Little Richard came along before the album was king, but his debut long-player from 1957 is still one of the all-time classics of rock-and-roll.
"Here's Little Richard" wasn't the artist's first effort in the studio. Richard Wayne Penniman first recorded for RCA in 1951, and had a regional hit in his native Georgia with "Every Hour." By 1955, Penniman - by then known as Little Richard - had moved on to Speciality Records where he began honing the sound that's on full display on this unforgettable debut.
Little Richard was more than just a voice on a record, however. His entire presentation and persona are at the center of the rock and roll universe; if Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and other early rock luminaries are the planets in rock's solar system, then Little Richard is the very sun itself - a star burning brighter than any other that made the rest of the life in that system possible. Elvis may have been the King of Rock and Roll, but there's a reason Little Richard became known as "The Innovator," "The Originator" and "The Architect of Rock and Roll."
Little Richard died Saturday surrounded by family at his home in Tullahoma, Tennessee, but he leaves behind a treasure trove of music and memories that will forever be an essential part of the American popular music canon.
- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb
CHUCK'S ALBUM OF THE DAY
Led Zeppelin IV (TBD)
Why I Love It
Boasting one of the most iconic songs in rock and roll history, "Stairway to Heaven," this album embodies everything that I love about Led Zeppelin. I have always considered it a perfect record in every way. I'm not alone in that sentiment. This album, which is technically untitled, set the standard for 1970s hard rock and influenced legions of up-and-coming artists to make great music of their own. For me, it's the mighty Led Zeppelin at the top of its game. I don't go more than a month or so without cranking this album up again.
"Black Dog," "Rock and Roll" and "Going to California"
Kendall on Chuck's Album of the Day
This album was one of the finalists for my list, and as Chuck's Album Highlights suggest, don't pull it up just to listen to "Stairway To Heaven." This is a rich, rewarding album - a conglomeration of several styles in which Led Zeppelin dabbles and excels - and the best way to listen to it is all the way - from beginning to end.
KENDALL'S ALBUM OF THE DAY
Tomorrow The Green Grass (1995)
Why I Love It
I was in the glorious Tower Records in Austin (oh how I miss record stores) when I first recall seeing the album display for this record. There was a beautiful song playing over the store's sound system, and when I asked a clerk what I was listening to, he pointed me back to that very display.
The song, "Blue," was the lead track on "Tomorrow The Green Grass," and I walked out with the CD in hand. This was at the beginning of the Americana explosion, and I was completely mesmerized listening to the album. It was The Jayhawks' second album, and while their debut (1992's "Hollywood Town Hall) is a more than worthy predecessor, this is the record that roped me in and turned me into a lifelong Jayhawks' fan. This album is currently ranked No. 3 on my all-time list of favorites, and it would take one hell of a record to ever move it down the list.
"Blue," "Two Hearts" and "Bad Time"
Chuck on Kendall's Album of the Day
Kendall and I have always loved this record, which I consider an Americana classic. "Blue" is one of my all-time favorite album openers. I love the harmonies and especially the songwriting by Gary Louris and Mark Olson throughout the album. The Jayhawks have continued to consistently release great music, but this one will always have a special place in my heart. It almost made my list, as well.