Country rock with a flavouring of southern soul and a bit o’ Little Richard camp, Southern Child is receiving a reissue late this autumn.
Shelved in 1972, and previously revealed within an expansive 2005 Rhino Handmade set entitled King of Rock and Roll—The Complete Reprise Recordings—Southern Child shares a side of Little Richard most of us didn’t notice. The performances are (mostly) sincere attempts toward country; not Charley Pride or George Jones’ country—this is Little Richard, after all, and He is not to be contained within staid ballads and barroom tearjerkers.
“Last Year’s Race Horse (Can’t Run In This Year’s Race),” “I Git A Little Lonely,” and the final bonus instrumental “Sneak the Freak” are more natural to Little Richard, with “Over Yonder” hinting of the gospel direction in which he would soon head. Still, listening to Little Richard, the self-proclaimed and still King of Rock and Roll, bring his interpretation of country soul to this (mostly) self-written set, is most gratifying.
Highlights—including “California (I’m Coming,)” “Bring Up With Love,” and “Southern Child”—are revelatory. Four takes of “In The Name” are interesting for they show the progression of the song’s development, and the final version is outstanding.
“If You Pick Her Too Hard (She Comes Out of Tune)” ain’t about a guitar, but is a showcase for Little Richard’s raspy, intense vocalizations, and may be the album’s essential performance. The extended jam “Puppy Dog Song” is most obviously, not. Well-worth owning; the cover art alone is worth $20.