Rhino’s Got You Covered: Little Richard, Bobby Short, Ella Fitzgerald, The Meters

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Little Richard KING OF ROCK AND ROLL Album Cover

It’s Wednesday, so it must be time to take another dip into the Rhino catalog and trot out a new quartet of cover songs that you may or may not have heard before. Let’s get started, shall we

•    Little Richard, “Joy to the World” (1971): Although he was unquestionably one of the major forces in the early days of rock and roll, Little Richard’s commercial success had waned in a big way by the start of the ‘60s, and while he was rarely far from the pop culture radar, he was always on the lookout for a new album to provide him with a full comeback. The closest he came to finding one was when he signed to Reprise Records in 1970. His first LP for the label – THE RILL THING – was released that very year, but this song can be found on his second Reprise record, KING OF ROCK AND ROLL, along with Richard’s takes on “Brown Sugar,” “Dancing in the Street,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” and “Born on the Bayou,” among others.

•    Bobby Short, “Simon Smith and the Dancing Bear” (1970): While Short is certainly far better known as a jazz singer than a pop singer, there’s nothing in the rule book that says he can’t take a shot at a song by a composer as stylistically diverse of Randy Newman. There’s an entire generation that knows this song because of its appearance on The Muppet Show, but – controversial opinion alert! – Short does it at least as good as Scooter, if not better.

•    Ella Fitzgerald, “Savoy Truffle” (1969): We could pretty much just tweak the first sentence of the previous post for this one, since we’d only need to change it from “Randy Newman” to “George Harrison.” While we don’t know Fitzgerald’s reasons for selecting this particular Beatles track, our suspicion is that having played the actual Savoy might’ve had something to do with it.

•    The Meters, “Wichita Lineman” (1970): Everybody and their brother has done a version of this Jimmy Webb classic at this point, and to prove that premise, here’s a Neville brother – Art, in case you’re wondering which one – doing a take on it with his bandmates in The Meters.