Saturday, June 21. 2008
One of the rarest official Vinyl albums containing unique Chuck Berry recordings is a Japanese concert recording named The Day of R&B. Originally released in 1982, this album contains several songs recorded by the Japanese band RC Succession, some tracks by Sam Moore of Sam & Dave fame, and two Berry recordings, all cut during a live show in Yokohama in 1982.
One reason for the rarity of this record is that in 1982 you simply did not know about strange Japanese records in Europe or in the U.S. There were a few mail order shops which sent out catalogs every half a year such as Rockhouse or Bear Family. But these catalogs contained U.S., European, and U.K. releases yet seldom Japanese ones.
Even if you had found out about this Japanese album, it would have been difficult to impossible to purchase it from Japan. I remember buying once sending cash in a registered letter. Not only highly insecure, but also time-consuming with no guarantee you ever get the item you wanted.
Things have changed a lot in this regard. Still it happens that you do not notice a release you might be interested in. So I found out about a Japanese re-issue of this rare Vinyl album only by reading Morten Reff's new book. The CD was released in 2005 celebrating 35 years of RC Succession. So how do you purchase a Japanese record nowadays? Through the Internet, easily.
Ask Google on "The Day of R&B" CD and you'll get a list of multiple Japanese Web shops selling this item. Some even have English language text. Payment using Paypal or Credit Card is accepted world-wide. Shipping is easy, and all it takes for you is to wait two weeks until the CD arrives. Thanks, Internet!
If you are looking a bit more, you will notice that using a slightly incorrect title and with no note on Berry's participation the CD is even listed at an amazon shop near you.
By the way: The record number listed in Morten Reff's book is incorrect. Correct is Toshiba-EMI TOCT-11089
Wednesday, June 4. 2008
Reader Rick Bergemann asked to post this question for discussion. And sure it is a good(e) question:
After recently listening to "Johnny B. Goode" takes 2/3 I highly suspect that someone is playing rhythm guitar underneath Chuck's lead guitar. On take 2 Chuck abruptly stops his opening riff and shouts out for them to stop the take. The one instrument that continues on is a guitar, and it has a sound clearly distinct from Chuck's. Chuck actually has to yell several times in order to get the guitar to stop. When the guitar finally stops Chuck tells Leake to stay away from playing "Roll Over Beethoven" on the piano. In response to this the studio engineer asks Chuck if he means the piano or the guitar, at which point Chuck reiterates that he is talking about the piano. Why would the engineer ask Chuck if he was talking about the guitar if Chuck was the only guitar player? All signs point towards a second guitarist. I then listened with a renewed focus to JBG take 3 and the released version, and I thought that at some points I could make out a rhythm guitar that was clearly distinct from Chuck's.
The liner notes on the new 4CD set with all 1950's recordings do not tell about a second guitarist. Fred Rothwell's book has a second guitar as being overdubbed but on the final master only.
Any comments, anyone?
Did you recently go to the movies? I usually don't. But by accident this week I got to watch Walk Hard – The Dewey Cox Story.
This 2007 movie is a complete biography of a Rock'n'Roll star – yet a fictional one. Dewey Cox as a kid learns to play the Blues, plays in a Highschool band, steps in for a famous singer and becomes a star on its own. Sex, drugs and Rock'n'Roll now guide him through his life – to prison, rehab, and comeback. The funny thing is that this biography combines everything you ever read about the rock stars' life.
Dewey meets a karate Elvis. He visits the Maharishi with the Beatles. And of course he works for Jewish brothers running a record company. There's an episode on a Sonny&Cher-like TV show. His band breaks up during a many-months-long work on a new song with full orchestra (including a goat) with Dewey looking like Brian Wilson. And there's a Dylan-style folk protest concert.
You have to know the common rock stars and their biographies to get most of the jokes, but if you do, this is really funny. And you may learn that Punk was invented in the late 1950s. Highly recommended!
Saturday, May 31. 2008
Rolling Stone Magazine today announced their selection of the "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Times".
And the Number One is ...
Johnny B. Goode
Read the full cover story here: http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/20947527
Wednesday, May 28. 2008
I finally finished to read Morten Reff's Chuck Berry International Directory book.
