Chuck Berry’s new and final record, CHUCK, has entered the Official Albums Chart at No. 9 – his first UK Top 10 album in 40 years.
Released last week on Dualtone/Decca Records, it fought off competition from the likes of Dua Lipa, Hank Marvin and Harry Styles.
It is his first UK Top 10 since 1977’s Motorvatin’.
A moving new music video to Darlin’ – a duet with his daughter Ingrid – which features family stills and footage, has also been unveiled.
Comprised of 10 new recordings, eight of which were written by Berry, CHUCK is his first new album since 1979’s Rock It’.
It was recorded and produced by Berry in various studios around St. Louis and features his longtime hometown backing group – including his children Charles Berry Jr. (guitar) and Ingrid Berry (harmonica, vocals), plus Jimmy Marsala (Berry’s bassist for 40 years), Robert Lohr (piano), and Keith Robinson (drums) – which supported him for nearly two decades on over 200 residency shows at the famed Blueberry Hill Club.
The album also includes guest performances from Gary Clark Jr., Tom Morello, Nathaniel Rateliff and Chuck’s grandson Charles Berry III. Acclaimed author and historian Douglas Brinkley contributes liner notes.
Some of the songs on CHUCK were originally conceived as far back as the 1980s, with Berry developing them in his home studio in St. Louis over many years during downtime between tours.
He worked on the album through 2014. When health concerns forced him to stop touring and recording in 2015, Berry continued to oversee production and planning for CHUCK, enlisting his family and close friend Joe Edwards, the owner of Blueberry Hill, to fulfil his wishes that the album be completed and released.
And from album highlight ‘Lady B. Goode,’ a spiritual sequel to the iconic ‘Johnny B. Goode’ featuring ripping solos from three generations of Berry guitarists, to the poignant country balladry of ‘Darlin’, CHUCK truly is a family affair.
“Working on my Dad’s record has been one of the best experiences of my life,” said Charles Berry Jr. “I will forever treasure the musical conversations we had, and the time we spent together completing it.”
Chuck Berry’s passing on 18th March prompted an outpouring of support and condolences from fans, fellow musicians, and world leaders – from members of The Rolling Stones and Beatles to former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
The Times commented, “Berry created a set of riffs that remain the core building blocks of rock guitar-playing. He combined them with smart, sassy, sly and playful lyrics that painted incisive vignettes of teenage life.
The result was a series of perfect three-minute pop masterpieces.” The Daily Telegraph reflected, “Chuck Berry was one of the undisputed, all-time greats of rock and roll, a founding father of the music that shook and shaped the world.
His influence on Elvis, The Beatles and Stones (as well as every other star of the rock and roll firmament, from Buddy Holly to Bruce Springsteen) is enough to guarantee musical immortality”.
It would be impossible to overstate Chuck Berry’s influence on popular culture around the globe (and beyond it).
According to Rolling Stone magazine he “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance,” and many of his compositions – “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Rock and Roll Music” and others – have become the genre’s canonical texts.
Another, “Johnny B. Goode,” is the only rock and roll song included on the Voyager Golden Record, launched into space in 1977, and intended to represent life and culture on Earth to extraterrestrial beings.
Berry received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984 and was in the inaugural class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees in 1986. He was awarded a Kennedy Center
He was awarded a Kennedy Center Honour in 2000, placed #5 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time in 2010, and was given the first-ever PEN Award for literary excellence in lyric writing in 2012, and Sweden’s Polar Music Prize in 2014.
More recently, he was the subject of a widely discussed essay by author Chuck Klosterman predicting that hundreds of years hence, Berry would be singularly synonymous with rock and roll itself, and last month his classic 1973 red Cadillac Eldorado went on display as part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American Culture and History.
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