Friday, March 1. 2013
As you know, some of the more interesting Chuck Berry record rarities are those produced exclusively for radio stations. This site has a complete section on these records at Radio Show and Promotional Records.
Since Morten Reff's "Chuck Berry International Directory, Vol. 2" (see here) was issued, I had always wondered why on page 523 Morten lists the "Royalty of Rock - Berry/Richard" album as an 1983 release, while my copy clearly states 1982. Now I know why!
There are TWO versions of this radio show record:
#1 (c) 1982 TM Special Projects
has a black and white label with "Royalty of Rock" printed in a gothic font. The two sides are labeled Segment 1/Segment 2 and Segment 3/Segment4.
The cue sheet has the "Royalty of Rock" logo (with king's crown) printed in red. It lists opening and closing narratives to be read by the station's host. These parts of the segments are not on the record. Side 2 therefore directly starts with "Reelin' and Rockin'" and ends with "Johnny B. Goode".
#2 (c) 1983 TM Programming
has the crown logo printed in red as well as name and address of RKO Radio Networks. The two sides are labeled Side A and Side B.
It contains the same music and interviews as #1, but in addition has the opening and closing narratives spoken by some "Billy Juggs" (who was a DJ with KMET of LA). Thus side 2 starts with Juggs saying "You're listening to ..." and ends with "Chuck Berry is one of the true legends in The Royalty of Rock".
If you know more about TM Programming and the RKO radio albums, feel free to comment here.
Monday, November 19. 2012
We haven't heard or read anything new from Chuck Berry for many years.
So this recently published piece of Berry poetry is the latest (and maybe last) demonstration of Chuck Berry's wit and wisdom and it pretty much explains why.
Give you a song, I can't do that.You can read the complete interview with Ohio's Cleveland.com here: http://www.cleveland.com/music/index.ssf/2012/10/chuck_berry_is_worried_about_h.html
Thanks to Owen for passing the link!
Thursday, October 25. 2012
The Chuck Berry International Directory by Morten Reff is becoming the most comprehensive and the most complete reference work for any serious Chuck Berry collector.
Volumes 1 and 2 of 2008 have 1,000 pages describing each and every Chuck Berry record issued in the U.S., in the U.K., or in any other country. The combined 19 chapters also covered bootlegs, movies, TV shows, books and much much more.
Now there is Volume 3 presenting chapter 20 which has 600 pages on its own. This issue of the Chuck Berry International Directory lists and describes all those records where some other artist recorded their own version of a Chuck Berry song.
Paul McCartney's Yesterday is said to have been recorded in 2,200 cover versions. Berry's Johnny B. Goode must come on one of the next places as Morten Reff here lists 648 recorded versions. And from this book we learn that McCartney and the Beatles made one of them. In addition the Beatles recorded and officially released 16 further Berry covers, while the Stones only have 11.
Morten Reff included just the official releases, not counting any bootlegs or such. Still then, the book lists more than 2,400 artists having recorded one or more Berry songs.
In contrast to the Beatles which besides Yesterday don't have many songs covered that much (if you excluded tribute bands), it's highly interesting to learn that almost 20 Berry songs have been covered at least 100 times, with Memphis, Beethoven and Sweet Little Sixteen following Johnny B. Goode on the list.
As with the other lists, Reff included much more than just dates and catalog numbers. There's a short paragraph for each artist and for most of the recordings there's one or more additional paragraphs describing the recording or its use. Photo pages present the most interesting sleeves.
Again this has been a tremendous amount of work. It is a fun to browse thorough it or look up famous artist's names. I wish there had been an index over song titles as well so one could look up those who recorded Beautiful Delilah, for instance. But according to the author this index had to wait for Volume 4 due early next year. The size of the book at more than 600 pages did not allow putting it in.
As with the other volumes of this series there's only one recommendation: Hurry up and get you one! Here's some shops: Click here!
Monday, August 6. 2012
Recently a reader referred to my blog article on La Juanda - back here.
