Results for Chuck Berry

interviews

The Artist vs. the Art

Oscar Wilde once wrote, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”That is, should we judge an artist's output by their personal morals? Can you enjoy a song, when you know the person performing it has done some despicable things? This question is not new to music criticism. It applies to artists like Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Miles Davis and more contemporary artists like Pwr Bttm and R. Kelly. Jim and Greg are joined by journalist Britt Julious (who has written for the Chicago Tribune, Esquire, Elle, and others) and Mark Anthony Neal (cultural critic and professor of African and African American Studies at Duke) for a discussion about whether we can, and should, hold a musician's artistic output to a moral standard.

Go to episode 615
specials

Chess Records

50 years ago, The Rolling Stones touched down in the United States for their very first American tour. While here, the band made a pilgrimage to Chicago's legendary Chess Records to record their take on tunes from the label's blues heavyweights like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Chuck Berry. Those Chess sessions appeared on The Stones second album, 12 x 5, which also debuted 50-years ago. To mark the occasion, Jim and Greg explore the history and legacy of Chess, whose 25-year run produced music that influenced rockers like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and more. Jim and Greg highlight these Chess artists:

  • Muddy Waters
  • Willie Dixon
  • Chuck Berry
  • Howlin' Wolf
  • Little Walter
  • Sonny Boy Williamson
  • Bobby Charles
  • Buddy Guy
Go to episode 440

Chess Records

A couple of months ago Jim, Greg and some WBEZ listeners visited 2120 S. Michigan: the home of Chicago's famed Chess Records. Unfortunately, this was a rare treat. Despite two recent movies, both the museum and the label often don't get their due. Jim and Greg wanted to take an episode to talk about the history and legacy of Chess. During its brief 25-year run, it produced records by heavyweights like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Chuck Berry. That music went on to influence British rockers like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix. In fact, the Rolling Stones even made a pilgrimage to the studios to record with Waters. Here are the artists Jim and Greg highlight:

Go to episode 245

Remembering Chuck Berry

Born in St. Louis in 1926, Chuck Berry began his professional music career fairly late in life. In fact, his breakthrough hit, 1955's "Maybellene" was recorded when Berry was 28 years old.

Jim says that Berry helped craft the very identity of rock and roll, often name checking the burgeoning genre in his lyrics. Berry's songwriting on tracks like "School Day" and "Roll Over Beethoven" deftly expressed the angst and rebelliousness of youth culture; and his guitar-led sound influenced rock outfits for generations to come. According to Jim, the Berry attitude:“sly, sarcastic, risque… conspiratiorial”is an element of his persona that has served as a template for rockers, as well. Greg notes that in addition to teen anthems, Chuck Berry's catalogue also contains sophisticated lyrics, like those found in 1959's "Memphis, Tennessee", a song about a father estranged from his 6 year old daughter, Marie.

To learn more about Chuck Berry's life and legacy, Greg and Jim spoke with Ed Ward, a writer and author of The History of Rock & Roll Volume 1: 1920 - 1963. Ed also wrote the seminal rock criticism book "Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll." The hosts also sat down with drummer Steven Gillis. Steven played with Chuck Berry at a 2011 Chicago concert that made headlines when the then-84 year old rock legend had to be rushed to the hospital mid-show. Steven shares his memories of sharing the stage with Berry that night.

Go to episode 591
reviews
ChuckChuck available on iTunes

Chuck Berry Chuck

When Chuck Berry, one of the architects of rock ‘n’ roll, died in March, he had completed work on what would be his final album. Chuck, his first record since 1979, has finally been released. Jim warns that critics need to evaluate posthumous albums on their own terms when they come from beloved artists. In the case of Chuck, Jim says, the record features some of the worst songs in Berry's history – from the Caribbean pastiche of "Jamaica Moon" to the talking blues of "Dutchman" and "Eyes of Man." Berry's lyrics, voice, and guitar playing are not what they were in his prime. Greg is charmed that Berry is including family members and talking about his family for the first time on record. He's also intrigued by the insight into Berry's odd personality that comes though. But he agrees that it's not much of a musical accomplishment. Chuck, sadly, gets a double-Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 603
dijs

Greg

“Nadine”Chuck Berry

Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize for Literature got Greg thinking about other great rock lyricists and the people who influenced them. Chuck Berry is often thought of for his pioneering work with the guitar but he's also a masterful lyricist. Greg points specifically to the 1964 song Nadine and the vivid imagery that Chuck conveys.

Go to episode 569
lists

Songs About America

Sound Opinions celebrates Independence Day this week with Jim and Greg's favorite Songs about America. These are great rock songs that capture our country's spirit — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Go to episode 136

Devil Songs for Halloween

Whether or not you agree rock ‘n’ roll is the devil's music, Lucifer sure is a major player in pop. From Robert Johnson to "Sympathy for the Devil," beelzebub gets name dropped as much as the latest hip-hop sensation. Here are Jim and Greg's favorites to get you in the Halloween mood:

Go to episode 517
news

Music News

Pioneering DJ and producer Frankie Knuckles passed away this week. Knuckles' musical legacy is arguably as important to dance music as Chuck Berry's is to rock or Kraftwerk's is to electronica. In the early 1980's, Knuckles helped cultivate House music's sound from the ashes of disco at a venue on Chicago's south side called The Warehouse. (Hence the name, House). The space was an oasis for misfits of all shapes, sizes, and colors to come together and celebrate being alive. As Knuckle's musical stature grew over the years performing at various clubs and remixing other artist's songs, he never lost his generous spirit. In a 2012 conversation with Jim and Greg at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Knuckles remarked that he‘d never regarded music as a competive sport.“Even though you have people on the dance floor, and people that come out and say this DJ is better than that one, I’ve never looked at it that way and I‘ve never let that influence me because I’m too busy having a good time and showing people a good time,”said Knuckles. He was 59 years old.

Go to episode 436