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Little Richard – Lifetime Friend (Omnivore)

Little Richard
25 November 2020

The enterprising reissue label Omnivore recently resurrected a quartet of Little Richard’s later-career albums, including three from the ‘70s (King of Rock and Roll, The Rill Thing and The Second Coming) along with the 1986 offering Lifetime Friend, each with bonus tracks. While none eclipse such incendiary ‘50s classics as “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly” – as if anything could – all crackle with Richard’s life-affirming vitality and deserve investigation.

Marking Richard’s return to music after an extended hiatus devoted to religious pursuits, Lifetime Friend is an old-fashioned gospel album disguised as polished soul-pop. Featuring smokin’ guitarist Travis Wammack and Beatles pal Billy Preston on organ, the album supports such devotional tunes as “Great Gosh A’Mighty” and “Big House Reunion” with a roaring horn section and wailing female backing singers, who add an exuberant church vibe. Richard is in fine voice, notably on the jaunty “Operator” and the rousing “Someone Cares,” although the booming, echoey production typical of the era occasionally mutes the good vibes. Regardless, Little Richard is his usual engaging self here, rollicking and righteous.

 

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