Chuck Berry was a guitar Legend. I was introduced to Chuck Berry, along with Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others, by my Mom. She and her sisters were into the “sock hop” music of the day and I got my love of music from her. So I knew Chuck Berry through is early songs like Johnny B. Goode, Maybelline and Sweet Little Sixteen. It wasn’t until 1972 when I heard My Ding-a-Ling on the radio that I became aware of the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions.
The album was released in June 1972, about the same time my family moved to Puerto Rico. And later that year I heard My Ding-A-Ling on the Armed Forces radio network. We loved the song. After all, how many times did you or your Mom call your penis a ding-a-ling. You didn’t? Must be a Southern thing. Ding-a-ling, tally whacker, these were nicknames for a boy’s tool and any song about it was going to illicit snickers. So we giggled every time we heard the song on the radio.
Jumping ahead in time, based on a hazy recollection, I bought the album at the Post Exchange (PX) on Ft. Buchanan P.R. in 1972 or 1973. On side 1 there were studio songs and on side two was a live recording of a 30 minute concert in London.
Side Two starts off with the gem “Reeling’ and a Rockin‘”, written by Chuck Berry and recorded originally in 1957. The song is an hour by hour account of a couple engaging in sexual activities. “Looked at my watch and it was quarter til nine, she said oooo Chuck baby this sure feel’s fine”. I loved it, I know every verse of this song.
Following Reelin’ and a Rockin‘ was a surprising extended version of My Ding-A-Ling. On the radio you only heard a few verses with the chorus, this was a full 11:33 of entertainment. I listened to Mr. Berry instruct the London audience on how to sing the chorus. The boys sing “Ding-A-Ling” and the girls part fits right around the boy’s part as they sing “My” and “I want you to play with My”. The sexual innuendos are flung left and right as Mr. Berry gets the group singing together. Fact I did not know – the original song was written by Dave Bartholomew in 1952. In 1972, Chuck Berry took it to #1 in the U.S. and UK.
As if those two songs weren’t enough, side two and the concert and finished off with a rendition of the classic Johnny B. Goode (1958, written by Chuck Berry). Based on the announcer at the end of the song requesting concert goers to vacate the arena, it sounds like Chuck Berry was opening for Pink Floyd.
Sadly Chuck Berry passed away in 2017. See my other post from 2017 on that. So many memories of listening to this album and singing along. For that The London Chuck Berry Sessions in this month’s Vinyl of the Month. Have a listen to it.