I am collecting Chuck Berry music for more than 30 years now, though I never had the money or the will to collect (all of) Chuck Berry's records. While I have more than 500 Chuck Berry records and approximately the same number of CDs, I never tried to find each and every pressing or version of a record. Often the ones in my collection are cheaper re-issues. So when readers ask me about a special label or cover variant, my typical reply was that I don't know.
That's no excuse any more. Morten Reff's book answers maybe not all, but most of your questions. Now we finally know that there are five different versions of the Dutch variant of Berry's On Stage album, just in case you try to collect all of them. I found it astonishing to see how much I did not know about Berry's records. I will have to rewrite some comments on this web site, probably.
Morten has documented Chuck Berry's released records world-wide to a much greater extend than anyone ever before. According to his writing, the listings for the US and the UK are complete. The ones for most of Central and Northern Europe also look fairly complete to me. There's only one record documented to be published in Peru, so there may be room for extensions. If you know Chuck Berry records not yet listed in Morten's book, both Morten and I would be glad to hear from you.
Some details you may be looking for you will not find in Morten's book. For instance it seems to be impossible to document all the typeface and type size differences for those records pressed in millions. Too many pressing plants, too many printers, too many variants. Morten wisely choose not to go into details here.
But on the other hand you get many more details than you probably expect. For instance Morten has actually listened to all the records and therefore comments on sound quality, the use of mono, stereo, and electronically altered versions, and much more.
Many, yes: many of the records Morten shows I have never seen before. And this does not only cover the more obscure Korean, Taiwanese or Philippinian releases. Even some of the Dutch or English records I have not seen before. Where available Morten has listed year of release, track listing, correct and incorrect composer credits, song variants, and more. Often he shows cover and label, including variants such as promotional copies. Best reading are his comments on the worse records such as "Nobody wants or needs this record."
Volume 1 covers the officially released records. So all the more interesting ones such as bootlegs, radio station records, soundtracks, and more will be in Volume 2, due hopefully soon.
There is little I don't like about this book. One thing are the images which I have two problems with: First there are too few images. Half of the records are shown visually, but the other half is not. Having helped Morten with scanning and photographing dozens of covers and labels, I know how much work is in the images shown. But especially where Morten writes about an interesting picture, I wish he would have shown it.
Secondly all the images should, no: must have been in color. I know color print would have made the book more expensive. But I really doubt any buyer would care if the book would cost 40 Pounds instead of 30. Either you need this book, or you don't. I personally think color images would have made the book twice as good.
Finally I miss, at least according to my wishes, some kind of pricing guide. While Morten tells about the relative rarity of an item at some places, a general value or rarity index would have been helpful. But hey, this opens an opportunity for someone to come up with a pricing guide. Let me know when you're done.
Until then I cannot wait to see Volume 2. Write, Morten, write!
Sunday, May 18. 2008
I got it!
Morten Reff's new book on Chuck Berry is finally out! Yesterday I received my copy from Morten, signed and with a personal dedication. Thank you, Morten!
I spent all night reading but had to stop at around page 150. And I still wasn't through the US releases chapter alone. Could you imagine you can write so much about the releases of a single artist in a single country? And Morten even omitted most of the Various Artists records and - by intention - many of the cheap CD re-issues.
The Chuck Berry International Directory, Volume 1, or CBID, Vol.1 for short, lists and explains all official Chuck Berry records ever released in the US, in the UK, and in many other countries. Every record has a complete song listing and some explanation including comments on the versions included, the sound quality, and variants. For many records Morten shows cover or label, often comparing certain versions such as promos or re-issues.
There is a ton of information never published anywhere else. So if you are collecting Chuck Berry records, this is THE SOURCE. Get it! Now!
I will write a more detailed review within the next few weeks when I find time to do so. And I am already waiting to see Volume 2 which will cover the more obscure records such as bootlegs, radio shows, soundtracks and more.
I encourage you to review Morten's descriptions and lists. If you find some omission or correction, send it to me and I will both forward it to Morten and publish it here. According to Morten, especially the listings for countries with smaller record sales might need some rework. Although the International Directory already is the best description of Chuck Berry's records ever published, help to make it even better and in the end hopefully complete!
