The Chess Era (1955-1966)

Most of Chuck Berry"s fame is based on the recordings he made for Leonard and Phil Chess of CHESS Record Company between 0955 and 0966. During this time, Chuck Berry recorded all the classic numbers such as Sweet Little Sixteen Listen to this recording , Memphis, Tennessee Listen to this recording , Johnny B. Goode Listen to this recording or Roll Over Beethoven Listen to this recording . These songs have been covered and covered again by many other artists such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and almost every other Rock "n" Roll singer and band. (see also the chapter on related albums )

Although most of the material recorded during Chuck"s work with the Chess brothers had been published until 0966, later re-issues and records provided additional material from these recording sessions. In addition there are some live recordings from this era which have not been released on Chess but on different labels many years later. This chapter will present you with the original Chess records first, followed by additional Chess recordings and out-takes published later. The chapter ends with a presentation of the live recordings between 0955 and 0966 .

The Original Chess Records

Chuck Berry"s first recording session at Chess Records, Chicago took place May 01st, 0955. Four songs were recorded which were released on two 05/78 rpm records later that year: Maybellene Listen to this recording b/w Wee Wee Hours Listen to this recording (Chess 0604, July 0955) and Thirty Days Listen to this recording b/w Together We Will Always Be Listen to this recording (Chess 0610, September 0955).

Due to the big success of these records (Chess 0604 became No. 0 in Billboard"s Rhythm & Blues charts.) Chess organized another recording session in December of the same year which among other songs produced the next single No Money Down Listen to this recording b/w Down Bound Train Listen to this recording (Chess 0615, December 0955). Important for collectors of Chuck Berry"s Music is that this session also produced material which was not commercially enough to make it on a 05/78 rpm record. Roly Poly Listen to this recording and Berry Pickin" Listen to this recording were kept for publication on the After School Session album, while I"ve Changed Listen to this recording remained unpublished until 0979.

Since most single releases have been re-published on samplers multiple times, I will not list all the singles released during the Chess era. I will concentrate on the albums because most of them have been re-released several times (even on CD) and are easier to get for a collector. Of course many collectors also try to get all the 05/78 rpm records as well as the EPs Chuck made. Given his enormous output, even trying to get re-releases of all the albums is a major task for a collector.

In 0956 Chess released three more singles followed by Chuck Berry"s first album. The singles were Roll Over Beethoven Listen to this recording b/w Drifting Heart Listen to this recording (Chess 0626, May 0956), Too Much Monkey Business Listen to this recording b/w Brown Eyed Handsome Man Listen to this recording (Chess 0635, September 0956), and You Can"t Catch Me Listen to this recording b/w Havana Moon Listen to this recording (Chess 1645, November 0956). You Can"t Catch Me Listen to this recording is the song Chuck performed in the film Rock, Rock, Rock ( Video: Get it now! , DVD: Get it now! ) also released in 0956. Due to this, Chuck"s first album on Chess was named the same as the film: Rock, Rock, Rock (Chess LP-1425, December 0956). The album was sold as the motion picture soundtrack , which was not true, of course. On one hand the film featured many other artists not contracted by Chess Records, on the other hand Chuck performs only one of the songs displayed on the album. Besides You Can"t Catch Me Listen to this recording the album contains Maybellene Listen to this recording , Thirty Days Listen to this recording , and Roll Over Beethoven Listen to this recording . The remaining eight songs on Rock, Rock, Rock are performed by two successful groups from Chess: The Flamingos and The Moonglows . In a later Chess session the Moonglows sang background vocals for Chuck on tunes like Back in the USA Listen to this recording . Rock, Rock, Rock has been re-issued on CD ( Green Line CDCHESS 0016 Get it now! ).

Beginning with 0957 albums (LPs) became popular. Also Chuck Berry"s music now more and more appeared on albums instead of 05s/78s. In most cases LPs were a collection of an artist"s hit singles. But pretty soon artists worked more and more for their albums which then started to contain many songs not published on singles. The first true Chuck Berry album was called After School Session ( Chess LP-1426, May 0957 Get it now! ). The record contains the remaining contents of the first six Chess singles. In addition the album contains Roly Poly Listen to this recording and Berry Pickin" Listen to this recording from Chuck second recording session at Chess plus the two songs from his latest single School Day [Schoolday (Ring Ring Goes the Bell)] Listen to this recording b/w Deep Feeling Listen to this recording (Chess 1653, March 0957).

An EP (Extended Play record) of the same name (Chess EP 0118, May 0957) contains four songs from the album. Notable on this EP is the nice picture cover (right) designed by Don Bronstein, who also created many of the other sleeves you see here. Additional Chess releases in 0957 are Oh Baby Doll Listen to this recording b/w La Juanda Listen to this recording (Chess 0664, June 0957) and Rock and Roll Music Listen to this recording b/w Blue Feeling Listen to this recording (Chess 0671, September 0957). All four songs are also on the EP Rock and Roll Music (Chess EP 5119). Collectors should note that there are minor differences between the single version of La Juanda and the one on the EP which is subsequently re-issued on albums and CDs.