Again there rose a discussion about whether there are two variants of this song, or not: Is the version of this song on the original Chess single (Chess 1664) different from the version used on the LP albums (and all of the CDs)? When this question last came up in 2008 I had listened to those records over and over and did not hear any difference. In contrast others, especially Berry expert Morten Reff, insisted in hearing a difference. When this topic now came up once again, I decided to finally sort this out. So I grabbed the versions into audio files and used several computer programs to analyze possible differences.
Finally I stand corrected! Indeed there are differences in the single version of La Juanda versus to album and CD versions!
Both records obviously use the same basic take having the musical instruments and the main vocal. This results in both versions having the same length and sounding exactly the same.
However, as you will know, on this record Berry sings with himself in harmony. This was done by overdubbing a second background vocal track onto the original recording. And here is where the differences can be spotted. Either the engineers used a different second vocal track for the single or they modified the background vocal track before including it.
Fact is that there are a very few seconds in this song where you can hear the two versions differ. The most prominent part is during the first refrain where Berry switches from Spanish to English singing "I speak only the language of English" (close to 0:40 minutes in the song). In the single version this sentence is sung as a duet of Berry with himself having clearly two vocal tracks. In the LP version (e.g. on the Hip-O-Select box) the same sentence is not double-tracked. Here Berry clearly sings alone with a single voice.
My apologies to all those with better ears. I added a note to the Chess records section of this page.
Saturday, June 16. 2012
Fred Rothwell's Long Distance Information: Chuck Berry's Recorded Legacy (Music Mentor Books, 2001) is the ultimate book for any serious Chuck Berry record collector: All Berry sessions, all the songs, all the session musicians, where to find which song if ever released, and tons of additional stuff.
First published in 2001 the book consists mainly of a 240 page commented "sessionography", a list of 93 recording sessions Chuck participated in between 1954 and 2000. For each session Fred lists the musicians and the songs recorded, whether released or not. For every song he shows a few main records containing it. He also fully describes and criticizes every recording.
Since 2001 there have been several additional releases of old songs which Fred obviously could not list by then, but there have been very few discoveries of Berry recordings published before 2001 but not listed in Fred's book.
Therefore it was kind of a sensation when Morten Reff a few weeks ago found an unknown, unlisted Chuck Berry recording - on vinyl, from 1977!!!
Morten Reff is the author of the famous book series "The Chuck Berry International Directory" (Music Mentor Books, 2008) which is the other ultimate book for any Chuck Berry record collector. For details on the book series which documents and describes all Chuck Berry records ever released world-wide, read the Chuck Berry Bibliography on this site.
The recording Morten found is a complete song, studio-recorded with full band and the typical Berry intro.
This untitled song is a commercial for the Dr. Pepper softdrink and has been used in radio ads along with similar recordings from other artists. The ads and corresponding interviews have been distributed on an LP to the radio stations just like other radio spots in the 1960s and 1970s. For details on Berry-related radio albums, read the chapter on Radio Show and Promotional Records.
The album "Sights and Sounds of Dr. Pepper" (no label, no number) has a red-label and a blue-label side. The red-label side has 60-seconds radio commercials by Chuck Berry (actually 1:11 minutes), Lynn Anderson, The Mills Brothers, B. B. King, Hank Snow, Teresa Brewer, Dana Valery, and Gladys Knight & The Pips as well as six soundtracks to TV commercials. All artists sing the same lyrics, though in their own specific style, Chuck Berry in his.
The blue-label side starts with a 1:38 minute interview with Berry followed by the same song as on the red-label side, though this time starting with a countdown. The rest of the album is filled with interviews and songs by the other artists.
During the interview Berry talks about who influenced him (Nat Cole, Glenn Miller), what contributed to his success as a super rock-star, and about the taste of Dr. Pepper.
Congratulations to Morten Reff for this great find!
Addition: 04-08-2012: Those of you who might want to listen to this commercial (though not to the interview) should get themselves the CD-R "Cola Radio Commercials Volume 3" which is available from ebay here: eBay link
Further edit: Both interview and song were included in Bear Family's 16 CD set of Berry recordings.
