Here's Little Richard


Ima spilt hairs here for a minute.  There’s a lot of music that rocks, but there is very little music out there anymore that rocks and rolls.  It’s hard to really put a finger on the difference, but I think it has to do with the backbeat and maybe some piano and a horn line…or at least a little saxophone.  But it seems like their are countless acts our their that rock (think about how many times you’ve heard some California-surfer wanna be yell “That rocks!” at a show) but there are few acts out their actually rock and roll.  LIttle Richard certainly could rock and roll, as could many of his contemporaries…Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, and of course Elvis come immediately to mind.  And in the next generation, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones could rock and roll, as could Dylan when he wanted too.  But after that the list gets really sparse.  Billy Joel? Probably.  Bob Seger? Maybe.  Bruce Springsteen? When the E Street Band was there.  U2? Ocassionally.  R.E.M? Not so much (but it’s still great).  Metallica?  Hell no.  See, its hard to define, but you know it when you hear it.

And Little Richard definitely had it.  The rock and the roll.  Actually, he may have been the first.  I know most people give that credit to Elvis, but the point where R&B mixed with gospel and rockabilly and became rock and roll may have happened right here.  Like most R&B tunes from this era, most of these songs actually had fairly lascivious lyrics (somebody could probably make a fortune recording “Tutti Frutti, tight booty” in the modern age), but they were cleaned up for mainstream radio.  But even highly censored, Little Richard has an energy and an excitement about him that no doubt helped to catapult rock and roll into the mainstream.  And without him and the songs on this record, I’m not sure the last 50-plus years of popular music would exist in the way that we know and love it.

I took mi madre to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month to see the Rolling Stones exhibit, and while I was there they had this album on sale in the gift shop.  But kind of like Barnes and Noble, they wanted a ridiculous amount of money for it, so I went home and bought it off Amazon for $8.95.  Apparently this edition of the CD has only been available since 2012, so I guess its good that I’m taking my sweet ass time with this blog.  It has all the original tracks plus a couple of bonus tracks, but unfortunately it ends with an interview with the producer, Art Rupe, who pretty much does nothing but bitch about how difficult Little Richard was to work with.  It is definitely an un-rock ‘n roll way to end the record.

Other lists: “Tutti Frutti” is #43 and “Long Tall Sally” is #55 on the list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Little Richard ranks at #12 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers and is #8 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

My favorite track: “Tutti Frutti”

Honorable mention: “Slipin’ and Slidin'”

Quote: “A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!”