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Tuesday, 9 September 2008

"St. Louis To Liverpool" by CHUCK BERRY (2004 Universal 'ROCK 'N' ROLL 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Riding Along In My Automobile...”

Part of their American issued "Rock 'n' Roll 50th Anniversary" Series – this April 2004 Universal CD reissue for "St. Louis To Liverpool" by CHUCK BERRY on Geffen/Chess B0001687-02 (Barcode 602498613528) gives us Chuck's 1964 classic album "St. Louis To Liverpool" in Stereo - bolstered up with 3 bonus tracks (40:23 minutes). 

Tape Supremo ERICK LABSON of Universal has digitally remastered all 15 songs from the 1st generation Stereo and Mono master tapes (over 1000 credits to his name) - and he’s done a typically wonderful job – gems like "No Particular Place To Go" and "You Never Can Tell" sounding as fresh as a bobby-soxer at a jukebox. Here are the duck-walk details…

1. Little Marie
2. Our Little Rendezvous
3. No Particular Place To Go
4. You Two
5. Promised Land
6. You Never Can Tell
7. Go Bobby Soxer [Side 2]
8. The Things I Used To Do
9. Liverpool Drive
10. Night Beat
11. Merry Christmas Baby
12. Brenda Lee
Tracks 1 to 12 are the Stereo Version of "St. Louis To Liverpool" – released November 1964 in the USA on Chess LPS 1488

13. Fraulein – Previously Unreleased In The USA
14. O'Rangutang - Non-album B-side to the USA 7" single of "Nadine" issued 1964 on Chess 1883 –Previously Unreleased on US LP
15. The Little Girl From Central – First appeared on the 1990 US LP "Missing Berries: Rarities, Volume 3" on Chess CH-9318

The 16-page booklet exactly reproduces the lovely full-colour front sleeve on Page 1 with its rear sleeve on the last page of the inlay - in between is a new essay on the album by noted reviewer BUD SCOPPA with the original liner notes also reproduced on Page 8 and 9. There's session details, reissue credits and even the blue and white Chess label of the original LP is pictured under the see-through tray - all nice touches and great attention to detail.

But the real good stuff starts with the songs and the SOUND. Unlike the rough and ready debut "After School Session" from 1957 (also in this series) - this album has the muscle in STEREO and what a punch it gives when it kicks in. "No Particular Place To Go" is simply fantastic - fun, in your face and rockin' - packing all the wallop you'd expect from a truly great Chuck Berry song but with that great extra muscle in the reproduction. The audio quality on the lesser-heard “You Two” is superb (Odie Payne on Drums) with Chuck playing some very tasty stuff while Paul Williams puts in a late piano solo. The instrumentals “Liverpool Drive” and “Night Beat” are fun but feel like space fillers. Better is the Bluesy “Merry Christmas Baby” with Johnnie Johnson on Piano and Chess’ Willie Dixon on Bass – Berry plays some lovely licks on the guitar as it ambles along. “Brenda Lee” is wicked fun too. It’s also amazing to think that of the 12 tracks only “Liverpool Drive” and “Night Beat” ‘weren’t’ used as singles – the ten others were. The unreleased “Fraulein” is better than I’d expected it to be – nice echoed vocals. Better is “The Little Girl From Central” – a sort of “No Particular Place To Go” knockoff with

As with "After School Session" - it's also wonderful to hear Berry's songs again in their original inspiring form and realise what an astonishing influence for good Chuck and his music has been. When you think of every garage band, every bedroom poser, every guitar maestro on the planet and how they all cut their teeth on Chuck Berry songs at some point in their careers - his influence has been little short of World changing. The brevity, the wit, the cleverness of his lyrics, the infectiousness of that party music – its all here folks – and in Stereo too. Catch a snippet of "You Never Can Tell" with its irresistible piano and brass fills…

“St. Louis To Liverpool” is a fab listen then and an important and timely CD reissue. Start your journey to the dark side here children - and remember - best not tell your parents the reason for said joy - ROCK 'n' ROLL!!

PS: "Rock 'n' Roll 50th Anniversary Edition" is a secondary series title and is displayed vertically on the side inlay beneath the see-through tray of each release, but unfortunately, if you try to search databases for ANY titles under this moniker, it doesn't recognise the 'name' at all. For those interested - the series includes:

1. "After School Session" by CHUCK BERRY (1958 debut LP on Chess, see REVIEW)
2. "St. Louis To Liverpool" by CHUCK BERRY (1964 STEREO LP on Chess, see REVIEW)
3. "The Chirping Crickets" by THE CRICKETS (their 1957 debut LP featuring BUDDY HOLLY, see REVIEW)
4. "Bo Diddley Is A Gunslinger" by BO DIDDLEY (1960 STEREO LP on Checker, see REVIEW)
5. "Rock Around The Clock" by BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS (ground-breaking 1955 LP on Decca, see REVIEW)
6. "Buddy Holly" by BUDDY HOLLY (1958 1st solo LP on Coral, see REVIEW)
7. "Rock, Rock, Rock! - From The Motion Picture" by THE MOONGLOWS, CHUCK BERRY and THE FLAMINGOS (1956 1st Chess LP - a Rock'n'Roll Soundtrack - see REVIEW)
There is also a pictorial display of all 7 in LISTMANIA (in Amazon)

I bought all 7 of these titles and I can't recommend them enough - each album remastered, colour artwork lovingly restored and each bolstered up with 3 to 5 relevant releases from the time (many previously unreleased). Fans of Haley, Holly, The Crickets, Berry, Diddley and Rock 'n' Roll in general should quickly acquire all of these exemplary CDs. They make for the best basis of a collection in a minefield of lesser compilations...

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