This compilation focuses on Fats Domino's recordings between June of 1951 and the end of 1952, backed by the ubiquitous Crescent City band leader Dave Bartholomew. The 19 cuts included here hail from five separate sessions for Imperial Records, where Domino (piano/vocals) was supported by a core combo consisting of Wendell DuConge (alto sax), Robert "Buddy" Haggans (tenor sax), Walter "Papoose" Nelson (guitar), Billy Diamond (bass), Cornelius Coleman (drums) and occasionally Bartholomew (trumpet) himself. Evident throughout is Domino's distinct blend of R&B, delivering the same unencumbered and enigmatic approach that accompanied the majority of his work. Rather than reiterate rhythm and blues standards, Domino penned the vast majority of his seminal repertoire with Al Young and later Bartholomew. As early as 1949 he had already established himself on the million-selling platter "The Fat Man," so it was certainly no surprise when the soulful "Goin' Home" not only became Domino's first chart-topping R&B smash, but also his initial crossover foray into pop, where it climbed to a respectable number 30. His unmistakable and considerable instrumental chops fan the flame of the funky and rollicking "Fat Man's Hop," "Trust in Me" and "Going to the River" -- the latter provided another R&B hit (number two), as well as an unlikely successful pop number. The B-side "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" is an additional key entry adding a bit of Creole and edgy rock vibe to Professor Longhair's 1949 original, while retaining the frenetic syncopated feel and calypso-flavored percussion. Curious consumers in search of a comprehensive 'best-of' might be better served by any number of anthologies such as the single CD Fats Domino Jukebox: 20 Greatest Hits the Way You Originally Heard Them (2002), or the four-disc Walking to New Orleans (2002) box. However, collectors and hardcore enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to locate 1951-1952 (2003) and the preceding 1949-1951 (2002) volume.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer