No one could ever pull off a sailing cap and a bolo tie as much as Chuck Berry did. No one could also top that signature duck walk and revved-up 12-bar blues that paved the way for rock and roll as much as Chuck Berry did.
Months before his passing, news emerged of Berry releasing a new record on his 90th birthday. It would be a long-awaited release, since 1979’s Rock It. Recorded as a family affair, the posthumous finale is the perfect send-off for the “Father of Rock and Roll.” There’s truth in his dedication to his wife Themetta of 68 years: “Now I can hang up my shoes!”
Now, at 90 years old the question to ask is if the guitar still rocks. It definitely does. Berry fills this album with the power and drive as his earlier work while packing his boyish sense of humor that makes Chuck Berry who he is.
“Chuck” includes sequels—or follow-ups—to some of his famous tunes. The guitar crashes through on “Lady B. Goode” the
“Big Boys” features Tom Morello on guitar and Nathaniel Rateliff on backing vocals.
“Wonderful Woman” is an audio scrapbook of three generations of Berry men. Alongside his son and grandson, Charles Berry III and blues musician Gary Clark Jr. contribute searing guitar on a powerful tune.
The family union does not stop there. Daughter Ingrid Berry joins her pop on the country-esque ballad of goodbye’s on “Darlin.’”
“Darlin’, your father’s growing older, I fear/Strains of gray are showing bolder each year/Lay your head upon my shoulder, my dear/Time is fading fast away.
Also, who doesn’t love a love story gone wrong? A saucy remake of “Havana Moon,” the Caribbean-laced “Jamaica Moon” conjures a rum-drunk, sand-covered wait for love to arrive.
The rest of the album continues to pack a modern smack to the face that rock and roll never really died—it kept its roots while it matured with age. “Chuck” is a strong output, and since it is the last, it is a strong finish.