Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happy Birthday John Lennon -"C'est La Vie"

Today would be John Lennon’s 74th birthday. Instead of some weepy tribute thing; or even a Beatles clip; I thought I would run something really cool by the man of whom John Lennon once said, “If you were to try and give Rock and Roll another name it might be called Chuck Berry.” He said that the week he was guest hosting the Mike Douglas Show from Philadelphia with Yoko Ono. Besides; having been born on October 18th; he's a fellow Libra, along with me. So, I figured John would enjoy this performance of one of Mr. Berry’s signature hits “C’est La Vie.” It was recorded in Germany at the Beat Club in Bremen during the 1972 tour.

Now, everybody knows this song but most people have never heard this version. The clarity and the relaxed way in which he handles his guitar make it a rare treat. Most of us are used to the faster paced version which became a hit for Mr. Berry and quite a few other artists. The song is even associated with Uma Thurman and John Travolta in the film “Pulp Fiction.” And Emily Lou Harris had a smash hit with it as well.

But this version tops any which I have heard over the years. The guitar weaving; done by Chuck solo; is creative and varied. He hints at his usual riffs but strays from them in a relaxed and less frenetic fashion than usual. Accompanied by Mike Snow on piano; Jimmy Campbell on guitar; Billy Kinsley on bass; and Dave Harrison on drums; this may be the best band he ever toured with during this period of time. He even has fun with the lyrics, describing the Refrigerator as a "Koolerader". (Something you put Kool-Aide in to make it cold.) If you have ever read his autobiography you already know that he loves to play with words.

His usual practice at the time was to pick up a local amateur band to back him in different towns as he toured the United States. Maybe because this was a European tour he took along one American band for the entire duration. The benefits of performing with the same group of musicians on a regular basis cannot be underestimated. And the results really show in this performance.

For a link to the Rooftop Review of Chuck Berry's 1987 memoir "The Autobiography", go here;

No comments:

Post a Comment