Released just under three months since his death at the age of 90, Chuck Berry recorded Chuck in his hometown of St. Louis, bringing in family members and longtime co-players to assure his final album exuded the sound and personality of this rock'n'roll architect's heyday. Hitting the streets 38 years since his last album, the painfully dated Rock It, Chuck acts as a simple love letter to his career, as "Darlin," his touching duet with his daughter Ingrid Berry (and stand-out track on the album), proves.
During his lifetime, Berry was criticized for re-writing his hits over and over to create new ones, so it's somewhat predictable — and, honestly, forgivable — that album opener "Wonderful Woman" shares a melody with 1964's "You Never Can Tell," "Big Boys" (featuring Tom Morello and Nathaniel Rateliff) adopts the opening guitar riff to "Johnny B. Goode" and "3/4 Time (Enchiladas)" takes the goofy live feel from "My Ding-a-Ling." But there's an undying earnestness to his 20th LP, as "Lady B. Goode" makes a quaint nod to his biggest hit, "Jamaica Moon" is a capable rendering of feel-good reggae and "Dutchman" is a spoken word piece laid overtop a wonderful shuffling beat.
Although many songs on Chuck sound familiar, it's amazing that no two tracks sound alike. Berry covers a lot of musical ground on Chuck, and most importantly, reveals just how much fun he was still having at the end of his storied life. (Dualtone)