Shaun Tandon –
Days after Chuck Berry died at age 90, a new song came out on Wednesday from the music legend — a tune driven by the sort of rollicking guitar riffs that he used to define rock ‘n’ roll.
“Big Boys” is the first song from the rock pioneer’s “Chuck,” his first studio album in nearly 40 years. His label said the full album will come out on June 16.
The first single starts with a signature guitar solo that has echoes of his legendary hit “Johnny B Goode” — an electric bolt of energy that seamlessly marries blues and country music.
Over a rockabilly piano, “Big Boys” heads into a classic rock ‘n’ roll time signature before closing with a solo contributed by a much younger guitar great — Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine fame.
Lyrically the song returns to Berry’s favourite theme of youthful freedom — if from a 1950s context, as he sings of wooing a girl at a school dance.
“I was bright in school but my future looked dim / ‘Cause the big boys wouldn’t let me party with them,” sings Berry, showing little of his advanced age.
Berry had announced the album in October to celebrate his 90th birthday, stunning the music world as he had kept to himself for the past few decades other than keeping a regular gig in his native St Louis.
Berry’s label Dualtone said that the legendary musician had found “a great sense of joy and satisfaction” in his final few years as he wrote and recorded “Chuck.”
“While our hearts are very heavy at this time, we know that Chuck had no greater wish than to see this album released to the world, and we know of no better way to celebrate and remember his 90 years of life than through his music,” the label said in a statement.
“Chuck” looks set to feature a sequel of some kind to “Johnny B Goode” — the track listing includes a track called “Lady B Goode.”
Released in 1958, “Johnny B Goode” recreated the quintessentially American rags-to-riches tale for the new rock generation, with a poor boy finding fame by dint of his guitar.
The song so represented rock ‘n’ roll that the US space programme placed it on the golden record of the Voyager mission to introduce the genre to potentially inquisitive extraterrestrials.
Other tracks include “Jamaica Moon,” an apparent take-two of 1956’s “Havana Moon” in which Berry imagines a Cuban — “me all alone with a bottle of …” — waiting on a dock for an American woman to sail back. Berry wrote “Havana Moon” after meeting Cubans in New York. The song, with its Latin touch, received a mixed reception in the 1950s but was later revived as a cover by Carlos Santana. — AFP