Over in the Chuck Berry Forum
, Johan Hasselberg guided a reader to his description of the Chuck Berry concert recordings available at Wolfgang's Vault
. This reminded me to finalize what I was writing on these and other recordings from San Francisco 1967.
During 1967 Chuck Berry was a regular guest at Bill Graham's venues "Fillmore" and "Winterland" in San Francisco. Currently we know of four concerts which have been recorded there and are available to us.
March 19, 1967 - Fillmore West
This concert recording is available for listening at Wolfgang's Vault
. Wolfgang's Vault is a commercial operation by Bill Sagan which makes use of the archives of Wolfgang Grajonca
, better known as Bill Graham. Until his death in 1991 the famous promoter Bill Graham had collected a huge pile of concert posters, concert recordings, and other musical memorabilia. Some of the contents of Wolfgang's Vault is for sale, such as for instance the original poster to this concert
. You cannot purchase a CD with this concert, though. You have to listen to it online or cut yourself a CD with it.
The concert starts out with Berry talking about Bill Graham and how he called him to play there. According to the description on Wolfgang's Vault, the backup band is the later famous Steve Miller Band (Miller, Peterman, Turner, and Davis). You cannot tell, though. The backup band is nothing special at all. In fact, I don't hear Peterman's organ nor Miller's harmonica. The one who can be identified is Bill Graham, though, thanking Berry before the encore.
While this is a concert of Berry's greatest hits with not a single blues number, one track stands out. Listen to track 5 where Berry recites a poem, just like he later did on the San Francisco Dues
album in 1971.
June 27 and 29, 1967 - Fillmore West
We usually count these two concerts as one, because this is what has been released by Mercury under the name Live at Fillmore Auditorium
(Mercury LP 21138/61138). The first side of this very first Chuck Berry live album was recorded during the June 27 show, the second side during the June 29 show. Again the concert poster
is available for sale at Wolfgang's Vault.
The original Mercury LP contained ten tracks of which the first and last were medleys. The LP was later re-issued on CD twice. Be careful which CD you purchase, because their contents is not identical. The re-issue by Rebound Records (314 520 203-2)
is available from the usual webstores
. It has two songs marked as CD bonus tracks both of which are not! However, the CD indeed comes with three tracks not found on the original album: Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
, Reelin' and Rockin'
, and an early version of My Ding-A-Ling
. This re-issue misses the Wee Baby Blues
from the LP version, though!
An earlier re-issue by Mercury/PolyGram Records (Mercury 836072-2) contains all ten tracks from the original album, plus the three bonus tracks, and in addition Bring Another Drink
and Worried Life Blues.
. Unfortunately this more complete CD is long out of print and seems to have been made in very little quantity. If you ever see one, get it!
As before Berry is backed by the Steve Miller Blues Band which in contrast to most other of Chuck's backup bands here really takes part of the show. Most importantly to note is Miller providing second vocals to It Hurts Me Too
, but also his prominent harmonica playing e.g. on Flyin' Home
greatly enhances this performance. Again Bill Graham is heard introducing Berry, and at the end of the show Chuck asks the audience to applaude "the most wonderful promoter I ever had".
December 29, 1967 - Winterland
This fourth concert of 1967 again is to be heard in Wolfgang's Vault
. The concert poster is on sale there
as well, a bit expensive, though.
According to the site, Berry is again backed up by the Steve Miller Band. However, given that neither a harmonica is heard nor a duet sung (even though the duet single was out since November), it is to be doubted who in fact played there. Listen carefully to Bill Graham at the end of the show. Does he say "The Steve-Miller-less Steve Miller Band"? Maybe Miller wasn't on stage at all.
Due to this, we hear just another Berry concert typical of that time. Of interest is a very long version of Around and Around
. Also Memphis, Tennessee
is over 7 minutes long. Two songs are incomplete, probably because someone had to turn the cassette tape. And there is Bye Bye Johnny
played as an encore, a title very seldom heard in Berry concerts.
It is a pity that we cannot purchase these concerts on CD from Wolfgang's Vault despite they sell other concerts at least as MP3 files.
How to create a CD from an audio stream
Whether it is legal for Wolfgang's Vault to broadcast these and hundreds of other concerts is a question currently in court. Thus it may happen that these concerts will be removed from the site's playlist at any time. Therefore you may want to create your own backup copy of these concerts. At least here in Germany it is legal to cut yourself a private copy of a radio or Internet broadcast. In fact we have to pay an extra amount on copiers, cassettes, and CD-ROMs which covers the artist's fees. It is not legal to sell such private cuts, so don't ask me.
Here is how you create your own backup copy of the concerts: (a) Hook your old tape deck to the computer speaker port, go to the concert site, press the Record button and let the concert play. (b) Get yourself a software which can record the audio output of your sound card into an MP3 or WAV file. Then burn the file onto a CD-ROM. I recommend to use Jens Fangmeier's Feurio!
which is one of the best CD writing packages and the one I use - a licensed version, of course. Feurio! can record the concert and directly burn it onto a CD. Note that Wolfgang's Vault broadcasts each track on its own with short breaks in between. Gluing the tracks together is a bit more work you may not want to go through.
[Update October 2009: Read here
about one more Winterland recording.]