The Back-At-Chess Era (1969-1975)

Between 1969 and 1975 Chuck Berry once again recorded for Chess Records. This chapter lists the albums and singles released during this period. You will also find information about additional Chuck Berry recordings from this period which have not been published by Chess at that time.

Chess Recordings

Chuck Berry returned to Chess Records in November 1969, recording Tulane b/w Have Mercy Judge (Chess 2090, Jan. 1970). In November 1970 Chess released the next album called Back Home (Chess LP-1550, image shows the colorful German cover). It contains the two songs from the 45 rpm single plus several new recordings: Instrumental, Christmas, Gun, I'm a Rocker, another version of Flyin' Home, Fish & Chips, and Some People. The album has been re-issued on the budget label Contour as I'm a Rocker.

In 1971 Chess Record published the next Chuck Berry album San Francisco Dues (Chess LP-50008, September 1971). Besides the title song the album contains six new songs: Oh Louisiana, Let's Do Our Things Together, Your Lick, Festival, Bound to Lose, and Bordeaux in My Pirough. In addition there is a spoken poem called My Dream. And Chess included two recordings from the original Chess era: Lonely School Days (from the Chess single 1963) and Viva Rock & Roll (previously unpublished).

1972 saw the best selling Chuck Berry album ever. Like other old-time Rock 'n' Roll stars Chuck Berry went to London to record with well-known contemporary artists. As Tim Lewis's perfect fold-out cover and the record number indicate, The London Chuck Berry Sessions (Chess LP-60020, October 1972) had been intended as a double album. It was released as a single LP, though, with two very different sides: One side recorded in the studio containing the classic Mean Old World as well as Chuck's own Let's Boogie, I Will Not Let You Go, London Berry Blues, and I Love You. The album's other side contains excerpts from a live performance at the Lanchester Arts Festival. Here we hear Chuck perform Reelin' & Rockin', My Ding-A-Ling, and Johnny B. Goode. All three were (heavily edited) also published as 45 rpm singles, with the single edit of My Ding-A-Ling becoming Number One in the charts. Collectors should note that there are at least four differently edited versions of Reelin' and Rockin' published on 45s in the US, the UK, Italy, and France. The London Chuck Berry Sessions has been re-issued on CD (MCA CHD-9295). Additional live recordings from the Lanchester Arts Show were released in 2010 and 2014.

In 1973 Chess Records (now a division of GRT Corp.) added the album Bio (Chess LP-50043, August 1973). In addition to the title track Bio the record contains six new recordings: Hello Little Girl Goodbye, Woodpecker, Rain Eyes, Aimlessly Driftin', Got It And Gone, and Talkin' About My Buddy. Most of these were recorded with Chuck Berry backed by Elephant's Memory.

Bio was also released on various different 45 rpm singles. Some of these versions are quite interesting for the Chuck Berry collector. In the US (Chess 2140) an edited version of the album track was used for the 45 rpm release, which is only available on this single. Both in the US and in Germany (Bellaphon BF 18214, non-edited) Bio was coupled with a live version of Joe Turner's Roll 'Em Pete. This recording had been taken from the show used for The London Chuck Berry Sessions, though heavily edited. This song had not been re-issued on LP or CD until 2010.

In the UK (Chess 6145027) Bio was coupled with a live version of South of the Border. This recording was taken from a TV show made for BBC Television. The complete show is available on bootleg records and CDs (see below). Chess France released the coupling Bio b/w Hello Little Girl Goodbye (Chess CH 26006).

The final album Chuck Berry recorded for Chess Records was simply named Chuck Berry (Chess LP-60032, February 1975). The UK version of this album is called Chuck Berry '75 (Chess 9109101) and has an extra pink '75 on the cover. It contains a selection of Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Rock 'n' Roll and Country standards, almost none of which written by Chuck himself. Some of these songs are re-recordings of versions previously issued by Chess. The album includes Swanee River, I'm Just a Name, I Just Want to Make Love to You, Too Late, South of the Border (not the live version described above), Hi Heel Sneakers, You Are My Sunshine, My Babe, Baby What You Want Me to Do, A Deuce, Shake, Rattle and Roll, Sue Answer (also known as Sue Ann? Sir), and Don't You Lie to Me.

Chess CH60032 Chess 9109101

Additional Recordings Between 1969 and 1975

Chuck Berry's success with The London Chuck Berry Sessions and with My Ding-A-Ling resulted in many TV and radio appearances during 1972 and 1973. A few of these broadcasts have been made available on high-quality bootleg records and official releases.

In February 1972 Chuck joined John Lennon during his appearance at the Mike Douglas Show. Together they performed Memphis, Tennessee and Johnny B. Goode. These excerpts from the show can be found on several John Lennon bootlegs like John Lennon Telecasts (JL-517). For full details about these bootlegs read the corresponding blog article.

Chuck Berry in the 1950s - Chrome Dreams CD3CD5073 Besides the two songs, the Mike Douglas Show also included an interview with questions to Berry, Lennon, and Ono. An audio CD containing all three segments was released in 2011 called Chuck Berry in the 1950s (Chrome Dreams CD3CD5073, 2011). This CD set in addition to the 1950s recordings also contains three more interviews recorded in the 1980s.

