Various Artists

Specialty Records Greatest Hits

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The Specialty label was one of the leading companies of both postwar rhythm & blues and early rock & roll. This 20-song anthology is a concise and well-selected survey of their biggest hits and most important performers, including cuts by Little Richard, Larry Williams, Sam Cooke (the early solo performance "I'll Come Running Back to You"), Percy Mayfield, Lloyd Price, Roy Milton, Joe Liggins, and Jimmy Liggins. Some might complain that this is missing representative samples of other R&B notables on Specialty, from Camille Howard and Marvin & Johnny to Floyd Dixon and Jessie Belvin. But then, if you want to go that deep, there's the five-CD box The Specialty Story, as well as numerous single-artist Specialty compilations. This is a good introduction, the most familiar items by far being Little Richard's five hits (and, of course, there are several other of his hits that aren't here), Larry Williams' "Bony Moronie" and "Short Fat Fanny," and Lloyd Price's "Lawdy Miss Clawdy." Not as well known, but still massively influential in the just-pre-rock R&B world, were Percy Mayfield's ballad "Please Send Me Someone to Love," Joe Liggins' romp "Pink Champagne," and Jimmy Liggins' even more raucous "Drunk."

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