Chuck Berry was almost 29 years of age when he made his 1955 breakthrough on Chess Records with "Maybellene." The song was the first in a series of brilliantly creative, perfectly formed and often wittily observed vignettes reflecting the lives of the newly-termed teenager. In 1955 and '56 alone, Berry released such timeless songs as "Roll Over Beethoven," "Thirty Days," "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" and "Too Much Monkey Business."
All those and many subsequent releases, always with his hugely influential and utterly distinctive guitar playing and usually with the piano accompaniment of Johnnie Johnson, became part of the very fabric of rock 'n' roll. Berry's scorecard of hits didn't come close to reflecting the inspiration he provided for countless future stars, from The Beatles to the Rolling Stones and every other beat group worth their salt. But he reached the US top ten again with "School Days" and "Rock & Roll Music" in 1957, "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958) and "No Particular Place To Go" (1964).
"In the latter half of the Fifties, Chuck Berry released a string of singles that defined the sound and spirit of rock & roll. "Maybellene," a fast, countryish rocker about a race between a Ford and a Cadillac, kicked it all off in 1955, and one classic hit followed another, each powered by Berry's staccato country-blues-guitar gunfire: "Roll Over Beethoven," "School Days," "Rock and Roll Music," "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Johnny B. Goode," "Back in the USA." What was Berry's secret? In the maestro's own words, "The nature and backbone of my beat is boogie, and the muscle of my music is melodies that are simple." This collection culls the best of that magic from 1955 to 1965." - #21 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time