Reissues: ’50s Moxie, ’60s Soul and ’90s Hip-Hop


‘Mono Box: The Complete Specialty and Vee-Jay Albums’ (5 LPs)


Little Richard’s seismic 1950s hits — among them “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Lucille” — are rock ’n’ roll cornerstones: whooping and wailing, leering and cackling, pounding the ivories over an unstoppable backbeat, just plain ripping it up. What about the rest of his early recordings? Well, they’re pretty wild, too; songs like “Can’t Believe You Wanna Leave” and “Early One Morning” pour on the adrenaline, and even album filler — “Baby Face,” believe it or not — has moxie. This straightforward collection, on vinyl only, reissues full albums from 1957, ’58, ’59, ’64 and ’65. But in ’58, Little Richard turned away from rock toward gospel; His ’59 album, “The Fabulous Little Richard,” dug into his rock outtakes, including some bluesy ballads. The ’60s albums rely on other acts’ material and remakes of his own hits, slightly updated with ’60s soul — not revolutionary anymore, but at least the piano gets cranked up.


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