The title of Little Richard’s debut studio album is gloriously opaque. Here’s Little Richard. That’s it. The piano-playing wailer from Macon, Georgia is the kind of spectacular, over-the-top, world-shaking artist that he doesn’t need much of an introduction beyond that. Besides, one look at the cover and you’ll learn everything you need to know. The perfectly coifed hair; the gaping mouth, stretched to its absolute physical limits; the beads of sweat covering his entire face like a fine mist, running down his neck onto his perfectly tailored white shirt. There wasn’t anything like Little Richard when this record first dropped in 1957. There hasn’t been anything quite like him since.
Little Richard’s unmatched power and enthusiasm has been magnificently driven home once again thanks to a 60th anniversary reissue of his seminal debut that’s packed with shiny, remastered takes of some of the most classic, and beloved singles in his oeuvre, as well as a bevy of bonus content including demos and alternate takes of some of those same songs. It’s a fascinating set, expanding one of the greatest collections of rock music ever assembled by a full hour, while offering a different perspective on songs well-worn into the American pop music canon, and the man responsible for creating them.
If Elvis was “The King” and Chuck Berry was “The Father” of rock and roll, Little Richard is most assuredly the genre’s wild spirit. Born in Macon, Georgia on December 5, 1932, he got his start the same way so many others of his generation did — through the church choir. An exceedingly devout Christian, Richard’s devotion to the church would eventually call him away from the sin-rife world of rock, but that was still years in the future.