Little Richard

The Mercury Blues Story: Midwest Blues, Vol. 2

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The Mercury Blues Story: Midwest Blues, Vol. 2 Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

With the lapse of ever more copyrights, publishing companies are begging Congress to extend them 50 to 75 years, all the better to protect the music from the greedy hands of profiteers. Well, if Universe is what we're meant to fear, cut them down to 25 years, and "let 'em at it" will be most fans' response. Directly From My Heart is the latest in an expanding series of legacy two-CD packages devoted to blues and R&B artists, in this case the ever flamboyant Little Richard. You don't meet that singer, however, until the tail end of disc one, as the set carefully charts Richard's career from his first recordings in 1951 to the beginnings of his breakout in late 1955. As always, the set meticulously notes the details, the date and place of sessions, and in the case of Richard's pre-J&M recordings, the backing musicians as well. It was at J&M, of course, that Richard recorded "Tutti Frutti," the first in a flood of high-adrenaline hits. None of those, however, prepare the listener for what came before, although those knowledgeable of the singer's start in gospel groups may be less surprised. Heavily influenced by such gospel greats as Mahalia Jackson, in his early years the singer brought an unexpected blues and soul styling to his songs. Equally startling is his smooth work as part of the harmony group the Tempo Toppers, a silky quartet with whom he recorded in 1953. By 1955, Richard was itching to give voice to his more exuberant side, and the set emphasizes that fact as the singer re-records older numbers to ever more devastating effect. You can hear it as he belts out the final version of "All Night Long," barrels through a couple of takes of "Kansas City," and burns his way across the re-re-recorded title track. "Baby" further turns up the heat, the chest-beater "I'm Just a Lonely Guy" is ablaze, with the stage now set for the revelation of "Tutti Frutti." The rest is history, more of which is captured here on a superb set that is as fabulous as Richard himself.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Sunnyland Slim & His Sunny Boys 03:03 Amazon
2 Sunnyland Slim & His Sunny Boys 02:54 Amazon
3 Memphis Slim 02:48 Amazon
4 Memphis Slim 02:56 Amazon
5 Ray Snead 02:36 Amazon
6 Memphis Slim 02:45 Amazon
7 Memphis Slim 02:52 Amazon
8 Memphis Slim 02:50 Amazon
9 Memphis Slim 02:30 Amazon
10 Big Bill Broonzy 03:02 Amazon
11 Big Bill Broonzy 02:50 Amazon
12 Big Bill Broonzy 03:14 Amazon
13 Big Bill Broonzy 03:01 Amazon
14 Big Bill Broonzy 02:59 Amazon
15 Big Bill Broonzy 02:51 Amazon
16 Big Bill Broonzy 02:37 Amazon
17 Robert Lockwood, Jr. 02:39 Amazon
18 Robert Lockwood, Jr. 02:41 Amazon
Robert Lockwood, Jr. 02:28 Amazon
Robert Lockwood, Jr. 02:41 Amazon
21 Memphis Slim 02:45 Amazon
22 Memphis Slim 02:50 Amazon
23 Sunnyland Slim & His Trio 02:47 Amazon
24 Sunnyland Slim & His Trio 02:57 Amazon
25 Sunnyland Slim & His Trio 03:13 Amazon
26 Sunnyland Slim & His Trio 02:59 Amazon
27 Sax Mallard & His Orchestra / Andrew Tibbs 02:39 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick