Chuck Berry - Chuck Berry

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Chuck Berry - Chuck Berry

1 CD(s) - '50s - Label: Members Edition - Distributor: Synergie Logistics - Released: 01/1998 - 5021364300228

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Review of "Chuck Berry - Chuck Berry"

published 03/07/2002 | jillmurphy
Member since : 08/07/2000
Reviews : 284
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About me :
I think we're looking at the New Year now! Have a great Christmas, all.
Excellent
Pro Billy!
Cons I can't play the riff behind my head yet!
very helpful
Originality
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"Dinosaur Rock Off Sorry Jim Made Me"


When I was tiny my hero was my grandfather, Billy, a diminutive Welshman with more than a spattering of black and Arabic blood. "I'm a product of Swansea port, fach," he used to tell me. Billy's twin passions were music and vegetable growing and his hero was that whippet-lean, guitar-toting Chuck Berry. And funnily, in summer, skin darkened after days out in his allotment, Billy looked rather like him with that thin, smiling face and those eyes that twinkled irresistibly. I sure did love Billy and I sure did love the parties that Billy attended because his love of life, of music, of dancing, of good friends and a good time always infected everyone. Billy's anthem was Johnny B. Goode and, in honour of him, that's the song I'd like to tell you about.

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In the first few seconds of this song voice and guitar come together, imitating each other and introducing perhaps the best, and certainly the most famous, guitar riff in history. Chuck Berry couldn't have found a better or more exciting way to pull you into his story of Johnny B. Goode, a poor country [black] boy with his guitar, singing the blues and dreaming of a better future for himself. That guitar riff (modernised by Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys Fun Fun Fun) is like a series of machine gun bullets, forcing the song, the singer and his guitar deep inside you from the first moment you hear it. Chuck Berry wasn't a fool: of course he could have sung "black" and not "country" but by choosing the latter he made Johnny B. Goode a character who represented not only black people in a segregated America but also the poor white gospellers who had thrown up Elvis Presley as their icon. Johnny B. Goode was an anthem and told of a person who appealed to many. Yet despite the political landscape only too well-known to Berry, this song is a wake up call and a hymn to the power and joy not only of dreaming of a better world but to the notion of carpe diem, seize the day. Johnny B. Goode is a classic song for all these reasons: for the riff that provided the basis of work from such people as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, the Rolling Stones; for its comment on a time and place that for many people could have been better; for its refusal to submit and for its rallying cry to enjoy, to be free; but above all because it's an irresistible rock and roll song that includes you, pulls you to your feet and makes you want to dance.

So that's the story of Johnny B. Goode. For me, inside that story is also Billy's story. Music is one of the most emotive things there is and often its effect on a person is ineffable, unable to be described. Johnny B. Goode brings Billy back to me whenever I hear it and that's why I love it. Billy loved it because he loved passion in music and because the story was partly his own. Just as the Johnny Chuck Berry sang of was a poor country boy, so was Billy, just as Johnny suffered discrimination, so did Billy when he moved to London from Wales seeking work during the thirties. Like Chuck Berry too, Billy was never a man to be downcast though and his endless enthusiasm for life echoes the forceful, boundless optimism we hear in Johnny B. Goode. Billy was never a rich man, and he never owned an electric guitar much as he'd have loved one. I do, though, and one day I'm going to learn to play that Johnny B. Goode riff behind my head, just like Chuck Berry did. And when I do, I'll think of Billy.

Poor John Entwhistle. I hope he's making music somewhere right now, and I hope he's happy doing it. It'd be nice also to think that Billy's in the audience.

[The preceding opinion was written as my entry for the 29th_Candidate's "Dinosaur Rock-Off;" a tribute to the memory of rock legend, John Entwistle, recently departed bass player of The Who, and a true artist in every sense of the word. And I hope its theme found its way through to you.]

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Comments on this review

  • Bob_T_Pug published 31/05/2015
    very helpful
  • Saintly31 published 08/06/2012
    Good review
  • craigy2040 published 14/07/2002
    Great op. Ih ave heard of Chuck, but never heard his music (might have done without knowing). Great, well writtne op. Craig.
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1 CD(s) - '50s - Label: Members Edition - Distributor: Synergie Logistics - Released: 01/1998 - 5021364300228

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EAN: 5021364300228

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