Little Richard’s voice in the opening of this song is just so powerful. Having sung gospel his whole life, a 14 year old Richard Penniman was plucked from obscurity by Sister Rosetta Tharpe to open her show in his hometown of Macon, Georgia. He continued performing outside the church, soon adopting the moniker Little Richard. Shake A Hand isn’t a gospel song per se, but it sure sounds like one. It was first performed by Faye Adams in 1953, who also grew up singing in church, alongside her gospel singer father. Little Richard recorded his take on the song in New Orleans in 1956, but it wasn’t released by Specialty Records until 1959. This was during the time Little Richard left the music business to dedicate himself purely to religion. Specialty employee and future Cher partner, Sonny Bono, overdubbed the Stewart Sisters’ backing vocals on this recording and others that were included on The Fabulous Little Richard LP. This was a move that has angered many Little Richard fans ever since. If you want to hear the raw studio version, someone has kindly uploaded it to YouTube here.
You can hear this and the original Faye Adams version along with many other Shake songs on my latest NTS Radio show.