Mike Zito and Friends Pay Rocking Tribute to Chuck Berry on New LP (ALBUM REVIEW)

Mike Zito is best known as a blues musician and rightly so considering he has released some blistering blues albums. But he also has a rock n roll side, and he puts it on full display on his new album entitled Rock n Roll: A Tribute to Chuck Berry. If you’re going to do a rock n roll album, it makes sense that it would be a tribute to one of the pioneers. And if you’re going to do a tribute to Chuck Berry, you might as well enlist some great guitarists like Joe Bonamassa, Robben Ford, and Chuck Berry’s grandson Charles among others.

Charles Berry appears on the opening track “St. Louis Blues”, a rollicking tune that definitely carries the spirit of Chuck Berry. It’s pretty hard to sit still when you hear the piano being pounded in this song. On top of that, the horns in this song add another layer of energy and brightness. It’s a good way to kick off the album and hook the listener into what comes next.

In the span of two songs you go from a blistering version of “Johnny B. Goode” with Walter Trout to the burning blues of “Wee Wee Hours” featuring an extended guitar solo by Bonamassa. Granted, Berry never had any songs – let alone solos – as long as this one, but you won’t complain about hearing Bonamassa’s mastery of the guitar.

Every song on the album is worthy of your attention, but “I Want To Be Your Driver” catches the attention for a couple reasons. First, it’s not a Chuck Berry song you’re likely to hear on the radio. Second, on top of the amazing rhythm section and the guitar by Ryan Perry, you get an organ sound that would fit just as well in a 60s garage-rock song. 

The album closes with “My Ding a Ling” featuring Kid Andersen. This is very different than the original version, but it’s just as fun as ever. Andersen plays a bluesy guitar part that is accompanied by some old-fashioned rock and roll piano and a sax part that sounds straight out of a classic doo-wop song.

This is an outstanding collection that takes you through a lot of your favorite Chuck Berry tunes like “No Particular Place to Go” (with Jeremiah Johnson), as well as tunes that you hear less frequently like “Havana Moon” (featuring Sonny Landreth). This album is best enjoyed with the volume cranked . Don’t be surprised if you work up a bit of a sweat dancing to all these old favorites featuring so many great guitarists.

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