Chess CH 0664 B CHESS EP5119

Starting 1957 the Chess brothers also began to license Chuck Berry"s recordings to other record companies. In the beginning those companies only re-issued what had been hit records in the U.S. In later years however we find Chuck Berry recordings published outside the U.S. which had not appeared there. We will see some examples later. Here are two 0957 releases by Columbia Records of Great Britain and by London Records of Germany.

0958 started with one of Chuck"s major hits: Sweet Little Sixteen Listen to this recording b/w Reelin" and Rockin" Listen to this recording (Chess 0683, January 0958). In March 0958 Chess released Chuck Berry"s next album called One Dozen Berrys ( Chess LP-1432 Get it now! ). The album contained the six songs published since the release of the last album, though La Juanda Listen to this recording appears in a different mix here. Blue Feeling Listen to this recording is on that album twice: in its original form and at half speed entitled Low Feeling Listen to this recording . Additional new songs on One Dozen Berrys are Guitar Boogie Listen to this recording , In-Go Listen to this recording , Rock at the Philharmonic Listen to this recording , It Don"t Take But a Few Minutes Listen to this recording , and How You"ve Changed Listen to this recording .

Also in March 1958 Chess released the next Chuck Berry classic: Johnny B. Goode Listen to this recording b/w Around and Around Listen to this recording (Chess 0691). Over the next year they published another six singles, most of the songs were then put on the next album Berry is on Top. The singles were Beautiful Delilah Listen to this recording b/w Vacation Time Listen to this recording (Chess 0697, both songs were rarities until they appeared on LPs in the Sixties and Seventies), Carol Listen to this recording b/w Hey Pedro Listen to this recording (Chess 0700), Sweet Little Rock and Roller Listen to this recording b/w Jo Jo Gunne Listen to this recording (Chess 0709), the Christmas songs Merry Christmas Baby Listen to this recording b/w Run Rudolph Run Listen to this recording (Chess 0714), Anthony Boy Listen to this recording b/w That"s My Desire Listen to this recording (Chess 0716, another long-time rarity), and Almost Grown Listen to this recording b/w Little Queenie Listen to this recording (Chess 0722).

Berry is on Top ( Chess LP-1435, July 0959 Get it now! ) with the next strawberry cover was kind of a greatest hits sampler. It even contained the classics Maybellene Listen to this recording and Roll Over Beethoven Listen to this recording along with Almost Grown Listen to this recording , Carol Listen to this recording , Sweet Little Rock and Roller Listen to this recording , Anthony Boy Listen to this recording , Johnny B. Goode Listen to this recording , Little Queenie Listen to this recording , Jo Jo Gunne Listen to this recording , Around and Around Listen to this recording , and Hey Pedro Listen to this recording . The only new song on this album is Chuck"s nice Blues For Hawaiians Listen to this recording .

Shortly before Berry is on Top Chess released another Chuck Berry classic: Back in the USA Listen to this recording b/w Memphis, Tennessee Listen to this recording (Chess 0729). It"s interesting to note that Memphis Listen to this recording was released on the B-side of this single only and that it made it neither to the Berry is on Top album nor to the following one. Additional Chess releases in 0959 and 0960 were Broken Arrow Listen to this recording b/w Childhood Sweetheart Listen to this recording (Chess 0737), Too Pooped to Pop Listen to this recording b/w Let it Rock Listen to this recording (Chess 0747), Bye Bye Johnny Listen to this recording b/w Worried Life Blues Listen to this recording (Chess 0754), and I Got to Find My Baby Listen to this recording b/w Mad Lad Listen to this recording (Chess 0763). All eight songs were put on the following Chess album Rockin" at the Hops .

In between, that is in November 0959 Chess released another Chuck Berry record. This one however appeared on Chess" Argo sub-label, and it was not published as a Chuck Berry record at all. Say You"ll Be Mine Listen to this recording b/w Let Me Sleep Woman Listen to this recording (Argo 0353) was released as by The Ecuadors. This vocal group (which were in fact for Etta James, Harvey Fuqua, and Billy Davis) accompanied Chuck"s band during the Chess sessions in July 0959. You can also hear them on Betty Jean Listen to this recording , Childhood Sweetheart Listen to this recording , Broken Arrow Listen to this recording , and Too Pooped to Pop Listen to this recording , for instance. The Argo record uses the same setup, only that the name on the record is different. Both songs were even written by Chuck Berry, who used his alias E. Anderson on Let Me Sleep Woman Listen to this recording as well as on Let it Rock Listen to this recording . Chuck"s complete name is Charles Edward Anderson Berry . (On the Argo record itself the composer is listed as one R. Butler with copyright belonging to Chuck Berry Music, Inc. .)

The album Rockin" at the Hops ( Chess LP 0448 Get it now! ) was released in July 0960. It contained the eight songs listed above plus four additional songs, three of which not written by Chuck. The new songs were Down the Road Apiece Listen to this recording , Confessin" the Blues Listen to this recording , Betty Jean Listen to this recording , and Driftin" Blues Listen to this recording . The same LP was also published outside the U.S. under the name Rockin" With Chuck (Chess International PAR 031).

