Repeat after me: "Wop Bama Leema Lama, Wop Bop a Lu!"
Now say this, loudly: "Bama Lama, Bama Lu!"
Now don't you feel better already? I knew you would... most can't help it...
One more now...
Now, shout this out at the top of your lungs: "Wop bop a loo bop, a lop bom boom!"
Feels pretty great, eh?
Ok, that is enough for this week's rock 'n roll therapy session. You have just received your first Teenage Mantras written by the legendary Little Richard, rock 'n roll's pioneering alchemist who influenced generations with his off-the-hook, inspired and fun run of hits from the 1950s.
Long before David Bowie plucked his eyebrows.... before Wayne County became Jayne County... before Lou Reed and Andy Warhol walked on the wild side.... before Reg Dwight transmogrified into Elton John.... before Marc Bolan got his solid-gold easy action T-Rex-tacy on... Before Eno and Bryan Ferry's Roxy Music ... before Freddie Mercury and Queen... before Robert Smith donned his big wigs in The Cure ... before Morrissey.... before Adam Lambert.... it was Little Richard who trail-blazed a brave path of androgyny, ambi-sexuality, shocking (for the times) make up, amazing hair, wild stage antics and anthemic earworms which would inspire generations to come.
Paul McCartney learned how to do many of his trademark rock and roll shouts from Little Richard.
People of a certain age who were there in the 1950s know all about Little Richard. Some of us who have done their research (like me!) have discovered the wonders of Little Richard after hearing so many bands cover his songs, from Elvis Costello to John Lennon to Frank Zappa. Fortunately for you, Dear Readers, Little Richard's music is alive and well for you to explore anew. It is, in fact, back in print on vinyl records and even longer playing multi-disc CD sets that have recently been issued / reissued.
This wondrous Little Richard renaissance (if you will) began quietly on Record Store Day a few years ago when the long out of print and hard to find first album by Little Richard was reissued on vinyl -- red vinyl at that -- for a very reasonable price. This was significant. The reissue was nicely prepared including period-accurate Specialty Records label and artwork. It sounded real good and, frankly, finding an original pressing in "new" condition has always been next to impossible (unless you were prepared to spend hundreds of dollars from a pricey collectors shop).
Then something else happened in 2014: Little Richard's SECOND album was reissued on Record Store Day on lovely white vinyl!
What a joy to finally own good sounding pressings of some of the most influential rock and roll recordings in pop music history in their original format : long playing vinyl records!
But, never having owned an original pressing I had no idea how this reissue stacked up. Until, that is, a recent happenstance discovery at a garage sale where I found a decent condition original stereo pressing of the second Little Richard album. This is one of those albums that used to always be on the walls of used record shops going for hundreds of dollars. Now that there have been reissues and that the top tier of the baby boom is purging their coveted collections as they downsize their lives, these records are starting to pop up in surprising places for more reasonable prices.
Anyhow, here is the interesting and good news item for you, Dear Readers: the vinyl reissues sound just ducky!
(Good Golly! Did he just say ducky?)
Additionally, the good folks at Concord Music Group -- current owners of the Specialty Records catalog -- have just put out a three (count 'em, 3!) CD box set compiling "The Best of the Specialty and Vee Jay Years" by Little Richard, which (full disclosure) they kindly sent me to check out for this review. This is an old school box set replete with a neat little cardboard sleeve containing three jewel boxed CDs and a nifty informative booklet with liner notes penned by composer and music historian Billy Vera.
You know you want it all in all its pink-hued glory!
Listening to the new CDs, which I have to assume are culled from the best available sources, I've been able to do some comparison and contrast to the reissue LPs. The cool thing is the LPs sound markedly better than the CD, which should be a relief to some of you conspiracy theorists out there who insist that all modern day LP reissues are being mastered off of CD sources. Nope. The CD sounds thinner than the LP version, considerably so.