Goin' Home: A Tribute To Fats Domino

Various Artists

Vanguard, 2007

REVIEW BY: David Bowling

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/15/2007

Fats Domino was one of the important figures in the early development of rock and roll, combining New Orleans rhythm and blues with an ability to create catchy pop tunes. This combination enabled him to be one of the first black artists to continually cross over onto the white pop charts. Only Elvis Presley sold more records that Fats Domino during the '50s.

Proceeds from this two-CD set go to rebuilding the 9th Ward of New Orleans, where Fats has been a lifelong resident. So the cause is good...but is the music? As with any tribute album, there are highs and lows, but the highs are the majority this time out.

If ever the right artist met the right song, it’s “I’m Walkin’” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. This is a rock & roll tour de force with sterling guitar work, two great wailing sax breaks and strong vocals, hinting at just what Petty can produce when  motivated.nbtc__dv_250

Blues veteran Taj Mahal takes “My Girl Josephine” and pushes it in a rock direction. He lays his gruff blues voice against some solid rock guitar, with the cracks then filled in by some nice organ and percussion work. This is Taj Mahal at his jamming best.

“Blue Monday” by Randy Newman is a pleasant surprise. He gives the tune a honky tonk piano sound and his vocals are stronger than I have heard out of him in years. “Be My Guest” is a little known gem that Ben Harper takes on, using a strong horn section and some steel drums to provide the background for his ska-oriented vocal style. It is an unusual and creative presentation.

Elsewhere, Elton John gives a straightforward vocal to “Blueberry Hill” but also plays a little honky tonk piano in support. Smooth vocalist Mark Broussard brings his soul styling to “Rising Sun.” Dr. John is New Orleans at its musical best, and he doesn't disappoint with “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” which features his gruff vocals and sometimes flamboyant piano playing. Finally, B.B. King takes “Goin’ Home” and gives it his signature blues treatment. His gritty vocals alternating with his clear guitar licks make this a classic.

The two real misses on Goin’ Home: A Tribute To Fats Domino are by Robert Plant on  “It Keeps Raining” and Willie Nelson with “I Hear You Knockin Plant seems not to care and provides a subdued vocal, and while Willie Nelson is a lot of things, New Orleans rock & roll is not one.

Lastly, Herbie Hancock uses “I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday” as a jumping-off point for his jazz keyboards. It has been years since Hancock has let himself go creatively. This ends up as a Hancock creation more than a Fats Domino cover, but is interesting.

Goin’ Home: A Tribute To Fats Domino is an excellent all-around album -- and I haven't even touched on the contributions from Neil Young, Paul McCartney and Norah Jones. You'll have to discover those on your own.

This is good music for a good cause that will help bring a classic artist back to the spotlight. You can’t get much better than that.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2007 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Vanguard, and is used for informational purposes only.