Chuck Berry

Music Features Chuck Berry
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It's 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.

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