“It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it” became the unofficial catch phrase of the Rate a Record section of long running music show American Bandstand. This phrase pretty well sums up how I feel about Chuck Berry’s One Dozen Berrys. You can dance to One Dozen Berrys, and it certainly has a beat.
Rock ‘n’ Roll was popular because of its unabashed energy and enthusiasm, but when I listened to One Dozen Berrys in full the relentlessly perky (and I have to say, similar) beats began to wear me down a little. I was surprised to feel this particularly strongly on Rock & Roll Music, which has been widely covered and even made it to number 128 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.
I think in part the album is a reflection on the way the Rock ‘n’ Roll music industry worked at the time of its release. Sales were singles orientated, and rather than crafting an album as some artists do today, the focus was on producing hit songs. One Dozen Berrys feels like some of Berry’s radio hits have been shoved together with plenty of instrumental fillers to stretch it out.
Perhaps this music would work better if the songs were listened to individually, as they were originally written. Several tracks on the album were enjoyable on their own, and I particularly liked It Don’t Take But A Few Minutes, but the album as a whole just didn’t rock my world.
Have you heard One Dozen Berrys? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.