"They call me the Fat Man, 'cause I weigh 200 pounds," warbles Fats Domino on his 1950 debut single "The Fat Man." And really, who are we to argue with him? That estimate might be if anything on the conservatively light side. But all kidding aside, "The Fat Man" was a very historically important single, not only because it was Fats Domino's first hit, but also because it's frequently cited as one of the very first rock'n'roll records, even if people weren't using the adjective "rock'n'roll" at the time. "The Fat Man" isn't much different from the long string of rock'n'roll pop hits Fats Domino would have in the last half of the 1950s and early 1960s. The difference, a small but significant one, is that it's a little more grounded in the New Orleans jazz-blues heritage than his more polished later sides, tilting it more toward R&B than the rock'n'roll of his later career. The record, indeed, starts off with good-time boogie piano much like you would have heard from many New Orleans jazz and blues musicians throughout the first half of the twentieth century. When Domino starts singing, however, the record has a thumping backbeat and wailing sax that points toward the future of rock'n'roll, as does his swaggering vocal. The most eccentric aspect of the record, other than the inherent weirdness of hearing someone jovially boast about his tonnage, comes after the first couple verses. Here Domino dispenses with the words and scats extensively in a high wobbly voice, as if he's imitating a trumpet. Although technically the recording of "The Fat Man" is crude, with the instruments sort of crushing together and the piano way out in front, it was an enjoyable, boisterous single, even at the time recognizable as something a little new and different compared to the more traditional R&B with which it was competing. It was quite a big success, too, going to #2 in the R&B charts. Not many people know it, but "The Fat Man" is actually a variation of the song "Junker Blues," recorded by Champion Jack Dupree in the early 1940s. One wonders if the unself-consciousness of a man boasting about his heavy weight was an influence on Howlin' Wolf's classic blues "300 Pounds of Joy," which didn't come out until 1963.