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Craft Recordings Ready To ‘Rip It Up’ With Specialty Records Celebration

The compilation ‘Rip It Up: The Best of Specialty Records’ features 18 key recordings in rock’n’roll, R&B, soul, and blues.

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Specialty Records Rip It Up

Craft Recordings is launching its 75th anniversary celebrations for one of the seminal labels in the history of rhythm and blues with the announcement of a brand new compilation, Rip It Up: The Best of Specialty Records.

The album, to be released on August 6, is now available for pre-order. It gathers together 18 key recordings in rock’n’roll, R&B, soul, and blues by such pioneers as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, and the recently-deceased Lloyd Price.

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The compilation includes liner notes by Grammy-winning writer-musician Billy Vera. It will be available on CD, vinyl, and across digital platforms. A limited edition pressing on yellow vinyl will be offered exclusively via the Craft Recordings webstore, along with new Specialty Records merchandise.

In addition to the retrospective, Craft will mark the legacy of Specialty over the next few months with exclusive content and more special reissues. A deeper dive into Specialty’s history and catalog can also enjoy the acclaimed 1994 collection The Specialty Story, which is now available digitally. This was first released as a five-CD box set, and features 130 tracks from the above-named giants plus Percy Mayfield, Camille Howard, Joe Liggins, Jesse Belvin, Eugene Church, Lil Greenwood, the Swan Silvertones, John Lee Hooker, and more.

Specialty was the vision of the young impresario Art Rupe after his arrival in Hollywood in the 1940s. He spotted the gap in the market caused by the failure of other labels to focus on Black artists, and formed Juke Box Records, soon renamed Specialty.

The label had early success with local bandleader Roy Milton, whose “R.M. Blues” became a major hit in 1945 and, as Vera writes, helped prepare the ground for a coming sensation. “The fact that Roy was both the drummer and singer gave his records another unexpected attraction,” notes Vera. “Roy’s vocal mic picked up leakage from the snare drum, emphasizing the backbeat [that] would later become the core sound of rock’n’roll.”

Milton logged 19 Top 10 R&B singles on Specialty and attracted new signings such as Jimmy Liggins, Percy Mayfield, a teenage Lloyd Price, and doo-wop vocal duo Jesse & Marvin. Then came the phenomenon of Little Richard, whose arrival on Specialty in 1955 became an unforgettable part of rock’n’roll and pop music itself.

“Richard Penniman is the artist who made Specialty and rock’n’roll synonymous,” says Vera, noting that more than 60 years later, Richard’s songs “sound [just] as wild and out of control.”

Later, Rupe would then sign Larry Williams and the promising young singer Sam Cooke, then fronting gospel favorites the Soul Stirrers. The executive was bolstered by the talents as an A&R man, producer, and arranger of Robert “Bumps” Blackwell.

For all the label’s success, Rupe grew disenchanted with the music industry and effectively closed down Specialty in 1959. Now aged 103, he was presented with the Ahmet Ertegun Award by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Writes Vera in his liner notes for the Rip It Up collection: “The name Art Rupe should be spoken with the same reverence as any of the giants: Sam Phillips, Ahmet Ertegun, Jerry Wexler, or Leonard Chess.”

Pre-order Rip It Up: The Best of Specialty Records.

Rip It Up: The Best of Specialty Records tracklist (vinyl):

Side A
Lloyd Price: Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Little Richard: Long Tall Sally
Roy Milton: R.M. Blues
Sam Cooke: I’ll Come Running Back to You
Joe Liggins: Pink Champagne
Little Richard: Tutti Frutti
Percy Mayfield: Please Send Me Someone to Love
Roy Milton: Information Blues
Larry Williams: Bony Moronie

Side B
Little Richard: Lucille
Jesse & Marvin: Dream Girl
Jimmy Liggins: Drunk
Lloyd Price: Ain’t It a Shame?
Larry Williams: Short Fat Fannie
Percy Mayfield: Lost Love (Baby, Please)
Lloyd Price: Oooh-Oooh-Oooh
Roy Milton: Best Wishes
Little Richard: Rip It Up

Rip It Up: The Best of Specialty Records tracklist (CD/digital):

Lloyd Price: Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Little Richard: Long Tall Sally
Roy Milton: R.M. Blues
Sam Cooke: I’ll Come Running Back To You
Joe Liggins: Pink Champagne
Little Richard: Tutti Frutti
Percy Mayfield: Please Send Me Someone to Love
Roy Milton: Information Blues
Larry Williams: Bony Moronie
Little Richard: Lucille
Jesse & Marvin: Dream Girl
Jimmy Liggins: Drunk
Lloyd Price: Ain’t It a Shame?
Larry Williams: Short Fat Fannie
Percy Mayfield: Lost Love (Baby, Please)
Lloyd Price: Oooh-Oooh-Oooh
Roy Milton: Best Wishes
Little Richard: Rip It Up

“George
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