Saturday, March 31. 2012
There have been two articles on this blog already talking about Berry's session in Radio Bremen's TV studio on March 24th, 1972. Berry and the same band used a few days later to record the famous BBC TV session spent 45 minutes to record eight songs to be used in later German broadcasts. Three of these songs then made it to the May 27th, 1972 broadcast of Germany's most famous music show Beat-Club.
In 2008 I reported on a TV broadcast of additional recordings from this show and in 2009 some readers found yet another part of this session. Go back there to learn more about the recording and the original releases.
In early 2011 Gonzo Multimedia of London, UK announced to include this session in their series of "Lost Broadcasts" DVDs. Interestingly their description of the show was completely wrong, talking about three different sessions and about songs never heard of. Anyway I pre-ordered a copy which was supposed to be available in June 2011. It never came. Gonzo first delayed and then drew back the release completely.
But then some reader of this blog found out that the DVD has finally become available (Thanks, John!). I ordered once more and this time I really got the DVD!
Chuck Berry - The Lost Broadcasts (Gonzo Multimedia HST056DVD) is now available at the usual shops. Click here for a list. Despite what the shops may tell you: This is a single (not two) DVD and it is not an Audio CD. It says it's made in England, but interestingly the Gonzo/UK website does not list it, while the Gonzo/US website does - and with a much more correct description this time. And for even more confusion the printing on the front cover contains German notes (explaining that this DVD is unrated).
The DVD contains all eight songs recorded at the session. On the DVD are the raw cuts containing studio talk and even the clapperboard inserts. Included as well is a 30-minute Interview track, which consists of an interview where Berry tries to understand the questions from the two German interviewers followed by studio talk where the band sits on stage drinking beer. It seems as if the German cameramen and director simply let the cameras run whatever Berry and the band did. Which seemed not to disturb them. All this is now on the DVD, raw as it is.
This raw material was filmed in front of a blue-screen. This is a common technique in which during post-production any arbitrary background could be placed behind the actors. The blue color is then keyed out from the overlaid images. Here the blue background is very disturbing as by intention it has a very high contrast to what's going on on stage. When German TV broadcast this "Lost Concert" in 2008, they replaced the blue background with a black one. That was much more comfortable to view.
For the original 1972 broadcasts a distorted and modified view of the same image was placed into the background. The DVD includes both the raw and the processed variants of Let It Rock, Wee Wee Hours, and Johnny B. Goode. These three songs were used in the original Beat-Club show. Of School Day, which was used in a later German show, Gonzo missed to include the original broadcast.
Most of the contents of this DVD was known before, though in edited form. The beer-drinking scene (Berry drinking The Real Thing instead) is new as are some parts of the interview which until then had been used and even released on Audio CD in segments only. As Berry and the band are in good shape just like they are at the BBC session little thereafter, this is a nice-to-have item.
Sunday, March 18. 2012
The release of various CD sets containing Chuck Berry's complete recordings of the 1950s and their sale at very low prices makes one wonder about the legal situation of these recordings.
In this blog article I try to explain the relevant copyright portions as far as I understand those. I am NOT an expert on copyrights, so what you read here may be completely wrong and subject to legal discussions. Thus feel free to comment or send an email if you find this text need corrections or additions!
Lets try to sort out some definitions first: we are talking about COPY-RIGHTS, i.e. the right to copy something. The basic rule in almost all circumstances is that the creator of a work of art is the only one who owns the right to create copies of his or her work. In most cases of commercially replicated art, the creator of the work has transferred the right to copy to an agency, a publisher or the like. Depending on the contract, this transfer of rights might be temporary, might cover certain editions or geographical regions only, or might be permanent. In any case the owner of the copyright (remember: the right to copy) might be someone different than the creator of the work. [Note: In the U.S. it had been necessary to officially register a copyright for it to become legally effective. This was often done by other parties such as a publisher. In Europe and most other countries the simple act of creating something automatically entitled the creator to the exclusive right to copy - as it is in the U.S. now as well.]
