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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Little Richard - His Greatest Recordings













Side A:
01. Ready Teddy
02. Rip It Up
03. The Girl Can't Help It
04. I'll Never Let You Go
05. Miss Ann
06. Good Golly, Miss Molly
07. Lucille
08. Keep A Knockin'

Side B:
01. Can't Believe You Wanna Leave
02. Tutti Frutti
03. Heeby-Jeebies
04. Send Me Some Lovin'
05. Chicken Little Baby
06. Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey
07. She's Got It
08. Long Tall Sally






Rock and roll starts here? Probably. We don't have all of Little Richard's greatest recordings on this collection as "Jenny Jenny" and "Slippin' And Slidin'" are missing. Indeed "Chicken Little Baby" is an odd choice for an LP of "greatest recordings" as it is basically a demo with Little Richard accompanying himself on piano. Later, when Specialty were desperately looking around for Little Richard material to release, they alighted on the demo and dubbed on some backing. It was pretty crap though, so only the Good Lord knows what it's doing in here.

Speaking of whom - this collection represents perhaps the greatest 2 year oeuvre in rock and roll history - the sides recorded for Specialty Records between September 1955 and October 1957 by THE wildman of rock, the man with the makeup, the pompadour, the pencil thin moustache, the suit that's two sizes too big, the screeching, wailing, sinning, debauched former Princess Lavonne, the Georgia Peach himself, laydeezingennelmen, the one and only Little Richard.

Then he found God, in Australia of all places, and the conveyor belt of howling rock and roll classics stopped. There were gospel recordings, there were comebacks as Little Richard strayed from the right hand path and got off the good foot, there were re-recordings of his Specialty hits for various labels like VeeJay and Modern, there were further spells of righteous preaching whenever he renounced sinning, and Little Richard became best known for being Little Richard. "He got what he wanted, but he lost what he had."

Nothing Little Richard subsequently recorded approached the level of his 1955 - 1957 sides, many of which were recorded at Cosimo Mattassa's J & M Studio in New Orleans with stunning backing by Lee Allen, Alvin "Red" Tyler and Earl Palmer. Some of the tracks on this collection feature Little Richard's own band, The Upsetters, who were almost as good as the New Orleans gang. Recording and release dates and personnel are listed below in the "Fax" section. The download includes an Easter egg which will make everything clear to the seekers after knowledge.


The Fax On The Rockin' Tracks:

Tutti Frutti recorded at the J & M Studio, New Orleans on 14th September, 1955. Personnel: Little Richard (vocal, piano); Lee Allen (tenor sax); Alvin "Red" Tyler (baritone sax); Huey Smith (piano); Justin Adams (guitar); Frank Fields (bass); Earl Palmer (drums).

Tutti Frutti / I'm Just A Lonely Guy - released on Specialty 561 in October 1955.

Chicken Little Baby demo recorded at the Specialty Office, Los Angeles in late 1955. Little Richard (piano, vocal).

A version with dubbed on drums and vocal group was released on Specialty LP 2104 "The Fabulous Little Richard" in March 1959.

Long Tall Sally and Miss Ann were recorded at the J & M Studio, New Orleans on 7th February, 1956. Personnel: Little Richard (piano, vocal); Lee Allen (tenor sax); Alvin "Red" Tyler (baritone sax); Edgar Blanchard (guitar); Frank Fields (bass); Earl Palmer (drums).

Long Tall Sally / Slippin' And Slidin' - released on Specialty 572 in March 1956.

Jenny Jenny / Miss Ann - released on Specialty 606 in May 1957.

Ready Teddy, Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey, and Rip It Up recorded at the J & M Studio, New Orleans on 9th May, 1956. Personnel: Little Richard (piano, vocal); Lee Allen (tenor sax); Alvin "Red" Tyler (baritone sax); Edgar Blanchard (guitar); Ernest McLean (guitar); Frank Fields (bass); Earl Palmer (drums). No piano on "Rip It Up."

Rip It Up / Ready Teddy - released on Specialty 579 in June 1956.

Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey - B-Side of Good Golly Miss Molly (Specialty 624) in January 1958.

Lucille and Heeby-Jeebies recorded at the J & M Studio, New Orleans on 30th July 1956. Personnel: Little Richard (piano, vocal); Lee Allen (tenor sax); Alvin "Red" Tyler (baritone sax); Roy Montrell (guitar); Frank Fields (bass); Earl Palmer (drums).

Heeby-Jeebies / She's Got It - released on Specialty 584 in October 1956.

