Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Little Richard: “The Second Coming” (1972/2020) CD Review

In September, Omnivore Recordings released expanded editions of Little Richard’s first two albums for the Reprise label, 1970’s The Rill Thing and 1971’s King Of Rock And Roll. So how does an artist follow an album where he claims unabashedly to be the king of rock and roll? Well, with an album titled The Second Coming, obviously. Yup, in 1972, Little Richard released The Second Coming, and it is now being re-issued in an expanded edition with four bonus tracks and new liner notes. This album features mostly original material, written or co-written by Little Richard. And he has a pretty fantastic group of musicians backing him, including Earl Palmer on drums and Chuck Rainey on bass.

The Second Coming opens with an original rock and roll number, “Mockingbird Sally,” featuring all the energy you want and expect and demand from Little Richard, including some shouts of “Oooh” and some delicious work on piano. Plus, there is saxophone. So take a break from the insane news and rock out in your home for a little while. This number is a good little rock and roll jam and it should help you shake your cares away, at least for a little while. Little Richard then gets funky with “Second Line,” in which he gives us some dance instructions. And he’s just the man to do it, isn’t he? I love that those instructions include this direction: “Do anything that you want to.” Now that’s a dance I can do. He calls out the names of some of his other songs, including this album’s previous track. Little Richard could get away with anything. There is also a play on his being the king: “We got the queen here/Told me her name, but you know I forgot it.” When I think of New Orleans and Mardi Gras, Little Richard is not the first name that comes to mind, but with this track, he claims that territory as his own. Hell, he was eager to command the world, and why not? He wrote this one with Robert Blackwell. 

“It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way How You Do It” has a great groove, and features some excellent guitar work and a cool bass line. This one was written by Pete Kleinow and Little Richard. Pete Kleinow is on slide pedal steel. This track is a lot of fun, one I enjoy more each time I hear it. Little Richard then returns to New Orleans with a wonderful rendition of “When The Saints Go Marching In,” here titled “The Saints.” This is a ridiculously enjoyable take on the song, with enough funk to keep us all satisfied. The band jams on this one, and Little Richard leaves no doubt that he could have led us all in a rowdy and jubilant parade. And I love that sax. That’s followed “Nuki Suki,” a track composed by saxophone player Bill Hemmons. There aren’t a whole lot of lyrics to “Nuki Suki.” Rather, it is a fun jam featuring the saxophone and an excellent and funky rhythm you will find yourself moving to.

“Rockin’ Rockin’ Boogie” is exactly what you think it is based on the title, another delightful song to shake and groove to. It is what Little Richard was best at. This one might go on a little longer than necessary, but no matter. No one could tell this guy to stop. And the song kind of fizzles out at the end. But again, no matter. This year has presented a lot of cruel and mean turns, as I am sure everyone is quite aware, and taking Little Richard from us was certainly among the worst. “Rockin’ Rockin’ Boogie” is followed by another funky dance number, “Prophet Of Peace,” with lyrics that encourage and empower and unite. “But you got to know what you’re up against today/You got to know what you’re seeking for, and what you’re looking for/Sometimes the thing that you look for may not be the thing/Sometimes the joy that you seek for may not bring the joy that it’s supposed to bring/But just keep on seeking, keep on searching.”  

“Thomasine” is a rocking number about a woman that isn’t treating him well. “You treated me so doggone cold while I treat you like a queen.” Hey, just out of curiosity, has anyone met a woman named Thomasine? I haven’t. This one was written by Little Richard and Maybelle Jackson, who also wrote “Spreadin’ Natta, What’s The Matter?” together. The original album concluded with “Sanctified, Satisfied Toe-Tapper,” which kind of eases in, then suddenly finds its fire, its power, and becomes what its title promises, a funky, enjoyable instrumental track. 

Bonus Tracks

This disc contains four bonus tracks, all of which were previously released. The first two are from the soundtrack to Dollars (also known as $), a movie starring Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn. The music was written by Quincy Jones. The first song, “Money Is,” opens with a good, steady groove, and has its own cool, funky style. The second, “Do It – To It,” is a fun dance song, with some good percussion. That’s followed by the single version of “Mockingbird Sally.” The disc wraps up with the single version of “Money Is.”

CD Track List

  1. Mockingbird Sally
  2. Second Line
  3. It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way How You Do It
  4. The Saints
  5. Nuki Suki
  6. Rockin’ Rockin’ Boogie
  7. Prophet Of Peace
  8. Thomasine
  9. Sanctified, Satisfied Toe-Tapper
  10. Money Is
  11. Do It – To It
  12. Mockingbird Sally (Single Edit)
  13. Money Is (Single Edit)

This expanded edition of The Second Coming is scheduled to be released on October 23, 2020 through Omnivore Recordings.

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