‘Directly From My Heart: The Best of the Specialty & Vee-Jay Years’
Little Richard (Specialty)
5 stars out of 5
With his inimitable blend of gospel, raunchy blues and swinging jazz, Little Richard emerged as one of the most important and influential figures in 1950s’ rock & roll. He was stumbling along trying to make a name for himself in the early part of the decade until a fortuitous meeting with Specialty Records A&R rep Bumps Blackwell in September 1955.
During a lunch break, Richard hopped up on the piano and began playing a slightly obscene tune called “Tutti Frutti, Good Bootie.” Blackwell saw the star quality right away and after the lyrics were scrubbed clean, “Tutti Frutti” sparked Little Richard’s career.
Those early days are captured on the three-disc box set “Directly From My Heart: The Best of the Specialty & Vee-Jay Years.” The collection features 64 classic tracks and rarities Little Richard recorded for the labels between 1956 and 1965. It proved to be the most fertile period of his entire career.
All the signature tunes of the era are here, including “Tutti Frutti,” “Kansas City,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Lucille,” “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” “Jenny Jenny,” “Keep a Knockin’” and many, many more. This set is an absolute must for anyone who appreciates and loves the early days of rock & roll. (Jeffrey Sisk)