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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars goes down smooth & easy--tons of fun,
When I first saw this album on vinyl years ago, I just kind of looked it over in bewilderment. With the pictures of Chuck in concert on the back, & with the familiar title of "Havana Moon" in the track listing, it gave me the sense this would be a live album. Nope. To date, this 1979 album is actually the final studio album Chuck ever released. (Chuck has talked about a potential new album, but it's been in the making since 1992--who knows if and when that'll ever see the light of day.) If you're thinking maybe Chuck incorporated some new wave or punk influences into his music, forget it--this is 3 chord rock 'n' roll as ever. In typical fashion, he cranked this album out--it was recorded over the course of 2 days. There are lyrical references to disco, & the album has that "late-'70s drum sound", but the album is nothing new stylistically for Chuck whatsoever. Even pianist Johnnie Johnson is on board here. The key difference is in execution--the album has a very clean, smooth sound, yet it's not dull--it manages to rock, but in an upbeat, laidback way, making it a terrific album to chill out to. That said, the resulting album is a whole lot of fun. Chuck is in great spirit, & seems to be having a lot of fun, loading the album up with relentlessly witty, ultra-crafty lyrics on the irresistibly catchy tunes "Move It", "If I Were", "I Never Thought", & "Wuden't Me", & there's loads of his trademark fun guitar playing. On the bittersweet "Oh What A Thrill", he offers up some charming sentimental love lyrics. (By the way, don't let anyone fool you into thinking Rockpile bettered Berry's version of "Oh What A Thrill"--their version sounds downright superfluous and dull compared to Berry's wonderful original). Chuck serves up a gloomy, but arresting slow blues with "I Need You Baby", & does one of his spoken word pieces with the bittersweet album-closer "Pass Away" (marred a bit by the out-of-tune bass), the latter of which suggests that Berry knew this was going to mark the end of an era as far as his recording career was concerned. Vocally he's in great form, & aside from "I Need You Baby" & "Pass Away", he harmonizes with himself on almost every note of the vocals on the album (something he clearly seemed to enjoy doing--check out his 1969 tune "Tulane" for another example of him using this technique), & it brilliantly adds punch to the proceedings--his vocal treatment on the irresistably giddy "House Lights" (the one track to feature his trademark "Johnny B. Goode"/ "Roll Over Beethoven"-style guitar intro) really drives home the "intentionally dumb" lyrics. Yes, he's repeating himself here to an enormous extent as far as style & the songwriting itself are concerned, yet the album has a great vibe that makes it stand out in Chuck's catalog, & Chuck really deserves a lot of credit, because this is a damn enjoyable album and I personally have a real soft spot for it. The 5+ minute version of "Havana Moon" is rather exhausting, but overall it's hard to really complain about an album as fun as this. If you're a Chuck die-hard, or just looking for some pure fun, easy riding, catchy rock 'n' roll, "Rockit" hits the spot in uncanny fashion.
(P.S. This CD reissue is dramatically lacking bottom end, so be sure to hit the bass boost on your CD player when you play it.)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Credible "Comeback" album (3.5 stars),
Has alot of the quality of a previous CB "ComebacK" album, called "Back Home" (Chess Records) - double-tracked vocals, small back-up combo. And, yes, alot of very familiar themes...but all Berry!
We have two nice self-covers, "Wuden't Me" (note "It Wasn't Me" from 1965), and "Havana Moon" (from about 10 years before).
The best *new* songs are the first three: "Move It" (sounding more than somewhat like a tune about a Cadillac written by a CB-protege from New Jersey); "Oh, What A Thrill", covered by a British R & R/CB adgerent whose name escapes me; and "I Need You Baby", a great blues by this rocker whose catalogue conatins plenty of tastey blues (in fact, there's a fairly recent C|D out there of the "Blues Side" of Chuck Berry).
"House Lights" is an uptemp with lyrics this reviewer recalls from Bery live performance, possibly as early as 1972, a groovy finale element.
It's a light offering, an engaging little slice o' Rock and Roll Tour life. As usual, the First Poet of Rock delivers.
The closer, "Pass away", might be the only real "rapp" tune the Father Of Rock and Roll ever recorded. He did a monologue on his "San Francisco Dues" album, "My Dream", but this one has more relevance for today.
