Now This is Some Driving Music.
Even with being 28 songs, there is so much to enjoy here.
Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #21/100
Months ago, I took a long trip down to Florida and loaded the phone up with all types of albums. Chuck Berry saved me at just the right time: I hit the country lines of North Carolina and needed something to pep me up. This album is full of old rock n’ roll with many references to automobiles and cruising. It was the perfect antidote.
It also satisfies my self-created rule of what makes a Top 100 album with one killer track (Johnny B. Good) and over half the album being worth-while.
Chuck Berry is one of the pioneers of music. The 1950s are where people really started to put together a variety of different sounds and styles to make the foundations of popular music. Bands like The Beatles would run away with this in the 1960s. Berry’s style included rock n’ roll, R&B, and guitar riffs bundled into songs focusing on a youthful America.
Berry’s life follows an odd trajectory. He stole an automobile as a young kid using a pistol and goes to jail. He becomes famous with the hits of Maybellene and Roll Over Beethoven. He goes back to jail for taking a 14-year-old girl across state lines. He gets out and makes it big again. He then gets pegged with tax evasion and goes to jail again. He then continues to tour a 100 nights a year. Then he gets accused of taping women in bathrooms in a restaurant he owned. He settles outside of court.
The Great Twenty-Eight is 28 of his songs with 21 of them being singles. Clocking in at just over an hour, most of the songs sit around the two minute mark making for a rapid fire delivery. All the songs were written by Chuck Berry and span from 1955-1965.
- Maybellene 2:18
- Thirty Days 2:24
- You Can’t Catch Me 2:42
- Too Much Monkey Business 2:53
- Brown-Eyed Handsome Man 2:17
- Roll Over Beethoven 2:23
- Havana Moon 3:05
- School Days 2:40
- Rock And Roll Music 2:30
- Oh Baby Doll 2:33
- Reelin’ And Rockin’ 3:14
- Sweet Little Sixteen 2:55
- Johnny B. Goode 2:38
- Around And Around 2:35
- Carol 2:46
- Beautiful Delilah 2:08
- Memphis 2:12
- Sweet Little Rock And Roller 2:20
- Little Queenie 2:38
- Almost Grown 2:19
- Back In The USA 2:25
- Let It Rock 1:50
- Bye Bye Johnny 2:03
- I’m Talking About You 1:48
- Come On 1:50
- Nadine 2:30
- No Particular Place To Go 2:44
- I Want To Be Your Driver 2:15
*All songs written by Chuck Berry.
[BEST TRACK: Johnny B. Goode]
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood
Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode
Who never ever learned to read or write so well
But he could play a guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell
[BEST HIDDEN GEM: Thirty Days]
A playful number with some fun lyrics that includes a guitar jam out, Thirty Days should be more well known.
I’m gonna give you thirty days to get back home
I done call up to the gypsy woman on the telephone
She gonna send out a world wide hoodoo
That’ll be the very thing that’ll suit you
I’m gonna see that you be back home in thirty days
[BEST SPIRIT OF THE 50s: No Particular Place to Go]
While a song from the 60s, it best captures the carefree 50s where people had upward mobility and began to have access to new technology like the automobile.
Ridin’ along in my automobile
My baby beside me at the wheel
I stole a kiss at the turn of a mile
My curiosity runnin’ wild
Cruisin’ and playin’ the radio
With no particular place to go
[BEST MUSIC TRIVIA: Back in the U.S.A]
Chuck Berry’s anthem about returning to the USA was inspiration for Paul McCartney’s song Back in the U.S.S.R. where he changed the lyrics to be about Moscow girls but kept the same rock n’ roll style.
Looking hard for a drive-in, searching for a corner café
Where hamburgers sizzle on an open grill night and day
Yeah, and a juke-box jumping with records like in the U.S.A
While some songs melt into others due to sounding similar, the majority of the album is hands down great and belongs in the Top 100 of all-time.
Other People’s Takes:
- Love and Mercy: “Berry was the clear predecessor of all the 60’s bands that I loved, and his wit and virtuosity kept me delighted every time it came through the car stereo. -10″