Various Artists

Fats and Friends

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Three of our greatest national treasures '50s rock & roll pianists on one stage, in New Orleans in the Summer of 1986!! Yow! (Too bad Little Richard wasn't there, and Professor Longhair died six years earlier.) This is a well-filmed (by Cinemax) DVD that captures mega fun from the Storyville club we all wish we'd seen. It's a blast to see him from those days again, that 1000-watt smile in a bemused grin on his enormous, round, jolly face, and that craning neck in vocalizing so familiar, and so pleasant. He's the legend being feted by host Paul Shaffer (who chips in an Ernie K-Doe cover), and he and his multi-horns band (original '50s staples, uncredited, trumpeter Dave Bartholomew and tall Blasters sax player Lee Allen) go down a storm as ever--the crowd eating out of the jubilant Domino's hand like adoring children for seven songs. Next, Lewis is always at his best on such bills, being an ultra-competitive SOB, and he brings the fire (with Ron Wood guesting) in this last decade of his true prime, jumping on top of the piano as usual. The crowd is howling so loudly, they practically drown out an absolute master showstopper bawling a trio of hot ones. And after such utter charm and rebelliousness, the late Charles is utter grace and shoulder-swaying cool for two of his own vintage early Atlantic classics. Then all three play together (with Wood) in treble boogie-woogie for four more songs (!!!), including Hank Williams' "Jambalaya," a song all three had recorded, as several cameras eat up their contrasting, dueling styles. All from the cradle of our musical heritage, pre-Katrina.