all rather passe these days to praise the work of '50s rock 'n roll
icons. The 50th anniversary of Buddy Holly's death merited some
attention earlier this winter, and Elvis remains a perennial subject of
derision and awe, but for the most part the first generation of rock 'n
rollers is seen as a quaint reminder of a bygone era, as contemporary
as a trip to the drug store soda fountain for a chocolate malt.
from his love affair with fast cars (The Beach Boys and Bruce
Springsteen obviously took some notes) to the universal celebration of
the end of the school and work day, that magical moment when the
drudgery is finished and it's time to cut loose and live.
The Beatles right on down to The White Stripes and The Black Keys. It's
the most constricted and constrained music in the world, and it will
never grow old because the real life is in those rhythms, in the grit.
The Great Twenty Eightprimer on Chuck Berry's music. Every track is essential. The DNA of
rock 'n roll is right here -- girls, cars, the celebration of youth
culture, the longing to bust out of the routine, the drab, and to make
one's mark as an individual. "I dote on myself, there is that lot of me
and all so luscious," Walt Whitman once wrote, and Chuck Berry took
those sentiments and wedded them to a backbeat and the most distinctive
guitar work in the genre. It's marvellous music. And it deserves to be
heard in 1959, more than 50 years after Chuck caught Maybelline at the
top of the hill.