Chuck! Chuck, it’s Marvin. Your cousin, Marvin Berry. You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well, listen to this!
I don’t know about you, but I did not get this reference in Back to the Future until I was much older than I’d like to admit.
Chuck Berry is one of those artists that I am aware of and I know some hits from, but I have not studied him at any length. I enjoy his music, but he never stuck out to me. Well, that sentiment has changed because of this record.
First, a quick background: St Louie to Frisco to Memphis is a double LP. The second half is a compilation of recordings from the 60s while the first half is a re-release of a live recording from The Fillmore Auditorium with The Steve Miller Blues Band as the backing band. Yes, that Steve Miller.
I was expecting Johnny B. Goode and Rock and Roll Music style late 50s, early 60s rock n roll, but that is not what the first half of this album is. The first half of this double LP is the blues. The soulful, moving, and a little depressing but in a good way kind of blues.
There are lots of instrumental blues jams that are fantastic. The energy of Chuck Berry’s live show is perfectly captured with the first half of St Louie to Frisco to Memphis. Plus, I am pretty sure that I am 1% blacker because I listened to this album.
The second half of this album is Chuck Berry studio recordings. Don’t get me wrong, that is not a bad thing at all. Chuck Berry can bring it. His guitar work is superb. These songs have a classic sound; they are straight up 60s rock n roll.
Obviously this is used vinyl. So, what I find interesting is that the first half is in much more of a well-played condition than the second half. Whoever owned this album loved the bluesy half more than the 60s rock n roll half. And to be honest, if I had to pick between the two I would choose the blues also.
My favorite track is a duet with Steve Miller: It Hurts Me Too