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Vintage Voola

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South Carolina's Eskew Reeder Jr. was a young pianist who taught Little Richard to play the piano. (Little Richard says as much in a brief interview snippet at the end of this album.) Little Richard, however, got a head start and began his recording career before Esquerita cut the songs that appear here. Vintage Voola features seven demos cut in 1958 in Dallas, plus an early single with Paul Peek ("Sweet Skinny Jenny" and "The Rock-A-Round"), a late-'60s recording of "Dew Drop Inn," and that brief Little Richard interview. These early recordings show the fierce, piano-based rock 'n' roll that Little Richard quickly studied. The vocal style here is more restrained, but the overall sound is still plenty aggressive, with glorious reverbs and slapback echoes working their magic, along with live-in-the-studio excitement that can't be faked.


Born: New Orleans, LA

Genre: Rock & Roll

Years Active: '50s

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,...
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