Sound ‘Round: Chuck Berry / Low Cut Connie

I like that old time rock n’ roll

Chuck Berry – Chuck (Dualtone)

Chuck Berry is a musical monolith who was denied a vast outpouring of grief upon his passing because — sorry, kids — Uncle Chuck was a salty old perv. As significant as his music remains, his troubled personal history makes him a hard figure to like, never mind admire. So three months after Berry’s death at the age of 90 and 38 years since his last studio release comes this posthumous effort that gives us nearly everything we could ask for from a Chuck Berry album in 2017. The guitars sizzle and burn with typical punch and fervor, and his slight Midwestern tenor largely remains spry and playful. The noticeable difference is the songwriting. Berry’s hits of yore were neatly packaged stories about teenagers driving Coup de Villes, but the best material here finds the brown eyed handsome man making amends to his long-slighted wife. Though her husband was a rampant philanderer and spent time behind bars for voyeurism, Thermetta Suggs stood by her deeply flawed man until he made her a widow. Her magnanimity is so gracious and compelling it spurred Berry to go out swooning over her like a schoolboy.  These songs don’t erase his transgressions, but at least they prove he died saying sorry. She already forgave him a long time ago. GRADE: A-

Key Tracks: “Wonderful Woman” / “She Still Loves You” / “You Go To My Head”

Low Cut Connie – Dirty Pictures (Part 1) (Contender)

They’ve rocked on bandstands in their native Philadelphia, P.A., been arrested deep in the heart of Texas and likely vomited into Frisco Bay. In just six years front man Adam Weiner (lol) has helped turn this group of bar crawlers into one of America’s most hell-raising live acts. They dig cheap thrills —drag shows to wet t-shirt contests — and extol the virtues of hedonism with the fury of Jerry Lee.  But even booze hounds are catching the blues these days, and Weiner’s got reasons aplenty to feel flaccid. First came the departure of co-founder and creative partner Dan Finnemore, a dapper Brit who moved back across the pond. Then came the devastating election and subsequent reign of the Buzzkill in Chief. “Everybody’s actin’ like an asshole,” goes the opening line on “Death and Destruction,” the rare party anthem that dares capture the zeitgeist. Weiner’s distaste for the alt-right is matched only by his deep affection for Prince’s corpse. Hence the sturdy rendition of “Controversy” and the penultimate song that once more pays homage to the Purple One. Last call will come for this band someday, but their belief in the power of the boogie, along with their self-effacing humor, makes them a must-see when they visit a town near you. GRADE: A-

Key Tracks: “Revolution Rock n Roll” / “Dirty Water” / “Forever”

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