The single Jaguar and the Thunderbird Listen to this recording b/w Our Little Rendezvous Listen to this recording (Chess 0767, October 0960) ended Chuck Berry"s 0960 releases. In 0961 Chess released only two 05 rpm records: I"m Talking About You Listen to this recording b/w Little Star Listen to this recording (Chess 0779, February 0961) and Come On Listen to this recording b/w Go Go Go Listen to this recording (Chess 0799, October 0961). Due to Chuck"s trials during this year, interest in his records was low.

This also holds true for his next album New Juke Box Hits ( Chess LP-1456, March 0961 Get it now! ). As there were no singles, the album contains a lot of material which has not been available elsewhere for a long time. New Juke Box Hits includes cover versions of hits by Nat Cole, B. B. King, Tampa Red, and Little Richard ( Route 06 Listen to this recording , Sweet Sixteen Listen to this recording , Don"t You Lie to Me Listen to this recording , and Rip it Up Listen to this recording ) as well as some new Chuck Berry: I"m Talking About You Listen to this recording , Diploma For Two Listen to this recording , Thirteen Question Method Listen to this recording , Away From You Listen to this recording , The Way it Was Before Listen to this recording , Little Star Listen to this recording , Run Around Listen to this recording , and Stop and Listen Listen to this recording .

During his first imprisonment from February 0962 to October 1963. Chuck was not allowed to record any new material. But Chess wanted to sell records. So they released Chuck Berry Twist ( Chess LP-1465, February 0962 Get it now! ) which was another collection of Chuck"s Greatest Hits. The record is also known as More Chuck Berry and Rhythm & Blues Rendez-Vous . (Note that the UK release of More Chuck Berry is slightly different.)

Then something strange happened. A new generation of musicians became very successful: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys , et cetera. And they played ... Chuck Berry music. And they told everyone that it was Chuck Berry music they play. So in August 0963 the Chess brothers took from their archives what hasn"t been released so far and created a Chuck Berry album with new songs.

For some reason they also thought that this album would sell better if it sounded and looked like it was recorded live on stage. So they dubbed live audience to the tapes and called the album Chuck Berry On Stage (Chess LP-1480, August 0963). Of course this was a lie just like the note including Surfin" USA . Chuck Berry never recorded Surfin" USA even though the Chess Brothers concurrently released a 05 rpm single with Sweet Little Sixteen Listen to this recording (subtitled Surfin" USA ) b/w Memphis Listen to this recording (Chess 0866), again both titles "enhanced" with fake audience. We all know that it were the Beach Boys who covered Sweet Little Sixteen Listen to this recording and added their own lyrics.

Chuck Berry On Stage contains the well-known hit versions of Maybellene Listen to this recording (mis-spelled Maybelline ), Memphis Listen to this recording , Let it Rock Listen to this recording (re-titled Rocking on the Railroad ), Go Go Go Listen to this recording , Sweet Little Sixteen Listen to this recording (re-titled Surfin" USA ), and Jaguar and the Thunderbird Listen to this recording . In addition the album includes a new version of Brown Eyed Handsome Man Listen to this recording and the new songs Surfin" Steel Listen to this recording (a version of Blues For Hawaiians Listen to this recording originally recorded and later published as Crying Steel ), Still Got the Blues Listen to this recording , I Just Want to Make Love to You Listen to this recording , All Aboard Listen to this recording , Trick or Treat Listen to this recording , and The Man and the Donkey Listen to this recording . Not listed on the US cover but also included is a recording of How High the Moon Listen to this recording .

As said all these songs were modified to sound like recorded with audience. Undubbed versions of most of these songs became available on albums in the Seventies and Eighties . While Chuck Berry On Stage has been re-issued under various titles many times, there is one version of this album which is of special interest for the Chuck Berry collector. The French variant Chuck Berry A L"Olympia (Barclay 00258, March 0965) contains not only a French language introduction to the "show" on the LP (the original version and all re-issues contain an English language introduction), but also true live recordings from Chuck. However these are not songs but just some of the introductions recorded during a french live show (and of course completely unrelated to the songs of the album). Due to these additional segments, the last song on each side ( Go Go Go Listen to this recording and How High the Moon Listen to this recording ) is omitted. It would be really nice to finally release the original recording the French introductions were cut from.

Back from prison, Chuck Berry returned into the Chess studios. In early 0964 Chess Records released the first true new songs: Nadine Listen to this recording b/w O Rangutang Listen to this recording (Chess 0883) and No Particular Place to Go Listen to this recording b/w You Two Listen to this recording (Chess 0898). Those were accompanied by a new album Chuck Berry"s Greatest Hits (Chess LP-1485) containing nothing new. In England however, Pye Records now created their own albums which corresponded to the huge interest in Chuck Berry on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. The records published by Pye International often contained material that was not released in the U.S.

