10 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Doing what Norton Records does best, the highly praised reissue label unearthed these tapes from a June 1966 recording session in New York City. The tapes represent a shift in sound for Esquerita, capturing a session that's clearly loose and free. Esquerita's manic organ and piano chases his spirited vocals, with only a drummer in evidence. Despite (or because of) the two-man lineup, the playing is fearless. Both takes of the title track (based on Nina Simone's version) are tours de force; together they're nine minutes of a jam that sounds like a full band tripping on free jazz, be-bop, and early rock 'n' roll with the same force Esquerita brought to '50s rock 'n' roll on his Capitol Records releases. This minimalist approach leaves room for the drummer and Esquerita to each play around. "Leave Me Alone" (in two takes), "Letter Full of Tears," "On Broadway," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" have never sounded more alive. The only drawback is that there isn't more material than these 10 tracks. 

EDITORS’ NOTES

Doing what Norton Records does best, the highly praised reissue label unearthed these tapes from a June 1966 recording session in New York City. The tapes represent a shift in sound for Esquerita, capturing a session that's clearly loose and free. Esquerita's manic organ and piano chases his spirited vocals, with only a drummer in evidence. Despite (or because of) the two-man lineup, the playing is fearless. Both takes of the title track (based on Nina Simone's version) are tours de force; together they're nine minutes of a jam that sounds like a full band tripping on free jazz, be-bop, and early rock 'n' roll with the same force Esquerita brought to '50s rock 'n' roll on his Capitol Records releases. This minimalist approach leaves room for the drummer and Esquerita to each play around. "Leave Me Alone" (in two takes), "Letter Full of Tears," "On Broadway," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" have never sounded more alive. The only drawback is that there isn't more material than these 10 tracks. 

TITLE TIME
8:54
2:02
2:32
2:22
3:46
2:04
4:46
4:25
2:23
6:58

About Esquerita

With a six-inch pompadour, brocaded shirts, rhinestone shades, and a rhythmic, belligerent style of piano playing, Esquerita was the original Little Richard, years before Mr. Penniman tutti-frutti'd his way to stardom. Working around the Dallas-New Orleans circuit in the early '50s, Esquerita's shot at the big time came when Capitol Records decided they needed their own version of Little Richard, after signing their answer to Elvis, Gene Vincent. The resulting recordings, though smartly produced, stand as some of the most untamed and unabashed sides ever issued by a major label. Long revered by rock & roll fans the world over, they make Little Richard's Specialty sides look highly disciplined by comparison. Though Esquerita continued to record in a tamer style through the '60s, his Capitol sides stand as a monument to the potential of rock & roll's lunatic power and the off-kilter genius of Esquerita. ~ Cub Koda

Top Songs by Esquerita

Top Albums by Esquerita