October 2006

Little Richard - Here’s Little Richard
Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2028
Format: Hybrid Mono SACD
Originally released: 1957 and 1958
Re-released: 2006

by John Crossett

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

What is it about hot rods, bobby socks, drive-ins, and duck-tails that continues to capture the imagination of people the world over? Maybe it’s not those things at all, but the music of the era that makes us nostalgic. After all, it was during that time that good old rock'n'roll as we know it was born.

One of the biggest musical stars of the early-rock'n'roll era was Richard Penniman, aka Little Richard. Like many of the stars during rock's beginnings, Little Richard carved out a sound that was instantly recognizable. In his case, he did this by combining the gospel singing he was raised on with the blues he loved and mixed them together with the new-fangled rock'n'roll. Toss in his bursting-at-the-seams vocal style and you have Little Richard.

Keeping firmly in mind that early rock'n'roll never received much in the way of attention from the recording engineers and record labels of the day, the results that Mobile Fidelity’s Shawn Britton achieved with these late-'50s mono tapes is astounding. Little Richard’s voice is front and center, well rounded and realistic, and anytime there’s a sax solo, it also sounds 3-D real. Sure, the rest of the instruments sound a bit muffled, but the essence of the music never fails to come shining through.

Britton's combining onto SACD the original Specialty LPs Here’s Little Richard and Little Richard means getting to hear hits such as "Tutti Frutti," "Long Tall Sally," "Slippin’ and Slidin’," "Keep a Knockin’," "Good Golly Miss Molly," and "Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey." This  is a treat that up till now was afforded only to those who got to hear Little Richard live back in the day. I doubt these recordings have ever sounded near as good.