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Chuck Berry Is on Top
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel includes: Chuck Berry (vocals, guitar, steel guitar); Bo Diddley (guitar); Johnny Johnson, Lafayette Leake (piano); Willie Dixon, George Smith (bass); Fred Below, Jasper Thomas, Eddie Hardy (drums); Jerome Green (maracas).
  • Recorded in Chicago, Illinois during 1958-1959, except "Maybelline" (May, 1955) and "Roll Over Beethoven" (February, 1956). Includes liner notes by Don Kamerer and original release liner notes by John Sippel.
  • Chuck Berry was 33 when his third album, BERRY IS ON TOP, was released in 1959. This was still the era of the 45, and albums often did little more than coast along as a sort of extended souvenir of hit songs. While an amazing three-quarters of this album charted as singles (both before and after the LP's appearance), it's a stunning encapsulation of everything that made Berry's recordings for Chess Records eternally rocking bonfires.
  • The songs "Carol," "Maybellene," Johnny B. Goode" and "Roll Over Beethoven" are practically hard-wired into the rhythmic thinking of anyone born in America since the '40s. What's remarkable is that in the wake of all that followed (including umpteen-million teenage guitarists learning to play barre chords while playing along), they still sound utterly fresh and cliche-free. Johnnie Johnson's piano playing runs back and forth between the rhythm section and the vocals like a sleek deer. Berry himself dazzles with his singing, which can be wise, subtly sly and passionate, and his guitar (featured especially on the album-closing instrumental "Blues For Hawaiians").
Professional Reviews
Vibe (2/02, p.87) - Included in Vibe's "Essential Black Rock Recordings".
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