Sunday, 20 February 2011

Jim & Jesse Give Chuck Berry a Bluegrass Makeover

The ever-reliable All Music Guide calls Jim & Jesse "one of the greatest bluegrass bands in history" and the McReynolds brothers enjoyed a remarkably long and successful career from 1947, when they performed daily on a Virginia radio show, until Jim's death in 2002.

As well as traditional music the virtuoso pair were never shy of turning their talents to contemporary sounds. One of their finest excursions beyond mountain music was the 1965 album Berry Pickin' in the Country, a cracking collection of Chuck Berry covers. What I love about it is it's definitely not a novelty record à la Hayseed Dixie. The Chuck Berry songbook really suits the bluegrass style, testament I guess to Chuck's lyrical genius.

The album has been unavailable for years and I'm not sure it's ever had a proper CD release. So imagine my pleasure last weekend when I discovered it on Amazon to download for under a fiver!

Here's the brothers' take on one of my favourite Chuck Berry tracks.

MP3: Jim & Jesse - Too Much Monkey Business

Buy Berry Pickin' In the Country at Amazon

And here's Chuck's original...

MP3: Chuck Berry - Too Much Monkey Business

Buy Chuck Berry 'His Best, Volume 1' at Amazon

And while we're at it, here's Elvis' terrific version, which you can find on a brilliant compilation I've mentioned before called Tomorrow Is A Long Time.

MP3: Elvis Presley - Too Much Monkey Business

Buy Tomorrow Is A Long Time at Amazon

Do you have further suggestions of other great Jim & Jesse tracks? Or indeed brilliant Chuck Berry covers? Do leave a comment below.

Related links
Jim & Jesse official site

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