Thursday, May 04, 2006

She Knows Just What to Do!

Lee Austin - Tutti Frutti

Rufus Thomas - Tutti Frutti

"A wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom!" is probably one of the most famous nonsense lines in the history of American pop music. The smash hit "Tutti Frutti" tossed that phrase and some bowdlerized lyrics (the original lyrics as Richard conceived them were just too hot for Specialty to release in 1955) over a hot New Orleans band and made Little Richard a household name (and, unfortunately, gave Pat Boone a hit with a milquetoast reading that was the norm for 1950s anti-rock pop music). Most folks let Richard's version of the song be the definitive one, and for good reason, but here are two funky '70s covers of the song that are worth checking out.

James Brown Revue member Lee Austin was profiled in an earlier post about the awesome "I'm a Man." Austin's version of "Tutti Frutti" is really more a showcase for the JB's than anything, as the band lays down a killer up-tempo groove and Fred Wesley takes some great solos. Lee rushes through the lyrics, choosing instead to focus on ad-libs about the girl named Sue and the girl named Daisy. When he shouts "Get on down!" toward the fade, it's not an instruction, because you should be getting down already!

I've done several posts featuring Rufus Thomas, so his funny funky 45s and album cuts should be familiar to you. His version of "Tutti Frutti" came from his LP Crown Prince of Dance. Rufus and the band take the tempo down a bit and give it a laid-back "party" feel. Like Lee Austin's version, the original lyrics are given short shrift: Rufus instead spouts new lyrics in each verse ("I'm five foot seven and I'm built for speed," he boasts in the second verse) and gets a lot of mileage out of the "wop-bop-a-loo-bop ..." scatting. Also worth noting is a good fuzzed-out guitar solo by (I believe) Bobby Manuel.

No comments: