For a start I'll have to acquire a USB turntable, won't I?
That said, I thoroughly enjoyed Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll the second time around. When it comes to music-related bio-flicks it's right at the upper end of the echelon.
Getting the right balance in these things is always going to be a tricky prospect, particularly when you're dealing with a character as prickly as Chuck Berry, but director Taylor Hackford has managed it pretty well.
Based around 60th birthday tribute concerts in St. Louis' Fox Theatre on 16 October 16, 1986, Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll features an all-star band (Berry, Johnnie Johnson on piano, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Robert Cray on guitars, a rhythm section of Joey Spampinato and Steve Jordan, Chuck Leavell on organ and sax-player Bobby Key) working through part of Berry's extensive catalogue.
Roll Over Beethoven, Almost Grown, Back in the U.S.A. (Linda Ronstadt vocals), Sweet Little Sixteen, No Money Down, Nadine, Johnny B. Goode (Julian Lennon vocals), Memphis Tennessee, Little Queenie, Brown Eyed Handsome Man (Robert Cray vocals), Too Much Monkey Business, No Particular Place To Go, Wee Wee Hours (Eric Clapton vocals and a guitar solo that has Berry inviting him to take another), Rock 'n' Roll Music (Etta James vocals) and School Days make up a pretty classy setlist.
Sure, you could've replaced some of the above with You Can't Catch Me, 'Round And 'Round, Bye Bye Johnny, Too Popped To Pop, You Can't Catch Me, You Never Can Tell, Carol, Let It Rock, Sweet Little Rock and Roller, The Promised Land, Jo Jo Gunne, Come On, Don't You Lie To Me or Thirty Days, but that just reinforces the wealth on offer in Berry's songwriting catalogue.
The footage from the concert is woven in and out of rehearsal footage, interviews with Bo Diddley, the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Little Richard and Bruce Springsteen along with Berry and members of his family, and the result is informative, very watchable and a great example of what's possible in this area.
That's not to suggest that director Taylor Hackford gilds the lily here. While acknowledging Berry's contributions and showmanship, there's plenty of exposure to the less attractive side of the man, an unpredictable and prickly character who drives those around him to distraction. Berry, for instance, demanded to be paid every day, in cash, or he'd refuse to be filmed. Keith Richards' observation that he was mad to take the gig and that Mick Jagger was easier to work with comes as no surprise.
It's a timely reminder, if one is needed, that those of us blessed with an extraordinary talent in one area often end up with significant deficits in other areas.
Highly recommended, particularly if you're not familiar with the man and his story