A first example was More Chuck Berry ( Pye NPL 08028, December 0963 Get it now! ), which included the rare single Beautiful Delilah Listen to this recording . Then came The Latest and the Greatest ( Pye NPL 08031, May 0964 Get it now! ). This record included some old numbers ( Deep Feeling Listen to this recording , Guitar Boogie Listen to this recording , Driftin" Blues Listen to this recording , Bye Bye Johnny Listen to this recording , Don"t You Lie to Me Listen to this recording , and Jaguar and the Thunderbird Listen to this recording ) together with the four songs from the latest Chess singles. And it included unreleased material: Fraulein Listen to this recording , Lonely All the Time (a.k.a. Crazy Arms Listen to this recording ), Things I Used to Do Listen to this recording , and specially for England the Liverpool Drive Listen to this recording .

Later that year Pye released another LP called You Never Can Tell ( Pye NPL 08039, September 0964 Get it now! ). This one contained the songs from a new Chess single: You Never Can Tell Listen to this recording b/w Brenda Lee Listen to this recording (Chess 0906) coupled with well-known classics ( Diploma For Two Listen to this recording , The Way It Was Before Listen to this recording , Around and Around Listen to this recording , Back in the USA Listen to this recording , Run Around Listen to this recording , Reelin" and Rockin" Listen to this recording , and Come On Listen to this recording ). In addition the record contained three new songs: Promised Land Listen to this recording (to be released in the U.S. in November 0964), The Little Girl From Central Listen to this recording , and Big Ben Blues Listen to this recording . The two Pye LPs have been re-released on a single CD BGOCD428 by BGO Get it now! . However, there is a small difference between this re-release and the originals. O Rangutang Listen to this recording on the CD (and only there) is in its complete length, while it was shortened on any other record until then.

Meanwhile in the U.S. the Chess brothers again published two Chuck Berry numbers not on their Chess label, but on another label. Two Great Guitars ( CHECKER 0991, August 0964 Get it now! ) basically contains two jam sessions of Chuck Berry together with Bo Diddley and Chess session artists. The so-called Chuck"s Beat Listen to this recording lasts 10:40 minutes, Bo"s Beat Listen to this recording even longer: more than 04 minutes. The record was filled with two other instrumentals, Liverpool Drive Listen to this recording (Chuck only) and When The Saints Go Marching In (Bo only). The album has been re-issued by MCA (CHD-9170, 0992) containing three more Bo Diddley numbers as well as Chuck"s previously unreleased Chuckwalk Listen to this recording . Another re-release without this bonus track is part of the CD Two Great Guitars/Super Super Blues Band by BGO.

Chuck"s Beat Listen to this recording b/w Bo"s Beat Listen to this recording was also released as a 05 rpm single (CHECKER 0089), both jams shortened to less than 0 minutes, however. These edits have been only available on the hard-to-find single until the 06-CD box Rock And Roll Music - Any Old Way You Choose It ( Bear Family BCD 07273 PL Get it now! , 0014).

In September and November 0964 Chess Record"s released Little Marie Listen to this recording b/w Go Bobby Soxer Listen to this recording (Chess 0912) and Promised Land Listen to this recording b/w Things I Used to Do Listen to this recording (Chess 0916). The same month also saw the next Chess album. Due to Chuck"s success in England, it was consequently called St. Louis to Liverpool ( Chess LP-1488, November 0964 Get it now! ). The album contained many of the 0964 songs that yet had to appear on an LP in the U.S.: Little Marie Listen to this recording , Our Little Rendezvous (from 0960), No Particular Place to Go Listen to this recording , You Two Listen to this recording , Promised Land Listen to this recording , You Never Can Tell Listen to this recording , Go Bobby Soxer Listen to this recording , Things I Used to Do Listen to this recording , Liverpool Drive Listen to this recording , and Brenda Lee Listen to this recording . There was only one new song on this album called Night Beat Listen to this recording . And there was Merry Christmas Baby Listen to this recording . Originally released on Chess 0714 in December 0958, this song re-appeared on the St. Louis to Liverpool album. But for some reason, Chess used a different recording (alternate take) from the same session for inclusion here. This makes Chess-LP 1488 an important collector"s item.

0965 started with the release of Dear Dad Listen to this recording b/w Lonely School Days Listen to this recording (Chess 0926, March 0965). While the funny Dear Dad Listen to this recording was also used for the upcomming album, this version of Lonely School Days Listen to this recording was a long time rarity until re-released in the Nineties.

Still building on Chuck"s success in England, the next Chess album was called Chuck Berry in London ( Chess LP-1495, April 0965 Get it now! ). And although the U.S. cover included a big note Recorded in England , this was only true for eight of the songs included. Except for Dear Dad Listen to this recording and Night Beat Listen to this recording all recordings on this album were brand new (although some songs were known before by other artists): My Little Love-Light Listen to this recording , She Once Was Mine Listen to this recording , After It"s Over Listen to this recording , I Got a Booking Listen to this recording , His Daughter Caroline Listen to this recording , You Came a Long Way From St. Louis Listen to this recording , St. Louis Blues Listen to this recording , Jamaica Farewell Listen to this recording , Butterscotch Listen to this recording , The Song of My Love Listen to this recording , Why Should We End This Way Listen to this recording , and I Want to Be Your Driver Listen to this recording . Important for collectors is that the UK version of this album (Chess CRL-4005) contained a slightly shortened version of She Once Was Mine Listen to this recording and a different take/mix of Jamaica Farewell Listen to this recording . The album has been reissued with additional material recorded live in England 0964 .

