Little Richard, Soul Man?
Laurence Upton | Wilts, UK | 12/09/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In 1966 Little Richard signed to OKeh Records who teamed him up with Larry Williams in an attempt to reposition Little Richard as a mainstream soul proposition. The first single, Poor Dog, featuring Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, and its follow up, The Commandments Of Love, lived up to their hopes, updating his musical sound and putting him back in the R&B Top 50. A third US single, I Don't Want To Discuss It, later covered by Delaney And Bonnie and Rod Stewart, was less successful as Little Richard was touring in the UK when it came out.
The Explosive Little Richard was Little Richard's first album for OKeh and was released in 1967. As well as original material it featured a number of popular contemporary soul standards such as Wilson Pickett's revival of Land Of A Thousand Dances and the Motown hits Function At The Junction and Money (That's What I Want), as well as oldies Well (Sam Cooke) and Don't Deceive Me (Chuck Willis). The results are uniformly atmospheric and commanding, showing that Little Richard had the potential to be a major player in the sixties and seventies.
While touring in the UK he also recorded the fine Get Down With It at Abbey Road, released as a single here on Columbia. It is added here as a bonus track, but despite the implied claim of the generally helpful liner notes, it is sadly not the original studio recording but an extended live version.
A lack of sales and general unhappiness with the new direction led Little Richard to resort once again to live re-recordings of past hits, with predictable long term results, making this possibly in his case a final glimpse of an artist with the prospect of future glories ahead"