You Never Can Tell: The Complete Chess Recordings 1960-1966

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
On the 1961 single "Go Go Go," a side that went nowhere on the charts, Chuck Berry sang that he was "Mixing Ahmad Jamal in my "'Johnny B. Goode'"/Sneaking Erroll Garner in my "'Sweet Sixteen'"/Now they tell me Stan Kenton is cutting "'Maybellene'" -- as always, Chuck is stretching the truth to fit his story. Kenton never cut "Maybellene" but Berry did sneak some jazz into his rock & roll in the '60s, along with plenty of blues, country, and some folk, all evident on You Never Can Tell: The Complete Chess Recordings 1960-1966, Hip-O Select's second volume of Chuck's Chess recordings. Of course, Berry never was stylistically pure -- he invented rock & roll...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
On the 1961 single "Go Go Go," a side that went nowhere on the charts, Chuck Berry sang that he was "Mixing Ahmad Jamal in my "'Johnny B. Goode'"/Sneaking Erroll Garner in my "'Sweet Sixteen'"/Now they tell me Stan Kenton is cutting "'Maybellene'" -- as always, Chuck is stretching the truth to fit his story. Kenton never cut "Maybellene" but Berry did sneak some jazz into his rock & roll in the '60s, along with plenty of blues, country, and some folk, all evident on You Never Can Tell: The Complete Chess Recordings 1960-1966, Hip-O Select's second volume of Chuck's Chess recordings. Of course, Berry never was stylistically pure -- he invented rock & roll by marrying hillbilly and the blues -- but on his '60s sides he had the opportunity to both stretch out and dig deep, sometimes cutting a set of blues, sometimes expanding with horns or backing vocals or cutting a Twist. The latter is pretty good evidence that some of these wanderings may have been reflections of the times, but as a whole body of work the four-disc You Never Can Tell -- which gathers all the master studio takes, adds some alternates to the mix, and unveils a previously unheard live date that presents the rarest of things: a full adult-oriented concert given by Chuck at a Detroit casino where he was backed by an uncredited group of Berry Gordy's all-stars -- feels like the work of a man who is fully aware of his strengths and abilities, able to subtly tweak them toward the times without losing his identity. Indeed, one of the striking things about the set is how vigorous Chuck Berry seems in the first half of the '60s, a time that did not treat all '50s rock & rollers particularly well. Of course, Chuck was not immune to the downward dip in rock & roll in the early '60s: he was arrested for a Mann Act violation in 1959 and spent the first years of the '60s embroiled in a legal mess leading to a five-year jail sentence of which he served roughly a year and a half. Before he entered prison, he recorded furiously: about the first disc and a half of You Never Can Tell dates from 1960 and 1961, as Chuck was laying down as many sides as he could, just in case he went away for a long time. Some of these sessions do seem a little hurried -- there aren't many originals, particularly in 1960 -- but this did give him an opportunity to record some very good blues-heavy sessions, where he was able to indulge in his fondness for Charles Brown, Nat King Cole, and Amos Milburn. And while there weren't many originals, those that were there were quite good, especially the "Johnny B. Goode" sequel "Bye Bye Johnny" and his latest car song, "Jaguar and Thunderbird." The 1961 sessions produced an even stronger crop of originals with "I'm Talking About You," "Come On," "Go Go Go," the "Junco Partner" adaptation "The Man and the Donkey," and "Trick or Treat," the latter two appearing on the excellent fake live album Chuck Berry on Stage the cuts here being presented without the audience overdubs. Chess planned to launch Chuck's post-prison comeback with a genuine live album recorded