CHUCK BERRY - Chuck (2017)
Being released just three months after his death, Chuck Berry’s first album since 1979 includes songs that originate as far back as the 1980s. There are three generations of Berry guitarists and guest appearances from the likes of Nathaniel Rateliff and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello. Perhaps this explains why it doesn’t sound anything like the work of a 90-year-old man. The riffs are instantly familiar as those with which Berry defined rock’n’roll in the 1950s and his themes are mostly youthful: teen queens, sweet 16s and schoolboy naughtiness. Lady B Goode revisits his signature tune in honour of his long-suffering wife, Themetta, and only the slower, bluesy Darlin’ and Eyes of Man include direct ruminations on mortality and ageing. Elsewhere, Jamaican Moon rewrites 1956’s Havana Moon for Berry to sing in patois and there are innumerable echoes of Roll Over Beethoven, Maybellene et al. Still, if Chuck sounds like a nostalgic tribute to his pioneering self, he certainly deserves one.
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