Monday, March 20, 2017

Chuck Berry - After School Session (Classic 1st Album US 1957) & Chuck Berry - One Dozen Berrys (Classic 2nd Album US 1958)

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Bitrate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan SHM-CD Remaster

Chuck Berry - After School Session US 1957

Chuck Berry's first album boasts a picture of him lifted from his appearance in the 1956-vintage rock & roll movie Rock, Rock, Rock — it's a daring pose if you look closely, the singer/guitarist/songwriter captured at his most animated, in what was a pretty bold pose for a black artist in an interracial movie, strutting and duck-walking across the screen with his guitar at full...exposure. That said, bold as the movie appearance was and the pose that was reflected in its cover, After School Session came out fairly late, given that his first hit, "Maybellene," dated from the summer of 1955. 

This was partly owing to the sheer novelty of rock & roll LPs — during that period, only a relative handful reached the public, and a significant portion of those were the work of Elvis Presley or Bill Haley, whose associations with the gigantic RCA Victor and Decca labels, respectively, put them in virtually a separate universe from everyone else in the field, especially Berry, recording for the tiny independent Chess label. Chess Records hadn't even issued its first LP until the end of 1956, and that album, the soundtrack LP Rock, Rock, Rock, had included "Maybellene." 

After School Session was only the label's second-ever long-player, and its timing was predicated on the fact that, after "Maybellene," the rock & roll legend hadn't charted another major pop hit in almost two years (though he had generated some serious R&B hits, which are included here, among them the blues "Wee Wee Hours" — which was what Berry originally purported to represent as his sound — and the more rhythm-oriented "No Money Down" and "Brown Eyed Handsome Man").

It was the release and hit status of "School Day" in the early spring of 1957 that yielded this album, which is a brilliant compendium of the range, depth, and breadth of Berry's music across his first two years as a recording artist. The sounds ranged from the pounding, jargon-laden teen-oriented beat of "School Day" through those R&B and blues classics to the moody instrumental "Deep Feeling"; the Latin-flavored, Calypso-influenced "Havana Moon"; the slow, romantic ballad "Together (We'll Always Be)," which 
showed Berry working in a '40s R&B-pop mode similar to the music of the Ink

Spots, and attempting a Nat King Cole style of soft singing; his more successful effort in that ballad vein, "Drifting Heart"; and the mysterious, ominous, darkly shimmering "Down Bound Train," which could almost have been Berry's (and black music's) answer to "Ghost Riders in the Sky." 

The 2004 reissue of After School Session includes three bonus tracks that greatly extend the range of the original album — the driving rocker "You Can't Catch Me" (whose lyrics would greatly complicate John Lennon's life when he cribbed them for the opening of "Come Together" late in the Beatles' history); the even more pounding "Thirty Days"; and his debut hit, "Maybellene." 

All of it (including the rest of the original album's contents) shows off a glorious remastered sound that lets you hear the room ambience at Chess Studios and make out the exact spatial relationship between Berry and his backup singers on "Thirty Days." It puts the original CD to shame sonically, and boasts superior historical notes as well.

01. School Days, Berry  02:56
02. Deep Feeling, Berry  03:04
03. Too Much Monkey Business, Berry  02:51
04. Wee Wee Hours, Berry  02:20
05. Roly Poly, Berry  02:42
06. No Money Down, Berry  02:59
07. Brown Eyed Handsome Man, Berry  02:18
08. Berry Pickin', Berry  03:09
09. Together (We'll Always Be), Berry  02:32
10. Havana Moon, Berry 02:47
11. Down Bound Train  02:50
12. Drifting Heart  02:49

Bonus Tracks:
13. You Can't Catch Me  02:44
14. I've Changed  03:06
15. Untitled Instrumental  02:23
16. Maybellene (Live)  02:05
17. Roll Over Beethoven (Live)  02:44
18. Rock And Roll Music (Demo)  02:40
19. Thirteen Question Method (Early Version)  02:40
20. Sweet Little Sixteen (Demo)  03:09
21. Sweet Little Sixteen (Take 3)  03:14
22. Night Beat (Take 3) (Instrumental)  02:55
23. Time Was (Slow Version) (Take 4)  02:37
24. Time Was (Slow Version)  02:02
25. Reelin' And Rockin' (Take 1)  03:38
26. Merry Christmas Baby  03:13

Chuck Berry - One Dozen Berrys US 1958

Chuck Berry's second album is ever so slightly more sophisticated than its predecessor. Although One Dozen Berrys is hooked around a pair of hit singles, "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Rock & Roll Music," most of what's here doesn't really sound too much like either of those songs — rather, the other ten tracks each constitute a close-up look at some individual component of the types of music that goes into brewing up the Chuck Berry sound. 