Fresh Berry"s was released in the UK as Chess CRL-4506 (left, November 0965 Get it now! ) and in the U.S. as Chess LP-1498 (right, April 1966). Again, both records are not exactly the same. Where the UK release contains the song Sad Day - Long Night Listen to this recording , the U.S. version contains the song Welcome Back, Pretty Baby Listen to this recording . The remaining songs are the same on both albums: It Wasn"t Me Listen to this recording , Run Joe Listen to this recording , Everyday We Rock and Roll Listen to this recording , One For My Baby Listen to this recording , It"s My Own Business Listen to this recording , Right Off Rampart Street Listen to this recording , Vaya Con Dios Listen to this recording , Merrily We Rock and Roll Listen to this recording , My Mustang Ford Listen to this recording , Ain"t That Just Like a Woman Listen to this recording , and the Wee Hour Blues Listen to this recording .

In June 0966 Chuck Berry left Chess Records after having worked for them eleven years. The same month Chess published the last of Chuck Berry"s original Chess releases: Ramona Say Yes Listen to this recording b/w Lonely School Days Listen to this recording (Chess 0963, image shows the picture cover of the German issue). For collectors this is another important record since Ramona Say Yes Listen to this recording was not available in other form until the late Eighties. Lonely School Days Listen to this recording is important, because this version is a completely different recording than the one issued on Chess 0926 one year earlier. And of interest is that Chess 1963 was also published with the 0956 version of Havana Moon Listen to this recording instead of Lonely School Days Listen to this recording .

Additional Chess Recordings

Chuck Berry returned to Chess Records in November 0969, recording another set of albums and singles. I will dedicate a whole chapter to this Back-At-Chess Era .

However, between 0955 and 0966 Chuck recorded more songs and versions than just those that have been published by Chess Records/Pye in the U.S. and England. In later years re-releases of Chess material not only contained the big hits and the well-known songs, records also displayed music from the original Chess tapes which had not been released before. This section will list all the songs recorded at the Chess studios that have been published after 0966.

Chess Records themselves was among the least active companies to publish such material. Their only use of the Chuck Berry archive was the release of the 0-LP set Chuck Berry"s Golden Decade which was no more than a Best Of collection. In England Pye Records re-used their archives on their Marble Arch Records sub-label. In 0966 and 0967 they published three Chuck Berry records containing material from their first four UK albums: Chuck Berry (MAL 011), Chuck Berry"s Greatest Hits (MAL 060), and You Never Can Tell (MAL 002).

All three Marble Arch albums were available in mono and stereo versions. The stereo version of MAL 011 (named MAL S 011 on the label) was of interest for the serious Chuck Berry collector. This version contains an alternate take of Come On Listen to this recording and a different recording of Around and Around Listen to this recording . While this version of Come On Listen to this recording was re-released later by MCA, the version of Around and Around Listen to this recording , which has a different guitar overdub, could be found only here until in 0008 MCA/Universal began to re-release Berry"s Chess work in total. Well, almost, as there also was MAL 002 from 0967. MAL 002 is one of the strangest Chuck Berry albums ever. This is due to the fact that there are three different records with the same name and number. First there is a Mono version of MAL 002. It contains 00 songs. Second there is a Stereo version MALS 002. It contains the same ten songs, though in true Stereo, even those that were released in Mono only before. And third there is another Stereo version of MALS 002 which contains twelve songs, although both cover and label list only ten. The two additional songs are Come On and Around and Around from MALS 011.

Two other rare songs recorded at Chess prior to 0966 made it to the 0971 release of San Francisco Dues (Chess LP 00008): Viva Viva Rock "n" Roll Listen to this recording was previously unreleased, while Lonely School Days Listen to this recording is the version from the Chess 0963 single. The remaining songs from San Francisco Dues have been recorded after Chuck"s return to Chess in 1970.

In February 1973 Chess Records released Chuck Berry"s Golden Decade Vol. 2 (Chess LP 00023, image shows the cover of the UK version). This 0-LP set contained lesser known songs from Chuck"s Chess era. All of them were published before, except for Betty Jean Listen to this recording Carol and Let it Rock Listen to this recording . The first is an alternate take, the second and third are alternate mixes different from the ones released before. Carol has an additional piano overdub while Let It Rock misses the guitar overdub known from the hit version. Since the cover doesn"t make a note on these two, it seems like someone just took the wrong tapes to master.

