October 22, 1979 12:00 PM

Chuck Berry

A better title would have been Greatest Licks. Dazzling guitar runs have been lifted almost whole from such gigantic ’50s’ hits as Johnny B. Goode and Nadine and dropped into new Berry tunes. (Havana Moon is also included here, updated acoustically, not politically.) On slow numbers like I Need You Baby, Berry’s voice is compellingly plaintive. But for the most part, even on titles like Move It and Oh What a Thrill, he sounds like a 53-year-old trying to rock’n’roll. While Berry’s classic songs stand up well against anything being done today, on his more recent work, his old-time guitar playing, heard against a modern studio sound, seems painfully insubstantial. After two decades of competition among rock’s guitar whizzes to create a new sound, the original stuff has simply—and sadly—worn thin.

You May Like