Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Very Best of Little Richard

All ye need know of rock & roll's sacred essence, in 25 tracks and 60 minutes.

In 1956, when Macon, Georgia-born R&B wannabe Little Richard rammed the cleaned-up sex song "Tutti Frutti" into gear with the awop-bop-a-loo-mop that passeth all understanding, no one had ever heard music so frantic. Now, thanks to Little Richard, everyone has, so the tempos on this definitive distillation may strike the speed freaks he created as surprisingly poky. But the details re­main his own. Marvel as Richard rushes to get ahead of himself on "Ready Teddy" and "Jenny Jenny." Figure out where the splices are as 57 seconds of "Keep A-Knockin'" turn into 2:14. Ponder his irrepressible desire to pound the piano faster than Jerry Lee Lewis pursued by a bear. Stomp your foot as Earl Palmer and lesser drummers drive a style forged in New Orleans. And above all, ba-lomp-bam-boom.

Blender, Oct. 2008