01. You Can´t Beat A Chuck Berry Song
02. My Mustang Ford
03. Memphis Tennessee
04. Sweet Little Sixteen
05. Come On
06. It Wasn´t Me
07. Wee Wee Hours
09. Havana Moon
10. You Never Can Tell
11. You Can´t Catch Me
12. No Money Down
14. Vacation Time
15. Southern Belle
Let It Rock
The Chuck Berry Tribute
Something life-altering happened when the members of Sweden's The Refreshments discovered Chuck Berry some 30 years ago. A world of classic rock'n'roll opened up in a time when you saw more hair metal bands and synth duos than duck-walks
But in the industrial town Gävle a bunch of teenagers sat mesmerized by the record players and searched their way back in time. To Chuck Berry and the legendary Chess studio in Chicago. To Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and of course Elvis Presley, who all recorded their first records in Memphis' classic Sun Studios.
In 1989 they formed The Refreshments and they haven't looked back since. After almost a quarter of a century, sales of more than half a million albums and 3 500+ shows, they have without doubt earned the title as Sweden's hardest working and most rootsy rock'n'roll band several times over.
But it wouldn't be until January 2013 until a lifelong dream came true: to to travel to the USA and record a tribute album to their constant source of inspiration-Chuck Berry-in Sun Studios, the Mecka of rock history. It turned out to be a dizzifying experience for Joakim Arnell (vocals/bass), Johan "J.B" Blohm (piano/vocals), Mats Forsberg (drums) and Jonas Göransson (guitar).
- The Sun studio is a museum today, which means that it's fully booked in the daytime. I was there on a guided tour myself a couple of years ago, and I got goosebumps hearing all the stories and just by being in the same place as all these rock'n'roll legends from the mid 50's, Joakim Arnell says.
However, every night the Sun Studios return to its former self and becomes an active studio again. That's when The Refreshments plugged in and got going. A week later they had recorded 15 songs, of which 13 were written by Chuck Berry while the opening track "You Can't Beat A Chuck Berry Song" and the album closer "Southern Belle" is Joakim Arnell's own tribute to the 86 year old rock'n'roll poet from St. Louis.
- Chuck Berry recorded his great hits at the Chess studio in Chicago, but that doesn't exist anymore. But making the album at Sun in Memphis sure felt way better than being just the next best thing, Arnell says.
The Sun studio has plenty of what old school rockers call "mojo" and "vibe". The main recording room is small and most of the recording equipment is vintage technology, which gave the sound a strong retro feeling as well.
- We squeezed ourselves together in the middle of the room and recorded all the backgrounds live, which caused the sound from all instruments to "leak" into all microphones. That gives the sound a rougher edge, but that's how you made records back in the days and the advantage is that you get presence and a lot of that pure rock'n'roll feeling.
It's no coincident that "Let It Rock" has the sub-title "The Chuck Berry Tribute"-the boys from Gävle probably has done as close to the definite Chuck Berry tribute as you can in Sweden. Just look at the exquisite choice of songs. The mix of super hits like "Memphis Tennessee", "Sweet Little Sixteen" or "You Never Can Tell", slightly less well-known numbers like "Come On", and a generous offering of more obscure tracks, help to create a fresh and exciting collection of Berries.
Both "Wee Wee Hours", "Havana Moon" and "Vacation Time" are for example B-sides to hit singles like "Maybelline", "You Can't Catch Me" and "Beautiful Delilah". "No Money Down" is one of Chuck Berry's early singles, showing off his more bluesy side with obvious inspiration from Chess colleague and blues legend Muddy Waters. And in "Wee Wee Hours" guitarist Jonas Göransson tips his hat to another one of Chuck Berry's great sources of inspiration with a guitar style that's eerily close to that of T-Bone Walker.
"Come On", which The Rolling Stones chose to cover for their somewhat over-excited record debut 50 years ago, gets a superbly laid-back treatment. Thanks to Johan Blohm's rolling piano this version finds a nice country groove that resembles another one of The Refreshments great heroes: the king of piano boogie, Jerry Lee Lewis. And "My Mustang Ford" puts the pedal to the metal in the wonderful little story about what can happen when you've got a 385 horsepower engine in a cherry red automobile.
- The recording in the Sun studio was an unbelievably great, fun and touching experience, is Joakim Arnell's summary.
All these emotions-and a few more-has saturated the 15 songs on "Let It Rock". Expect nothing but top notch rock'n'roll from start to finish.