Thursday, May 15. 2008
A few weeks ago I wrote about Peter Guralnick's books on Elvis Presley. During this I said that the huge Elvis biography lacks detailed information about Elvis's recording sessions. But, I said, there are other books which fill this gap.
Several readers then wanted to know which books I had in mind and what would be the best book on Elvis's recording sessions. The one I recommend is Elvis Presley - A Life in Music, written by Ernst Jorgensen. Ernst started as a record collector and Presley fan trying to find out who played which instrument on which session and when. In later years he became Marketing Director for BMG which owns RCA Records. And finally he became the RCA man for re-releasing Elvis's recordings thus having access to all the session tapes and documents.
So if not Ernst, who else would be able and willing to fully document Presley's recording history? Elvis Presley - A Life in Music is the ultimate book describing each and every recording session between 1953 and 1977. All the musicians are listed, all recorded songs whether released or not, original sources for the released versions, studio talk and much more. There is not much to add to this book and if you really want to find something to criticize, it would be that Ernst concentrates on the official RCA releases, leaving out bootlegs and such. But that's what you expect from an RCA executive.
If you are listening to Elvis music, you need to have this book!
Sunday, May 11. 2008
Many of you will know that I regularly write for the German-language Rock'n'Roll Musik-Magazin. In October 2007 the magazine celebrated their 30th anniversary at the opening of the Bill Haley Museum in Munich, Germany. Even though I was invited, I could not participate due to business reasons. But when a business trip lead me to Munich last week, I took the opportunity and reserved some time to at least visit the museum.
So I entered a taxi (for Americans: a cab) and told the driver to take me to the Bill Haley Museum. 'To what?' he replied, 'I work as a sight-seeing guide here in Munich, but such a museum does not exist.'
Well, I had the street address (Schleissheimerstr. 321) and when we got there, the taxi driver was astonished to see a large sign guiding the way to the museum. He immediately made a note of this to take guests thereto in the future.
The museum opens in the afternoons only, but owner Klaus Kettner was so kind to let me in early and provided me with a private guided tour. The photo below (click to enlarge) shows Klaus Kettner (to the right) during the opening of his Bill Haley Museum, along with H.-GÃ¼nther Hartig (Rock'n'Roll Musikmagazin), Bill Turner (ex Bill Haley's Comets), Mike Berry (Tribute to Buddy Holly), and Rainer Koschorz (Buddy, the musical).
Photo ©2007 Rock'n'Roll Musik-Magazin
used with permission
Klaus is a full-time concert promoter (Rock It Concerts), record label owner (Hydra Records), and also runs the Hydra Records store in Munich. But most of all Klaus is a Rock'n'Roll fan and collector just like you and me.
Having collected Bill Haley material for decades, Klaus decided to present his collection to the public. The Bill Haley Museum is located right next to the Hydra Records store. It is a 1000 sqft room stuffed with memorabilia about Bill Haley and the Comets.
This indeed is a impressive collection, and all of it is professionally presented: As you would expect, there are all the original records, from the oldest 1940s releases or the most obscure Mexican albums. Among many other displays, there's a huge showcase dedicated to Rock Around the Clock alone, including records from all over the world, session details such as photos and contracts, handwritten notes, original advertising and more. You'll see tons of promotional material, autographs, songbooks, newspaper clippings, concert posters, film reels and so on - all original, of course.
But besides what you and me might have in our collections in some form or another, Klaus also owns and shows Haley's Golden Records, original instruments and stage clothing, union cards, handwritten letters, awards presented to Bill Haley and much more. Many of these items you have never seen before and never will. If you ever come to Munich, take your time to visit the Bill Haley Museum!
And while you are there, take a look at the Hydra Records store. I have never seen a more extensive offer of contemporary Rock'n'Roll CDs. Where other CD shops have two or five different Chuck Berry CDs in stock, Hydra Records stocks at least two dozens. These include some hard-to-find ones such as Chuck Berry meets Matchbox, His London Recordings, Deliver Me From the Days of Old, or the long out-of-stock CD version of Concerto in B. Goode. Highly recommended!
