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Chuck Berry - Have Mercy -  His Complete Chess Recordings 1969 - 1974

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Have Mercy - His Complete Chess Recordings 1969 - 1974

Chuck Berry

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Following an unsatisfying three-year stint at Mercury Records, Chuck Berry returned home to Chess in 1969, just like Phil Chess predicted. Heading home didn’t necessarily mean retreating, as the four-disc Have Mercy: His Complete Chess Recordings 1969-1974 illustrates. During his time at Mercury, Chuck followed the kids wherever they went, aligning himself with the psychedelic ‘60s in a way none of his peers did. This shift is immediately apparent on “Tulane,” the very first song he cut upon his return to Chess. An ode to a couple of kids who dealt dope underneath the counter of a novelty shop, “Tulane” puts Chuck on the side of the counterculture, and over the next five years, he never strayed back to the other side of the fence, often singing about getting stoned, dabbling with a wah-wah pedal, rhapsodizing about rock festivals, cheerfully telling smutty jokes. All these elements, along with his propensity for playing with pickup bands -- he cut 1971’s San Francisco Dues with amiable garage rockers the Woolies outside of Lansing, MI, and roped Elephant's Memory into the studio to knock out much of 1973’s Bio -- defined the last act of Chuck’s career. But the big difference between the five years documented here and what came afterward is that Berry was still active as a writer and record-maker during the first years of the ‘70s, conscious of his legacy but not encumbered by it, still attempting to graft new fads onto his three-chord boogie while spending more and more time playing the blues and ballads of his youth. Have Mercy chronicles all of this and more, putting his final Chess recordings into CD circulation for the first time, and adding 22 unreleased cuts to the mix. If there are no major revelations among this unheard material there are at least minor ones in the form of a studio version of “My Ding-A-Ling,” which is lighter in touch and marginally more charming than the live hit, and the preponderance of loose, instrumental blues jams culminating in an extended studio version of “Turn on the Houselights,” the song he used to play toward the end of concerts. All these blues -- and there are many with vocals, too, including a very good take on Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom” and a ripping live version of Big Joe Turner’s “Roll ‘Em Pete” -- find Berry coasting somewhat, preferring to rework standards instead of write new ones, which is a sentiment that also applies to how “My Ding-A-Ling” re-jiggers Dave Bartholomew’s song, but Chuck always did turn blues tropes into something of his own, so what’s new is how infrequently Berry was writing during this final stretch. The originals may not have flowed freely, but he did pen a handful of classics: “Tulane,” its slow sequel “Have Mercy Judge,” the dreamy spoken poem “My Dream,” and the cracking autobiography “Bio” all belong in his canon. But the thing about Have Mercy is that it proves that an artist as great as Chuck Berry has pleasures that lay outside the canon, that his sly touch invigorates classics from “Jambalaya” to “Swanee River Rock”; that it’s good to hear him just lay back and riff, that there’s a delight in hearing him affect an absurd Mexican accent on “South of a Border.” Sure, these are pleasures only for the committed, but in light of the lack of new recordings following this -- just 1979’s Rock It, which did produce the minor classic “Oh What a Thrill” -- it’s easier to cherish this music for the minor, yet lasting, pleasures it provides.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Have Mercy - His Complete Chess Recordings 1969 - 1974

Chuck Berry

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1
Tulane (Single Version)
00:02:36

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1969 Geffen Records

2
Have Mercy Judge (Single Version)
00:02:38

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1969 Geffen Records

3
Untitled Instrumental
00:04:47

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

4
My Ding-A-Ling
00:03:43

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 2010 UMG Recordings, Inc.

5
Gun (Instrumental - Fast)
00:02:07

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

6
Gun (Instrumental - Slow)
00:02:38

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

7
Gun (Instrumental)
00:02:44

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1970 Geffen Records

8
That's None Of Your Business
00:02:19

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

9
Instrumental
00:02:46

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1970 Geffen Records

10
Christmas
00:03:24

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1970 Geffen Records

11
I'm A Rocker
00:04:33

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1970 Geffen Records

12
Flyin' Home (Instrumental)
00:04:17

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1970 Geffen Records

13
Fish & Chips (Instrumental)
00:02:49

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1970 Geffen Records

14
Some People
00:04:10

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1970 Geffen Records

15
My Pad (Poem)
00:06:25

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

16
Oh Louisiana
00:04:28

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1971 Geffen Records

17
Festival (Album Version)
00:04:06

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1971 Geffen Records

18
Let's Do Our Thing Together
00:02:20

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1971 Geffen Records

19
Your Lick
00:02:33

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1971 Geffen Records

20
Bound To Lose
00:03:06

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1971 Geffen Records

DISC 2

1
Bordeaux In My Pirough
00:02:35

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1971 Geffen Records

2
San Francisco Dues
00:03:23

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1971 Geffen Records

3
My Dream
00:05:57

Chuck Berry, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1971 Geffen Records

4
Sweet Little Sixteen (Live at Lanchester Arts Festival)
00:03:14

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

5
Roll 'Em Pete (Live at Lanchester Arts Festival)
00:05:08

Joe Turner, ComposerLyricist - Chuck Berry, MainArtist - Peter Johnson, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

6
It Hurts Me Too (Live at Lanchester Arts Festival)
00:06:07

Chuck Berry, MainArtist - Hudson Whitaker, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

7
Around And Around (Live at Lanchester Arts Festival)
00:03:01

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

8
Promised Land (Live)
00:02:45

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

9
Reelin' And Rockin' (Live)
00:07:10

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 1972 UMG Recordings, Inc.

