In 1980 the music scene was an engrossing and engaging affair. With the punk explosion having subsided into new wave and beyond, the climate for genre definition and musical tribalism was at its highest. One man who was unaffected by all that was rock and roll icon Chuck Berry. In this classic interview from St Louis-based punk zine Jet Lag (1980 -1991), the guitar God reviews work form The Clash, Sex Pistols, Joy Division and many more.

As well as reviewing some records, the legend also opened up a little about what it’s like to be Chuck Berry, the artist and the man himself. When pushed on what the interviewer describes as a calculated way to write songs (using melodies that Berry knows kids will dance to with lyrics for the adults) Berry is succinct in his reply. “My purpose was always to show how people felt… There are times when I will capture my own personal feelings on record. But those feelings are similar to others who have at one time or another encountered them.”

[MORE] – Remembering the moment Chuck Berry and John Lennon jammed on ‘Johnny B. Goode’

The interviewer pushes this question and asks whether Berry has ever considered using music as an outlet for any anger or anguish he may have. Berry replies “No, I ‘ve thought about it, but I’ve always felt that people don’t want to hear your personal problems, they have enough of their own. Music should be made for people to forget their problems, if only for a short while.”

While you can read the full interview in the snipping from the original mag below. And trust us, it’s worth every minute of reading. The real beauty of the interview comes with Berry’s, at times quite savage, reviews of the contemporary artists of the time.

On Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’

“What’s this guy so angry about anyway? Guitar work and progression is like mine. Good backbeat. Can’t understand most of the vocals. If you’re going to be mad at least let the people know what you’re mad about.”

[MORE] – Remembering the overlooked women who helped create rock and roll in the 1950s

On The Clash’s ‘Complete Control’

“Sounds like the first one. The rhythm and chording work well together. Did this guy have a sore throat when he sang the vocals?”

On The Ramones’ ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’

“A good little jump number. These guys remind me of myself when I first started, I only knew three chords too.”

On The Romantics’ ‘What I Like About You’, 20-20’s ‘Oh Cheri’, The Beat’s ‘Different Kind of Girl’

“Finally something you can dance to. Sounds a lot like the sixties with some of my riffs thrown in for good measure. You say this is new? I’ve heard this stuff plenty of times. I can’t understand the big fuss.”

The Gladiators’ ‘Sweet So Still’, Toots & The Maytals’ ‘Funky Kingston’, Selecters’ ‘On The Radio’

“This is good, real smooth and soulful. Real good to bump and shuffle to. Sounds a bit like my old buddy Bo Diddley, only slower. I tried something similar on a song called ‘Havana Moon’.”

On Dave Edmunds’ ‘Queen of Hearts’

“This is more like it. This guy’s got a real touch for rock and roll, a real gut feeling. Has he ever made it big? Well, if he ever needs a job, I could use him.”

On Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’

“A funky little number, that’s for sure. I like the bass a lot. Good mixture and a real good flow. The singer sounds like he has a bad case of stage fright.”

Wire’s ‘I Am the Fly’ and Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’

“So this is the so-called new stuff. It’s nothing I ain’t heard before. It sounds like an old blues jam that BB and Muddy would carry on backstage at the old amphitheatre in Chicago. The instruments may be different but the experiment’s the same.”

Take a look below at the original snipping:

h/t: Music Ruined My Life / UdiscoverMusic


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