In March 1972 Chuck recorded a TV show titled Six Two Five for BBC Television. As said before, one of the songs performed (South of the Border) was later released on a Chess single. The remaining songs can be found on various bootleg records and CDs like the one shown (Driving Wheel 1001, Maybelline MBL 676, ARCHIVIO ARC 001, also on WOLF 2120 CD). Chuck additionally performs Roll Over Beethoven, Sweet Little Sixteen, Memphis, Beer Drinking Woman, Let it Rock, Mean Old World, Carol, Liverpool Drive, Nadine, Bye Bye Johnny, Bon Soir Cherie, and Johnny B. Goode. Again there is a detailed description of this bootleg in the blog which supplements this page.

Bear Family BCD 16300During the same tour through Europe, German TV station "Radio Bremen" recorded some live versions for their Beat Club TV show. The complete session including all studio talk and beer-drinking is available on a DVD Chuck Berry - The Lost Broadcasts. For more information about this Beat-Club session read the corresponding Blog entries. Included in this DVD is also the uncut raw interview with Berry recorded during this session. A decade later, Radio Bremen used some snippets of this interview in issue 15 of their radio series Roll over Beethoven - Zur Geschichte der populären Musik, a series covering the history of rock from the mid 1940s to the late 1970s. And another decade later, the German record label Bear Family re-issued the complete radio series as a box set containing 52 CDs and a 300+ page book. As such the interview or at least four segments of it ended on a commercially available CD and therefore in this description of Berry recordings. The box set is called Geschichte der Popmusik (Bear Family BCD16300 ).

On August, 5th the same year Chuck performed at the Wembley Stadium, again in London, UK. Parts of this show were filmed by Peter Clifton and published as The London Rock And Roll Show. The film additionally includes performances by The Houseshakers, Heinz, Screaming Lord Sutch, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, and Little Richard. Chuck's segment includes the songs School Day, Memphis, Tennessee, Sweet Little Sixteen, Mean Ole Frisco, Beer Drinking Woman, Wee Wee Hours, Let It Rock, Carol, Little Queenie, and Reelin' and Rockin',. The film was re-released on video tape (DVD:) in 1992 by Magnum Music. In 2001 Magnum finally released Chuck's performance along with those by Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, and Little Richard on a soundtrack CD (Magnum Music CDMF 105).

The day of the Wembley show an interview was made by Dutch DJ Pim Oets. It first appeared on the album Rocksmuk (Negram NQCS-1, 1972) together with interviews with Bo Diddley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Collectors should know that there are two variants of NQCS-1 containing different interviews with Jerry Lee, though otherwise identical. Also of interest is that while in the Netherlands this album accompanied a book Popsmuk, in Germany the album was re-released as 4 Rock Giants - Talks & Hits (Bellaphon BI-15119, 1973). Both albums are hard to find. The interview can be found on various bootlegs released in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

NQCS-1 - Rock SmukBellaphon BI-15119 - 4 Rock Giants

CRYING STEEL CSR02On November 2nd, 1972 Don Kirshner taped Chuck Berry for his new "In Concert" TV series, broadcast by ABC. The four tracks recorded there are available on a 2-CD set called "Check Me Out!" (Crying Steel CSR02, 2014). For the additional contents of this concert CD read the chapter on Berry's Mercury era.

Yet another TV appearance on NBC's Midnight Hour of October 12th, 1973 showed Berry assisted by the Bee Gees performing Reelin' and Rockin' as well as Johnny B. Goode. An audio recording of this performance can be found on various Bee Gees bootlegs such as Down The Road (Drifter CD 022, 2009). [Image courtesy of private-beegees-archives.de, thanks, Detlef!]

Have Mercy - His Complete Chess Recordings 1969-1974As the third part of its series of re-releasing the complete recordings Chuck Berry made for Chess Records, in early 2010 Hip-O Select released Have Mercy - His Complete Chess Recordings 1969-1974 (HIP-O-Select B0013790-02). It contains all of the recordings released on the original five albums described above including the two songs only available as 45rpm flip sides. The four CD set comes with additional 13 previously unknown songs: Untitled Instrumental, That's None Of Your Business, Blues #1, Annie Lou, Me And My Country, One Sixty Nine AM, Roll Away, Turn On The Houselights, Jambalaya, Johnny B. Blues, Dust My Broom, Here Today, and Rockin'. The lyrics to Roll Away and to Me And My Country (as You And My Country) had been known from the Chuck Berry songbook Rock 'n' Roll Poet before. My Ding-A-Ling and The Song Of My Love are included in previously unknown variants, both as studio recordings. Of the instrumental Gun you'll find two additional takes, a slow and a fast version. Also included is another, previously unheard poem called My Pad. In addition to the previously known live recordings there are Sweet Little Sixteen, It Hurts Me Too, Around And Around, and Promised Land from the Coventry show. Next to the released edited version, also the original recording of Roll 'Em Pete from the same show can be found here.

The complete contents of the 4-CD set from Hip-O Select is also included in Bear Family's 16-CD set Rock And Roll Music - Any Old Way You Choose It (Bear Family BCD 17273 PL, 2014), except that You And My Country is now correctly named. In addition, Bear Family included all the missing songs which had been edited for single release: Bio, Johnny B. Goode, and Reelin' And Rockin' (US version). Plus they added Roll Over Beethoven, Nadine, an untiled Instrumental and the MC's introduction from the Lanchester Arts show.

Chuck Berry - Rock And Roll Music


© 2001-2019 by Dietmar Rudolph. All rights reserved.
No part of this document (images and text) may be used or published outside of www.crlf.de without written consent by the author.
Last modified: 20.11.2019