Monday, October 20, 2008

Number 439 - Little Richard


Number 439

Little Richard

"Long Tall Sally"

(1956)
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Genre: Rock n Roll
Long Tall Sally Gill aka the new parnell panther
One of the things i have pondered over the years is why are there so many songs with name Sally in the title and/or in the lyrics of the song? For example ... "Lay Down Sally" by Eric Clapton, "Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard, "Mustang Sally" by Commitments, "F*$k Her Gently" by Tenacious D, "Don't Look Back in Anger" by Oasis, "Sally Cant Dance" by Lou Reed, "Good Time Sally" by Rare Earth, "Sally Was a Good Girl" by Fats Domino, "Run Sally Run" by the Cuff Links.
The list could go on and on and ON! So who is this Sally that musicians must croon about? Well, first of all, the word Sally is a slang word for an effeminate boy or man [hmmmm] but this cannot be the "Sally" they are referring to. Lets see, Mustang Sally the song, became a staple for stripper's playlists. [a-ha! That makes sense, muso's love strippers]. Long Tall Sally apparently is about a transvestite and it contains lots of sexual references. Using the word Sally kept the song form getting censored. [I see *scribbling notes*]. Right, so the only conclusion i can make is that Sally is indeed not a person who rock stars have had rompy pomp with, but rather slang for sex, drugs and rock n' roll. Makes perfect sense now!
Hold still now
One of the original rock & roll greats, Little Richard merged the fire of gospel with New Orleans R&B, pounding the piano and wailing with gleeful abandon. While numerous other R&B greats of the early '50s had been moving in a similar direction, none of them matched the sheer electricity of Richard's vocals. With his bullet-speed deliveries, ecstatic trills, and the overjoyed force of personality in his singing, he was crucial in upping the voltage from high-powered R&B into the similar, yet different, guise of rock & roll. Although he was only a hitmaker for a couple of years or so, his influence upon both the soul and British Invasion stars of the 1960s was vast, and his early hits remain core classics of the rock repertoire.
Who stole my stool?
Heavily steeped in gospel music while growing up in Georgia, when Little Richard began recording in the early '50s he played unexceptional jump blues/R&B that owed a lot to his early inspirations Billy Wright and Roy Brown. In 1955, at Lloyd Price's suggestion, Richard sent a demo tape to Specialty Records, who were impressed enough to sign him and arrange a session for him in New Orleans. That session, however, didn't get off the ground until Richard began fooling around with a slightly obscene ditty during a break. With slightly cleaned-up lyrics, "Tutti Frutti" was the record that gave birth to Little Richard as he is now known -- the gleeful "woo!"s, the furious piano playing, the sax-driven, pedal-to-the-metal rhythm section. It was also his first hit, although, ridiculous as it now seems, Pat Boone's cover version outdid Richard's on the hit parade.
1959
Boone would also try to cover Richard's next hit, "Long Tall Sally," but by that time it was evident that audiences black and white much preferred the real deal. In 1956 and 1957, Richard reeled off a string of classic hits -- "Long Tall Sally," "Slippin' and "Slidin'," "Jenny, Jenny," "Keep a Knockin'," "Good Golly, Miss Molly," "The Girl Can't Help It" -- that remain the foundation of his fame. While Richard's inimitable mania was the key to his best records, he also owed a lot of his success to the gutsy playing of ace New Orleans session players like Lee Allen (tenor sax), Alvin Tyler (baritone sax), and especially Earl Palmer (drummer), who usually accompanied the singer in both New Orleans and Los Angeles studios. Richard's unforgettable appearances in early rock & roll movies, especially The Girl Can't Help It, also did a lot to spread the rock & roll gospel to the masses. ~ [Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide]
The Song

The music was a fast up tempo number with Little Richard's hammering, boogie piano. Richard plays staccato eighth notes while Palmer plays a fast shuffle. The shuffle was the most common rhythm and blues beat; Richard added the eighth notes, much less common in that time, although now standard for rock music. Together this created an ambiguity in the ride rhythm -- known to musicians as playing in the crack-- that came to characterize New Orleans rock and roll. Little Richard sang in a very high key (F), in his raw, aggressive, exhilarating style the lyrics of self-centered fun. On the original recording, the opening line states the singer is going to report to Aunt Mary that Uncle John does not, as he claims, have the misery, a Southern expression meaning generalized weakness and illness. The line in the original recorded version, "Long Tall Sally is built for speed", is a reference to the proverbial African-American distinction in sexual types: "Built for comfort or built for speed", terms originally applied to passenger sailing ships. When sung rapidly, this line is sometimes rendered built sweet, even by Little Richard in a recorded live performance, though it does not rhyme with need. ~ [Source: Wikipedia]
For Eric Clapton see Number 537
For the Commitments see Number 676
For Oasis see Number 574
For Lou Reed see Number 918 & #953
For Fats Domino see Number 441
What does Rolling Stone think about Little Richard?
Pounding the piano and howling lyrics in a wild falsetto, Little Richard - the so-called Quasar of Rock - became a seminal figure in the birth of rock & roll. Little Richard's no-holds-barred style, mascara-coated eyelashes, and high - almost effeminate - pompadour were exotic and in many ways personified the new music's gleeful sexuality and spirit of rebellion. In his own way - and as he is wont to exclaim to anyone in earshot - he is the king of rock & roll. ~ [Source: RS - from The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll - Simon & Schuster, 2001] shhhh don't tell Elvis!
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '439th Song of all Time' was "Pink Houses" by John Cougar Mellencamp. John Mellencamp has appeared in The Definitive 1000 @ #637 & #828
Other songs with reference to Little Richard #441, #442, #457, #481, #518, #596, #611, #718, #741
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number 56 and the Album ranked at 50
This song has a Definitive 1000 rating of 77.4 out of 108
Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

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