on 22 April 2006
Little Richard was one of the original rock'n'rollers - his music was so different from anything that had gone before, with the rawness and energy and even a hint of wickedness to stir the blood of many a teenager in the late 1950s.
I hesitated before buying this CD, fearing that there would be a 'sameness' about the tracks, but I needn't have worried. The rawness that I remembered is still there, along with the bouncing rhythm and rasping saxes, but there are also several unfamiliar tracks, perhaps the B sides, which provide more than enough variety to hold the interest.
Later re-recordings don't recreate the excitement which these tracks (26 of them) produced - these are the real thing!
It's almost absurd in the hindsight and distance of 2014 to think of "Tutti Frutti" as a 'B-Side' - yet it was in the UK on initial release. Wow! Speaking of the same... I can assure you that there's very little about this astonishing run of 26 boppin' Rock 'n' Roll sides that would be considered 'B-Class' material. And in a sea of lesser sounding budget compilations - it's nice to know that this mid-price CD nugget still stands tall on the audio front - remastered to blasting glory from original tapes by one of the UK's premier reissue labels.
Released by the mighty Ace Records of the UK on Ace CDCHM 729 in August 1999 (use Barcode 029667172929 in the Amazon search bar to get the right issue) - here are the wild-man piano-pounding details for each of his 13 British 45s (As and Bs)...
1. Rip It Up b/w Ready Teddy (November 1956, London HLO 8336)
2. Long Tall Sally b/w Tutti Frutti (January 1957, London HLO 8366)
3. The Girl Can't Help It b/w She's Got It (March 1957, London HLO 8382)
4. Lucille b/w Send Me Some Lovin' (June 1957, London HLO 8446)
5. Jenny, Jenny b/w Miss Ann (August 1957, London HLO 8470)
6. Keep A Knockin' b/w Can't Believe You Wanna Leave (November 1957, London HLO 8509)
7. Good Golly Miss Molly b/w Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! (Goin' Back To Birmingham) (February 1958, London HLO 8560)
8. Ooh' My Soul b/w True Fine Mama (June 1958, London HLO 8647)
9. Baby Face b/w Boo Hoo Hoo Hoo (I'll Never Let You Go) (December 1958, London HLO 8770)
10. By The Light Of The Silvery Moon b/w Early One Morning (March 1959, London HLO 8831)
11. Kansas City b/w She Knows How To Rock (May 1959, London HOL 8868)
12. Baby b/w I Got It (February 1960, London HLO 9065)
13. Bama Lama Bama Loo b/w Annie Is Back (May 1964, London HLO 9896)
It opens with "Well it's Saturday night and I just got paid...I'm gonna rip it up..." and Richard Penniman of Macon, Georgia does just that. He doesn't actually cool the pace down until the lovely "Send Me Some Lovin'" (Track 8) and slower stuff like "Can't Believe You Wanna Leave" are hidden gems amongst all the mayhem. Even now when "Good Golly Miss Molly" kicks in - you're floored - how earthshattering it must have been as a kid in 1958 to hear this joy come out of a radio.
"Boo Hoo Hoo Hoo..." sounds like great Fats Domino Rhythm 'n' Blues. But "By The Light Of The Silvery Moon" sounds like he's running out of steam. Far better is its forgotten B-side - the Chuck Berry-ish "Early One Morning". Richard gets his mojo back with the rocking duo of "Kansas City" and "She Knows How To Rock" and more undiscovered greatness lies in "Baby" with its superb Sax solo and its raucous "I Got It" flipside (surely one of his most underrated 45s). It ends four years after his initial splurge in 1964 with the retro "Bama Lama Bama Loo" and the excellent "Annie Is Back' - but by this time few were listening.
In 2014 Little Richard is 81 and one of the last surviving original wild men of Rock 'n' Roll. His songs for Specialty Records of the USA (released by London in the UK) are the stuff of legend - full of naughtiness, rebellion and sex. And if you want to know why he's held in such affection - then this is a fabulous place to start...