By the way, a beautiful back and front cover design - did it win a Grammy? I don't kno. Shoulda for the front artwork and concept. It's probably worth pursuing the vinyl version for this appreciation.
Forgot to mention, folks, guess who's ticklin' the ivories on this nifty set? A dude later referred to (on CD) as "Johnnie Be Bad".
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No producer, he,
Chuck sings, plays and (most impressively) writes his backside off on this record. He has Johhny Johnson on piano and a Nashville rhythm section, and a handfull of great new Berry classics. What could go wrong? As mentioned in some of the other reviews here, the main problem is Chuck is his own worst producer. This record suffers from a dull, antiseptic sound, with little of the raw excitement of the glorious Chess sides or even some of Chuck's earlier 70s fare. If ever there was a work that could use a massive re-mixing it is this album. The performances are there but need to be properly brought to the fore. Yes, Chuck seems to want to be a bronze Mary Ford, overdubbing his voice two or three times on many of the tracks. Nice harmonizing but a little of it would've gone a long way. Still this record is worth picking up for the excellent top-notch, seemingly effortless pieces of Berry Americana: "Move It," "I Never Thought," and especially "Wudn't Me," a tune that sits beside "Johnny B Goode" and "Maybelline" and the other masterpieces in its concise narrative flow and Chuck wit.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VERY UNDER-APPRECIATED & UNDER-RATED,
This is a neglected gem, if ever there was one. The entire lineup is great, with the only previously recorded being "Havana Moon." If you have any interest in Chuck Berry, this will demonstrate that he had not run out of gas creatively, even in the late 1970's. The cut "Wuden't Me" is especially clever, showing Chuck's trademark wordplay. And the spoken-word closer of the album, "Pass Away," is unlike anything Chuck ever did before. It shows him to be a literate, nuanced poet. Do yourself a favor and buy this album.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good Later Album,
I believe this was either the last or next to last album of new material that Chuck recorded;and although all of his records are worth owning,and are all interesting in their own way,Rock It is really a return to form,and closer to his earliest writing.I didn't know it was ever released on CD until now;I purchased two vinyl copies that I tracked down in just the past year or so. I searched for this one mainly for his original version of "Oh What A Thrill". I loved Rockpile's version on their Seconds Of Pleasure release, and even covered it in one band.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All is in order, save for the double-tracking,
By A Customer
Chuck is back: the poetry is super, the music and playing is too. A return to form, you might say. But why O why did he double track his voice on the rockers? That's not Chuck. To me, anyway. Other than that, this album would have easily rated a big 5 stars. But if you like Chuck Berry, of course you're going to buy this one. Hey, I heard him play a song or two off this album in NYC on 6-15-02, and it was fantastic, as was the entire concert. But ohhhh why the double tracking.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chuck very settled in.,
His stuff in the 50's was very innovative, and he's responsible for the birth of Classic Rock. In the 70's, Chuck was less inovative, but made up for it with pure talent that almost has a southern rock quality. Rock It is one of those albums. It's very easy to listen to, and has great songs. However, "Havana Moon" should be avoided, and "Pass Away" isn't that great either, but the rest of it is excellent beyond comparison.
4.0 out of 5 stars 1979,
The cover looks like a reject from a Boston album, and almost certainly was influenced by that band and other Close Enounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars space junk floating around in the atmosphere at the time. Nevermind, right? It's a Chuck Berry album. It has the same production values as Eric Clapton's "Money and Cigarettes" album, mostly laid-back country/sessions/blues/rock that simmers rather then catches fire. All is well, though, on Chuck's final studio album, and it makes you wonder why the road stopped here, save the endless recycling and repackaging, which after awhile comes down to the purchase choice of less or more. If you've got all the hits, I would certainly recommend this and then the English-import "On The Blue Side," which is Chuck all nice and chilled, more like Charles Brown right down to the single-room-apartment, dirty-pan-on-the-stove, TV-is-done-broken, bottle-is-open version of the great "Merry Christmas, Baby."
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let it Rock,
By A Customer
First heard this one upon its release. Must have lent my LP to someone who loved it too, 'cause it's nowhere to be found. Hope they're enjoying it! Can't wait to hear it again. If it's half as good as I remember this record being, a 5-star rating is certainly apropos.
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