REVIEW: Little Richard – The Essential (1985)

Scan_20160106LITTLE RICHARD – The Essential (1985 Specialty)

Ah-OOOOOOO!  Little Richard!  Predator!  OOOOO!  Wop bop a loo bop!  Get to the choppa!

Who doesn’t love Little Richard?  If you answered that question with “me!” then click your “back” button now and go listen to some X Ambassadors or something equally un-rock and roll.  Little Richard?  Pure rock and roll, baby!  You have your rock bands that are based on guitar, but then you have other artists that are based on piano.  And let me tell you, when Little Richard (Ah-OOOOOOOO!) starts bangin’ on those keys, you can’t help but boogie woogie.

Richard has an extensive catalogue of albums and singles, and much like any of the other founding fathers of rock and roll, there is so much more to him than just the greatest hits.  This album is called The Essential, and it is.  There is much, much more.  “Can’t Believe You Wanna Leave” isn’t on here, but so many favourites are!  (OOOOO, gonna have some fun tonight!)

Commencing in 1955, every single track on this CD (single A’s and B’s) is in the two minute range. Wham bam, thank you ma’am! (No, that’s Dean Martin…) Loaded with piano, sax and Little Richard’s unmistakable voice, every song is incredible. My favourite song is “Jenny Jenny” (OOOO!), which is so damn raw and perfect, sax honkin’ and Richard letting loose with every “Woo” and “Ooo”. His throat is pushed to the limit, running off the rails from time to time, but always perfect. From Lucille to Teddy to Jenny to Miss Ann and Miss Molly, some may notice that there is a certain sameness to the material. That would be missing the point. Richard is like AC/DC. You get what you want, every time. Since the songs are so short none overstay their welcome.

Everybody should know plenty of these songs, whether from movies or TV. At least half the album should be familiar. Even if you haven’t heard Richard’s version of “By the Light of the Silvery Moon”, you probably know it from Etta James, Happy Days, Bugs Bunny, or I Love Lucy. It’s just one of those songs that everybody has heard. (Richard’s version is the best one, if you asked me! Ah-OOOOOO!)

Even though this is an older release, the audio is just fine. According to the booklet, all tracks were remastered from the original mono tapes. Old time rock and roll just sounds better in mono. In mono, it sounds saturated and harder. (WOOO!) The booklet isn’t skimpy and has plenty of old black and white photos.

So, if you have “Heebie-Jeebies” for some “Long Tall Sally”, then “I Got It” for you. You’ll be “Slippin’ and Slidin'” for the whole length of this 45 minute CD, which will be over before you know it. If you wanna “Keep-A-Knockin'”, then just play it on repeat and “Rip It Up”.

5/5 stars

Final note: I will happily give a lollypop to anyone who can tell me where I can buy Richard’s elusive version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider”.

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28 comments

  1. I grew up on his songs. My mom had 45s of his in the juke box. Ah the formative years!

    That looks like a really sweet collection. I’d buy it. Of course, if I saw a boxed set of every fart and mumble he ever uttered, I’d buy that too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That and his upbringing, being surrounded by religion in the south. I think the photo there, of him playing piano with his right leg up on top of the piano, says EVERYTHING about his energy. That’s rock and roll, and that’s why I loved Little Richard as a kid, and why I love him today. Unlike some of the other founding fathers, like Chuck Berry, Richard always seemed to have a presence when I was young. He’d show up anywhere and everywhere and steal the show.

      Like

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