Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Little Richard: Get Down With It: The Okeh Sessions [Epic/Legacy, 2004]
The legend of Little Richard, which in a just universe would prove eternal, is based entirely on the sides he cut with Bumps Blackwell for Specialty between September, 1955 and January, 1957. This was pure rock and roll: lewd, feral, prophetically fast, prophetically funky, and beset by the identity confusion of a man who never did figure out whether he was gay. All that's accomplished by his other recordings is to demonstrate that his power howl and crazed piano triplets are equal to but not ideal for gospel, kiddie novelties, whatever's asked--on these mid-'60s sessions, the soul-r&b cusp. Their sole revelation: four previously unreleased tracks produced in London by Norman Hurricane Smith, at least three of which could sneak onto the Specialty box pure rock and rollers treasure. It's a worthy addition to Richard Penniman's oeuvre--but not to the legend. [Blender: 3]
"Get Down With It," "Rocking Chair" Choice Cuts