Sunday, April 20. 2008
Whenever I come across an unusual Chuck Berry record, I try to find out where it stems from, what it is about and why it is special in some way. As long as Morten Reff's Chuck Berry International Directory book is not out, the only good sources for this are Fred Rothwell's book Long Distance Information and the Goldmine Promo Record & CD Guide. When both fail I ask Morten Reff for help.
But when I recently got me a new 2LP set, Morten was of no help at all. Not because he did not want to. He just did not know this record. This is the first time such happened since Morten and I started to exchange Berry information, which is a lot more than ten years by now.
To be honest, the album I found is not really a Chuck Berry album in its direct sense. But it is related to Chuck Berry in many ways. First, it contains 23 Chuck Berry songs, 19 recorded by Berry himself plus 8 Berry songs recorded by other artists such as Johnny Rivers, Ronnie Hawkins, Rod Steward, Elvis Presley, or the Beach Boys. And yes I know that the math does not work, but indeed some of the songs are on this set sung twice by both Berry and some other singer. And secondly, this album's cover shows nothing more than the line "Just let me hear some of that rock'n'roll music" which as we all know is a Chuck Berry quote.
The 2LP set was produced by The Goodman Group Music Publishers in 1979. The Goodman Group is a group of music publishing companies which was under supervision of Gene Goodman (brother of band leader Benny) until Marshall Chess (son of Leonard Chess) took over the business after Goodman retired. Along with the Chess Brothers, Goodman and his brother Harry in August 1953 formed Arc Music Publishing which owned and used the copyrights of all of the material coming out of Chess Records, including Berry's — and still does today.
Like other publishers, the Goodman Group presented their catalogue to the industry not only in writing, but also on records such as this. "This two-record compilation contains excerpts from 100 of our most successful copyrights, along with a summary of chart activity" wrote Gene Goodman on the back of this set. And indeed there are 100 well-known songs included, all in recordings by their original artists or in famous cover versions by e.g. the Beatles or CCR.
All songs come in excerpts of a minute or a half, sometimes as a combination of multiple recordings. So you hear Berry start with Back in the U.S.A. until Linda Ronstadt takes over after the first verse. It's quite funny to listen to this collage, especially because it is not in chronological but in alphabetical order (by song title). Usually the better-known versions are included, such as Rod Steward singing Sweet Little Rock And Roller instead of Berry. Sometimes the better-known versions seem to have been out of reach, such as with Around and Around which is not sung by the Stones but by Berry himself.
All in all this is an interesting Berry-related item. It is probably rare as it was only produced for industry experts and never available for sale. I have not found any description of it on the Internet yet. But it's not too rare. I helped Morten to get a copy for himself and if you look around, you might be able to find one for yourself as well.
Sunday, April 13. 2008
It's been a time since my last post here. There were two good reasons for my absence.
Basically I was busy. I have a business to run besides telling you about Chuck Berry's music. And this meant that while Berry was touring Europe and even performing in Germany, I was flying over the Atlantic heading the other direction multiple times doing business in the U.S. That left no time for writing articles here.
The second reason I didn't have time was related to this, but also completely unrelated. Heading multiple ten-hour flights, I went to my favorite book store to purchase some books to read during the long stays on board. And while browsing the Rock Music shelves, I came across two books I wanted to read since they first appeared in 1994 and 1999 but never found the time to do so. So I purchased Peter Guralnick's extensive biography on Elvis Presley. These are two very thick books so I needed more than just the flight times. And in fact I spent many hours afterwards finishing these. And this left no time to work on this blog as well.
I like Guralnick's writing since his 1971 "Feel Like Going Home" which among other things covered Chess Records in detail. This guy really knows what he is talking about. And this knowledge and detailed research can be seen on each and every page of this large two-volume work.
"Last Train to Memphis — The Rise of Elvis Presley" covers Elvis's life up until September 1958, while the second volume "Careless Love — The Unmaking of Elvis Presley" starts there and continues to Elvis's death in August 1977. You need to read both and you need to have time to do so. Together they have more than 1.400 pages, depending on which edition you get. I read the German translations which are even more voluminous. If you can find them, get the hardcover bindings as this number of pages is simply too much for a paperback.