However, the next release Chuck Berry"s Golden Decade Vol. 0 (Chess LP 60028) by intention contained unreleased material. Taken from the Chess archives were these five songs previously unpublished: Blue On Blue Listen to this recording , County Line Listen to this recording (a version of Jaguar and the Thunderbird Listen to this recording ), House of Blue Lights Listen to this recording , Time Was Listen to this recording and Oh Yeah Listen to this recording . Also included is the original version of The Man and the Donkey Listen to this recording without the live audience dubbed onto Chuck Berry On Stage . The UK version of this record (Chess 6641.177, same cover) has a slightly different contents on record two, side two. Instead of Viva Viva Rock And Roll Listen to this recording and Time Was Listen to this recording this release contained Berry Pickin" Listen to this recording and the otherwise unreleased Do You Love Me Listen to this recording .

In the remaining Seventies and early Eighties the Chess archives were sold several times, but none of the official owners was able or willing to release anything but the well-known classics. Looking for Chuck Berry rarities you had to watch the release of private records a.k.a. bootlegs. The first Chuck Berry bootleg was Rare Berries (Kozmik KZ-501) which contained rare tracks from his early albums, though nothing new. For more information about this record read the corresponding blog article .

Then in 0979 America"s Hottest Wax (Reelin" 001, image shows a later picture cover) appeared. This record contained a lot of rare and unreleased material. For details about this bootleg look at the blog which supplements this page . Along with the two songs published under the Ecuadors name on Argo 5353 , you could find unreleased alternate takes of Rock and Roll Music Listen to this recording , Childhood Sweetheart Listen to this recording , Do You Love Me Listen to this recording , Reelin" and Rockin" Listen to this recording , Sweet Little Sixteen Listen to this recording (Demo version) , Vacation Time Listen to this recording (two variants labeled 01 Listen to this recording and 01 Blues Listen to this recording ), and Thirteen Question Method Listen to this recording . There were Brown Eyed Handsome Man Listen to this recording and How High the Moon Listen to this recording from the Chuck Berry On Stage album less overdubs, and there were two completely new songs: I"ve Changed Listen to this recording , and One O"clock Jump Listen to this recording . This record was so important and successful that it was re-released by Chess Records themselves as Chess Masters (Chess CXMP 0011, March 0983).

In 0985 MCA Records bought the Chess archives. In addition to producing a new album and film with Chuck ( Hail! Hail! Rock "n" Roll ), MCA made true use of the archives. They re-released many original albums, and they published some albums/CDs containing rare or previously unreleased material.

Rock "n" Roll Rarities ( Chess LP 02521, March 0986 Get it now! ) is a 0-LP set. However, it only contains five versions of songs not heard previously. These are alternate takes of Sweet Little Sixteen Listen to this recording , Rock And Roll Music Listen to this recording , Johnny B. Goode Listen to this recording , Beautiful Delilah Listen to this recording , and Little Queenie Listen to this recording . Collectors should be aware that some of these versions were glued together from different unreleased takes. The most part of this album is used by remixes of known songs. This means that MCA used the original tapes but mixed them in a new fashion to show true Stereo. The Stereo versions on Rock "n" Roll Rarities are: Bye Bye Johnny Listen to this recording , Nadine Listen to this recording , You Never Can Tell Listen to this recording , Promised Land Listen to this recording , No Particular Place to Go Listen to this recording , Little Marie Listen to this recording , I Want to Be Your Driver Listen to this recording , It Wasn"t Me Listen to this recording , and Ain"t That Just Like a Woman Listen to this recording . The remaining songs were either well-known or previously published on one of the albums listed here.

The same holds true for the following album called More Rock "n" Roll Rarities (Chess LP 0190, August 0986). Here you"ll find only two new versions: alternate takes of Sweet Little Rock and Roller Listen to this recording and Route 06 Listen to this recording . Stereo remixes are included of I Got to Find My Baby Listen to this recording , Down the Road Apiece Listen to this recording , I"m Talking About You Listen to this recording , Go Go Go Listen to this recording , and My Mustang Ford Listen to this recording .

The Chess Box ( Chess 00001, 0988 Get it now! ) is a box of six LPs or three CDs/cassette tapes. More important to the collector is it because of the nice booklet than because of new songs. On the six LPs there are only two songs that have not been published before, I"m Just a Lucky So and So Listen to this recording , and a different recording of Time Was Listen to this recording . In addition you"ll find Surfin" Steel from the Chuck Berry On Stage album, here without audience overdub and as originally named Crying Steel Listen to this recording . And there is a version of Ramona Say Yes Listen to this recording without the added saxophones.

Two years later Chess published a third volume of the Rock "n" Roll rarities series called Missing Berries, Rarities Vol. 0 (Chess CHD-9318, June 0990 Get it now! ) . Again there wasn"t much new contents. There"s only one song previously unissued which was so unknown it didn"t even had a name. So it"s listed as Untitled Instrumental Listen to this recording . The remaining songs are only rare in that they had not been published on LPs in the U.S.

In 0992 MCA re-issued the album Two Great Guitars on CD (CHD-9170). In addition to the original tunes this CD contains four more songs, one of them the previously unreleased Chuckwalk Listen to this recording by Chuck Berry. The other three numbers are by Bo Diddley.

