Saturday, March 25, 2017

Chuck Berry (1926-2017) & Shows # 649 & # 650


Chuck Berry, a pioneer in rock music, passed away in March at the age of 90. He has been called the “Father of Rock n’ Roll” and is responsible for helping to lay the foundation for rock music. What set Chuck Berry’s music apart from others at the time was his ability to go into deep thought and mix his lyrical style with his musical ability and prowess. Mixing elements of country, western and blues, his music would often speed along with as the lyrics rested atop of the music, giving the listener a different point of view. When his first single “Maybellene” was released on Chess Records in 1955, it was a very different time. There was separation amongst black and white audiences and pop music was filled with standards that were covered by multiple artists. Not only did Berry inject his lyrics with more feeling and poetic elements than the standards that came before him, he also helped to shift gears in how rock music was made by writing his own songs. He was a musician, songwriter and performer. This combined with many other musicians from that time period, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, among others, helped to define what music could be.

Many of his songs were ripe with social commentary, but they were presented in a subtle way. For example, in “Memphis, Tennessee” Berry sings of a separated couple as he tries to reach his 6-year-old daughter via telephone. While this is a love song, it is a different type and it wasn’t the generic love song you would expect to hear at the time. “Johnny B Goode”, while now seen as a standard cover, was semi-autobiographical and deals with race, but not as the main focus of the song. Like many songs that seem simple in their musical dynamics, lyrically this song is also complex. Many of his songs deal with having a good time, cars, dancing, school, love, but are executed in a way that they rise above the music. This is part of what puts Chuck Berry in a different category from others at the time.

While Berry’s music was very influential and innovative, he himself was not without complexity. Berry had run-ins with the law. He went to prison several times. A lot of the situations he went through raised questions and were not without controversy. However, when it came to music, it was something that Chuck Berry understood. He pulled from his influences, Nat King Cole’s vocal style, T Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Carl Hogan, Ray Charles, Charlie Christian and mixed it with elements of country western, jazz and blues for one universal thing. These things when combined with a song, whether it was “Johnny B Goode” or “Maybellene”, “Promised Land” or any other of his early numbers, we called it rock and roll. His music integrated American audiences, young and old and in popular culture. Called “The Eternal Teenager”, Berry performed his music with a youthful exuberance. It can even be heard in his voice on the single “Big Boys,” from his now final album, Chuck. Like the cars brought up in many of his songs, Chuck Berry often switched gears in song and in his career with a fiery intensity. He was also a showman with a wild rock and roll show, from his relentless, driving guitar solos to his signature duck walk. Berry also never had a dedicated backing band following 1955-1956. He would usually pick a band from local musicians in town prior to the show and this would make up his backing band for that particular show. From the opening moments of his first 1955 single “Maybellene”, to the countless live shows that he played throughout his career, Chuck Berry duck walked right into America’s hearts.

Show 650 (Chuck Berry Tribute Show):

1. Chuck Berry - Reelin' And Rockin' (Alternate Version)
2. Chuck Berry - Rock And Roll Music (Demo)
3. Chuck Berry - I Want To Be Your Driver
4. The Rolling Stones - Come On
5. The Rolling Stones - Around And Around
6. The Courtneys - Silver Velvet
7. The Courtneys - Minnesota
8. Skye Wallace - Stronghold
9. Dean Drouillard - Mid Sea Flood
10. Bo Diddley - Fireball
11. Of The Pack - Feel The Same
12. Century Palm - Inner Vision
13. AC/DC - School Days
14. The Kinks - Beautiful Delilah
15. The Sonics - Roll Over Beethoven
16. Chuck Berry - Sweet Little Rock n' Roller (Take 11A)
17. Chuck Berry - Viva Viva Rock n' Roll
18. Chuck Berry - 21 Blues
19. The Famines - Zero Sum
20. TV FREAKS - Don't Read The News
21. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Talk 2 Her
22. Dany Laj & The Looks - Sweet Pretender
23. The Matinee - Figure It Out
24. The Rolling Stones - Carol
25. The MC5 - Back in the USA
26. Chuck Berry - Big Boys
27. Chuck Berry - Wee Wee Hours


To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 25.


Show 649 (Chuck Berry, T.Rex & The Velvet Underground):

1. Chuck Berry - Bio
2. Chuck Berry - Around And Around
3. Chuck Berry - Back In Memphis
4. The Routes - Thousand Forgotten Dreams
5. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Sleep Drifter
6. Cawama - Come Around
7. Specifics - 13
8. B.A. Johnston - I Need Donair Sauce
9. Cheap Trick - He's A Whore
10. Blank Square - Empty Head
11. Meatbodies - Scavenger
12. Tim Darcy - Tall Glass of Water
13. Temples - Certainly
14. Mick Futures - Mini Mag
15. T. Rex - Dandy In The Underworld
16. T. Rex - Teen Riot Structure
17. T. Rex - Celebrate Summer
18. The Velvet Underground - Femme Fatale (Alternate Version)
19. The Velvet Underground - I'm Waiting For The Man (Live - The Complete Matrix Tapes 1969)
20. The Feelies - Flag Days
21. Whoop-Szo - Another Show
22. Leonard Cohen - Leaving The Table
23. The Sadies - There Are No Words


To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 18.

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