LITTLE RICHARD: Big Box but Just One Channel

9th December 2016

Title: Mono Box: The Complete Speciality And Vee-Jay Albums

Label: Speciality/VJ

Featuring Here’s Little Richard (1957), Little Richard (1958), The Fabulous Little Richard (1959), Little Richard is Back (1964) and His Greatest Hits (1965), this slip-cased box set also includes a booklet including rare photos.

In mastering terms? This music has received some careful and sympathetic attention. I’m sure that this was a tough job because the original was famously compressed. After all, this was music that was supposed to jump off the poor quality contemporary speakers of early record players and radios. Thus a compressive wash was placed on this sound to add edge and emphasis. The label should be congratulated because Little Richard’s energy, intensity, his rasping vocal presentation, his dynamic approach to a song and that sheer joy that he infused into his work is evident here.

The mastering engineers have also enhanced the space and air around the soundstage to give the songs a sense of depth and width, adding an unfamiliar dimension to those used to hearing this stuff from a crackly mono speaker.

And don’t forget, this in a mono box set so, to play it properly, you will need a mono cartridge and, despite the age of these masters, don’t forget that this is a modern pressing, so only a 0.7mil tip will do. Fully equipped, these discs spring to live and exude new and enhanced detail that you just don’t hear via a stereo cartridge. For example, the saxophones on Good Golly Miss Molly are largely missing through a stereo cartridge but, via a mono tip, they add a grunt that gives this track guts, force and a raw power that shocks and amazes in equal measure. A superb set: you never knew that so much passion and raw intensity could be contained by shrink-wrap.