at Walled Lake Casino in Detroit in October of 1963, but the record was scrapped, laying in the vaults unreleased until this set. The very reasons why the album was abandoned are why it's such thrilling listening now: the performances are rough and ragged, with Chuck lurching from mood to mood on the closing medley of "Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight," "Johnny B. Goode," "Let It Rock," and "School Day," and he spends an inordinate amount of time telling corny old jokes from the stage. It's hardly perfect, but it's a rare glimpse into Berry's on-stage charms and a vital live document of early rock & roll that's more interesting now than it might have been at the time. In any case, Chuck didn't need the boost from the live set: he came back stronger than ever in 1964 with the hits "Promised Land," "No Particular Place to Go," "You Never Can Tell," and "Nadine," all featured on his classic LP St. Louis to Liverpool, its title an explicit reference to how his music inspired the British Invasion. Discounting Elvis, who existed in his own category by that point, and the Everly Brothers, who continued to have hits, Chuck Berry was the only rock & roller who rubbed shoulders with his progeny, due both to his clear influence on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and also his vigorous writing. Berry's mid-'60s work rivals his late-'50s work, perhaps not in terms of innovation but in sheer lyrical and musical might; this is plainly apparent in the aforementioned quartet of hits, each one as crisp and clever as "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" and "Johnny B. Goode," but he had plenty of unheralded gems during this stretch, including the dynamite "Dear Dad" a song so compact and blazing that plenty of punks cut it about a decade later, "It Wasn't Me" a song he revisited in the '70s, "My Mustang Ford," "It's My Own Business," and "Ramona Say Yes." Add to that Chuck's instrumental jam LP with Bo Diddley -- an album consisting of two tracks that ran well over ten minutes, a length nearly unheard of on a rock & roll record in 1964 -- and some additional blues, and Berry's '60s sessions amount to a truly remarkable run that deepens and adds new dimensions to what was already one of the greatest legacies of 20th century American music.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/31/2009
  • Label: Hip-O Select
  • UPC: 602517937833
  • Catalog Number: 001246502
  • Sales rank: 165,071


Disc 1
  1. 1 Drifting Blues
  2. 2 I Got To Find My Baby
  3. 3 I've Got to Find My Baby
  4. 4 Don't You Lie To Me
  5. 5 Worried Life Blues
  6. 6 Our Little Rendezvous
  7. 7 Bye Bye Johnny
  8. 8 Bye Bye Johnny
  9. 9 Run Around
  10. 10 Run Around
  11. 11 Jaguar and Thunderbird
  12. 12 Diploma For Two
  13. 13 Little Star
  14. 14 The Way It Was Before
  15. 15 Away From You
  16. 16 Down the Road Apiece
  17. 17 Down the Road a Piece
  18. 18 Confessin' the Blues
  19. 19 Sweet Seixteen
  20. 20 Thirteen Question Method
  21. 21 Stop and Listen
  22. 22 I Still Got the Blues
  23. 23 I'm Just a Lucky So and So
  24. 24 Mad Lad
  25. 25 Surfin' Steel (Cryin' Steel)
  26. 26 Route 66
  27. 27 Route 66
  28. 28 I'm Talking About You
  29. 29 Rip It Up
  30. 30 Come On
  31. 31 Come On
  32. 32 Adulteen
  33. 33 The Man and the Donkey
Disc 2
  1. 1 Go Go Go
  2. 2 Go Go Go
  3. 3 Trick or Treat
  4. 4 Browned Eyed Handsome Man
  5. 5 Browned Eyed Handsome Man
  6. 6 Browned Eyed Handsome Man
  7. 7 All Aboard
  8. 8 Guitar Boogie
  9. 9 Let It Rock
  10. 10 Almost Grown
  11. 11 Chuck Berry Dialog 1
  12. 12 Johnny B. Goode
  13. 13 Introduction/Instrumental
  14. 14 Sweet Little Sixteen
  15. 15 Wee Wee Hours
  16. 16 Chuck Berry Dialog 2
  17. 17 Maybellene
  18. 18 Medley: Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight/Johnny B. Goode/Let It Rock/Scho
  19. 19 Nadine (Is It You?)
