Wednesday, December 18. 2013
It's Christmas time and while listening to the radio, from time to time you'll hear one of the various cover versions of Berry's Run Rudolph Run. Berry's???
While everyone will tell you that this is a typical Chuck Berry song with a typical Berry melody (later re-used at the same session for Little Queenie) and typical Berry lyrics (Said Santa to a boy child, "What have you been longing for?" — "All I want for Christmas is a Rock and Roll electric guitar!"), all over the Internet you will read that this song was written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Broadie! And this includes Wikipedia â€¦
With the help of three fellow Berry experts, biographer Bruce Pegg, discographer Morten Reff, and sessionographer Fred Rothwell, I've tried to sort out a few facts from the rumors.
In 1939 Robert L. May wrote the story of Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, first for his daughter Barbara, later as a giveaway booklet for his employer, the Montgomery Ward Company. Ward's was the first owner of the Rudolph copyright. In 1946 the copyright was transferred back to May and today belongs to The Rudolph Company, L.P., that means May's heirs.
In 1949 Johnny Marks, husband of May's sister Margaret and both a songwriter and radio producer, took the tale and created the famous Christmas song Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The singing cowboy Gene Autry seems to be the first who recorded the song (though some sources name Harry Brannon) and made it a huge hit. Copyright to the 1949 Rudolph song is owned by Marks own publishing company called St. Nicholas Music, Inc.
In 1958, Chuck Berry recorded his version of a Christmas story named Run Rudolph Run. The original Chess release 1714 came with this authors line:
(C. Berry Music — M. Brodie) / ARC BMI
Chuck Berry Music, Inc., Berry's company, is listed here as the author as it is on most Chess singles starting with Beautiful Delilah up to Ramona Say Yes. For some reasons, probably financial, it seems to have made sense to use a company name here instead of an individual's name. As the melody is pure Chuck Berry, it's no wonder that Chuck Berry Music, Inc. claimed authorship and that ARC, the Chess/Goodman publishing company, claimed copyright.
But, mystery #1:
Who is "M. Brodie"? Chuck Berry using a co-writer? A person named M. Brodie does not exist on the Internet. Not as a songwriter nor in any relation to a record company. So if M. Brodie was a songwriter, Run Rudolph Run is his or her only published work. But M. Brodie might also have been someone Berry or the Chess Brothers wanted to give a favor (money/fame) â€“ as they did with Alan Freed on the original Maybellene record. Or M. Brodie might be just a pen name such as "E. Anderson" on Let It Rock who was Berry in disguise.
In the ASCAP authors database, the co-writer of Run Rudolph Run named M. Brodie is identified as member number 268788988. While it's strange that Run Rudolph Run even exists in the ASCAP database because the original single clearly refers to the rival songwriter organization BMI, it becomes even more strange:
Member number 268788988 has additional entries for songs he wrote or co-wrote. All these additional songs stem from albums recorded by a late 1990s group called the Soultans of which a Marvin Lee Broadie was lead singer. And Marvin Lee Broadie indeed wrote some Soultans songs such as Cross My Heart on their Love, Sweat and Tears album. But if you look at Broadie's photo on his concert management site, I strongly doubt he was even born when Berry's Rudolph hit the record stores. Or, as Bruce Pegg puts it:
So unless this songwriter wrote one song in 1958, then had 40 years of writers block only to surface again as a writer for a German pop band at the end of the 90s, this Mr. Broadie is not our man.And don't overlook the different spelling of M. Brodie and Marvin Broadie.
So let's go to mystery #2:
Up to today on all Chess records or re-releases Berry's recording is always credited to Berry/Brodie or just Berry, this includes the latest HIP-O-Select boxes. In contrast, the ASCAP database and almost all cover versions name the songwriters as Johnny Marks and Marvin Broadie. Marvin Broadie aside, what has Johnny Marks to do with the Berry song?
Wikipedia claims that Marks indeed wrote the song, though Wikipedia fails to give a source for this claim. Is it likely that Marks wrote the Berry tune? Not if you compare Run Rudolph Run to Autry's hit record. But if you knew that in 1958 Marks wrote Brenda Lee's Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, that story might not be too far away. Our mysterious M. Brodie could be an alias for Johnny Marks, which allowed him (an ASCAP songwriter) to team up with Berry (a BMI songwriter). However, while this is possible, I don't believe it.
More likely is a different, more logical link to Marks. His publishing company St. Nicholas Music, Inc. is very strict about copyrights. And in fact the company was created by Marks just because of the Rudolph song and to cash on its success. As such it has "exploited the name and likeness of Rudolph via trademarks in connection with a wide variety of products and services, such as musical performances, audio recordings, sheet music and other music publications" (quoted from court papers). So Marks may have forced Arc Music/Chess Records to register the song with ASCAP and under the Marks/Brodie name. St. Nicholas Music, Inc. along with Character Arts, LLC (which owns the rights to the Rudolph 1964 TV special) successfully forbids Rudolph to appear in movies unless you pay for a license. And they certainly forbid Rudolph to appear in songs as well.
I'm really glad that my rights to the Rudolph name are older than theirs. Otherwise I might have feared their lawyers for using it.
The mysteries remain. I am 100 per cent sure that the mysterious M. Brodie never heard himself called Marvin. This dual use of the 268788988 member number in the ASCAP database is certainly an error introduced by trying to remove variant spellings for the same writer. This is where M. Brodie was mixed up with Marvin Lee Broadie. Johnny Marks' entry to the game was most certainly due to legal reasons. I strongly doubt Marks' contribution to the song, but if you can put some light into this darkness, let me know.
