Monday, April 30, 2012

Little Richard: "Here's Little Richard" (2012) Enhanced CD Review

Has there ever been anyone with the energy and vivacity and, well, jubilance of Little Richard?  This album is like an instant party. Seriously.  If you haven't listened to him in a while, you might have forgotten how palpable the joy is in his performance.  This CD works as a great reminder. Don't listen to it too late at night, because your stereo will turn the volume up on its own, and rightly so.

This album contains those songs you love, like "Tutti Frutti," "True, Fine Mama," "Ready Teddy" and "Jenny Jenny."  And he has a great band backing him, including Earl Palmer on drums on most of these tracks. (Palmer played with Frank Sinatra, Cannonball Adderly, Fats Domino and The Monkees, among others.)

There are also three bonus tracks. The first two bonus tracks are the demo that Little Richard made at a radio station and mailed to Specialty Records.  The third bonus track is an interview with Art Rupe, the founder of Specialty Records (recorded in 1997).  He talks about how he was looking for a singer like BB King when Little Richard's demo tape arrived, and how Richard's persistence helped get him signed to the label.  He also talks about the film The Girl Can't Help It, and then about Little Richard finding religion and quitting rock and roll (an argument against religion, if ever one was needed.)

In addition to the bonus tracks, there are two videos included on the disc: "Tutti Frutti" and "Long Tall Sally."  Both have Little Richard standing at the piano, sometimes playing it, sometimes dancing around.  They seemed to have been filmed on the same stage, though he's wearing a different suit in each video. We don't see the band at all, which is a shame.  But it's great to see Little Richard from those early years.

This CD also contains nice long liner notes, with several photos (plus, it includes the original liner notes). This special disc even contains a small poster of the album cover.  Is it necessary?  No.  Am I happy to have it?  Absolutely.

"Tutti Frutti"

The CD opens with "Tutti Frutti," and yes, this song still hits me in all the right spots. The liner notes for this special release include a bit of the original, much raunchier lyrics: "Tutti frutti, good booty" and "If it's greasy, it makes it easy."  Oh man, I'd love to hear Little Richard shout out those lines.  "Tutti Frutti" reached #1 on the R&B chart, and #17 on the pop chart.

Little Richard wrote it, along with Robert Blackwell and Dorothy LaBostrie, the latter apparently responsible for the cleaner lyrics.

"True, Fine Mama"

"True, Fine Mama" is another delicious song. I love listening to Little Richard sing.  He sounds like he might explode at any moment.  This song has more typical early rock and roll backing vocals, but if anything, they show even more how wild Richard is, by contrast.  Little Richard wrote this one.

"Ready Teddy"

"Ready Teddy" has always been one of my favorites.  When he shouts about picking up his girl, you know he means business - this isn't the voice of someone who is going to merely hold the girl's hand and give her a peck at the end of the night.  The lyrics are innocent, the voice isn't.  This is a great one to dance to.  It must have been something to see him perform in the 1950s.


"Baby" is a bit mellower, but still miles from being mellow.  It has a more relaxed rock groove, but Little Richard's vocals are still electric and electrifying.  It was recorded in September of 1955.

There is another version of this song in the bonus tracks.  It's the first of two tracks on the demo, and on this recording Little Richard introduces himself and the song.  This version is twice as long as the officially released one.  It has an instrumental intro.  His vocals aren't as loud in this version, but the raw quality is totally delicious.  He's backed by The Upsetters.  This version was recorded in February of 1955.

Little Richard wrote "Baby."

"Slippin' And Slidin'"

"Slippin' And Slidin'" was a popular tune for Little Richard, reaching #2 on the R&B chart, and #33 on the pop chart. There is almost a yodel-like quality to his voice at a moment in this song, which is completely wonderful.  I basically love everything Little Richard does with his voice. This song also features Lee Allen on tenor sax and Alvin "Red" Tyler on baritone sax.

"Long Tall Sally"

"Long Tall Sally", of course, was another big hit, reaching #1 on the R&B chart, and #6 on the pop chart.  It has everything we love about Little Richard's music, including those built-in pauses to let Richard's vocals really rip.  It was written by Robert Blackwell, Enotris Johnson and Little Richard.

"Rip It Up"

Little Richard is one performer that I completely believe when he says he's going to rip it up and shake it up.  This song also reached #1 on the R&B chart (and only #17 on the pop chart).  I love Earl Palmer's work on drums on this track.

"Jenny Jenny"

"Jenny Jenny" is an insane song.  Little Richard acts as his own backing singer - it's exhausting just listening to him.  How does he do it?  Bloody incredible, and still gets "wooo" in there, as well as that delicious scream before the sax allows him to take a brief breather.  This song certainly has a loose feel, and when he sings "spinning like a spinning top," you get the sense that he himself is spinning, and likely to fly into you if you're not careful.

"Jenny Jenny" reached #2 on the R&B chart, and #10 on the pop chart.

"All Night Long"

"All Night Long" is the second song of the demo he made with The Upsetters in February of 1955. This one is much more in the blues category.  It features some wild work on saxophone, at one point screaming as well as Little Richard does.  Little Richard wrote "All Night Long."

CD Track List
  1. Tutti Frutti
  2. True, Fine Mama
  3. Can't Believe You Wanna Leave
  4. Ready Teddy
  5. Baby
  6. Slippin' And Slidin'
  7. Long Tall Sally
  8. Miss Ann
  9. Oh Why?
  10. Rip It Up
  11. Jenny Jenny
  12. She's Got It
  13. Baby (demo)
  14. All Night Long (demo)
  15. Interview With Special Records Founder Art Rupe
This special edition of Here's Little Richard was released on April 17, 2012.

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