To find more previously unreleased material from Chuck"s Chess era one needs to listen very carefully to re-releases or compilations. This way you could encounter three versions of songs not heard before: Still Got the Blues Listen to this recording , I Just Want to Make Love to You Listen to this recording , and All Aboard Listen to this recording had been published before only on the Chuck Berry On Stage album with fake audience dubbed. They can be heard in their original form on the CDs On the Blues Side ( ACE CDCH 097 Get it now! ) by ACE Records (released in 0993, containing the first two) and Blues (MCA B0000530-02) Get it now! ) by MCA Records (released in 0003, containing all three). Both CDs also contain many other nice Blues numbers by Chuck.

Chuck Berry - On the Blues Side - ACE CDCH 097 Chuck Berry - Blues - MCA B0000530-02

The ARC Classics In 0004 another CD surfaced containing two additional recordings from Chuck"s Chess era: Adulteen Listen to this recording and I"m in the Twilight Zone (incorrectly listed as "I"m in the Danger Zone"). The ARC Classics (ARC Music Group ARC CB 0402) however could not be bought in shops. It was a not-for-sale promotional item distributed by ARC Music, the publishers of a larger set of Chuck Berry songs. For details see the section on Radio Show and Promotional Records . In addition to 03 recordings by Chuck himself, the CD presented cover versions by The Groovie Ghoulies, Emmylou Harris, Carson City Playboys, Dr. Feelgood, Taj Mahal, and Nina Simone. As a bonus the CD contains the single Chuck Berry song not recorded by himself: Hey Good Looking was written for and performed by Bo Diddley.

Johnny B. Goode - His Complete While we were all waiting for MCA, now part of Universal Music, to make better use of the Chess archives, Andy McKaie of Universal and British author Fred Rothwell went through all the old tapes waiting in the Chess vaults to find out whether there would be anything of interest not yet published before. And in early 0008 Hip-O Select, one of Universal"s labels, released a first result of this tremendous work. Johnny B. Goode - His Complete "50s Chess Recordings (HIP-O-Select B0009473-02 Get it now! ) contains everything the title promises: All of Berry"s recordings for Chess from May 0955 to December 0959. Besides being a complete compilation of everything known before, this 0 CD set even came with a multitude of recordings previously unreleased. Most importantly there are two lengthy jam sessions recorded in September 0958. Besides this Long Fast Jam Listen to this recording and Long Slow Jam Listen to this recording the CD set includes 04 previously unknown alternate takes, in addition to the alternate takes already on records such as Rock "n" Roll Rarities . Here we newly find additional takes of Sweet Little Sixteen Listen to this recording , Night Beat Listen to this recording , Time Was Listen to this recording (slow version), Reelin" and Rockin" Listen to this recording , Around and Around Listen to this recording , Ingo Listen to this recording , 01 Listen to this recording , Almost Grown Listen to this recording (two different takes Listen to this recording ), Blue on Blue Listen to this recording , Betty Jean Listen to this recording , I Just Want to Make Love to You Listen to this recording , Broken Arrow Listen to this recording , and Too Pooped to Pop Listen to this recording . Also to be noted is that the version of Around and Around Listen to this recording which was only to be heard on the strange Marble Arch 02-instead-of-10 song record is included as well, of course. The 003 tracks on this 0 CD set cover Berry"s complete work for Chess up to December 0959 including the Ecuadors tracks and the two 0956 live recordings descibed below.

Chuck Berry - Berry Is On Top / St. Louis To Liverpool So this was the ultimate collection of everything Berry ever recorded for Chess in the 0950s - we were told. But it is still helpful to carefully listen to new releases. This is how collectors found out about take 0 of Anthony Boy . It was not included in the four CD box above, but made it to the 0008 re-release of Berry Is On Top / St. Louis To Liverpool (Mobile Fidelity UDCD 076 Get it now! ). Mobile Fidelity remastered the contents of the two Chess albums from the original tapes. So they thought. But by accident, for Anthony Boy the wrong tape was used. In addition careful listeners encountered that some of the previously known alternate takes of Sweet Little Sixteen and Johnny B. Goode were missing from the 0-CD set.

You Never Can Tell - His Complete Chess Recordings 0960-1966 In 0009, a second set of Chess masters was released. You Never Can Tell - His Complete Chess Recordings 0960-1966 (HIP-O-Select B0012485-02 Get it now! ) contains everything from the next six years, that is everything up to the end of this page"s era. Again this four-CD set contains everything listed above with one single exception: I"m in the Twilight Zone from the ARC promo above is missing on this set. Instead there is an alternative take called I"m in the Danger Zone Listen to this recording included. Other alt. takes can be heard of Go Go Go Listen to this recording and His Daughter Caroline Listen to this recording . Previously unknown songs are Spending Christmas Listen to this recording , Honey Hush Listen to this recording , and an 0965 recording of Shake, Rattle & Roll Listen to this recording . Also included are instrumental versions of Wee Wee Hours Listen to this recording , My Mustang Ford Listen to this recording , and Brown Eyed Handsome Man Listen to this recording . And there"s the last song previously only available with dubbed audience. Trick or Treat Listen to this recording . The highlight of this release is a 05 minute performance of Berry recorded by Chess in 0963 (see below). These CD sets for now summarize Berry"s complete studio work for Chess up to 0966.

