Review: Chuck

2017’s posthumously release Chuck, three months after his death, would see the release of newly written material from Chuck Berry. His first new material to be release in around thirty-eighteen years, since 1979’s Rock It.

Listen to the single Big Boys. It is an incredibly lively song, the kind of rock and roll music that Chuck Berry‘s legendary fame is based. This was being performed by someone who is 89 years old. ‘Form is temporary, class is permanent’ is the best anecdote if were not for a 38-year hole in music writing. Form in general was definitely on form given the years of relentless touring. More saliently, his guitar aerobatics powered by ageing hands seem to be timeless. So does Chuck Berry‘s ability to craft groove and rhythm in the spirit of rock and roll. A single song gives the notion that it was almost as if time has stood still all these decades. And that was in the face of a guest appearance by Rage Against the Machine‘s Tom Morello, adding to impressiveness.

Aside from marvelling at the wonders of ageless musicianship, there is much more to enjoy on Chuck. The album settles into a more sedate and relaxed pace. From the bluesy You Got To My Head, the piano-laden She Still Loves You and the percussive and fun Jamaica Moon. This in addition to the rousing Wonderful Women, Bad Boys and Lady B. Goode, a spiritual successor to Johnny B. Goode which rock and roll as if the swinging sixties are back in full swing. Throw in Tony Joe White‘s goofball 3/4 Time (Enchiladas) and the song-poem come tall barroom tale Dutchman, and the album packs a lot of variety for its slim 34-minute runtime. This album may strike the greatest hits mob as a odd, but is more representative of the full spectrum of musical musings Chuck Berry illustrated in varying ways over the years. The only betrayal of age is the lyrics, full of pondering over past indiscretions, the wrongs and the wrongs in the right. It lacks the carefreeness one would expect jumping from the 1960s to this. But given the remarkable passage of time, it would be wholly indignant to hold that against the album. Especially in the presence of such well-written music.

“I promise I’ll tell you how, that I came to be the helpless sight, that stands before you now, I used to be an artist, not one who sits and fiddle out on the curb, but in my day and time, my music was considered superb,” as Chuck Berry, presumably, muses in the third person. If he was when the lyrics Dutchman was written then he made a mistake. As Chuck illustrates, in its odd eclectic mix of songs, should read; my music is considered superb.

Rating : 10 / 10

Where to buy :

Track Listing :

  1. Wonderful Woman
  2. Big Boys
  3. You Go to My Head
  4. 3/4 Time (Enchiladas)
  5. Darlin'
  6. Lady B. Goode
  7. She Still Loves You
  8. Jamaica Moon
  9. Dutchman
  10. Eyes of Man