Little Richard’s “Rill Thing” is Just That

20 Jun

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Collector’s Choice has recently released 3 vintage Little Richard recordings. Set to wax in the late ’60s and early ’70s, these LPs were a real hodge podge of musicians and musical styles. Sure, Richard’s trademark falsetto is evident throughout. But Mr. Penniman bounces around wildly from blues to country to rhythm and blues and the results are somewhat mixed.

All three CDs have their moments, but the clear cut winner in my book is the collection entitled “The Rill Thing.” Ably accompanied by the fabulous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Little Richard finds his groove with cuts like “Freedom Blues,” “Greenwood, Mississippi,” and the 10-minute instrumental blowout called “The Rill Thing.” The playing is as tasteful as a platter of fried green tomatoes and Richard’s over the top personality never overpowers his talented band mates.   

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The same cannot be said for the other two releases. I will admit that the cover art on “The Second Coming” is very cool, but the LP suffers from spotty production and a sameness that grows weary after the first few cuts. The highlights are the tracks where Penniman is joined by LA session legends like saxman Lee Allen and drummer Earl Palmer.

I would have to say the “King of Rock and Roll” collection is the worst of the lot. Richard fails to live up to the album’s title and his between track ramblings don’t hold up to repeated listening. The song choices are bold (CCR’s “Born on the Bayou” and Motown’s “Dancing in the Street” to name a pair) and I give him some credit for that. And the cover art again scores points with Penniman sitting high atop a majestic throne with sceptor in hand and his trademark hair piled high on a sesame seed bun.

Forget the latter two, but please don’t miss “The Rill Thing.” You will surely love it if you are a fan of the greasy, down home Southern R&B sound that made stars out of names like Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, and Aretha Franklin.

2 Responses to “Little Richard’s “Rill Thing” is Just That”

  1. looking for the rill thing October 21, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    does anyone have this? there aren’t any places to just download that song ‘The Rill Thing’ itunes and amazon list it as album only and the album is $40!!!

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