Lucille / Send Me Some Lovin' - released on Specialty 598 in February 1957.

Can't Believe You Wanna Leave  recorded at the J & M Studio, New Orleans on 1st August, 1956. Personnel: Little Richard (piano, vocal); Lee Allen (tenor sax); Alvin "Red" Tyler (baritone sax); Roy Montrell (guitar); Frank Fields (bass); Earl Palmer (drums).

Released as B -Side of "Keep A Knockin'" on Specialty 611 in September 1957.

She's Got It recorded at Master Recorders, Los Angeles on 6th September 1956. Personnel: Little Richard and The Upsetters - Little Richard (piano, vocal); Wilbert Smith (tenor sax); Grady Gaines (tenor sax); Clifford Burks (tenor sax); Jewel Grant (baritone sax); Nathaniel Douglas (guitar); Olsie Richard Robinson (bass); Charles William Connor (drums).

Released as B-Side of Heeby Jeebies on Specialty 584 in October 1956.

Good Golly, Miss Molly recorded at the J & M Studio, New Orleans on 15th October 1956. Personnel: Little Richard (piano, vocal); Lee Allen (tenor sax); Alvin "Red" Tyler (baritone sax); Roy Montrell (guitar); Frank Fields (bass); Earl Palmer (drums).

Good Golly Miss Molly / Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey - released on Specialty 624 in January 1958.

The Girl Can't Help It and Send Me Some Lovin' were recorded at the J & M Studio, New Orleans on 16th October 1956. Personnel the same as the previous day, but add vocal group on "The Girl Can't Help It" - Adolph Smith, William Tircuit, Art Neville and Junior Gordon.

The Girl Can't Help It / All Around The World - released on Specialty 591 in November 1956.

Lucille / Send Me Some Lovin' - released on Specialty 598 in February 1957.

Keep A Knockin' recorded at a radio station in Washington D.C. on 16th January 1957. Personnel:  Little Richard and The Upsetters - Little Richard (piano, vocal); Wilbert Smith (tenor sax); Grady Gaines (tenor sax); Samuel Parker (baritone sax); Nathaniel Douglas (guitar); Olsie Richard Robinson (bass); Charles William Connor (drums).

Keep A Knockin' / Can't Believe You Wanna Leave - released on Specialty 611 in September 1957.

I'll Never Let You Go recorded at Master Recorders, Los Angeles on 18th October, 1957. Personnel: Little Richard and The Upsetters - Little Richard (piano, vocal); Clifford Burke (tenor sax); Wilbert Smith (tenor sax); Grady Gaines (tenor sax); Nathaniel Douglas (guitar); Olsie Richard Robinson (bass); Charles William Connor (drums).

Released as the B-Side of Baby Face on Specialty 654 in August 1958.

 Further Listening

Little Richard's Specialty sides have remained in print in one form or another since the 1950's. They're public domain now in the UK so there is a multiplicity of reasonably priced collections available. Beware of issues of his post Specialty sides which may contain re-recordings of his greatest hits.

I have this Jasmine set in my CD collection -


"She Knows How To Rock" - a 2 CD collection of the great man's Specialty singles in chronological order. Includes the sides he recorded in a brief return to the label in 1964. Jasmine JASCD 545.

I also have - 


"The Specialty Sessions" (3SPCD 8508-2) - a 3 CD collection which includes loads of outtakes, alternate takes and generally more Little Richard than most casual fans need. Each CD has notes by Ray Topping and also included is a 20 page booklet which, unfortunately, seems to be the same book which was issued when this set was released on vinyl and has simply been reduced in size for the CD box. This has made the text illegible without the aid of an electron microscope. However thanks to the invention of scanners and graphic image software the booklet can now be made legible again.

Mo' rockin' stuff in the pipeline!

He's Got It!

2 comments:

Bob Mac said...

Thanks for this BW. I saw Little Richard live once only in Australia in 1974. Was a good fun concert, he didn't really do a lot of songs, only played about a dozen, but he played each song 2 or 3 times. For example he'd do Rip It Up, and when finished he'd ask "Did you like it?" Everybody screamed, "Yeah", then Richard would ask, "Do you want to hear it again?" Everybody screamed, "Yeah" So we got it again. So we got to hear each of Little Richard's greatest hits 2-3 times that evening, which was fine because they were what we all came to hear.

boogiewoody said...

Cheers, Bob! I always enjoy your tales of seeing some of the greats in the flesh, so to speak. I've seen so few of them in reality, and the chance has now gone, alas.

BW