VOICES Notes and news on New Releases
30 APR 12 JASON SERINUS
OMG. Little Richard, the Architect of Rock 'n' Roll, is back, and sounding better than ever. Here's Little Richard, his game-changing debut album for Specialty Records, is now beautifully remastered, and enriched for CD with significant bonus material and an illuminating essay by Lee Hildebrand.
Once more, the man whose LPs I used to play at top volume to drive my mother out of the house is whooping it up, hollering, and having a ball. As Little Richard sings "Tutti Frutti," "Ready Teddy," "Long Tall Sally," and the other classics he recorded in 1955 and 1956, it's impossible not to be caught up by his youthful, all-barrels-loaded energy. The lyrics may be repetitive, and the piano's even-eight-note patterns very even indeed, but Little Richard's seemingly boundless elation gives notice that a new music is about seize and transform entire generations of listeners in ways their mothers warned them about.
Eventually, it was Little Richard who heeded the warning. In October 1957, after cutting his final track for Specialty Records, the great man threw in the towel for the Gospel, and gave rock 'n' roll up for God. His renunciation didn't last long. You may have seen his later appearances on TV, including the most recent, the 78-year old's wheelchair-bound 2011 performance on the nationally televised "A Capitol Fourth." But to hear him in his early-20s prime, with every falsetto yelp, raspy hoot, and high-flying holler intact, you must hear Here's Little Richard.