Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Not Fade Away - Reissue Review from Issue #50 March-April 2004

Little Richard

Get Down With It!: The Okeh Sessions (Epic / Legacy)

In 1966, Little Richard was in the same boat as most of the others who had invented rock ‘n’ roll little more than ten years earlier — washed ashore by the British invasion, by changing tastes, and by the inability to either get with the times or make the times roll to their own beat.

Of all the fitful albums and singles he cut for various labels after his history-making Specialty recordings, these 1966 tracks, originally released as The Explosive Little Richard, were among the best, if less than epochal.

Six of the tracks were recorded the same day, September 2, 1966, at CBS Studio D in Hollywood, giving the project an assembly-line tone. The “D” must stand for “dead,” for the room muffled Richard’s typically exuberant piano playing, the arrangements of Arthur Wright, and the playing of Johnny Guitar Watson and others.

Larry Williams, who’d been a Little Richard acolyte in the 1950s (“Williams’ “Short Fat Fannie” to Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” got their relative artistic proportions exactly right) produced, and wrote some of the material. Among the originals, Williams and Watson’s “Poor Dog” may have been Richard’s best track since the 1950s (I bought the single), though in retrospect, the me-first message seems at odds with the spirit of the time; the theme of the civil rights movement, after all, was not “I Shall Overcome”.

The covers go by the book. “Land Of 1000 Dances” copies Wilson Pickett’s then-current hit with shameless fidelity, while “Money” can’t compare to the Beatles’ version (which, ironically, was influenced by their obsession with Little Richard). And throughout these Hollywood sessions, the ineptness of the unidentified drummer is a distraction.

The CD bonus tracks, however, are a different story. Recorded at Abbey Road in London in December 1966, these final four tracks, produced by Norman Hurricane Smith, sound bright and vibrant, especially Richard’s piano playing. Two lesser-known and atypical Fats Domino songs (the jamming “Rocking Chair” and the Mardi Gras Indian march of “Rosemary”) allow Richard both to connect with his roots and to shed some inhibitions.

“Hound Dog” is terrific, with Richard perhaps imagining himself comfortably wearing Big Mama Thornton’s oversized dress. But the killer discovery here is a Richard original called “Get Down With It”, a failed UK single of the time that’s as unbowed and unchained as the best of his Specialty recordings. It’s not “Tutti Frutti”, but it’s all-rootie.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108

Discuss

Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #50 March-April 2004

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »


From the Blogs

  • SummerTyne Americana Festival #9 - Jumping Hot Club Stage (Gateshead, U.K. - July 18-20, 2014)
    Wow, it’s taken nearly two weeks for me to get my breath back after another frantic and wonderful SummerTyne Americana Festival. As I say every year, the crowds turn up not knowing anyone on the Jumping Hot Club Outside stage and go away with their favourite new artist of the year. Starting at noon on Friday, the outside stage hosted seven local acts, all wi […]
  • The Post-Newport Earthquake: Watkins Family Hour
    Did you feel it? That's what everybody in Los Angeles asks each other whenever a shake or quake rattles and rolls through the valleys and flatlands. Sometimes there's just a release of pressure beneath the crust, and other times it's an up and down jolt that lasts only a second. And then you forget about it. Until the next time.  Sunday night […]
  • Johnny Winter - True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story (Album Review)
    “This music proves that a white man with white hair can really play the blues,” Pete Townsend says in the booklet that accompanies True To the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story, the four-CD box set retrospective of Winter's career just out on Columbia /Legacy. But age had nothing to do with Winter's look or sound. Due to his albinism, Winter's ha […]
  • Americana Music Show Episode #200 Tribute to the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill music scene
    On episode 200 of the Americana Music Show, I pay tribute to local bands and songwriters in the Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh NC area.  This week features over 30 local artists from the area including John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff, Lyn Blakey, Jefferson Hart and Ghosts of Old North State, Mandolin Orange, Jon Shain, Radar's Clowns Of Se […]
  • Chris Isaak's Life Beyond the Sun
    In 2011, Chris Isaak took the long overdue step of recording an album at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn. It wasn't just any album, it was faithful interpretations of classic songs by his musical mentors and heroes: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. It didn’t take much of a leap of imagination to predict that the album would be […]
  • Carolina Story – Chapter Two (Album Review)
    Strong country duets from Nashville husband and wife The empathy shared by great duet singers can take your breath away. The ways in which a duo's voices complement, compete and provoke one another, the weaving of a harmony line above, below and around a melody, and the connection of two voices as they race around banked curves make listeners eavesdropp […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!


Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter