Little Richard: Tutti Frutti


Tutti Frutti


Little Richard (vocals, piano)


Tutti Frutti (Mbop Direct - River Records RGCD1158)

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Little Richard (vocals, piano),

Justin Adams (guitar), Frank Fields (bass), Alvin ‘Red’ Tyler (baritone sax), Lee Allen (tenor sax), Earl Palmer (drums)


Composed by Little Richard & Dorothy LaBostrie


Recorded: New Orleans, September 14, 1955


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Little Richard had entered Cosimo Matassa's recording studio on Rampart Street in New Orleans with hopes of becoming a star, but the slow blues he was performing weren't going well. Richard Penniman was setting himself up for a return ticket back to a day job and dashed dreams. But during a break, Richard sat down at the battered piano at the Dew Drop Inn and let loose with a boisterous semi-nonsense lyric he had honed at rowdy performances across the South. Producer Bumps Blackwell was dumbstruck and (according to one version of the story) enlisted the service of Dorothy Labostrie to clean up the questionable lyrics. "Good booty" was replaced with "all rooty," and a few other changes made "Tutti Frutti" suitable for America's teenagers.

They loved it, and everyone wanted a scoop of "Tutti Frutti." Even Pat Boone had a hit with his cover version, but his "Tutti Frutti" is plain vanilla when compared with Little Richard's tour-de-hoarse rendition. This definitely ranks among the most uninhibited vocals in the history of rock and roll, up there with John Lennon's throat-abrading version of "Twist and Shout" and Roger Daltrey's nightmarish scream in "Won't Get Fooled Again." The future of popular music is prefigured here, but you can also hear the echoes of the past. "Tutti Frutti" belongs to that great tradition of New Orleans pseudo-gibberish party-time songs—from "Heebie Jeebies" to "Iko Iko." It just feels so fine ricocheting off the lips: Womp-bomp-a-loom-op-a-womp-bam-boom! The band plays with as much energy as they can muster, and drummer Earl Palmer pulls out all the stops. But Little Richard is in the zone, and could take it full court one-on-five right to the hoop. Seriously good booty!

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


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