Wednesday, November 20. 2013
In the 1950s everything was simple: Singles had to run two minutes or 2:30 the max. Albums were just a collection of singles plus some tracks too bad for a single release.
In the 1960s albums became an artistic concept on their own. Singles were selected from the album tracks. And because album tracks often became longer and longer, record companies edited album tracks down to a running time reasonable for radio stations to play. That was something in the area of 3 to 4 minutes. By the way: According to The History of the 45 RPM Record, the longest 45 rpm track ever released was Bruce Springsteen's Incident on 57th Street (1987).
When collecting Chuck Berry records, you will find a couple of single edits. The most well-known is of course My Ding-A-Ling which was 11:52 on the original album and cut down to 4:16 for the famous #1 single. Ding-A-Ling has been re-issued on CD multiple times, so getting both the album version and the single edit is easy. However, some single edits are quite rare to find and you need indeed get yourself the original 45 rpm single to listen to the shortened version.
Here's a table of tracks which have been edited to fit on a hit single. Not included are the many album tracks which have varying lengths on CDs or LPs due to different fades or space restrictions.
Monday, November 18. 2013
A small note first: Sorry for no posts since September - I've been busy.
Most Chuck Berry discographies including Morten Reff's The Chuck Berry International Directory are certain that there were five original singles released during Berry's stay with Mercury Records:
I have to disagree. I know of and have copies of the first four singles. But after collecting Berry records for decades, neither I nor anyone I know has ever seen a regular release of Mercury 72963.
All one can find is a promotional copy of Mercury 72963 having a white promo label and - if you're lucky - having a white sleeve containing a note to reviewers that this is the side [sic] from the Concerto In B. Goode album YOU (the reviewers?) requested.
So yes, there is a 45rpm single containing It's Too Dark In There / Good Lookin' Woman. And yes, the label says Mercury 72963. But no, this was never part of Mercury's sales catalogue. And no, this was never released as a regular release other than this promotional copy.
If you disagree, please prove me wrong by sending a scan of a regular commercial label of this record.
Saturday, September 14. 2013
You'll certainly know that Amazon not only sells lots of Chuck Berry CDs and some vinyl, but also offers almost all Chuck Berry recordings as MP3 downloads. This site's Listen-to-it function makes use of these offers by presenting audio samples of most Berry recordings. Here's for example Amazon's selection for Wee Wee Hours. Amazon has roughly 14.000 MP3 tagged with Chuck Berry one way or the other.
MP3s at Amazon usually cost 99 cents per song. If you get them from other legal sources, prices are roughly the same. If we assume that Chuck Berry and his publishers get a share of this, that's not a bad deal.
The only other and cheaper way to legally get your favorite Berry recordings for use in MP3 players is to buy the corresponding record or CD and to convert the contents into digital MP3 files. This is done by a process called 'Ripping' and despite its name, this is perfectly legal as long as you keep the MP3 files for your private use.
But did you know that Amazon also provides you with all these MP3s for free? I didn't and was astonished to learn about it when I received an email from Amazon a few weeks ago.
The feature offered Amazon calls "AutoRip" and this is what they do: They automatically rip CDs into MP3 files. If you buy a CD tagged as "AutoRip" (and many Berry CDs are), they automatically and for free create MP3s of all songs contained. You can then import these MP3s into your Amazon Cloud Player (which every Amazon client has). From here you can listen to the songs or download them for use with your MP3 player Unless your cloud player contains more than 250 songs, this complete process is free of charge for you.
If you recently (i.e. within the last years) bought a CD which has now been AutoRip'ed, you will receive an email from Amazon announcing that these songs have been imported into your cloud player automatically. In my case this was the "In the 50s" 3-CD set I wrote about in March. The price for this set is now 40 cents higher than in March, but it includes MP3s of all 70 songs. No need to rip them any more.
Thursday, August 29. 2013
Reader Brian just posted a note to an eBay offer of the famous "America's Hottest Wax" bootleg (Reelin' 001). For sale is the second version with the blue cover. Bidding starts very cheap at UKP 2.99. Here's the link: Item 261275338851. Thanks, Brian!
Thursday, August 22. 2013
One, two - one, two, three, four ...
If you are following this site, you will have waited just like me to finally see the fourth and final volume of Morten Reff's The Chuck Berry International Directory.
With now over 2.000 pages, this is by far the most comprehensive and the most complete reference work for any serious Chuck Berry collector.
The earlier 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. Last year's Volume 3 presenting chapter 20 has 600 pages which list and describe all those records where some other artist recorded their own version of a Chuck Berry song.
Now we can get Volume 4. It completes chapter 20 with an index over song titles so one could look up those who recorded Beautiful Delilah, for instance - which are 27 besides the Kinks.
Seven other chapters discuss cover versions which became hits on their own, recordings which are said to be cover versions, but aren't, and Soundalikes. Plus there are such obscure items as Karaoke CDs and games.
Even if you aren't that much interested in cover versions, you may want to buy Volume 4 as an addition to Volumes 1 and 2 which you surely have. Since the original release in 2008 there have been additional important releases of Berry material (as you've read here). Also some older records have surfaced which did not make it into the first versions. Due to this, 200 extra pages in Volume 4 contain additions and corrections to the earlier volumes. Also included is cross-referencing information which allows you to easily find a certain record or release on these 2.000+ pages.
No need to repeat my recommendation: The whole series is a MUST-HAVE!
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.
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.
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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 [...]
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so, at the end ...which varian t do you recommend ? 'cause i' ve been waiting for your artic le b [...]
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