Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Chuck Berry: St. Louis To Liverpool / Berry Is On Top

Mike Perciaccante By

Sign in to view read count
John Lennon was quoted as saying, "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'!"—one hell of an endorsement. If taken solely on the merits of the individual tracks on this single disc collection, encompassing two of Berry's classic albums, Lennon was clearly making an understatement. Berry Is On Top (Chess Records, 1959) and St. Louis to Liverpool (Chess Records, 1964) are both jam-packed with hits. Each timeless track features the All-Star Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame band, led by Berry and driven by the thumping Johnnie Johnson or Lafayette Leake piano that, combined with Willie Dixon's bass and additional fretwork supplied by either Bo Diddley or Matt Murphy creates an amazing musical backdrop to the lyrics. It must be noted that these albums were compiled from various singles and session tracks by Chess Records. At the time, the record industry's fortunes were based more on the release of singles than 12" LPs.

Chuck Berry is the original poet laureate of Rock 'n' Roll. He brought complex song structure to what had been previously described as primal simple music, paving the way for today's chart-toppers. Berry Is On Top, which might as well have been released as a "Greatest Hits" collection features "Carol" (later covered by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Paul Bley, Charlie Daniels and others), "Maybellene" (the song that introduced the word "motorvating" into the vernacular), "Sweet Little Rock & Roller" and "Around And Around." Additionally, the album contains "Johnny B. Goode," "Little Queenie" and "Roll Over Beethoven," each featuring the signature guitar lick that young guitarists, to this day—over forty years later—still imitate.

St. Louis to Liverpool proved that while The Beatles changed the face of rock, they didn't close the door on Berry. Featuring "Little Marie" (the companion or, more likely, the response to his "Memphis, Tennessee"), "No Particular Place to Go" (with its staccato rhythm sounding very much like "School Days" with different lyrics), "Promised Land," "You Never Can Tell," "Merry Christmas, Baby" (originally recorded by Charles Brown) and a great cover of Guitar Slim's "Things I Used to Do," this album doesn't shine quite as brightly as Berry Is On Top. It is still, however, pretty impressive.

The number of great songs on this reissue is astounding. If a current artist released a CD featuring half as many blockbuster tracks as Berry Is On Top alone, it would be hailed as a masterpiece. Three bonus tracks—"Fraulein," "O'Rangutang" and "The Girl From Central"—all appeared on the most recent CD reissues of St. Louis to Liverpool.

Mobile Fidelity Sounds Labs (MOFI) has remastered the albums with care and attention to detail, spending over two years meticulously transferring each song from fifteen different reels of original analog master tape. The result is magnificent—crystal clear early, bluesy, rock 'n' roll on an enhanced audiophile Ultradisc II 24 KT Gold CD housed in a mini-LP style gatefold jacket. Each CD has its own hand-stamped gold foil serial number.

Track Listing: Berry Is On Top: Almost Grown; Carol; Maybellene; Sweet Little Rock & Roller; Anthony Boy; Johnny B. Goode; Little Queenie; Jo Jo Gunne; Roll Over Beethoven; Around And Around; Hey Pedro; Blues For Hawaiians; St. Louis To Liverpool: Little Marie; Our Little Rendezvous; No Particular Place To Go; You Two; Promised Land; You Never Can Tell; Go Bobby Soxer; The Things I Used To Do; Liverpool Drive; Night Beat; Merry Christmas Baby; Brenda Lee; Fraulein O'Rangutang; The Little Girl From Central.

Personnel: Berry Is On Top: Chuck Berry: guitar, vocals; Fred Below: drums; Bo Diddley: guitar; Willie Dixon: bass; Jerome Green: maracas; Eddie Hardy: drums; Johnnie Johnson: piano; Lafayette Leake: piano; George "Harmonica" Smith: bass; Jasper Thomas: drums; St. Louis To Liverpool: Chuck Berry: guitar, vocals; Fred Below: drums; Willie Dixon: bass; Ebby Hardy: drums; Johnnie Johnson: piano; Lafayette Leake: piano; Matt Murphy: guitar; Odie Payne: drums; James Robinson: tenor sax; Jasper Thomas: drums; Paul Williams: piano.

Title: St. Louis To Liverpool / Berry Is On Top | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs


comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Runner in the Rain CD/LP/Track Review
Runner in the Rain
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Cuarteto Europa CD/LP/Track Review
Cuarteto Europa
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections CD/LP/Track Review
Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Beggar’s Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition CD/LP/Track Review
Beggar’s Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Intelsat CD/LP/Track Review
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 15, 2018
Read World Gardens CD/LP/Track Review
World Gardens
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 14, 2018
Read "Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road" CD/LP/Track Review Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read "Out Of The Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Out Of The Blues
by Doug Collette
Published: July 29, 2018
Read "Vessel in Orbit" CD/LP/Track Review Vessel in Orbit
by Don Phipps
Published: January 19, 2018
Read "Historias Del Pasado Reciente" CD/LP/Track Review Historias Del Pasado Reciente
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 30, 2018
Read "Descansado - Songs For Films" CD/LP/Track Review Descansado - Songs For Films
by John Ephland
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Inner Core" CD/LP/Track Review Inner Core
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 21, 2018