The creator of a work of art might also waive his right to copy by putting the work into the public domain. In this case the work of art is allowed to be copied freely. The creator might still have several rights which they retain. Thus they might still claim authorship, request their name to be listed, or request the work to be unchanged.
All copyrights expire. Thus after a certain amount of time every work of art becomes part of the public domain and is allowed to be freely copied. The period of time a work is protected against unwanted copying depends on the type of work and on the applicable laws. Due to this it often depends on the source country and on the country the copy is created in.
Looking at Chuck Berry's recordings, we see that there are three different kinds of art we have to consider:
In respect to the various CD releases of Chuck Berry's 1950s recordings in Europe and in the UK, we can summarize: As a composer and writer, Chuck Berry or whoever he sold the copyright to (Chess, BMI, or their local agents) still is entitled to royalties. As a recording artist, his 1950s recordings are in the public domain, though - at least in the UK and at least those which have been published in the UK at least 50 years ago.
Wednesday, March 7. 2012
During the last weeks, SEVERAL CD sets appeared containing most or even all of Berry's 1950s recordings. There is a simple legal reason for this which I will cover in a different blog entry. Thus we can can be sure to see more of such re-releases over the years.
In any case, such re-releases will be of interest to customers only if they are complete, if they come with additional information, or if they contain rarities or unreleased recordings. Given that, let's have a look on the 3-CD set Chuck Berry in the 1950s (Chrome Dreams CD3CD5073, 2011).
Completeness: Yes, it contains every track released until 1960. The sequence is a bit odd as they chose to put the first four CHESS albums in their original sequence on the first two CDs. The third CD then combines the remaining tracks from singles which did not make it to the original albums. As with the other set discussed some weeks ago they mistakenly included the wrong version of Sweet Little Sixteen. Any unreleased tracks from the 1950s have not been included.
Additional Information: The box comes with a nice 16-page booklet containing photos (some rare) and a well-written lengthy story by Charles Waring.
Rarities: The additional 'bonus' tracks include the Ecuadors and Alexander recordings plus one of the two 1956 live tracks. These aren't really rare in contrast to the two live recordings with John Lennon from 1972. These recordings for the Mike Douglas TV Show broadcast 16 February 1972 can be found on many Vinyl bootlegs, but to my knowledge are here for the first time on a legal CD.
Unreleased Recordings: While there are no unreleased musical recordings on this CD set, we do find four interviews which have not been published on audio CDs or Vinyl records before. Despite the CD title, this is Chuck Berry in the 1970s and 1980s.
Friday, December 30. 2011
I'm sorry for the long-winded heading of this blog post, but indeed this is the title of a new CD set I want to talk about today: Chuck Berry - 5 Classic Albums Plus Bonus Singles and Rare Tracks (Real Gone RGMCD011, 2011).
Real Gone Music is a series of CD boxes from Mischief Music Ltd. (Music Melon). Other issues contain eight classic albums each of Elvis, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, and more. The four CDs come in plastic multiboxes and look and feel like vinyl records.
As I said before, I usually do not discuss Greatest Hits albums or re-issues on this site as most of those are of very little interest to a collector. And in most cases I don't even spend any money on such so I don't have it and I do not talk about items here which I don't have.
However, when I recently found this CD set mentioned in a record catalog, I got me one. Four CDs, 87 tracks, at a price of five UK Pounds is an offer one can accept.
When I received the CDs today, I was astonished what I got. Albeit the song sequence is a bit strange, the CD offers everything the title promises, and more. Included are all the tracks from Chuck Berry's first five US albums. If you count the Chuck Berry Twist Greatest Hits album as well, it's even the six first original albums as released until 1962. In addition there are all recordings published during that period which made it only to singles instead of albums. Thus you get everything which was available from Berry during his most successful period.
But there's more. The "rare" tracks mentioned in the title are thirteen recordings originally released on the bootleg LP "America's Hottest Wax" (Reelin' 001, 1979) and later on Chess CXMP 2011 "Chess Masters" in March 1983. Only the 1961 version of Brown Eyed Handsome Man from this album is missing.