What makes these two books outstanding is not their huge volume, it is their factualness. Whenever you read something about 1950's rock stars, and especially about Elvis, you are confronted with a huge pile of myths, covered by fandom. As said, Guralnick is different. Everything he writes is at least backed by facts and based on interviews with the people who were there. And where people's recollections do not match with each other or with published facts from newspapers or magazines, Guralnick tells you so. Not without reason, the books have thousands of footnotes with links to sources or additional comments.
However, while staying to the facts could make a reading boring, this here is not. Guralnick is really good at telling stories. Even though you already know the end of the story, you may not want to stop reading. Well, at least I didn't. Whether you learn about Elvis's way of recording, whether you read about him making films and concert tours, or whether you wonder about how his various girlfriends and the Memphis Mafia formed his closed world, this is not boring at all. The main aspects of the book are the people. Guralnick tries to find out and explain the personalities of Gladys, Vernon, Priscilla, Col. Parker, and all the other people who basically formed the man. And he tries to look behind the curtain to show the man himself, what he said, what he did, what he thought. While the end result of such could be questionable, with Guralnick's in-depth research it is not — or at least it sounds as if not.
Even such a voluminous work needs to omit things when it covers a complete lifetime of little more than 40 years. What I miss the most, especially in comparison to the contents of this site here, is the musical facts. While Guralnick writes about the recording sessions and about record releases, these comments are of very low priority. So if you are interested in when Elvis recorded Berry's "Promised Land" and how this was released, this is not the book for you. Such facts are hidden in half a sentence somewhere in between these hundreds of pages. I wish Guralnick had added a short appendix listing Elvis's records and movies, just for reference. But there are other Elvis books which fill these gaps. Also some more photographs would have been desired, especially where Guralnick writes about a special photo.
In any case, this two-volume biography is one of the best books on Rock music I have ever seen! Highly recommended!
Wednesday, March 19. 2008
Over the last few days I updated several of the discography pages of this site. I included the new Complete 50's CD set and made some related corrections in the Chess section, changed one image in the Mercury section, and added some information to the Radio Stations section. Use the links to the right to see the corresponding sections.
You can always see the latest changes to this site using the Revisions page. This includes all additions and changes to the main pages of this site. Not included is this Blog as it is supposed to change often. Visit regularly or use the RSS feed to stay informed with the Blog contents.
Thursday, March 6. 2008
I finally got my copy of the new 4 CD set containing Chuck Berry's complete 1950s recordings (HIP-O-Select B0009473-02), so it's time for a small review. It took some time for the box to reach me, but I do only write about items I own or at least have physically seen.
Let's start with one of the most disappointing items about this CD box, right on the top: its title! How could anyone come up with Johnny B. Goode to be used as yet another CD title. I have not counted, but there must be at least half a dozen CDs out there titled the same. A bit more creativity, please. This item deserves better than to get lost between all the other albums of same name.
From the outside
The next thing you notice is the funny way this CD box is designed. Looking like a 1950's mailing envelope, it is closed with a rope surrounding two hooks. You have to untie the rope/thread to open the box. While this design is funny, just using cardboard for a four CD set is fairly weak. I have heard of several copies which were damaged in mailing. I would have preferred a hardcover book-like packaging as with Charly's 1994 Poet of Rock'n'Roll 4-CD set.
From the inside
The nice design continues on the inside. All four CDs look like (different) 1950's CHESS labels. If you remove a CD, underneath you'll find one of the original album covers. The box is completed with nice photos, and the partial lyrics to Johnny B. Goodeare spread over different parts. The 24 page booklet is a fine work, though the reading direction is a bit strange: you have to flip pages up and down instead of left and right. Fred Rothwell wrote both a summary of Berry's 50's work and details on the specialties of the set. The track listing thoroughly tells about the musicians, recording date and much more. It also lists on which record the take appeared first - in the U.S.! Tracks previously published e.g. in Europe are listed as "previously unreleased in the U.S." instead of telling the true origin. With a collector's item like this, it should be clear even to the people at Universal that U.S. borders do not matter for collectors. We don't care if a song was first published in the U.S. in 1990 when it has been available elsewhere more than a decade earlier.