Thus, the slow instrumental "Blue Feeling" is a look at the blues sound that Berry initially proposed to bring to Chess Records; "How You've Changed" presents him in a slow ballad, singing in a manner closer to Nat "King" Cole than to any rock & roller of the era; and "Lajaunda" shows off his love of Latin music. "Rocking at the Philharmonic" is a rippling guitar/piano workout, a compendium of the sounds that lay beneath those hit singles, and a killer showcase not only for Berry, but also for Lafayette Leake at the ivories, and also a decent showcase for Willie Dixon's bass playing. 

"Oh Baby Doll" is a return to the beat of "Maybellene," this time carrying a lyric that's more sensual (in a bluesy sense) than rollicking fun, though it comes out that way amid the pounding beat and Berry's crunchy, angular guitar solo. "Guitar Boogie" is yet another guitar instrumental, one of four on this album, leading one to wonder if he was running short of first-rate lyrics in mid-1957, amid his frantic pace of recording and touring — no matter, for the piece is a killer track, a pumping, soaring working out for Berry's guitar that had some of the most impressive pyrotechnics that one was likely to hear in 1957; what's more, the track was good enough to form the template for Jeff Beck's more ornate adaptation, "Jeff's Boogie," from the 1966 album Roger the Engineer (aka The Yardbirds aka Over Under Sideways Down). 

The best of the album's tracks is easily "Reelin' & Rockin'," which is also just about the dirtiest song that Berry released in all of the 1950s (and for many years after that), essentially a blues-boogie recasting, on a more overt level, of the extended feats of sexual intercourse alluded to in Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock." 

The one totally weird track here is "Low Feeling," which is nothing but "Blue Feeling" doctored in the studio by Leonard and Phil Chess, slowed down to half speed and edited to create a 12th track — doing that to the original was bad enough, but sticking it on the same LP with the original was downright bizarre. And the album's closer, "It Don't Take But a Few Minutes," is a reminder of just how much Berry owed to country music for his sound, and explains, to anyone coming in late, how he could have been mistaken for a white hillbilly in those early days, based on the sound of this song and "Maybelline."

01. Sweet Little Sixteen  03:01
02. Blue Feeling  02:58
03. La Jaunda (Espanol)  03:08
04. Rock At The Philarmonic  03:21
05. Oh, Baby Doll  02:35
06. Guitar Boogie  02:20
07. Reelin' And Rockin  03:15
08. In-Go  02:28
09. Rock & Roll Music  02:30
10. How You'Ve Changed  02:47
11. Low Feeling  03:04
12. It Don't Take But A Few Minutes  02:30

Bonus Tracks: 
13. Rock and Roll Music (alternate)  02:26
14. Sweet Little Sixteen (Take 11)  03:09
15. Sweet Little Sixteen (Original Master)  03:46
16. Reelin And Rockin (Take 7/8)  03:46
17. Johnny - · B. Goode (Alternate Take 2/3)  03:21
18. Around And Around (Take 2 Overdub) 02:49
19. Around And Around (Take 3 Overdub) 02:43
20. Ingoe (Take 3 Overdub)  02:57
21. Lila de Beautiful (Alternate Take 15/16)  02:32
22. Lila de Beautiful (Take 6) 02:10
23. 21 Blues  02:11
24. 21  02:27
25. 21 (Take 14)  02:38
26. Vacation Time  02:53

Part 01: Chuck Berry 01
Part 02: Chuck Berry 02
Part 01: Chuck Berry 01
Part 02: Chuck Berry 02
Part 01: Chuck Berry 01
Part 02: Chuck Berry 02