When Chess Records kept Chuck Berry‘s release schedule active with a new live album, it was a tactic that paid dividends. Chuck Berry On Stage had already become his first US chart album, a couple of months earlier, when it entered the UK chart on 5 October 1963 on its way to becoming his first top ten LP there.
Strangely, the great rock ‘n’ roller from St. Louis had made his UK album chart debut before his American one, reaching No. 12 with a self-titled set released by Chess earlier that year. It’s both a travesty and a mystery that his first run of scintillating LPs, including After School Session, One Dozen Berrys and Chuck Berry On Top, didn’t chart on either side of the Atlantic. In fairness, those appeared in the days when the shiny new 45 rpm single was king, and albums usually of secondary importance.
Chuck Berry On Stage was a collection of many of his best-known songs to that point, including ‘Maybellene,’ ‘Memphis, Tennessee,’ ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ and ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man.’ It purported to be recorded at the Tivoli Theatre in Chicago, but while many observers have since noted that the applause has the overdubbed feel of many “live” releases of the time, it nevertheless captures the sheer energy of Berry’s songcraft and guitar brilliance.
The album, which peaked at No. 29 in the US, entered the UK chart at No, 13, and went on to spend five weeks in the top ten, twice reaching No. 6. The original 13-track release was later augmented into this 25-track edition.
Chuck Berry On Stage can be bought here.