Review #227: Here’s Little Richard, Little Richard
#227: Here’s Little Richard, Little Richard
Of the 227 albums we’ve reviewed thus far, this one has the earliest release date. Richard Penniman debuted with Here’s Little Richard in 1957, which continues to prove its remarkable staying power in 2022. There’s not a chance you haven’t heard “Tutti Frutti,” or at least the phrase A-wop-bop-a-loo-op-a-lop-bam-boom! (At least, I think that’s what he says.)
Older albums tend to be shorter than albums released in the last twenty years, which is always kind of a relief. No Eric-Clapton-style lingering, no incessant rap skits, not much filler at all. But on the other hand, they almost always have three to five songs that sound exactly the same. “Can’t Believe You Wanna Leave” and “Miss Ann” are essentially the same song, albeit with slightly different sax solos.
That didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying Little Richard. “True, Fine Mama” has delightful backup vocals, and “Ready Teddy” straight-up swings. Some of the topics Richard tackles are timeless: “Oh Why?” is about being accused for a crime you didn’t commit, and “Rip It Up” is about blowing your paycheck on the weekends.
By all accounts, Richard lived a wild life. He performed with pancake makeup, teetotaled and then became addicted to coke, and had sort of a weird sex life. He was a voyeur, which stuck in my mind when I listened to the undeniable bop “Slippin’ And Slidin’ (Peepin’ And Hidin’).”
By his own account he was gay (in 2010 he told John Waters “I believe I was the founder of gay.”) but later in his life he became a born-again Christian and renounced his homosexuality.
Richard died in 2020 of bone cancer. I hope he died at peace with whoever he was.
Other Highlights: “Jenny, Jenny” and “She’s Got It” have the most fun falsetto whoops I’ve ever heard. “Long Tall Sally (The Thing)” was allegedly written by a little girl, though Richard hollers like he wrote it himself.
Honorable Mentions: “Baby,” which has a generic name and a generic sound.
IS RS FULL OF IT? Okay, RS’s blurb for this album claims that “Good Golly, Miss Molly” is included on this album, but that song was actually not released until the album Little Richard in 1958. Rolling Stone is FULL OF IT.