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http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/4f2d32286a893316a205cce177c81eed1ea617a0.jpg Have Mercy: The Complete Chess Recordings 1969-1974

Chuck Berry

Have Mercy: The Complete Chess Recordings 1969-1974

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May 24, 2010

How's this for weird? Chuck Berry's only Number One pop single was not "Maybellene" or "Johnny B. Goode." It was the naughty 1972 cheeseball "My Ding-A-Ling." That freak smash, recorded live at a show in England, unfairly defined Berry's last years at Chess, during which he made solid cruising-rhythm records with electric-country overtones such as 1971's San Francisco Dues and 1973's Bio. This four-CD collection opens with Berry's last great original song, the 1970 gallop "Tulane." His observations on the hippie youth explosion ("San Francisco Dues") lack the wit and malt-shop argot of his Fifties hits. But amid the covers and live remakes of his classics, Berry plays a lot of masterful guitar. The studio instrumental "London Berry Blues" is six prime minutes of choked riffs and fluid blues lines with that unmistakable tart treble — recorded two days after "My Ding-A-Ling."

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