Friday, November 11, 2005

Chuck Berry: Club Nitty Gritty/Laugh and Cry (Mercury 72643)

For many years, whenever I came upon a Chuck Berry discography, it usually lists only one Mercury album of his still in print: "Chuck Berry's Golden Hits." That album usually gets a one-star rating or less. Well, here's a little item from that brief switch from Chess that merits a listen or more from all you stalwart Chuck-heads.

This 1966 45 finds Mr. Berry attempting to bring his brand of rock 'n' roll up a few notches into what was then the modern era. The reason I say that is that "Club Nitty Gritty" has kind of a boogaloo feel to it with jerky rhythms and loads of electric piano all over the place in which Chuck adds a few fills on his guitar and even howls on a couple of spots. The icing to the cake has been added. And it is tasty.

"Laugh and Cry" is a bit more on the bluesy side. There's plenty of Chuck's distinctive guitar styling as can be expected, but the piano (accoustic this time) is definitely the main instrument here and it adds the appropriate mood. This one's kind of a short, sweet and to the point bit of blues with no solos, three verses and a pledge of everlasting love all to round out 2:18 minutes.

And that, friends, is that: a little off-the-cuff Chuck Berry release that does indeed satisfy that Berry craving you may have, or should be at least of interest to fans of this true rock 'n' roll legend. I ain't no historian so I won't say whether or not this holds up against his Chess classics, but it's still mighty good however you slice it.

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