What's on the CDs
Very simple: The four CDs include each and every recording Chuck Berry made for Chess Records between May 1955 and December 1959 which either has been published before or was found to be worth not keeping in the vault. This includes all the singles, all the LP tracks, some demo recordings, a large number of alternate takes, plus studio jams and studio talk. In addition the first CD also has the two live tracks from Allan Freed's 1956 CBS broadcast. For details about the original releases, read the corresponding section of this site. All in all these are 103 "little records, all rock, rhythm, and jazz" as Fred claims it.
What interests me most is the material previously not available. The most important two tracks are the long jams on disk 3. While we have found lengthy jams on the Two Great Guitars and Concerto in B. Goode albums, these two jams are more Johnnie Johnson recordings than Chuck Berry's. One wonders why the band went through these, and more importantly why an engineer such as Phil Chess would record them to tape. But he did and we are glad to be able to listen to them now.
In addition to these jams, there are 14 previously unknown alternate takes, in addition to the alternate takes already on records such as Rock 'n' Roll Rarities. On this CD set we newly find additional takes of Sweet Little Sixteen, Night Beat, Time Was (slow version), Reelin' and Rockin', Around and Around, Ingo, 21, Almost Grown (two different takes), Blue on Blue, Betty Jean, I Just Want to Make Love to You, Broken Arrow, and Too Pooped to Pop. Also to be noted is that the version of Around and Around which was only to be heard on the strange Marble Arch 12-instead-of-10 song record is included as well, of course. Everything else has been available even on CD before.
All 103 songs come in chronological order. This results in CD 2 playing five different versions of Sweet Little Sixteen in a row. If the listener is interested in Chuck Berry's music, he can nicely hear how the song develops. People who only want to listen to Berry's greatest hits will be annoyed by such repetitions, but those should better buy a compressed sampler.
What's not on the CDs
Unfortunately, there are no alternate takes of songs recorded before December 1957. As the liner notes tell, Chess recycled the tapes once a master was selected. What a pity! What's also missing are takes which are very similar or simply too bad for release. Probably we are about to see some of these in later years as no record company will ever want your collection to be complete.
While the two CBS live tracks are included, though not recorded for Chess, the 1958 Newport recordings are missing. Also not included are the two Joe Alexander tracks. Luckily both have been released on CD just a few weeks ago.
Thursday, February 21. 2008
We know about Radio Station records and this site has a complete section on Radio Station records related to Chuck Berry. So far my knowledge was that these records were used to distribute pre-recorded radio shows to the many FM radio stations throughout the USA.
To my surprise I recently found a non-US radio station album. Or at least an album of which I think is a non-US radio station album. In contrast to the US albums, the record Let It Rock (BBC Radioplay TAIR 87059) shown below has a printed cover containing details about each song, liner notes about the artists and even a drawing up-front which seems to show Chuck Berry. There are five Berry recordings, four by Bo Diddley and a few by Clarence Henry, Dale Hawkins, Bobby Charles, and Paul Gayten.
The record's publisher is listed as BBC Radioplay Music Library. The back cover includes the note "BBC Radioplay Music is not available to the public".
Can any reader shed some light on this release? It seems to be correct that the record was not sold commercially as there are very few out there. However, why would the BBC create a sampler for their own internal use? And why would they spend the money to create and print a complete album cover and label only for a library issue? Let me know if you know anything about this or other BBC Radioplay releases.
A few weeks ago I learned about a new CD out there. Deliver Me From the Days of Old (Crying Steel Records CSR001) was a bit difficult to get as it is not stocked by the usual CD shops on the net. Even though this is a professional looking CD, it seems that the creators of this CD did not have the rights to publish the recordings contained.
The CD is a collection of all the Berry recordings never transferred to CD before - well, maybe not all, but many. You'll find Roll 'Em Pete, the Chess recording even missed in the Charly 9-CD set. You'll find the two recordings from the American Hot Wax soundtrack. There is the complete Tokyo Session LP and the two extremely rare recordings from the album The Day of R&B. All the stuff you have in your vinyl collection but never listened to for years.
In addition the CD contains the four songs recorded during the Newport Jazz Festival 1958 which were to be found on a rare Swedish CD before only. And finally they included the two unreleased Chess masters taken from the ARC Music Promotional CD. For details read the corresponding sections of this site.
