It’s easy to forget the primal excitement that rock ‘n’ roll caused when it first emerged into the austere world of post-World War II rationing and hardship.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga4Bq43QraE&w=560&h=315]
After the brutal conflict that had cost so many lives it seemed like the Western World had withdrawn into a cocoon to try to mend itself, the youth being fed a safe diet of middle of the road music and brilliant, but seemingly staid, crooners in a effort to bring a sense of calm.
The birth of rock and roll shattered that and gave teenagers all over the globe something to unite them, regardless of background. It really did change the face of music forever and at the forefront of this vanguard was Charles Edward Anderson Berry, better known by the popular shortening of his name to Chuck Berry.
Cited as one of the founding fathers of the genre, he led the way in the sound and style and created some of the greatest songs in modern music history.
In tribute to this incredible legacy American guitarist, singer, and super producer Mike Zito has gathered an all-star line-up to recreate some of Berry’s finest moments, giving them a bright new coat of paint whilst losing none of the verve of the original recordings.
The album opens with Zito being joined by Berry’s grandson, Charlie Berry III, on a boisterous reading of ‘St Louis Blues’ that really sets out his stall for the rest of the tracks. It may sound smoother and fuller than the seminal recordings but there is a sense of such genuine affection for the source material that you can’t help but be won over.
Packed with superb performances, there are many highlights as Zito and friends have a huge amount of fun putting their all into such a passion project and when you have the likes of Walter Trout ripping into ‘Johnny B Goode’, Joe Bonamassa joining in a soul drenched ‘Wee Wee Hours’ and Guns ‘n’ Roses Richard Fortus adding some real country rock bounce on ‘Maybellene’ you can’t but help grin from ear to ear.
Flick onto any track at random and you’ll find something that will grab you. A superb album and well worth investing in, this homage to Chuck Berry will have you understanding the debt that all modern rock music owes to these pioneers of a sound that truly opened the doors for all that was to come.
Review by Paul Monkhouse for metalplanetmusic