Fats Domino

Blues Kingpins

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The final volume -- by catalog number -- of The Right Stuff's Blues Kingpins series belongs to the incomparable New Orleans rock & roll and boogie-blues king Fats Domino. These collections are, for the price, simply the finest money can buy in that they include tracks that may have been overlooked but are at least as necessary to an artist's oeuvre as her or his hits. In other words, the Blues Kingpins series is for connoisseurs, thank God. Fine mastering, aesthetically pleasing packaging, an excellent track selection, and a wonderful set of biographical and critical liner notes accompany each volume. This set of 18 tracks is Fats Domino for those who want something besides "Blueberry Hill." While that track can be gotten anywhere, along with "Walking to New Orleans," "Ain't That a Shame," and "I'm Walking," these can't. And no, none of those cuts are included here. This is a volume of Fats Domino playing the blues New Orleans style with his amazing voice at the center of killer lyrics and a funky, jump blues piano stroll with a second-line rhythm accompanying most. The material here has its origins in 1949 on the Imperial label and begins with "Hide Away Blues," a full year before he would cap the R&B charts with "The Fat Man," which is also absent from this collection, thank God. What else is here is Domino's amazing run of sides that go up to "Ain't That a Shame" in 1955. Here are smoking versions of "Please Don't Leave Me," "Boogie Woogie Baby," "How Long," "Trust in Me," "So Long," "Domino Stomp," and many others, with killer New Orleans backing bands led by Dave Bartholomew and others. These six years in Domino's career laid the foundation for the pop star who did not change his style substantially for white teen audiences in the idle to late '50s. His sound was a bit grittier in the early days and a little less persona-driven, but Fats played the jump blues and boogie-blues like a madman with great grace and a singular style, making this one of the great treasures of recent blues reissues at any price.

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