Review Summary: Great compilation album of one of rock & roll's most important early artists. Without Chuck Berry, there's no rock & roll. And without the songs on this album, there's no Chuck Berry. Classic.
This compilation album collects all of Berry's biggest hits and most well known songs in one concise disc. It was originally released in 1982, less than a year after MTV got started. At the time there was a band called the Stray Cats taking 1950s style rock & roll (aka rockabilly) to the top of the pop charts. It was as good a time as any to get Berry's classic songs back into the public's consciousness, and this album did just that.
"Maybelene" starts things off with a bang, this song chugs along like the high speed chase described in the lyric. And it's got it all, Berry singing about girls and cars along with that wonderful clean Berry riff throughout the song, how can you not at least tap your foot listening to this"
Not every song on here is as classic as "Maybelene", but every song shines. Berry's personality comes through, so does his sardonic sense of humor. By the time you get to songs like "Roll Over Beethoven" or "Reelin' & Rockin'", you can't help but realize how many times you've heard each of these tunes in your life. Sometimes in a movie, sometimes in some television or radio ad, sometimes because another band you follow released a cover version - but Berry's like Bob Dylan. Everybody knows the songs, whether it's Berry's version or someone else's.
Midway through the album, "Johnny B. Goode" pops up, Berry's signature tune. Some of the best guitar you'll ever hear, and certainly my favorite guitar sound of the 1950s, this song is the barnburner that ever rock act wants to have in their catalog. It's got a nice, silly, compelling storyline. It's got a catchy chorus. But it's got that riff. The riff that launched a million bands. Literally.
There are other classics that you'll remember, whether it's "Sweet Little Rock & Roller" or "No Particular Place To Go" or some other gem, give this album a listen and you'll hear the guts of almost every rock & roll album you love.
The Great Twenty-Eight is true rock & roll, and if it's not in your collection or on your iPod, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. If you're at all curious about where every form of rock & roll got started, this is the place. If you wonder where all those forms of music that influenced rock & roll actually meshed to form rock & roll, this is it.
"All of Chuck's children are out there, playing his licks" - Bob Seger sang that line in his 1976 song "Rock & Roll Never Forgets", and it's one powerful line because it's so very true. Go to any worthwhile rock act since Chuck Berry first duck-walked across a stage and you'll find some element of Berry's sound. He was the original riff master and the original rock & roller. This album proves it.