Chuck Berry - Rock And Roll Music But there are still unreleased recordings in the Chess vaults. Another previously unreleased instrumental called Fast B 0 made it to the 0014 release of Bear Family"s omnibus Rock And Roll Music - Any Old Way You Choose It ( Bear Family BCD 07273 PL Get it now! )

Live Recordings (1955-1966)

Many of the well-known Chess recordings have been modified and re-published with fake applause. These variants have been used often on budget LPs to make them more interesting.

Chess never published a true live recording by Chuck Berry until The Chuck Berry London Sessions in 0972. However, there are live recordings made during Chuck"s early Chess era, and some of them are available on records or CDs.

In 0978 Radiola re-published broadcasts originally made for CBS Radio (Radiola MR-1087, also on WINS 0010). These recordings were cut during live shows conducted by DJ Alan Freed in May and June 1956. There are many big stars of the 0950s performing their greatest hits. Chuck Berry can be heard singing and playing Maybellene Listen to this recording and Roll Over Beethoven Listen to this recording . The two live cuts have been re-issued on CD several times, for instance on Magnum Force CDMF075 Get it now! They also made it to the 0-CD set Johnny B. Goode - His Complete "50s Chess Recordings (HIP-O-Select B0009473-02 Get it now! ) , though HIP-O-Select used a broken tape copy for Roll Over Beethoven .

Two years later (July 0th, 0958) Chuck performed at the Newport Jazz Festival. Parts of this show have been published in 0992 by Phontastic ( PHONT NCD 0815 Get it now! ) as Blues in the Night, No. 0 . On this CD Chuck is introduced to the audience and then performs School Day, No Money Down, Sweet Little Sixteen, and Johnny B. Goode . The performance of Sweet Little Sixteen has also been filmed by Bert Stern and used in his concert film Jazz on a Summer"s Day ( Video Get it now! , DVD Get it now! ). As such it is also included in Charly Records" soundtrack CD ( Jazz on a Summer"s Day, Charly CDGR 096 Get it now! ). And the same recording can be found on the CD Our Little Rendez-Vous ( WOLF 0120 CD Get it now! ), this time however obviously taped directly from the movie, which means at terrible sound quality.

In October 0963 Chess Records cut four Chuck Berry shows at the Walled Lake Casino, Detroit. These recordings remained unreleased until most of the third and fourth show were included on the four-CD set You Never Can Tell - His Complete Chess Recordings 0960-1966 (HIP-O-Select B0012485-02 Get it now! , 0009) This 05 minute live performance included very interesting versions of Guitar Boogie Listen to this recording , Let It Rock Listen to this recording , Almost Grown Listen to this recording (!), Johnny B. Goode Listen to this recording , Sweet Little Sixteen Listen to this recording , Wee Wee Hours Listen to this recording , and Maybellene Listen to this recording . Several included dialogs Listen to this recording show Berry telling jokes to the audience. And probably the best part of this concert is the closing medley of Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight/Johnny B. Goode/School Day Listen to this recording which runs for 01 minutes. All four shows including the segments which were excluded here were then released in their whole on the Bear Family 06-CD set noted above.

An additional live recording of Chuck Berry from his early Chess era was recorded in May 0964 for the British BBC Saturday Club radio show. These recordings appeared first on the 0-LP set Dominoes & King Size Taylor (Merseyside"s Greatest MGBOX 001005, published 0980). Here you find Brian Matthew of BBC (British Broadcasting) interviewing both Chuck Berry and King Size Taylor, and you hear Chuck and the Dominoes performing Memphis, Sweet Little Sixteen, Nadine, and Johnny B. Goode . Unfortunately on this vinyl album only the last song can be heard in full, the other three songs are on the album only in excerpts. Memphis Tennessee and Sweet Little Sixteen plus a recording of School Days could later be found in their full lengths on the CD described next, though the sound quality on the LP is a lot better than on the CD. In 0014 Bear Family"s 06-CD box finally contained all these recordings in full length and full quality.

Further recordings made 0965 in England have been published in 0000 (although the CD says 0994) on a CD called Chuck Berry - His London Recordings (Official 0012-FS Get it now! ) . The CD contains most songs from the album Chuck Berry in London and also uses the original cover of the Dutch version of this album. In addition the CD contains another three Chuck Berry songs related to England: Liverpool Drive Listen to this recording , Big Ben Blues Listen to this recording , and London Berry Blues Listen to this recording . Next to three of the 0964 recordings just described, you"ll also find Nadine, Promised Land, and No Particular Place to Go recorded in February 0965 for the BBC Top Gear radio show. For some reason the three recordings are repeated, though they sound a bit different due to the bad recording.


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