  20. 20 You Never Can Tell
  21. 21 Little Girl from Central
  22. 22 The (The) Things I Used to Do
  23. 23 I'm in the Danger Zone
  24. 24 I'm In the Danger Zone
Disc 3
  1. 1 Fraulein
  2. 2 Lonely All the Time (Crazy Arms)
  3. 3 O Rangutang
  4. 4 Big Ben (Blues)
  5. 5 Promised Land
  6. 6 Brenda Lee
  7. 7 No Particular Place To Go
  8. 8 You Two
  9. 9 Liverpool Drive
  10. 10 Chuck's Beat
  11. 11 Bo's Beat
  12. 12 Little Marie
  13. 13 Go, Bobby Soxer
  14. 14 Lonely School Days
  15. 15 His Daughter Caroline
  16. 16 Dear Dad
  17. 17 I Want to Be Your Driver
  18. 18 Spending Christmas
  19. 19 The Song of My Love
  20. 20 Butterscotch
  21. 21 After It's Over
  22. 22 Why Should We End This Way
Disc 4
  1. 1 You Came a Long Way From St. Louis - 5 Dimensions
  2. 2 She Once Was Mine
  3. 3 Jamaica Farewell
  4. 4 My Little Love Light
  5. 5 I Got a Booking
  6. 6 St. Louis Blues
  7. 7 Shake, Rattle and Roll
  8. 8 Wee Wee Hours
  9. 9 Honey Hush
  10. 10 Run Joe
  11. 11 It's My Own Business
  12. 12 One For My Baby (and One More For the Road)
  13. 13 Every Day We Rock and Roll
  14. 14 My Mustang Ford
  15. 15 My Mustang Ford
  16. 16 My Mustang Ford
  17. 17 Merrily We Rock and Roll
  18. 18 Vaya Con Dios
  19. 19 Wee Hour Blues
  20. 20 It Wasn't Me
  21. 21 It Wasn't Me
  22. 22 Ain't That Just Like a Woman
  23. 23 Right Off Rampart Street
  24. 24 Welcome Back Pretty Baby
  25. 25 Sad Day, Long Night
  26. 26 Ramona Say Yes
  27. 27 Ramona Say Yes
  28. 28 Viva Viva Rock 'N' Roll
  29. 29 His Daughter Caroline
  30. 30 Lonely School Days
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Chuck Berry Primary Artist, Guitar, Steel Guitar, Vocals
Willie Dixon Double Bass
Matt "Guitar" Murphy Guitar
Johnnie Johnson Organ, Piano
Jules Blattner Group Guitar
Martha Berry Vocals
Bill Bixler Bass
Bo Diddley Guitar
Neil Carter Background Vocals
Louis Cennamo Bass
Howard Jones Drums
Odie Payne Jr. Drums
Bill Armstrong Background Vocals
Chester Lindsey Bass
Chuck Bernard Bass
Billy Downing Drums
Jesse James Johnson Bass
Ricky Green Background Vocals
Bob Scrivens Piano
James Robinson Tenor Saxophone
Brian Cockburn Smith Background Vocals
Paul Williams & His Hucklebuckers Piano
Mike Boocock Background Vocals
Roger Fairhurst Background Vocals
Peter John Hogman Harmonica
Brian David Kattenhorn Drums
Jeff Krivet Guitar
Ellis "Lafayette" Leake Piano
Technical Credits
Michael Bloomfield Guitar Overdubs
Charles Brown Composer
Paul Butterfield Harmonica Overdub
Willie Dixon Producer
Chuck Berry Composer, Producer
Jay McShann Composer
John Benson Brooks Composer
W.C. Handy Composer
Bobby Troup Composer
Harold Arlen Composer
Walter Brown Composer
Big Maceo Merriweather Composer
Lord Burgess Composer
Bo Diddley Composer
Calvin Carter Composer
Leonard Chess Producer
Phil Chess Producer
Peter Doell Remixing
Duke Ellington Composer
Ellas McDaniel Composer
Andy McKaie Remixing
Johnny Mercer Composer
Ralph Mooney Composer
McKinley Morganfield Composer
Don Raye Composer
Bob Russell Composer
Hudson Whittaker Composer
Lawton Williams Composer
Eddie Jones Composer
Vito Picone Composer
Don Bronstein Cover Photo
Joe Josea Composer
Robert "Bumps" Blackwell Composer
John Marascalco Composer
Fleecie Moore Composer
Chuck Seals Composer
Mack David Composer
Lou Willie Turner Composer
Joe Willoughby Composer
Claude de Metruis Composer
Charles E. Calhoun Composer
Buddy Pepper Composer
Inez James Composer
Ryan Null Photo Coordination
Michele Horie Art Direction
Walter Merrick Composer
Pookie Hudson Composer
Fred Rothwell Liner Notes
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