This blog article is a true collaboration between Morten Reff and me. Here are the results of our joint research on Chuck Berry On Stage
, the original CHESS album from 1963.
When Morten described Berry's seventh CHESS album on page 60 in his Chuck Berry International Directory, Volume 1
, he noted:
The original pressings of this LP had a sticker on the front cover saying 'Including "MEMPHIS" & "SURFIN' USA".
As you know, all later variants of this album had this text printed directly on the cover, using a different font style and color. (Look at the end of this article if you don't remember.)
So when in August I found an eBay offer of a copy having the title sticker, Morten did not hesitate to buy it - even though it was quite expensive.
This finally allows us to show an image of the original cover of CHESS LP 1480. (Click for a higher resolution image.)
A contemporary ad from Chess showed a black and white image of the sticker version of the album. And the sticker seems to be applied hastily just before the photo shooting as crooked as it is.
Though now having this extremely rare variant opens another set of questions:
When receiving the album, Morten found
"The copy I bought features the second label, the black label (repress) image on page 60."
So how does a later vinyl make it into the original first sleeve? Two answers are likely: Between 1963 and 2014 someone might have replaced the original vinyl with a repressing, given the original record being defect or broken. Or, as Morten knows, CHESS usually pressed more covers than vinyl albums, so what they had available were used. Thus in the factory someone might have taken an old original cover from the box at the bottom of the stack when packing the newly pressed albums.
We can only speculate on this. But what is even more interesting to know is: "Have there been sold any copies of this album which neither have the printed text nor the sticker?"
We won't remove the sticker from this valuable album, but we both expect it to have no printing under the sticker. So we think the very first printings of the cover did not include any reference to Memphis
or Surfin' USA
. What we now found, might indeed not be the very first variant of this cover. It might already be a second variant, 'enhanced' with the title sticker.
So our question to all Berry collectors reading this blog is: Do you have a copy of CHESS LP 1480 which has no sticker and no printing of the 'including' text? If you do, send us an image and we would be happy to show it here.
During this discussion, we also found that while neither this site nor Morten's book could have shown the sticker variant of the cover, we also failed to show the correct non-sticker variant. On my site I had a later French reissue (which was then also pirated to Wikipedia
), Morten's publisher included by accident the British Pye version.
The correct second (or third) cover variant has the label name and number prominently right next to the photo as it can be seen here. Sorry for that. So here's what should have been in the book and on the site.