These rarities include the Ecuadors tracks published on Argo 5353 in 1959. And finally there are the two Joe Alexander tracks first published 1954 which are said to contain the first Chuck Berry recording.
So we get a fairly complete set of Berry releases at a very reasonable price. What we don't get is a booklet or any additional information besides a track listing and release data. Thus there are no recording details nor even composer credits. The song listing is full of spelling errors and, as said before, the song sequence is quite strange. Basically there are the five albums in chronological order with the tracks in the sequence originally used. The additional single tracks are included at their release date, and the rarities (released 1979) are included at their recording date.
Therefore you'll find the first 1955 recordings here: Maybellene on CD 3, track 3, as it's first album release on Berry is on Top was in 1959. Wee Wee Hours is on CD 1, track 14 due to being part of After School Session (1957). Thirty Days is on CD 1, track 3, since it never made it to one of the early albums thus placed in 1955. And so on.
Besides this strange sequence and the missing booklet, for little money you get a good CD set and lot's of early Berry recordings. Recommended. You can get the album at most record shops. Click here for a list.
Late addition: I should have listened to all the tracks first instead of writing. Morten Reff was so kind to point out that CD 2 contains the alt. take of "Sweet Little Sixteen" twice. Instead the song's 1958 hit version is missing. Thanks, Morten.
Thursday, December 8. 2011
Most of you will know the German Bear Family Records label. Since 35 years, Richard Weize and his team provide and surprise us with countless Rock'n'Roll rarities always at highest quality levels. Bill Haley, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewes, ... all have been presented in huge box-sets from Bear Family, mostly containing tons of rare or previously unissued stuff.
In respect to Chuck Berry, Bear Family has been astonishingly quiet. Fred Rothwell's Long Distance Information reports on an aborted box-set once planned. The only Bear Family release listed in this site's discography is their 52-CD set Geschichte der Popmusik (Bear Family BCD16300) which contains an interview nowhere else to be found.
Therefore it's a great step forward that Bear Family recently released a Chuck Berry album. Called Chuck Berry Rocks (Bear Family BCD17139AR), this is a single, but fully packed CD.
The album comes with 32 tracks and a bit over 80 minutes of rocking Berrys. Bear Family selected the best-known and the best Rock'n'Roll numbers up to Dear Dad, organized chronologically. This can easily serve as one of the best Greatest Hits albums, even though (and goodly so) it misses the Ding-A-Ling.
I usually don't discuss Greatest Hits albums here as they are released by the dozens. I have to make an exception this time, though, out of two reasons. Reason one is the perfect sound quality of this CD. What else is to be expected from Bear Family?
The second reason which makes this new CD a nice addition to every Chuck Berry collection is the enclosed booklet. 52 pages for a single CD. No other label would provide you with such an amount of additional information accompanying the music on the CD. You can almost call this a book with enclosed CD. Bill Dahl describes each and every recording in detail, talking about the recording sessions, introducing the musicians, listing chart entries and integrating interviews. Best is the selection of photos, many from inside the recording studios and often some we haven't seen before.
All in all, this CD set is highly recommended, not only to those who look for Berry's greatest recordings, but also for all the collectors out there. Thank you, Bear Family!
Tuesday, November 22. 2011
I wonder why - ok, that's not a Berry tune.
But I really wonder why someone creates and offers a CD such as "Chuck Berry - Chess Studio Outtakes" (no label, no number, no date).
A reader recently found this CD in an online catalogue and asked me if I knew anything about this release. Well, I know very little but what I know is more than enough.
The CD contains 29 tracks, all of them alternative takes originally not selected for publication. It comes with a nice, professionally looking cover and label, though after closer inspection it looks pretty home-made.
All of the tracks are very well known. In fact all of the tracks are just copies of the same tracks as published on the 4-CD set "Johnny B. Goode (HIP-O-Select B0009473-02)" in 2008.
So why would you want to but this CD if you can get the same contents plus additional three CDs full of Berry and additional studio outtakes and a great booklet and great packaging for around $100 (current retail price for the complete set)? Even if you do not care whether musicians or legal record companies receive income from your payment. (You should - as if you don't who's going to create the next album with really interesting stuff?)
