ALBUM TITLE: Here’s Little Richard
ARTIST NAME: Little Richard
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1957
Holly: Tutti Frutti
Kelly: Tutti Frutti
Here’s Little Richard was recorded between September 14, 1955 and October 15, 1956 and was released on March 4th 1957. Tutti Frutti had already proved to be a hit single so Richard headed to Los Angeles to turn out some demos and album tracks. Specialty Records’ manager cobbled together 6 of these recordings with 6 previous hits and upon release the album reached number thirteen and spent 5 weeks on the Billboard charts. The album and Richards singing and performance style became very influential and is still held in high esteem.
For more about Little Richard check out our review of the song Tutti Frutti!
In 1993 Little Richard performed at the inauguration of Bill Clinton.
Little Richard lived at the Hyatt Hotel in Hollywood from 1984 to 2006.
Ah, Little Richard, it’s been a while. This album sounds really interesting for its time period. First up is one of Little Richard’s most famous tracks – Tutti Frutti. It’s definitely a great opener for an album! High energy, starts with Little Richard by himself, and then adds all the markers of early rock and roll – drums are splashy, lots of triplets in the piano, and some fun tenor sax. I still really like this song!
Next up we have True, Fine Mama which is a song I’ve never heard before. The first thing that’s apparent is that the recording quality is definitely lower on this one than on Tutti Frutti. But as soon as you get into the song, this becomes less and less of an issue. This song features background singers who have taken a couple of big steps closer to the microphone, some splatty bari sax, and a bit more bass. It’s got a standard blues chord structure, and is an enjoyable song. Little Richard is definitely the most enjoyable part of this song!
And, now third, unlike our last album, Little Richard decides to slow things down for a ballad. Three songs in, you can really start to make some predictions on this album. Here we have a standard blues ballad, with triplets in the piano, splashy drums, and some saxophones. As per the last couple of songs, Little Richard is the most interesting thing on this track. Having said that, his voice takes on a different personality in this one, and it really sounds like he’s digging deep to get a growly texture to his voice.
On to Ready Teddy. This has me concerned. This is Tutti Frutti. But it’s Ready Teddy. Uh oh. Am I noticing a trend in this album? If the next song is an upbeat blues, and then the one after that is a ballad……we’re in for a loooong album! What can I say about this one? It would be very very very hard to explain differences between this and Tutti Frutti, aside from the lyrics. At least it’s short.
Baby is next, which is a blues. It’s definitely a jauntier blues than some of the others, and I think the saxophones sound at their best in this one. Little Richard is actually quite flexible in changing the timbre of his voice. This one is much more trebly, with less grit.
Slippin’ and Slidin’ features a blues chord progression, splashy drums, triplets in the piano, and backing saxophone section. There is singing, then a tenor saxophone solo, then more singing.
Next up, Long Tall Sally. This song is an upbeat number featuring a blues progression, and guess what? A tenor sax solo. Ok, I’ll stop harping on the lack of range in this album now. The problem is, there’s not much more to say about it than that!
We’re on to another woman – Miss Ann. Again, the most interesting thing about this song is Little Richard and his vocal control. I do like how this one is a bit down tempo, I guess. But I’ll be honest with you, dear reader. I’m reaching here for things to say.
Oh Why? Oh why oh why are we not done with this album yet? This one is juuuust like the others. Another song with a bit of a lower quality of recording, some saxophones, and that poor pianist must have some brutal carpal tunnel at this point. And the saxophonist sounds bored.
Next – Rip It Up. It’s an up-tempo swing bluesy thing. It’s fine. Pretty predictable. The bari sax sounds ok. The pianist gets a well-deserved break.
Another girlfriend for Little Richard – this is Jenny Jenny and Little Richard is doing all of his most Little Richardy-things. Ugh, is this album almost over?
And FINALLY we end with She’s Got It. It’s the same as all the other songs, except that it’s the last one. Thank god. Onward.
So as we’ve already read Little Richard is a highly influential artist, so I was interested in hearing a complete album of his. I think in modern times Little Richard became a bit of a caricature known for his flamboyant personality and glittering jewels rather than his profound influence on R&B and rock and roll. But let’s have a listen!
We start with what is arguably Richard’s most famous song, Tutti Frutti, and it’s a gas. I think I always overlook him because of his flamboyant personality and stage persona, but just listening to a recording of him, his voice actually sounds really good! And this is a super fun song. I can also imagine what it was like hearing this song for the first time after a lot of the schlock and dumb songs that came out around this time, but as we know this song wasn’t immune to its own Pat Boone-ification.
Next is True, Fine Mama which is a real, super classic example of a boogie woogie song with the triplet piano part, backup singers and basic backing musicians. Again, nice vocal work by Richard and his back up singers sound good too. I’m starting to notice the way they miced this up is a bit weird – Little Richard is very forward in the mix. Maybe a little too forward that he sounds clear and everything else sounds muddled. Also, serviceable sax solo.
Third is Can’t Believe You Wanna leave and it comes at us straight from the Fats Domino playbook – same piano, same backing instrumentation, very Blueberry Hill. Not really too much going on here besides a pretty basic, forgettable song with another serviceable sax solo in the middle.
Ready Teddy is next, and honestly, it’s pretty interchangeable with Tutti Frutti, from the rhyming title to the melody to the song structure. The sax solo in the middle of this one is actually pretty good and a little bit longer and more interesting. The song itself is very basic and I can sum it up for you very succinctly – Little Richard is ready to rock and roll. Although I make fun, it is a fun song to listen to!
Next is Baby, which is a little bit of a change of pace. The song is a little bluesy and Little Richard’s voice sounds a bit different here, a little more feminine. If I heard this on the radio, I would have assumed it was Big Mama Thornton or someone of that ilk, save for the ‘I’m the sweetest man in town” lyrics. It’s a refreshing change from the other songs which are starting to blend together a little bit. This one has the now obligatory sax solo in the middle, which is a good one.
We’re back to some boogie woogie for track 6, Slippin’ and Slidin’. It’s honestly starting to be a bit hard for me to think of something to say about this song, because like the Fats Domino album we reviewed a few months back, the songs start sounding so similar after a while. This is same same for the previous songs – 12 bar blues pattern, piano, quiet band, loud Little Richard, sax solo, the end.
Long Tall Sally is the same floorplan as Tutti Frutti and Ready Teddy, with maybe a more interesting melody. This song is clearly the inspiration for later hit songs like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Travelin’ Man. I do like Richard’s voice in this song though, I think it sits nicely.
Track 8 is Miss Ann, which sounds like a beginner jazz band number in the purple Essential Elements book (the real ones know what I’m talking about). Very basic, very simple in melody, arrangement and back up band. Richard’s voice might sound a bit too edgy for this one? I like his voice but at this point it’s starting to grate.
The next song is Oh Why, which I think is the smoothest that Little Richard’s voice sounds. There’s not really a lot more I can say about it because it’s literally the same as allllll the previous songs.
The last 3 songs, Rip It Up, Jenny Jenny and She’s Got It I can’t think of anything new to say about them as they are identical to any one of the other tracks on this album.
I hate to say it, but by the end of this album I was pretty sick of this album. It was 12 VERY similar songs. It’s the music equivalent of looking at 12 of those “can you spot the difference” pictures. Little Richard’s singing and innovation at the time is undeniable and I like a few of the songs on their own and would buy them as singles, but the album as a whole would be a pass for me.
Average grade out of 10:
Holly’s grade: 5/10
Kelly’s grade: 6.5/10
Link to the album on Spotify: