people have bought this, expecting the original radio classics? What exactly is the record company's motivation for keeping this on the market 34 years after it stopped being a momentary novelty? Maybe if this were a live record, I wouldn't hate it so much - like I said, this is a very entertaining album full of classic songs, clearly delivered and crisply recorded. However, the fact that there's no indication on the cover that these are re-recordings makes my blood boil. If you're interested, Chuck lets out about two cool guitar solos; there's a mindbending bassline on "Rock And Roll Music," and the electrified instruments would be a nice addition if they weren't the album's only nod to the past 10 years of musical innovation. There's one new song, "Club Nitty Gritty", and it's as fun as everything else, if a bit more forgettable. Chuck Berry tries to make money without being creative at all - hell, if that were an acceptable practice, I certainly wouldn't be here writing these bitter reviews.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96da70e4) out of 5 stars Oh, Chuck! 5 July 2013
By timot - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I learned to love Chuck Berry from the "American Graffiti" soundtrack and the Fort Wayne radio station WOWO's year-end rock-and-roll countdowns of the late 1960s and early 1970s. I got the LP "Chuck Berry's Golden Hits" (Mercury SR-61103) as a teenager in 1973. I noticed that the songs didn't sound the same on radio as on record, but I put this down to the flaws of my tiny transistor radio and cheap stereo (which, for example, turned Paul McCartney's bass on Beatles' records into a pleasant rumble). I don't know how I explained the difference between "Golden Hits" and Berry's songs in "American Graffiti," but I'm sure I had a theory. For years, I thought Mercury was Berry's original label. When I finally took a good listen to the Chess recordings, I was disappointed. They sounded thin and flat. It took awhile for me to change my mind, after which, in a fit of resentment, I sold "Golden Hits" to a second-hand record store.

Out of curiosity, I bought the CD reissue of the LP a few weeks ago. I wanted to hear what I'd loved about the album, and I'd long wanted to figure out its history, which I knew only in outline. The CD adds four cuts (6,7,13, and 14) of the six that were recorded with the others, but not included on the LP. Fourteen cuts are re-recordings of Chess songs. The exception is "Club Nitty Gritty," which was the A-side of Berry's first Mercury single (Mercury 72643, rel. November, 1966, b/w "Laugh and Cry"). The LP was released in March of 1967 in order to take advantage of the publicity for Chess Records' "Chuck Berry's Golden Decade," which was released the same month, and steal a few sales from confused record buyers. "Sweet Little Rock and Roller" and "Oh, Baby Doll," the two Chess remakes left off the LP and missing from the CD, turned up on Mercury's "Chuck Berry Back in Memphis" later that year.

The discount label Pickwick Records reissued "Hits" as "Johnny B. Goode" (SPC-3327) in 1972 after Berry had returned to Chess and his LP "The London Chuck Berry Sessions" was high on the charts. This Pickwick album leaves off "Thirty Days" and "Club Nitty Gritty" while adding "Reelin' and Rockin'." Pickwick released it again the same year as part of a double album, "Flashback" (Pickwick PTP-2061), which includes eight cuts from Berry's other Mercury albums. The title of "Reelin' and Rockin'" was displayed on the cover in large print because a long, live version with bawdy lyrics was a popular cut on "London Sessions."

The release of "Chuck Berry's Golden Hits" was seedy, but I suspect that Berry's motive in recording it was less dishonorable than it seems at first blush. At a time before original recordings were deemed almost always superior to remakes, Berry may well have thought he was improving the songs. Unlike most of the Chess originals, the Mercury recordings are in stereo, which was considered inarguably better than mono at the time. That aside, the rougher sound of "Hits" makes me think that Berry was emulating the Animals, the Rolling Stones, and the dozens of other bands that were doing harder versions of his lighthearted, surprisingly graceful originals.

I find it both amusing and disconcerting that "Chuck Berry's Golden Hits" continues fooling people fifty years after the wild days of 1967. Those recently tricked can take solace in being part of what by now can be considered a rock-and-roll tradition. For what it's worth, here's what I wish whatever entity owns the Mercury catalog would do: one, release a version of "Hits" that's accurately labeled and includes "Sweet Little Rock and Roller" and "Oh, Baby Doll;" and two, put out a collection of Berry's other Mercury material. I've heard enough of it here and there to think that an anthology would be revelatory.

One more thing. I don't care what anyone says. "Club Nitty Gritty" is one of my favorite Chuck Berry songs. It's one of my favorites songs, period. Of course, I could never achieve my fantasy of spending an evening at the Club Nitty Gritty with Chuck Berry on stage and just the right woman sharing my pitcher, but, at Bloomington, Indiana's Bluebird in the late 1970s, with a girl I'll call L and another I'll call A, I came pretty close.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96da4b64) out of 5 stars Mostly listenable recuts 2 Aug. 2002
By p. silverman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everlys, Little Richard, and Fats Domino all went to Nashville to re-record their greatest hits in the '60s and Chuck Berry was no different. Well, he went to Clayton (Clayton, Missouri that is) for his set and he came up with some interesting sounds. *Interesting sounds* are not always as rockin' as real rock and roll, but looking back at the session, there are only about four or five which should be gathering vaultdust. Yes, "Thirty Days", "Sweet Little Sixteen", and the previously unreleased "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man", with the booming echo and occasional out-of-sync instrumentalizing, including an incongruous electric piano, will make even completists nervous. But listen again to "Carol" with its kickin' drums and new lyrics; "School Day", with fabulous guitar work, and a "live" feel - I saw CB do this number at Madison Square Garden in '70 and this '66 version was alot closer in sound than the original!; another previously unissued cut, "Let It Rock" might even be better than the first. The best of these Mercury versions feature outstanding guitar-playing by Chuck - and some groovy piano riffs by his old pal, Johnnie Johnson.
As recuts go, hey, there's more on the credit column here than on the debit.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96db1930) out of 5 stars partly a crass ripoff/ partly an entertaining document 2 July 2000
By Missing Person - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The fact that this CD doesn't make it clear on the outside that these are not the original versions of the songs is a cruel move. However, if you want to hear the sound of Chuck in the latter half of the '60s, here you go. How DID he sound? Well, he had basically tuned a deaf ear to the musical innovations of the era, & never updated his songwriting at all, continuing to endlessly milk basic standard blues/ rock & roll chord progressions, so the differences end up being the reverb-heavy late '60s sound & the prominent electric keyboards, & that's about it. So, maybe it's best to think of this as a standard live album, if that helps make the re-recordings excusable in your mind. Certainly these versions won't make anyone forget the originals, & there are some hokey moments, however, some tracks features slightly altered lyrics, and there are some great guitar moments, so ultimately, this is an interesting document. Plus, the one new song, "Club Nitty Gritty" IS catchy & fun. Clearly a tossoff that Chuck cranked out, diehards will still find a certain value in it all.
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