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Chris Robinson: Five Essential Chuck Berry Songs

Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Chris Robinson Brotherhood, left to right: Tony Leone, Jeff Hill, Chris Robinson, Neal Casal, Adam MacDougall (photo by Jay Blakesberg, PR)

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As the Chris Robinson Brotherhood crisscrosses the States on tour this summer supporting their forthcoming album, Barefoot in The Head (due out July 21), and the robust and soulful live album, Betty's Blends, Volume 3: Self-Rising Southern Blends, one thing is clear: Robinson is a man who deeply respects his elders. 

In their sets and on Betty's Blends, Volume 3, Robinson and his CRB bandmates pay homage to an array of influences — like the Betty's Blends series namesake, the producer and Grateful Dead recording engineer Betty Cantor-Jacksonvia dynamic covers of songwriters like Allen Toussaint ("Get Out of My Life Woman"), Bob Dylan ("She Belongs To Me"), Slim Harpo's "Got Love If You Want It," Johnny Cash's "Big River" (a Grateful Dead staple), and Bob McDill and Allen Reynold's "Catfish John," long covered by the Jerry Garcia band.

Longtime fans of CRB and Robinson's former band, the Black Crowes, know that Chuck Berry, this week's FUV Essentials artist, looms large in Robinson's wheelhouse of beloved inspirations. He's covered Berry classics like "Memphis Tennessee" and "Carol" (with Hootenanny Heroes) in his sets, and back in 2000, the Black Crowes played tribute to Berry at the Kennedy Center Honors, leading a rocking, all-star cover of "I'm Talking About You."

So what better musician to write up his "Five Essential Chuck Berry Songs" for FUV Essentials than Chris Robinson? As Robinson writes below, "This is the stuff of rock 'n' roll dreams!"

Chris Robinson: Five Essential Chuck Berry Songs:

"Reelin’ & Rockin’," One Dozen Berrys (1958)
They say write what you know and Chuck knew rock 'n' roll! From the start-and-stop rhythmic magic to the vivid picture of our protagonist dancing with a woman twice his size. This is the stuff of rock 'n' roll dreams!

"I Want To Be Your Driver," Chuck Berry in London (1965)
A frenzied, raw, raucous salute to two things that go hand in hand together in the rock 'n' roll realms: cars and girls! In this poetic masterpiece, the objects of desire seem to be the same.

“I'm Talking About You," New Juke Box Hits (1961)
Again, the verbiage cascades and tumbles out of the speakers with reckless abandon. The band chugs away with a modern urban flow that is alive and breathing.

"Let It Rock," Rockin' at the Hops (1960)
The message, the manifesto, the vision, the story, the glory, the groove. Eternally cool. The essence of rock 'n' roll!

"No Particular Place To Go," St. Louis to Liverpool (1964)
A man on a mission preaching the gospel of sex and sin in the good ol’ USA.

- Chris Robinson
June 2017

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, who were at Central Park Summerstage on May 17, return to the New York area to play the Stone Pony Summer Stage in Asbury Park, NJ, on August 18; The Space at Westbury in Westbury, NY, on November 2; and the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, on November 3.

Read all of FUV's Five Essential Albums and Songs.

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