As a record of the earliest years of Domino's career, this 30-track CD couldn't be more thorough, presenting the A- and B-sides of his first 14 singles in chronological order (a couple of 1957 LP cuts, "The Fat Man's Hop" and "Hey! Fat Man," are added at the end). Domino's debut single, "The Fat Man," and perhaps "Goin' Home" (which actually got to number 30 in the pop charts in 1952) are the only songs from this period that are reasonably well known to all but the devoted rock & roll/R&B collector. Actually, a few of the other cuts were sizable R&B hits, like "Every Night About This Time," "How Long," and "Poor Poor Me." But it's safe to say that even the average Fats Domino fan will be unfamiliar with the bulk of this collection. For that reason it might disappoint the typical listener, yet for the same reason more discerning consumers might find it quite interesting, shedding light as it does on Domino's pre-rock stardom origins. On the earliest sides in particular, there's more of a jazz and blues flavor than his big rock & roll hits boast, though much of his drawling vocal style and modified piano boogie playing is in force from the start. Like much R&B of the early '50s, there's some sameness to hearing all of the cuts grouped together at once. There are some highlights and oddities to pick out too, though, like "Little Bee," which was too graphic in its description of female anatomy by 1950 standards to pick up airplay; the pounding jump blues "Hey! La Bas Boogie"; "Every Night About This Time," his first record to prominently use his trademark hammered 6/8 triplets; and the downright weird "Korea Blues," with some frankly annoying bugle charges from the usually tasteful Dave Bartholomew. What's missing, for the most part, are the pop melodic hooks that made Domino one of the biggest stars of the '50s, but the more formative work this CD documents is significant in its own right.
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