10
My Ding-A-Ling (Live)
00:11:25

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 1972 UMG Recordings, Inc.

11
Johnny B. Goode (Live)
00:04:25

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 1972 UMG Recordings, Inc.

12
Roll 'Em Pete (Live)
00:02:52

Joe Turner, ComposerLyricist - Chuck Berry, MainArtist - Peter Johnson, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

13
My Ding-A-Ling (Live At Lanchester Arts Festival)
00:04:16

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 1972 UMG Recordings, Inc., Mit freundlicher Genehmigung: Universal Music International Division - a division of Universal Music GmbH

14
Let's Boogie
00:03:11

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer - Kenney Jones, Participant - Ian McLagen, Participant

℗ 1972 UMG Recordings, Inc.

15
Mean Old World
00:05:46

Chuck Berry, MainArtist - Walter Jacobs, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer - Kenney Jones, Participant - Ian McLagen, Participant

℗ 1972 UMG Recordings, Inc.

DISC 3

1
I Love You
00:03:26

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer - Kenney Jones, Participant - Ian McLagen, Participant

℗ 1972 UMG Recordings, Inc.

2
I Will Not Let You Go
00:02:50

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer - Kenney Jones, Participant - Ian McLagen, Participant

℗ 1972 UMG Recordings, Inc.

3
London Berry Blues
00:05:57

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer - Kenney Jones, Participant - Ian McLagen, Participant

℗ 1972 UMG Recordings, Inc.

4
South Of The Border (Live at BBC)
00:02:04

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Jimmy Kennedy, ComposerLyricist - Michael Carr, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

5
Blues #1
00:06:19

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

6
Annie Lou
00:03:55

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

7
Rain Eyes
00:03:46

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 1973 Geffen Records

8
Me And My Country
00:03:15

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

9
Sue Answer
00:02:30

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 1975 Geffen Records

10
Got It And Gone
00:04:19

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 1973 Geffen Records

11
A Deuce
00:02:33

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 1975 Geffen Records

12
Talkin' About My Buddy
00:06:55

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 1973 Geffen Records

13
Hello Little Girl, Goodbye
00:03:56

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 1973 Geffen Records

14
One Sixty Nine AM
00:03:37

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2010 Geffen Records

15
Aimlessly Driftin'
00:05:41

Chuck Berry, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Esmond Edwards, Producer

℗ 1973 Geffen Records

Albumbeschreibung

Following an unsatisfying three-year stint at Mercury Records, Chuck Berry returned home to Chess in 1969, just like Phil Chess predicted. Heading home didn’t necessarily mean retreating, as the four-disc Have Mercy: His Complete Chess Recordings 1969-1974 illustrates. During his time at Mercury, Chuck followed the kids wherever they went, aligning himself with the psychedelic ‘60s in a way none of his peers did. This shift is immediately apparent on “Tulane,” the very first song he cut upon his return to Chess. An ode to a couple of kids who dealt dope underneath the counter of a novelty shop, “Tulane” puts Chuck on the side of the counterculture, and over the next five years, he never strayed back to the other side of the fence, often singing about getting stoned, dabbling with a wah-wah pedal, rhapsodizing about rock festivals, cheerfully telling smutty jokes. All these elements, along with his propensity for playing with pickup bands -- he cut 1971’s San Francisco Dues with amiable garage rockers the Woolies outside of Lansing, MI, and roped Elephant's Memory into the studio to knock out much of 1973’s Bio -- defined the last act of Chuck’s career. But the big difference between the five years documented here and what came afterward is that Berry was still active as a writer and record-maker during the first years of the ‘70s, conscious of his legacy but not encumbered by it, still attempting to graft new fads onto his three-chord boogie while spending more and more time playing the blues and ballads of his youth. Have Mercy chronicles all of this and more, putting his final Chess recordings into CD circulation for the first time, and adding 22 unreleased cuts to the mix. If there are no major revelations among this unheard material there are at least minor ones in the form of a studio version of “My Ding-A-Ling,” which is lighter in touch and marginally more charming than the live hit, and the preponderance of loose, instrumental blues jams culminating in an extended studio version of “Turn on the Houselights,” the song he used to play toward the end of concerts. All these blues -- and there are many with vocals, too, including a very good take on Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom” and a ripping live version of Big Joe Turner’s “Roll ‘Em Pete” -- find Berry coasting somewhat, preferring to rework standards instead of write new ones, which is a sentiment that also applies to how “My Ding-A-Ling” re-jiggers Dave Bartholomew’s song, but Chuck always did turn blues tropes into something of his own, so what’s new is how infrequently Berry was writing during this final stretch. The originals may not have flowed freely, but he did pen a handful of classics: “Tulane,” its slow sequel “Have Mercy Judge,” the dreamy spoken poem “My Dream,” and the cracking autobiography “Bio” all belong in his canon. But the thing about Have Mercy is that it proves that an artist as great as Chuck Berry has pleasures that lay outside the canon, that his sly touch invigorates classics from “Jambalaya” to “Swanee River Rock”; that it’s good to hear him just lay back and riff, that there’s a delight in hearing him affect an absurd Mexican accent on “South of a Border.” Sure, these are pleasures only for the committed, but in light of the lack of new recordings following this -- just 1979’s Rock It, which did produce the minor classic “Oh What a Thrill” -- it’s easier to cherish this music for the minor, yet lasting, pleasures it provides.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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