Thus leave this bootleg in the shelves. If you don't have the outtakes already, run and get one of the few copies of the 4-CD set left (e.g. by clicking here).
Saturday, August 27. 2011
Morten Reff's book series "The Chuck Berry International Directory" documents and describes all Chuck Berry records ever released world-wide. The first volume contains all the US American and British releases plus most of the records officially released in other countries. Since the book was printed, additional records have been released. And collectors from all over the world reported additional obscure records. All these will be listed in a future volume of this series. Until then, we will report on some of the more interesting additions here.
One record missing from the Canadian discography is number GC-318X of the Quality Gold Collection of singles. The record is shown below. The interesting bit about this single, as Morten told, is that it looks like ordinary hit versions. However, they are not. Sweet Little Sixteen is the demo version and Reelin' And Rockin' is the alt. take, both of which first heard on the American Hottest Wax bootleg. The labels say (c)1981, but this is very unlikely as the first legal releases of these takes were in 1983 (UK) and 1986 (US).
If you know an exact release date of this single, post a comment here.
Tuesday, August 23. 2011
In early 2008 I wrote a blog article on the various recordings of Chuck Berry concerts in San Francisco in 1967. Three of these shows are only available for listening online at Wolfgang's Vault, a commercial site which runs on the archives of promoter Bill Graham.
In this blog article I explained a legal (at least here) method to create an audio CD from the online show. And guess what, someone did!
On eBay and in various places you can now find a CD titled "Career on the riffs", which contains the show of December 29th, 1967. The CD has a label (Vintage Masters) and a number (VMCDR-116). The cover looks professionally made, but all in all the CD is handmade: a burned CD and a home printed cover.
Since Wolfgang's Vault does not allow you to sell CD copies of their contents, this seems to be an illegal copy. Let me know if you know better.
By the way: The creators of this CD cannot have learned about it here, because if they had, they would have omitted Steve Miller from the printed band listing.
Thanks to Morten Reff I learned about a new CD album called "Dover Soul" by David Dover. This 2010 CD contains a segment of a show Dover performed with Berry on June 14th, 2008. David Dover told me:
I was hired to do all of the production for the show and it was at the Mabee Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Mabee Center is a large venue on the Oral Roberts University Campus. It's where Elvis used to play when he came to Tulsa. I did all the lighting and all the sound for the show. My band was the opening act and also played as Mr. Berry's band.The CD comes with a ten-minute excerpt from Berry's performance. Though titled "Johnny B. Goode" on Dover's CD, you hear the complete closing segment of the show. First Berry performs his best-known song, then he continues with his usual closing routine asking for girls to dance on stage while Berry and the band run through a variant of what was once published as "House Lights" on the 1979 Rockit album.
The back cover of the CD shows Dover along with Berry on stage:
I asked David Dover how he came to record the Berry show and more importantly how he got Berry's permission for that.
I told Mr. Berry that I was going to record and he had no objections so I proceeded to do so. I recorded the entire show but Johnny B. Goode was the best of the bunch so that is the one I included on my album.In contrast to a hundred of audience recordings made from Berry shows over the last decades, here we have a recording that is at least technically very good. Musically it is what you expect from an eighty-year old rock'n'roller. The backup band is better than most of the local pickup bands Berry uses when on the road, though not as good as the family line-up he plays with in St. Louis. When you look at a short video recording from this show, you see that Berry's friend, tour manager and bass player Jim Marsala was present on stage and guiding the band as he usually does.
The album is available from most of the large Internet shops. Click here for some links. The CD looks quite handmade. Even though I received a sealed copy through amazon, the disk is just a burned CD, not a pressed one. Likewise the cover seems to be made with a home printer. Song titles and running times are printed onto the CD only. Just like the recording information also writer credits are missing. I'm pretty sure that Dover did not write Who'll Stop the Rain by himself.
You can listen to an excerpt from Johnny B. Goode here or use the link to purchase the entire audio file.
