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27th February
written by Matt The Cat

Chuck Berry – You Never Can Tell: The Complete Chess Recordings: 1960-1966

I can’t tell you how happy I am that Hip-O Select has released a new Chuck Berry box set. This set picks up where Johnny B. Goode: His Complete ’50s Chess Recordings, the 4 CD set that they released last year, left off. It’s 1960 and Chuck is still on a roll releasing rock n’ roll classic after rock n’ roll classic for the immortal Chess Label. Over 4 CDs, this new set covers everything Chuck recorded from 1960 to 1966, when he left the label for a 3 year stint at Mercury Records. You Never Can Tell: The Complete Chess Recordings: 1960-1966 is a stunner. The songs are not nearly as instantly recognizable as his ’50s output, but they are just as fresh, driving and rockin’ as anything Chuck Berry ever recorded. We begin with Chuck’s first session of 1960, which was held on March 29th. He was definitely in the mood for more blues, as this set kicks off with amazing versions of Charles Brown’s “Drifting Blues”, “Don’t You Lie To Me”, “Down The Road Apiece” and “Worried Life Blues”.

For me, the most impressive recordings are the instrumentals that I’ve never heard before. Chuck just knocks me out with “Mad Lad”, “Surfin’ Steel (Cryin’ Steel)”, “Guitar Boogie”, “O Rangutang”, “Butterscotch” and “After It’s Over”. They’ve also included 2 cuts off the great LP that Berry cut with fellow guitar legend, Bo Diddley. The “Two Great Guitars” LP was released in 1963 and featured “Chuck’s Beat” and “Bo’s Beat” and I’m sure you can guess that these two ten minute plus songs are worth your time.

Honestly, the most eye-opening music on this 4 CD set comes from a 45 minute live show from October of 1963. It was recorded at the Walled Lake Casino in Detroit, but never was released. Chuck is backed up by an unknown band, that probably contained some Motown legends as the band was billed as The Berry Gordy All-Stars. Our boy is ON FIRE during these live recordings of his hits. I’ve included a link to a smokin’ live version of “Johnny B. Goode”, so you can hear what I mean.

If you can spare the coin, this box set is worthwhile for not just any fan of Chuck Berry, but any fan of Rock n’ Roll itself.
Click here to hear a live version of “Johnny B. Goode” from 1963
Click here to see the webpage at!

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