Following an unsatisfying three-year stint at Mercury Records, Chuck Berry returned home to Chess in 1969, just like Phil Chess predicted. Heading home didn’t necessarily mean retreating, as the four-disc Have Mercy: His Complete Chess Recordings 1969-1974 illustrates. During his time at Mercury, Chuck followed the kids wherever they went, aligning himself with the psychedelic ‘60s in a way none of his peers did. This shift is immediately apparent on “Tulane,” the very first song he cut upon his return to Chess. An ode to a couple of kids who dealt dope underneath the counter of a novelty shop, “Tulane” puts Chuck on the side of the counterculture, and over the next five years, he never strayed back to the other side of the fence, often singing about getting stoned, dabbling with a wah-wah pedal, rhapsodizing about rock festivals, cheerfully telling smutty jokes.
Armed with just his "Feels So Good" quintet and occasionally a couple of brass players, Mangione's more grandiose ambitions are pretty much behind him on his final A&M release. The emphasis is almost entirely on spinning pretty tunes for his new mass audience without alienating or challenging it much. Not that this collection is completely soporific or lacking the jazz touch; "Pina Colada" revives things with some uptempo flights for Mangione's flugelhorn and Chris Vadala's tenor, and the title cut is an amiably jumping, if repetitive funk workout for the quintet. The major push, however, went to "Give It All You Got" – another upbeat, optimistic, good-times motivating tool, heard extensively at the 1980 Winter Olympics – and Chuck gives it to us again at a listless tempo with the title, "Give It All You Got, But Slowly." As things transpired, this would be his last halfway decent studio album for at least the next decade.
This import version of Chuck Mangione's A&M hits collection contains three more tracks than its domestic counterpart, as well as his volume in the Universal 20th Century Masters collection. The bottom line when it comes to Mangione's music: his biggest period was in the '70s for A&M, when he had his monster hit "Feels So Good." That one has to be here, but so are other noteworthy (and very successful) singles such as "Land of Make Believe," "Chase the Clouds Away," and the overture for "Children of Sanchez."