In 1981 Chuck Berry toured Japan for the very first time. EMI / EASTWORLD of Japan recorded at least two of the shows and released the highlights as an LP called Chuck Berry Tokyo Session
Because this album was distributed in Japan only, it is one of the rarer official Chuck Berry LPs.
A couple of weeks ago and within a few hours two readers of this site informed me about a video on YouTube which is related to this album - and which changes some data we thought to know about the album.
Here are a few pages from the 1981 tour promotional book courtesy of Claude Schlouch collection:
If you cannot read Japanese (such as I), here's a translation of the most important facts, i.e. the venues and dates:
|Thursday, April 23, 1981||6:30 PM||Nagoya||Aichi Kinro-Kaikan|
|Fridayday, April 24, 1981||6:30 PM||Osaka||Osaka Festival Hall|
|Monday, April 27, 1981||6:30 PM||Tokyo||Shinjuku Kosei-Nenkin Hall|
|Tuesday, April 28, 1981||6:30 PM||Tokyo||Shinjuku Kosei-Nenkin Hall|
|Wednesday, April 29, 1981||1:00 PM||Tokyo||Shibuya Kokaido|
According to the information printed on the album cover, the LP's ten or eleven songs (Carol
as usual blends into Little Queenie
to form a medley) were recorded during the third and fifth show of this tour. The album cover does not tell which song was recorded where. Fred Rothwell therefore had listed the album's first side with the April 27 concert and the second side with the April 29 concert, though saying that this is just a pure guess.
Now back to YouTube. Using the link https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R6a6H8Cmrcc
you'll find a video called Chuck Berry - Tokyo Session (1981)
uploaded April 2014. It's not a video at all, just an audio recording played to a fixed image of the tourbook and a ticket. Both the ticket and the YouTube explanation say that the audio was recorded on April 29, 1981 at Shibuya Koukaidou. This means that this is from the same show also the LP was cut from.
This however is NOT - as one would asume on YouTube - a bootleg copy of the LP album. Instead it is a live recording which has no duplicates with the album - songs which are on the album and in the video are different.
If we assume that the date and location of the Youtube audio track are correct and if we consider the high quality of the Youtube recording, my theory is that the unknown poster had access to the concert recording segments which were not
used for the LP.
The YouTube show starts with an MC introduction and ends with Berry's typical closing routine. However, this is not a complete show. If you listen closely you will find that it consists of two parts glued together. There is a break right after Let It Rock
and before the Carol
medley. And if we assume that Berry played his usual set of 60 minutes (according to one collector, Japanese concerts typically last only 45 minutes) there is a segment missing in the middle of the YouTube video.
In my opinion we have here the beginning and the end of the Shibuya Kokaido concert, while its missing middle part has been used for the album. If it is, we can listen to the album and see if we can find out which songs might fit into the middle of this 29th concert - and which songs are definitely not, thus have to be from the 27th. I just did. This is my list of comments. Please check for yourself.
LP side A:
- School Day
- might be a separate track since Roll Over Beethoven
starts pretty surprisingly
- Roll Over Beethoven
and Wee Wee Hours
flow into each other pretty continuously (which could be a post-processing trick, though)
- Wee Wee Hours
starts with the Blues explanation. Since that is on Sweet Sixteen
on the YouTube recording, it's probable that this track is from a different concert, i.e. from the 27th.
- My Ding-A-Ling
is separated from Wee Wee Hours
. It includes Ingrid's introduction, though, and as such must also be from the 27th.
follows My Ding-A-Ling
smoothly and since the Youtube recording has no space to put another Ingrid track in, this has to be from the 27th as well.
LP side B:
- Sweet Little Sixteen
blends smoothly into Rock and Roll Music
- Rock and Roll Music
is in the YouTube video and different, thus has to be from the 27th.
- Carol/Little Queenie
has no audible gap to the Carol/Little Queenie
medley before and to Johnny B. Goode
- Johnny B. Goode
again can be found in a different version as part of the YouTube video.
Thus of all LP tracks only School Day
fits into the middle of the YouTube recording. The most probable sequence of the songs therefore is:
- Roll Over Beethoven (LP)
- Wee Wee Hours (LP)
- Sweet Little Sixteen (LP)
- Rock And Roll Music (LP)
- Carol / Little Queenie (LP)
- Bio (LP)
- Johnny B. Goode (LP)
- My Ding-A-Ling (LP)
- Memphis (LP)
- (probably) Reelin' And Rockin' or some other closing routine (unreleased)
- Roll Over Beethoven (YouTube)
- Rock & Roll Music (YouTube)
- Sweet Sixteen (YouTube)
- Let It Rock (YouTube)
- School Day (LP)
- Carol / Little Queenie (YouTube)
- Johnny B Goode (YouTube)
- My Ding A Ling (YouTube)
- Reelin' And Rockin' (YouTube)
Fred agreed to use this sequence in further editions of his discography - until we get more data.
[Many thanks to Claude Schlouch, Thierry Chanu, and Naoki Suzuki for help with this article.]