During the early years of rock'n'roll an amazing set of beasts stalked the earth. These were artists who were truly larger than life. None of them sounded remotely like anyone preceding them - they defined themselves fully without reference to others - yes, there were influences there but they were sublimated - like, how do you move from T-Bone Walker to Chuck Berry in one easy step (and Walker was one of Berry`s strongest influences). Yup, Chuck was in that group, so were Elvis, Jerry Lee and Bo (and who the heck influenced Bo?). And so of course, was little Richard Penniman, at least for a couple of years. Quite how Richard managed to produce the sounds he did during those two years he recorded for the Specialty label, from October 1955 to October, 1957, when he found religion and disposed of his bling in Sydney Harbour, we`ll probably never know. Yes, he was brought up on jump blues, yes he was part of the New Orleans musical culture, yes, he'd been brought up with gospel, but there were loads of other guys scrabbling round the big easy with an almost identical background and none of them produced noises like those we heard on "Tutti Frutti", "Reddy Teddy", "Long Tall Sally" and so on. The combination of Richard + Specialty + producer Bumps Blackwell produced a unique combination of sonic effects that we know as the Little Richard sound. Unfortunately it was a sound which we'd never hear again; it wasn't anything that could be bottled; it wasn't anything even Richard himself could reproduce in later years.
And that unique sound is contained on this string of singles, which came out on the much revered, London American label in the UK from December 1955 onwards. While there were a few numbers that were only issued in album format, the bulk of the Specialty goodies are contained here in this album which has been lovingly compiled and documented by those great people at Ace. This is a major slice of musical history contained on one CD. At the same time it's fun, it's exuberant, it's over the top, it's passionate even and it's the very essence of rock'n'roll. Virtually every track from roughly the first two thirds of this album is a bona fide r'n'r classic. I say two thirds since there is some quality drop as we approach the end which was well after 1957 when Richard was no longer producing and the label was stratching around for anything to put out as singles. Even these later tracks are better than most of the other music that was around.
I'd like to give this ten stars but unfortunately ....
on 25 January 2010
Being "of a certain age" I well remember when Little Richard Penniman first burst onto the R'N'R scene. Dynamic, controversial (some of his lyrics had to be considerably toned down before they were committed to posterity) you just couldn't ignore him. This was the mid-to-late 1950's when exciting new sounds were hitting the airwaves and record stores.
His characteristic sound was a brass-dominated, tight backbeat to complement his raunchy, raucous vocals and frantic piano work. Although he has recorded for a number of labels over the years, these Specialty sides, IMHO, comprised his iconic period. His vocal intro on "Tutti Frutti" was the unforgettable "Wop-Bop-A-Loo-Bop-A-Lop-Bam-Boom". This was his breakthrough, it sold in the shedloads and he was on his way.
His flamboyant (for the time) act transferred well to the cinema screen, and he landed spots in some seminal R'N'R films, such as "The Girl Can't Help It". Richard sang the title song. How well I recall Phil Silvers (as a milkman) losing the bottles as he ogled Jayne Mansfield walking by, and another guy's spectacles cracking up. Happy days.
All Richard's big hits are on this album: "Long Tall Sally", "Keep A Knockin'", "Good Golly Miss Molly", "Rip It Up", and the rest. Strange how the condensed, mono sound seems to suit these numbers so well. The sax player invariably got the instrumental break, usually preceded by Richard's high-pitched "Wowwwwww" which so many performers copied and always makes me smile when I hear it.
Yes, a lot of the material was repetitive and rarely contained more than three chords, but that's what sold. It must have had a big impact as The Beatles, amongst many others, admitted to Richard's influence on their more R'N'R flavoured material and this was a big factor in their stage appeal at the time.
To his credit, Little Richard has maintained his career over the years and has proved a durable and influential performer. He went through some religious torment which I think was maybe his guilt over his, shall we say, somewhat loose lifestyle, but he always seemed to gravitate to his music and give his fans the benefit of his numerous comebacks!
For the uninitiated music buyer keen to discover Little Richard, I would say start at his Specialty period and work outwards from there. For the "more mature listener" this album is a great trip down Memory Lane, not to be missed.
on 22 February 2006
Little Richard [The Original British Hit Singles] This is about the best rock and roll CD I have ever heard, this is a must bye for everyone that’s into rock and roll “unbelievable”.
on 24 February 2011
This is a fantastic collection of Little Richard's singles and contains all his best songs. The combination of the song writing, the backing band, the production and above all else Little Richard's vocals make this an absolute must for any fan of Rock and Roll. It sounds so raw and marks L.R. as the master of the genre. It is a shame that the awesome piano work is so low in the mix, Jerry Lee Lewis is often credited with being the best RnR piano player but for my money Little Richard is just as good. For me 'You Keep a Knocking' is the stand out track, non-stop high voltage rock and roll! Enjoy.
