Friday, June 16, 2017

The Father of Us All

So our good pal Sal Nunziato, proprietor of the great BURNING WOOD blog mentioned the other day that Chuck Berry's posthumous album was quite wonderful.

And because I trust his taste, I sprung for the album.

Well, he was right.

Words fail me, but here's "Dutchman" -- my favorite track.

Jeebus fuck -- the cat was 90 when he wrote/recorded this. And it's the best short story I've heard this year.

BTW -- Chuck's "Too Much Monkey Business," from 1956, is the first rap record.

And anybody who tells you otherwise is selling something.

Have a great weekend, everybody!


Billy B said...

Heard Big Boys on the indy radio station. Killer. I see where Tom Morello played guitar on the cut, which is vintage Berry. Gary Clark Jr plays on another tune from the album (haven't heard it as yet).

As you mention, it's amazing that a 90 year old could rock like an SOB.

Steve - what gives with the robot thing? I just had to click through 7 screens to prove I'm not a robot.

steve simels said...

Sorry about that. Dunno what the problem is...

Mark said...

The Mikal Gilmore piece in ROLLING STONE following Chuck's death is a nice review of the role Berry played in the history of rock and roll.


And while it's easy to argue whether Chuck was the true father of rock and roll, it's just as hard to deny Chuck Berry's role as a founding-father lyricist, guitarist, and bridge-builder over the rock and roll racial divide. Roll Over Beethoven is a perfect example of Chuck in all three areas.

As for the new album, it's got a great cover and is probably the best original rock album ever produced by someone aged ninety or older.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Berry, ... I mean it goes without saying. But this album doesn't do anything that breaks any real new ground. It doesn't solidify or enhance his relevance the way that Johnny Cash's American Recordings did. Too bad.

There was a time when he could turn coal dust and vaseline into mascara.

But every time I saw him live he was dreadful, which for an admirer like me, was very depressing. At one of those shows, when he was top billed at an outdoor festival, he didn't even show up. There was no valid excuse. He just didn't feel like it. Christ, he was at the Holiday Inn across the street from the venue. On another occasion, he did his usual erratic, out-of-tune, out-of-synch slop only to walk off stage in a hissy fit after only ten minutes. So yeah, it was really disheartening to realize the guy seemed to care so little. The duck-walk is cool, but not if you're farting all over the stage while you're doing it.

But, obviously, the 1955-1966 Chess canon still overrides all that.

Roll over Chuck Berry, tell Keith Richards the news.


buzzbabyjesus said...

You are mistaken. The first rap record was by one-man-band Joe Hill Louis for Sam Phillips and is coincidentally the very first SUN release. Here is "Gotta Let You Go" (1950):

steve simels said...

VR -- I don't disagree with you. That said, the Chuck song I posted is pretty cool.

steve simels said...

BBJ --

I'll stipulate Joe Hill Louis is talking on that record. It's not particularly rhythmic, however.

That said, I overstated -- there is no "first" rap record anymore than there is a "first" romantic novel.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather hear Tom Waits tell a story.


Anonymous said...

Re: "First" rap record.
Another song I've heard mentioned several times is "Subterranean Homesick Blues" by BOB DYLAN.

J. Lag

steve simels said...

J.Lag --

Said Dylan song is rather clearly influenced by "Too Much Monkey Business"


Mark said...

I just listened to this posthumous album a second time. It's good as an album. Not only is Dutchman good, but so is Wonderful Woman, Big Boys, Lady B. Goode, and Eyes Of Man. The album's production is low-key, Berry's enunciation is as brilliant as it could possibly be for a guy his age, and damn! His vocals are as out-front as they've been since his earliest records, which to me indicates (and indicated in the past) that words are (and were) important to Berry and were a key part to his story-telling.

Jim G said...

If that is Tom Morello on Big Boys, hats off to him. Not at all a Rage fan, my fear if I had known he was on the album would be that he would hit the notes but have that metal tone or some trademark sound that superstar guitarists stamp on songs they guest on ( looking at you, Jeff Beck). Instead, Morello does a fantastic job of sounding like Chuck both tone wise and most mportantly with that rhythmic pull underneath that marks the best Berry and the best Berry covers. Well done.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I disagree. Joe Hill Louis is indeed singing rhythmically, especially on the chorus, which possibly you didn't get to. My comment was meant for someone to prove me wrong in that Cab Calloway or someone like that "rapped" earlier.

buzzbabyjesus said...

And talk about sad, here's Johnny Thunders And The Heartbreakers with

"Too Much Junkie Business"