20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Chuck Berry
Like any record company worth its salt, MCA knows a good gimmick when it sees it, and when the millennium came around...well, the 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection series wasn't too far behind. Supposedly, the millennium is a momentous occasion, but it's hard to feel that way when it's used as another excuse to turn out a slew of budget-line comps. But apart from the presumptuous title, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection turns out to be a very good budget-line series. True, it's impossible for any of these brief collections to be definitive, but they're nevertheless solid samplers that don't feature a bad song in the bunch. For example, take Chuck Berry's 20th Century volume -- it's an irresistible 11-song summary of his Chess years. There may be several noteworthy songs missing, but many of his best-known songs are here, including "Maybellene," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," "School Days," "Rock & Roll Music," "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Johnny B. Goode," "Carol," "You Never Can Tell," "No Particular Place to Go," and -- unfortunately -- the wretched "My Ding-A-Ling." Serious fans will want something more extensive, but this is an excellent introduction for neophytes and a great sampler for casual fans, considering its length and price. That doesn't erase the ridiculousness of the series title, but the silliness is excusable when the music and the collections are good.