The Anthology by Chuck Berry
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By all rights, Chuck Berry should be walking on red carpets and playing palaces around the world. Of course, for various, often unseemly reasons, this is not the case in 2000 and it's a shame. In a weird way, Berry's legacy--his influence and his innovation--often obscures the brilliance of the music itself. He didn't just pave the way for rock & roll's domination, he also created some of the genre's best songs regardless of historical impact. With an arsenal that included slashing boogie-woogie-inspired guitar leads, a forceful, convincing vocal delivery, and an incredible knack for lyrical flow, Berry set awfully high standards for rock. If the three-disc Chess Box
is more than you're looking for, this 50-song, two-CD set gives you all of the high points (except for the Christmas songs), all nicely remastered in a way that restores the music's rhythmic intensity. Berry's career enjoyed many peaks: his earliest triumphs from the mid-1950s proved the appeal of his country-and-R&B hybrid; in 1958 he delivered an astonishing run of creative and commercial successes from "Johnny B. Goode" to "Carol"; in 1964, after watching from prison as the Beatles
jump-started their career on his engine, Berry returned with a vengeance, reeling off "Nadine," "You Never Can Tell," "Promised Land"--each one a gem--along with other ferociously energetic romps like "Dear Dad." Berry's music is all about momentum, and his brilliantly building, universally resonant three-minute narratives fused with the driving music to powerful effect, churning into eternity like the locomotive in "Let It Rock." "Can't stop the train, gotta let it roll on," he sings, and you can actually feel
the train bearing down on you. --Marc Greilsamer