This is a lot of good stuff. Whoever created this CD really knew about Chuck Berry recordings and what is easy to get and what not. The same holds for the 8-page booklet which has many excellent Berry photos in addition to complete details about the included recordings. They even included cover photos of the original vinyl albums. Very well done!
To my ears some of the vinyl transfers run too fast, maybe ten percent or even more. But what really is a pity is that this CD is not official meaning that you have to hunt for it on record markets. This collection should have deserved better.
Wednesday, February 13. 2008
On February 6th, 2008 Chuck Berry received the Golden Camera Lifetime Achievement Award. The show was recorded in Berlin and broadcast by German TV two days later.
I had to record the show on video due to business travel. But when I looked at it today, it was more than disappointing.
The introduction by Klaus Meine was ok, even though it was nothing more than just a few sentences everyone could have said by reading any half-page biography. Why didn't Mr. Meine tell a bit about how Berry's music influenced him personally or the Scorpions as a band?
When Chuck entered the stage, the standing ovations from the crowd (all famous TV people by themselves) was long and great. It was easily to see how much Chuck was moved emotionally. Looked like this was not something he went through often before.
Chuck's thanking speech was basically a poem recitation. I really would have liked to hear this in his original language. Unfortunately German TV found it necessary to not only translate Chuck's words, but also to broadcast this translation much too loud. The translation of course was no longer in rhyme or even a poem, just some senseless sentences. A pity! If someone has a recording of the speech in original language, I'd love to get a copy.
And then came the worst part of all. Chuck Berry lip-syncing to "Roll over Beethoven". A song he still performs today in every concert multiple times each month. But German TV (as most other TV stations today) requested play-back. So we see Chuck standing in front of a band of famous German musicians. And we hear the Chess recording of 1956 play! There's the famous guitar solo - but there is no lead guitar on stage! Chuck just singing (well, opening and closing his mouth). The rhythm guitarist always turned his back to the camera, obviously ashamed of this performance. You see the musicians exchange views and shaking their heads. What a pity! This could have been a great moment, but it was just shameful.
Niels Rozeboom placed a video recording of the Berry segments at YouTube, in case you want to look for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmVfHzZz50U
The best part of the show Niels missed to post, though. Because also Robert De Niro received a Lifetime Achievement Award, each and every woman on stage talked to De Niro who was waiting in the audience, either requesting a date or an autograph. Only German TV clown Stefan Raab took the opportunity to tell: "Sorry Mr. De Niro, but I love Chuck Berry!"
Late addition: Wolfgang Guhl pointed me to an article on echo-muenster.de. There Steffi Stephan explained that a live show was planned first, but did not work out due to "organizational complications". Which means that the organizers could not provide Chuck with the guitar he requested, and that they could not agree on the numbers to perform. Thanks for the link, Wolfgang!
This weblog is an addition to my Chuck Berry fansite called "A Collector's Guide to the Music of Chuck Berry" which describes all books and records of interest to everyone enjoying Chuck Berry's music.
Dietmar Rudolph about Where have we heard this interview before?
Reader Ari Niskanen sent me an email regarding the source of this quote. It is from the 'H ail! [...]
Josep about Yet another Carol
Amazing research. Thank you ve ry much.
Dietmar Rudolph about Big Beat magazine issue 26 contains more than 100 pages on Chuck Berry
Sorry, Jean. There is no print ed version. I'll send Alain's email to you separately so you can [...]
Jean Million about Big Beat magazine issue 26 contains more than 100 pages on Chuck Berry
do a printed version exists so mewhere?
Dietmar Rudolph about Variations of the CHUCK album?
Fred has written a great revie w which you will read here soo n.
Jean Million about Variations of the CHUCK album?
thanks ! i'll apply your advis es !!! though i already heard it by the dozen on deezer !!! w [...]
Dietmar Rudolph about Variations of the CHUCK album?
Hi Jean! As said in the articl e I'd buy the CD from the chea pest source or from your local res [...]
Jean Million about Variations of the CHUCK album?
so, at the end ...which varian t do you recommend ? 'cause i' ve been waiting for your artic le b [...]
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