Chuck Berry, Sweet Little Rock and Roller (Pickwick, 1973)


Go ‘head with your sexual preferences, fellow humans. Enjoy. Far be it from me to judge – UNLESS OF COURSE you’re Chuck Berry and one of those preferences is fucking TAPING women in the bathroom without their consent. Then you’re a pure unadulterated creep, a realllllll dirty bird, just disgusting, and I reserve the right to point it out whenever I see fit. There’s always been something a little off about Chuck – some subversive shit that gives me the creeps, and I’m not just talking about his perm. I have ears and a soul, so obviously I enjoy the riffs, the pacing, the chord progressions, his fondness for super hip white women who love black music (ahem), and the fact that he’s a southern black man who is actually given credit for being an originator of southern black man music and has profited from his own creations for decades now. (I also really loved the casting of Mos Def in that otherwise pretty terrible Chess movie.) But then Chuck goes and writes “Back in the U.S.A.,” a song about 1959 Americuh being nothing but sock hops and jukeboxes and hamburgers on the grill, some real fucking whitewashed Happy Days nonsense, a full 6 YEARS before Missouri became desegregated. (I had hoped he wrote the song for purely financial reasons, to appeal to white kids buying 45s, but nope – the lyrics are as earnest as can be.) Now Chuck’s always wearing that creepy captain’s hat like creepy old Hugh Hefner and this does nothing to lessen the creep factor. CREEP. Christ, those RIFFS, though. Those riffs.

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