Thursday, April 27, 2006

Little Richard Is a Soul Man!

Little Richard - Try Some of Mine

Little Richard will forever be known as one of the figures present at the birth of rock and roll (even if they don't consider him the "creator, the originator," as he prefers to say) with his electrifying classics such as "Tutti Frutti," "Slippin' and Slidin'" and others. At the peak of his '50s fame, however, Richard got religion and walked away from his career for a few years, save for gospel recordings, some of which retained his rock and roll stylings (the Mercury recording "He Got What He Wanted (But He Lost What He Had)" comes to mind). Within a few years, however, Richard was back in the saddle, hitting with "Bama Lama Bama Loo" for his old label, Specialty, but by that time label owner Art Rupe was ready to get out of the record business.

For the rest of the '60s Richard had a nomadic recording career, revisiting his '50s sides but also taking on another angle: Little Richard as soul singer. The Don Covay-penned "I Don't Know What You Got (But It's Got Me)" was a Southern Soul ballad that hit big in the waning days of the Vee Jay label, and Richard waxed the Northern Soul classics "I Don't Want to Discuss It," "Poor Dog (Can't Wag His Own Tail)" and "A Little Bit of Something" for OKeh. Recordings for Modern, Kent and Brunswick further demonstrate his ability to handle soul material. Today's selection was a Brunswick release and finds Richard working it out over a great groove launched by a good, churchy guitar intro.

By the 1970s, the rock and roll revival movement cemented Richard as a public figure for all time, with his swamp soul-rock album The Rill Thing (Reprise) leading the way. Although Richard would abandon show biz a few more times in the name of God and would later stop cutting contemporary material (although he had a surprise hit in 1986 with the retro "Great Gosh A'Mighty" from the soundtrack of Down and Out in Beverly Hills, in which he appeared), 2006 finds Little Richard still doing oldies shows and bringing his flamboyant personality to the public. It's unfortunate, though, that his great soul sides of the '60s and early '70s aren't as well-known, because they present a great facet to the amazing talent that is Little Richard.

No comments: