Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Duck Walk In the Shoes: London Berry

As promised, Wednesday brings a tribute, by way of a 45th anniversary concert, to the acknowledged father of Rock and Roll music, who passed 11 days ago and whose funeral arrangements were just announced, about 10 o'clock this morning in his birthplace of St. Louis.
You've read all the plaudits and honestly there ain't much I can add. It comes down to a very simple thought: If this guy were never born, music as we have come to know it in the last 60 years of history would not exist. Period.
I blogged his 90th birthday last October but some folks merit a return engagement on this page. This is easily and manifestly one of those people worthy of more than one homage.
We SJWs have a saying: when we march, we walk in the shoes of all the links on the chain who did so before us, and who sacrificed to show the way and light the path for our initiative. Well, all musicians -- not just Rock musicians, either -- walk in the shoes of Chuck Berry. Every Keith Richards, every David Bowie, every Beatles, every everybody moved the ball forward that this guy essentially invented.
When I heard he passed away I could not really be sad, knowing that he lived such a long, world-altering journey on this rock, and without doubt altered the basic DNA of the planet irrevocably. Nothing melancholic about that.
The entire basic riff vocabulary of Rock is extrapolated from his melodic arsenal, as is the basic three-chord structure of the music and the attitude unique to Rock as well. Every song you have heard in the last 60 years has some genetic linkage to what he began back in the 1950s. There are no exceptions... whether it's Eric Clapton, Aerosmith or King Crimson's The Great Deceiver, Chuck Berry wields an inestimable influence -- perhaps the influence above all others -- across the board.
Which brings us to the recent ARTE digital rebroadcast of this ridiculous show, taped for TV in the UK in 1972, exactly 45 years ago today. All the elements that made Chuck Berry such an indescribably gargantuan talent are in place for this performance, in the finest possible quality. How this stuff doesn't get rebroadcast in America is not fathomable, but thanks to the diligent satellite capturers out there we have it for you today in the most pristine condition possible.
Chuck Berry & the Rocking Horses
Shepherd's Bush Empire
London, UK

01 intro/Medley
02 Roll Over Beethoven
03 Sweet Little Sixteen
04 Memphis, Tennessee
05 Too Much Monkey Business
06 Beer Drinking Woman
07 Let It Rock (Can't Stop the Train)
08 Mean Old World (The Blues)
09 Carol
10 Rock and Roll Music
11 Promised Land
12 Reelin' and Rockin'
13 Nadine
14 Bye Bye Johnny
15 Bonsoir Cherie
16 Johnny B. Goode
17 end credits

Total time: 57:50

Chuck Berry - vocals & lead guitar
Jimmy Campbell - rhythm guitar
Billy Kinsley - bass
Dave Harrison - drums
Michael Snow - piano

mkv file of a Arte digital rebroadcast
Like I said there isn't very much to add. Chuck Berry may be gone from the Earthly realm, but the toys he left for subsequent generations to play with will last long after everyone any of us know has made their exit. This concert -- taped 45 years to the day -- provides a more revealing window into why that is than any placeholding words I could invent, so pull it down and you'll have a fine, high definition glimpse into what made his life such a momentous excursion.--J.
10.18.1926 - 3.18.2017

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