Music Mentor Books
THE CHUCK BERRY
Paperback, 608 pages, 240 illustrations, 2012
For the heavyweight Berry fan. Everything you ever wanted to know about Chuck Berry, in four enormous volumes compiled by the world-renowned Norwegian Berry collector and authority, Morten Reff. Comprehensively annotated, with dozens of illustrations of rare record labels and sleeves, etc.
This volume (VOLUME 3) contains:
20 - Cover Versions (over 4,500 cover versions including many rarities).
"All told, 2,400 artists and groups are listed, spanning the last five and a half decades and taking in all styles of music... It's testament to the influence and appeal of Chuck Berry's music that so many folk would decide to cover his songs... I loved the quote from Ted Nugent that precedes his live version of 'Around And Around' from 1981: 'This is a Chuck Berry song - you're all his children, you know.' " (Now Dig This, December 2012)
"You can have fun paging through this, looking for your own versions of Chuck's songs, or those of various artists you personally know or have collected... There's a chart at the beginning listing the top 20 Chuck Berry songs covered by multiple other artists, and it shows 'Johnny B. Goode' at #1 with 648 cover versions. 'Memphis' is second with 433 cover versions. At the bottom of the list, 'I'm Talking About You' at #20 only has 87 cover versions... so far!" (Blue Suede News, Winter 2012-13)
"The crusade by Morten Reff (indefatigable Norwegian collector, writer and Berry authority), to set in stone for posterity just about every known fact about Chuck Berry’s musical career, continues apace. A brief recap – in 2008, Volumes One and Two of this epic took their starting point of reference as Fred Rothwell’s definitive 2001 chronicle of Berry’s recording sessions (‘Long Distance Information’, from the same publisher) and exhaustively listed issues of those recordings in forty-odd countries, plus all Berry’s films, television and radio appearances, international tours; as well as detailed looks at Johnnie Johnson and Eddy Clearwater, respectively Berry’s longest collaborator and finest copyist.
Later than originally intended, we now have the third opus, with the final one promised for this spring. Although the first two volumes could be bought as stand-alone books, they were presented as the first thousand pages and nineteen chapters of the overall monograph. This third volume now adds, in one single ‘Chapter 20’, a listing of worldwide cover versions of The Brown-Eyed Handsome Man’s records which its further 600-plus pages struggles to contain! This listing is set out ‘By Artist’, with a parallel list ‘By Title’ set to kick-off Volume Four, which will also contain hit cover versions, over 850 sound-alikes, non-Berry songs with similar titles (!), an index to the whole set and goodness knows what else – including additions and amendments to date (I just hope it includes Lenny Henry’s wonderful ‘Buck Cherry’!).
As to this new ‘Chapter 20’ itself, where do you start? Well, if you have no interest in lists, then probably not at all; but I think that most Berry fans will, like me, at least embark on a ‘Beat The Reff’ session (geddit?!), to see if a few they know and love have found their way in there. Despite, unsurprisingly, finding no obvious omissions, I still kept on dipping-in and re-visiting and will doubtless continue to do so, which is the main attraction of any book like this.
Presentation follows that of the preceding volumes, in the usual attractive Music Mentor format and including around 250 label and cover shots, itself an area of fascination for many. As was only to be expected, this and the final volume move us very firmly into completist territory and the price may be a little rich for mere lovers of lists, no matter how fascinating but, as always, that’s where personal views of essentialness come in.
Once Volume Four is here, though, Reff’s avowed aim, of providing ‘the ultimate reference guide to all aspects of Chuck Berry’s career and legacy’ will be complete... apart from updating, which must have started even as the proofs were being read." (Blues & Rhythm, February 2013)
VOLUME 1 contains illustrated US, UK and International discographies.
VOLUME 2 contains listings of bootlegs; radio albums; movies; TV shows; video and DVD releases; international tour itineraries; hits, achievements and awards; Berry's songs, roots, and influence on other artists; tributes; Chuck Berry in print; fan clubs and websites; plus annotated discographies of pianist Johnnie Johnson (post-Berry) and the ultimate Berry copyist, Eddy Clearwater.
VOLUME 4 contains cover versions by title, hit cover versions, over 900 soundalikes, non-Berry songs with similar titles, cover versions in the movies and on TV, games, and even a brief chapter on Chuck Berry karaoke! Additions and Corrections to Volumes 1, 2 and 3. Index.
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