Richard Wayne Penniman aka Little Richard is now in his 79th year. He was key to the transition from R & B to R'n'R in the 50's when he took the music world by storm, and defined the dynamic sound of R'n'R with his numbers "Tutti Frutti", "Long Tall Sally", "Good Golly Miss Molly", and others. Who can forget Jayne Mansfield provocatively sashaying her ample hips along the street to the hypnotic beat of Little Richard's "The Girl Can't Help It", the title track to the film of the same name? It was one of the most exciting opening sequences in the history of films which I still watch often on YouTube....and it still generates the same quickening of the pulse as it did in 1957.
His charismatic stage presence was something to behold. Heavily daubed with make-up and garbed in lurid coloured sequinned suits, yelling, jumping and whipping the audience into a frenzy whilst pummelling the piano keyboard maniacally, eyes bulging, hair a sculptured wildness. Concert history was made at a performance in Maryland, when the police had to stop his show several times as the stage was being besieged by dozens of girls intent on trying to rip souvenirs from Little Richard's body. Once finally removed the girls caused further havoc by throwing items of their undergarments in great numbers onto the stage. Oh, those were the days - although it would have been a bit cold on the back of a Harley Davidson, going home after the show....brrr!
A huge influence on numerous successful musical artistes as publicly acknowledged by the likes of Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Seger, David Bowie and many others. During his long career he has received every possible major award in recognition of his colossal contribution to music. Much of the music we listen to today is directly or indirectly a derivative of his creative genius.
This CD features the original singles (both A & B sides) released in the UK between 1956 - 1964 that changed the course of music forever!
Little Richard was an originator and 'one-off' in every sense. He is quoted as saying "I never accepted the idea that I had to be guided by the same pattern or blue-print", and he is proud of his musical calling saying "But I'm a Rock'n'Roll singer; that's my livelihood, my occupation."
on 17 October 2009
This is an excellent compilation of the best Little Richard's production, with a very vivid sound quality that transmits all the natural power of R'n'R music at its origin.
Recommended to all.
Choosing a good CD of Little Richard took me ages,infact it was the most problematic of any CD I have ever chosen,including classical,jazz,blues,etc.so I will try and pass on some info.
Without wishing to go off on a tangent,when,for instance I wanted all of the Beatles on CD then the choice was obvious,either the mono or the stereo box set,then just search for the cheapest supplier and bingo.Pity it was not so easy with LR,the problems include he re-recorded much/all of his early hits,so you end up with not the original versions and also many of the compilations,often issued on more obscure labels,even if original versions,seem to be poor quality,perhaps from records or a poor tape source.Also there are just so very many CD's available.
Where ever possible I traced MP3 samples of the tracks to listen if they were original and to try and judge the quality.If you cannot find a sample on amazon.uk,try amazon.com or google it.I already had one CD of LR,but it only has 10 tracks and I wanted at least all of his UK hits with the flipsides.
Eventually I got the choices down to this one,"The Very Best Of Little Richard" by commercial marketing,"Little Richard-40 Original Hits & Rarieties" and "She Knows How to Rock"
I would love to have them all here to listen to so I could really judge the quality,MP3 tracks online are inferior to a CD on my hifi,anyway the quality of the other reviews here swung me to choose it.
The only track missing that I wanted is "Slippin 'n Slidin",but all the CD choices I found had certain tracks missing,you cannot have it all,well not usually.
Finally I did a track for track listening test between this CD and the one I already had AND THIS IS THE REASON FOR THE **** and a half stars,the quality of my other CD is arguably slightly better,which is surprising as it is a very cheap,made in Korea item that you might get in a supermarket,garage or car boot.Mine came from Woolies for about £1 years ago.
To sum up if the tracks on this suit you,then buy it,as it is very good,but I wonder if there is an even better remastered one out there,though this one is remastered from the original master tapes by Duncan Cowell at Sound Mastering but perhaps the sound could be cleaned up or enhanced using high tech.techniques.I have just reviewed an Everly Brithers CD where the sound quality is beyond all my expectations,but perhaps the original tapes were better and you can't get a silk purse from a sow's ear!
on 1 May 2015
If possible I would award 6 stars here...I am 76 and 10 minutes ago finished listening to this disc..I`m knackered...what a brilliant album...His golden era was 1956-58 and that is just when I discovered Rock and Roll...ALL his hits A-side AND B sides 1956-1964 are on the disc and really show what real Rock and Roll was all about...No-one before and no-one after has ever had a voice to match..and then his band..Really rocking..This type of music far outstrips the tuneless monotone of today`s musical efforts. I can guarantee these are original 50`s recordings.