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Less than a week after Chuck Berry's death at the age of 90, his family announced details Wednesday about the rock and roll pioneer's first album in 38 years — and gave us a taste of what it will sound like.
"Big Boys," the lead single to CHUCK (due out June 16 on Dualtone), begins and ends with a look in the rearview mirror. The song opens with one of the most recognizable guitar licks in history, the one made famous on "Johnny B. Goode" (which, as you may have heard, has left our solar system). And it closes with Berry looking back at his teenage years: "I was looking for joy / But I'm a little bitty boy." It's the same thematic territory he successfully plumbed throughout his career... so why stop now?
Berry, who passed away March 18 in his home near St. Louis, had been working CHUCK intermittently since the release of his last record, 1979's Rock It, until 2014, when health problems eventually forced Berry to slow down. The existence of CHUCK was announced last October.
The record has at least two other substantive looks back — the titles of "Lady B. Goode" and "Jamaica Moon" both reference earlier works from Berry ("Johnny B. Goode" and the heartbreaking, dead-simple "Havana Moon").
CHUCK is a family affair, too — three different generations of Berry bring guitar solos to "Lady B. Goode," his daughter Ingrid duets on "Darlin'," and longtime friends and collaborators appear throughout. Tom Morello, Gary Clark, Jr. and Nathaniel Rateliff also guest.
Chuck Berry, CHUCK Tracklist