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Zharth's Music Log

Week 49: Johnny B. Goode

Preface: Just like we did back during Week 5 with Rock Me Baby, we're gonna take a look at a number of different versions of the classic rock and roll anthem, Johnny B. Goode!

Monday (6/23/08): Chuck Berry [Chuck Berry Is On Top, 1958]
Comments: Chuck Berry, the true king of rock n roll, started it all when he penned this track back in the 50's. The song was self-aware, in that it told the story of a guitarist aiming to make it big, and the song itself consisted of some of the fieriest guitar leads of the decade. It's no surprise that many great guitarists have tackled and expanded this song in the years since.

Tuesday (6/24/08): Jimi Hendrix [recorded at Berkeley on May 30, 1970]
Comments: It's fitting that one of the rarely disputed greatest guitarists of all time - Jimi Hendrix - who was also known for revolutionizing the use of the electric guitar, decided to try his hand at Chuck Berry's guitar opus.

Wednesday (6/25/08): Johnny Winter [Johnny Winter And Live, 1971]
Comments: Too often over-looked albino blues guitar virtuoso Johnny Winter lends his hand to the song in this fiery version from the live album that also features Rick Derringer on guitar. Go, Johnny, go!

Thursday (6/26/08): Roy Buchanan [American Axe: Live In 1974]
Comments: Roy Buchanan, the greatest unknown guitarist who ever lived, attacks the song with unrelenting energy and his own unique style.

Friday (6/27/08): Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush [Live, 1978]
Comments: Frank Marino, once touted as the reincarnation of Jimi Hendrix, offers his own version of the guitar anthem, making it very clear that he's no stranger to frantic guitar workouts.

Saturday (6/28/08): Alvin Lee [Live In Vienna, 1996]
Comments: Alvin Lee, long separated from his band Ten Years After, and once known for his lightning-fast fingers, does a turn and slows the song way down, and shortens it. It's not as bombastic as the other versions we've heard this week, but it's got a nice laidback groove.

Sunday (6/29/08): Back To The Future [Back To The Future, 1985]
Comments: To close the week, we're jumping back in time to pre-empt Chuck Berry's version of the song. Sort of. In the movie Back To The Future, the character Marty McFly travels back to the 50's and plays Johnny B. Goode at his parents' prom - prompting Chuck Berry's "cousin" to call him up so he can hear the song and presumably "steal" it (time paradoxes...). But the best part is when McFly adds a bunch of heavy 80's style guitar feedback and metal shredding at the end of the song, which goes completely over the heads of the 1950's audience. That's history right there.