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 TulaneListen to this recording b/w Have Mercy JudgeListen to this recording (Chess 2090, Jan. 1970). In November 1970 Chess released the next album called Back Home (Chess LP-1550 Get it now!, image shows the colorful German cover). It contains the two songs from the 45 rpm single plus several new recordings: InstrumentalListen to this recording, ChristmasListen to this recording, GunListen to this recording, I'm a RockerListen to this recording, another version of Flyin' HomeListen to this recording, Fish & ChipsListen to this recording, and Some PeopleListen to this recording. 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 Get it now!, September 1971). Besides the title songListen to this recording the album contains six new songs: Oh LouisianaListen to this recording, Let's Do Our Things TogetherListen to this recording, Your LickListen to this recording, FestivalListen to this recording, Bound to LoseListen to this recording, and Bordeaux in My PiroughListen to this recording. In addition there is a spoken poem called My DreamListen to this recording. And Chess included two recordings from the original Chess era: Lonely School DaysListen to this recording (from the Chess single 1963) and Viva Rock & RollListen to this recording (previously unpublished).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 WorldListen to this recording as well as Chuck's own Let's BoogieListen to this recording, I Will Not Let You GoListen to this recording, London Berry BluesListen to this recording, and I Love YouListen to this recording. The album's other side contains excerpts from a live performance at the Lanchester Arts Festival. Here we hear Chuck perform Reelin' & Rockin'Listen to this recording, My Ding-A-LingListen to this recording, and Johnny B. GoodeListen to this recording. All three were (heavily edited) also published as 45 rpm singles, with the single edit of My Ding-A-LingListen to this recording becoming Number One in the charts. Collectors should note that there are at least four differently edited versions of Reelin' and Rockin'Listen to this recording 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 Get it now!). Additional live recordings from the Lanchester Arts Show were released in 2010.

In 1973 Chess Records (now a division of GRT Corp.) added the album Bio (Chess LP-50043 Get it now!, August 1973). In addition to the title track BioListen to this recording the record contains six new recordings: Hello Little Girl GoodbyeListen to this recording, WoodpeckerListen to this recording, Rain EyesListen to this recording, Aimlessly Driftin'Listen to this recording, Got It And GoneListen to this recording, and Talkin' About My BuddyListen to this recording. 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) BioListen to this recording was coupled with a live version of Joe Turner's Roll 'Em PeteListen to this recording. 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) BioListen to this recording was coupled with a live version of South of the BorderListen to this recording. 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 BioListen to this recording b/w Hello Little Girl GoodbyeListen to this recording (Chess CH 26006).

The final album Chuck Berry recorded for Chess Records was simply named Chuck Berry (Chess LP-60032 Get it now!, 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 RiverListen to this recording, I'm Just a NameListen to this recording, I Just Want to Make Love to YouListen to this recording, Too LateListen to this recording, South of the BorderListen to this recording (not the live version described above), Hi Heel SneakersListen to this recording, You Are My SunshineListen to this recording, My BabeListen to this recording, Baby What You Want Me to DoListen to this recording, A DeuceListen to this recording, Shake, Rattle and RollListen to this recording, Sue AnswerListen to this recording (also known as Sue Ann? Sir), and Don't You Lie to MeListen to this recording.

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 Get it now!. 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).

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 BorderListen to this recording) 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, also on WOLF 2120 CD Get it now!). 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.

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 Get it now!).

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 DayListen to this recording, Memphis, TennesseeListen to this recording, Sweet Little SixteenListen to this recording, Mean Ole FriscoListen to this recording, Beer Drinking Woman, Wee Wee HoursListen to this recording, Let It Rock, CarolListen to this recording, Little QueenieListen to this recording, and Reelin' and Rockin'Listen to this recording,. The film was re-released on video tape Get it now! (DVD: Get it now!) 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 Get it now!).

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.

Another recording from this era is an interview 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

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 Get it now!). 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 InstrumentalListen to this recording, That's None Of Your BusinessListen to this recording, Blues #1Listen to this recording, Annie LouListen to this recording, Me And My CountryListen to this recording, One Sixty Nine AMListen to this recording, Roll AwayListen to this recording, Turn On The HouselightsListen to this recording, JambalayaListen to this recording, Johnny B. BluesListen to this recording, Dust My BroomListen to this recording, Here TodayListen to this recording, and Rockin'Listen to this recording. 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-LingListen to this recording and The Song Of My LoveListen to this recording are included in previously unknown variants, both as studio recordings. Of the instrumental Gun you'll find two additional takes, a slowListen to this recording and a fastListen to this recording version. Also included is another, previously unheard poem called My PadListen to this recording. In addition to the previously known live recordings there are Sweet Little SixteenListen to this recording, It Hurts Me TooListen to this recording, Around And AroundListen to this recording, and Promised LandListen to this recording from the Coventry show. Next to the released edited versionListen to this recording, also the original recording of Roll 'Em PeteListen to this recording from the same show can be found here.


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Last modified: 26.10.2014