As the Internet Age continues to offer premature upgrades and seizure-inducing pop-up advertising, much of Fats Waller's recorded legacy is ending up in disorganized heaps of haphazardly downloaded files with little or no context to help the listener sort them out. Many CD compilations seem hardly better organized, offering Waller's best and not-so-best performances mashed together without regard for texture, form, or content. Happily, Living Era's Ain't Misbehavin' is a rare example of an excellent Fats Waller compilation, that draws upon recordings he made between 1929 and 1940. Using a format somewhat similar to the old RCA Victor Vintage series, the producers have carefully selected some of Waller's best ensemble performances and have inserted five of his very finest piano solos here and there throughout the sampler. A gnarly version of "Ain't Misbehavin'" and a very sweet duet with Adelaide Hall on "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" were drawn from a diverse body of works that Waller waxed in London during the year 1938. The rest of these tunes were recorded in Camden, New Jersey and New York, New York. In addition to several very funny routines there are unforgettable love songs like "When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful" and "My Very Good Friend, The Milkman" -- these are simply some of the best recordings that Fats Waller ever made. "Sugar Rose" was obviously included as an example of a lesser-known Waller original. There's plenty of piano here, gallons of lusty vocals, a little bit of theater organ and "Blue, Turning Grey Over You," one of Waller's all-time best instrumentals. Is there such a thing as the perfect Fats Waller sampler? As humanity strives to attain this elusive goal, Living Era serves up a tasty selection that will have to do "Until the Real Thing Comes Along."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Fats Waller & His Rhythm