Wherein I take a song you know and see how it sounds reinterpreted. Or at the very least, louder. Let’s dedicate this one to the memory of these three gents.
I’m not going to bother saying much of anything about Chuck Berry. What the hell is there to say? Nothing. Without Chuck there would have been rock and roll – it just wouldn’t have been the same. (Oh no, I’ve said too much. I haven’t said enough.)
“Johnny B. Goode” (Chuck was born at 2520 Goode Avenue, St. Louis) is arguably the most famous and certainly one of the most influential songs in the history of rock and roll. Hell, it IS the fucking history of rock and roll.
Released on March 15, 1958, Billboard said it “featured a swagger and showmanship that had not yet invaded radio.” And for a nation of teenagers, it kicked open the doors not only to rock and roll but ultimately a couple of other deviant things as well:
Peter Tosh was a Jamaican reggae star, an original member (along with Bob Marley) of the Wailers, one of the earliest and most influential of all reggae bands.
Tosh was an accomplished self-taught musician and wrote (with Marley) “Get Up Stand Up.” The Stones were early adherents to reggae and Tosh, with Mick Jagger, recorded a duet of the Smokey Robinson-written Temptations song “Don’t Look Back.” (I actually like The Tempts version better.)
I heard Tosh’s version of “Johnny B. Goode” whilst wandering around the Lowell Folk Festival. I recognized the tune, couldn’t quite place it and later figured out it was Tosh. He ran the song through Reggae-o-Meter 2.0, moved it Jamaica and came out with this funky, horn-driven version. To be blunt, you’ll want to roll out your best stuff on listening to this:
Although my buddy Steve has veered off into bluegrass these days, I don’t think he’d put up much argument that Johnny Winter is his favorite guitarist of all time. Johnny was a bluesman right down to the marrow.
But he went through a rock and roll period and proved that yes, the blues had a baby and they called it rock and roll. Many have done this song, few with the albino Texan’s intensity (although Hendrix’ is pretty awesome):