[Additions to original post of 2011-08-06]
David Dover was so kind to provide us with additional information about this CD. In reply to my "handmade" comment he explained:
I have a publishing company and I own my own label so I suppose it would be considered an Indie label. I have the neccessary gear to produce a CD of good quality. A also have a Sony machine that mass produces them, so basically I am my own record company. I also own a shrink wrap machine to wrap the CDs. I have everything the big companies have except the money to promote myself.Right you are, David. Therefore here's the place for me to promote your album. Recommended!
In addition David listed the following musicians as playing the Mabee Center concert: David Dover (guitar and vocals), Rick Heck (drums), Dave Russell (sax and vocals), Chip Anderson (bass and vocals), Rick Morrow (piano and vocals), Ricky Paul (guitar).
Thanks to Morten Reff and David Dover for help with this blog article.
Tuesday, July 26. 2011
Because it probably is his most important recording, Johnny B. Goode has been the topic of several comments and discussions in this blog before. (see here and here)
Common knowledge is that besides the well-known version as released in 1958, there is a so-called alternate version "Take 2/3" which consists of a short version of the famous guitar intro (take 2) followed by some studio talk and then continuing into a complete track (take 3).
On the HIP-O-Select 4-CD set of same name (HIP-O-Select B0009473-02) one can listen to both versions one after the other (CD 2, tracks 20 and 21). And if you listen carefully you will notice that take 3 and the finally released version are exactly the same recording. As Fred Rothwell explained in this blog, common practice for Berry was to play the intro and the rhythm first, while further lead guitar segments were overdubbed later. Thus track 20 (take 3) on the HIP-O-Select CD is the undubbed version and track 21 is the overdubbed version.
That's what common knowledge said. But then I received an email from a reader of this site who noticed something strange. Josep RullÃ³ from Barcelona/Spain wrote:
We are missing the complete alternate take first used in the âRockÂ´nÂ´Roll Raritiesâ album in the 1986. This complete take, identified as take 3, is very noticeably different from the master.What Josep did - and none of the other collectors including me - was to compare the "Take 2/3" track on the HIP-O-Select box with the "Take 2/3" track as originally released by MCA/CHESS in 1986 on the double album "Rock'n'Roll Rarities" (Chess LP 92521). And when you compare these two, you will notice some minor differences and some major differences.
The minor differences are an additional false start of take 2 on the 1986 version, which is missing on the 2008 version which in turn has Leonard Chess shouting "Johnny B. Goode, take 2" at the beginning.
The major difference is that the 1986 version of take 3 is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT RECORDING from the take 3 on the 2008 CD. It has a much longer and different piano solo between the second and third verse which you can easily use to tell the versions apart.
I wonder if someone can shed some more light on this. So far this is my theory:
When Steve Hoffman of MCA/CHESS created the "Rock'n'Roll Rarities" album, he not only remixed some of the 1960s recordings. He and his team also found an unreleased version of Johnny B. Goode and some studio chatter about the recording of the song. So they took the aborted take 2, the following discussion, and the unreleased version (rumor goes that this is take 1) and combined those to what they called a "previously unreleased version". Note that they did not claim the unreleased take to be take 3. They just moved it after the studio discussion, not before. And because that studio talk ended with Len Chess introducing "Take 3" we all came to believe that the unreleased take was indeed take 3.
As it seems, this also fooled the engineers at Universal when they compiled the so-called "complete" CD set. They were supposed to add takes 2 and 3, so they took the master tapes and used takes 2 and 3 - the real takes 2 and 3. This is how the real take 3, which by incident is the undubbed master of the hit version, went into production. They clipped off the false start from take 2 (bad) and added Len Chess's introduction (good). But no-one noticed that the complete track was notably different from the 1986 version.
Thus we have to note that there are these studio versions of Johnny B. Goode:
We have to say a big THANK YOU to Josep twice: First for finding out the differences, and second for telling us!
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 [...]
Copyright and Disclaimer
The complete contents of this weblog is
© Dietmar Rudolph
No part of this document may be used or published without written consent by the author.
To contact the authors, email to email@example.com.