Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Rock and Roll Music!: The Songs of Chuck Berry [Ace, 2017]
Compiled to cash in on the Originator's forthcoming Chuck rather than his unexpected death, this could be better even if you forgive such budget measures as no Beatles/Stones/Hendrix, no Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (check out Etta James and also--believe it--Julian Lennon), late Elvis, later Beach Boys. Rather than Jay and the Americans' execrable "Johnny B. Goode," how about Peter Tosh's or the Dead's; rather than the Hollies' "Sweet Little Sixteen" album filler, Ten Years After's balls-out festival rocker or even Cliff Richard's Beatles move; rather than Marty Robbins's wan "Maybellene," George Jones and Johnny Paycheck's rowdy one. And amusing though you may find the obscure Brit "Nadine," I urge you urge you urge you to excavate Kevin Dunn's fey, howling early-computer-age reimagining, my third favorite Berry cover ever. Nonetheless, the Originator inspired John Prine's rockingest vocal, tickled the shit out of one-hit wonders the Syndicate of Sound, and brought out the very best from such unexpected-to-whodat artists as John Hammond, Ian Gomm, the Remains, the Count Bishops, Dwight Yoakam, and Helene Dixon. The big-name tribute albums will come, and though their hit-or-miss ratio may beat this one's, believe it when you hear it. Meanwhile, Dunn's "Nadine" is readily available via YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, etc. Lasts 4:25 exactly. A-