ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN * CHUCK BERRY * CHESS 9010 * USA
Like Rock And Roll Music the lyrics to this song are both simple and sophisticated, in fact, even more sophisticated, but unlike Rock And Roll Music the backing is more earthy, more urgent and more inspired. This has a lot to do with the brilliant guitar playing of Chuck Berry - not heard to good effect on Rock And Roll Music - especially the opening riff, but also there seems to be more of a mixture and empathy between the backing, the singer and the song. It is with this song that Chuck Berry established himself as a major figure in 20th Century music. With hindsight this makes sense on many levels, not least the way how he, at one blow, rejects, or, in this case, 'rolls over', the past - which always becomes tired, week and, if it wasn't already, the agency of power and oppression - while at the same time posits something new, vital and something that is out of the immediate control of the state or oppressive corporations both of which relentlessly seek to either repress (state) or usurp (corporations). This is always the way true art works, it never just critiques the past no matter how oppressive or corrupt it is with out putting in place an alternative, even in the knowledge that that same alternative will sooner or later become the same agent of power as the thing it seeks to replace. The fact that it was Chuck Berry who, more than any other, inspired many would be Rock n' Rollers and subsequently countless Beat and Pop groups is proof of his status and the contribution of his talents in 20th Century music. It was not only his songs that were practiced, sung and recorded, and the very subject matter of his songs were written up in 'different' lyrics by others, but also his style; the famous 'Duck Walk' is still being displayed, in corrupted form, by Metal bands over half a century later - although the 'Duck Walk' not actually originated by him, he certainly made it famous, as Chuck Berry was creative when plagiarizing (copying) as in Maybellene or when producing original material.
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