The second volume of Ace's comprehensive series spotlighting Domino's '50s singles has both sides of 14 of his singles from 1953 to early 1956, presented in chronological order. (A couple of songs from a 1956 LP are tacked on as the final two tracks.) Only one of these songs is likely to be familiar to the average rock & roll fan, that being "Ain't That a Shame," Fats' first really huge pop hit and indeed one of the first big rock & roll hits of any kind. Several other big R&B hits are sprinkled throughout the disc, though, these including "Going to the River" (which actually even made it to number 24 in the pop charts in 1953), "Please Don't Leave Me," "Don't You Know," "All By Myself," "Poor Me," "Bo Weevil," and "Don't Blame It on Me." Generally, this material finds Fats' music slowly moving from early New Orleans R&B to pioneering early rock & roll, retaining many of the ingredients present in his music right from the time he did "The Fat Man" in 1949. More varied melodies and tempos make their way into the picture, however, even if many of the songs might nonetheless be too similar to each other for the casual fan. By "Poor Me" and "Don't Blame It on Me," in fact, Domino was already putting out "Ain't That a Shame" sound-alikes himself. For those heavily into Fats, New Orleans R&B, and early rock & roll, however, there are plenty of interesting sides to be heard here, several of them B-sides. "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" puts Domino close to Professor Longhair territory with its Mardi Gras rhythms and whistling; "Please Don't Leave Me" has some of his greatest piano trills, as well as a melody that no doubt profoundly influenced Clarence "Frogman" Henry; "Don't Leave Me This Way" and "Don't You Know" unveil the stop-start rhythms that would feature so heavily in "Ain't That a Shame" a few singles down the line; and "Little School Girl" and "Don't You Hear Me Calling You?" have shufflin' Crescent City rhythms that got smoothed out of his post-mid-'50s work.
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