Monday, October 17, 2011

Rock And Rollin' With Fats Domino, by Fats Domino (November, 1955)

Dad's Take

You said your arms are empty
And your eyes, full of tears
Haven't had no lovin'
For so many years
Don't blame it on me
I'm not guilty, can't you see?
Don't blame it on me
I'm the same cat I used to be

Fats Domino's classic New Orleans sounds predates rock 'n' roll. He had been playing the same style of music since 1949. In fact, some of the tracks on this album date back to that year, including the first song, "The Fat Man." That was the sound that became rock 'n' roll, and Domino was one of the pioneers.

Like much "race" music of the day, Domino's songs are crudely recorded, with a single microphone in the studio and the music played live through primitive equipment. But the result is a cool old-school blues sound, with Domino's smooth singing and bangin' piano triplets playing over a heavy backbeat, inviting young fans of the emerging rock 'n' roll to do dances like the stroll.

Most of the songs have classic blues themes, like heartache and broken relationships, played by a simple combo of piano, drums and guitar. Add a stand-up bass and a tenor sax and you have the recipe that changed popular music. Fats had a definite sound and he stuck to it, and he was copied by most other early rock 'n' rollers over the next few years.

The big hit here is "Ain't That A Shame," which became an even bigger hit for Pat Boone, who had an easier time getting airplay on white radio. It's hard to believe now that the three pioneers of rock, Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry had a total of zero number one hits, until Berry hit the top of the chart with his 1973 novelty song, "My Ding-A-Ling."

"Rock and Rollin' with Fats Domino" was his first album, and was one of the first of rock 'n' roll. In the 56 years since it was initally released as "Carry On Rockin'" very few people have done it better. This is an album full of Fats Domino rockers that you won't hear on the 1950's compilations. You should seek this one out and put it in regular rotation. It's an amazing record, not just for its day but for the entire rock and roll era.

Brad's Take:

This is my first time listening to a full Fats Domino album. I know that I've definitely heard "Ain't That A Shame" played in our house many times before though, but I didn't know that was actually a Fats Domino song until now.

I love the fact that it was all recorded live with just a single microphone in the studio. This is the kind of music that I have always felt would be the best experienced in a live setting so this helps show me what it would have sounded like if I was a 50s era Brad.

The instrumentation at times is pretty sloppy, but it almost had to be. Bands back then probably couldn't afford much when it came to recording in a professional studio, so they probably had only a few hours to record the album. I've recorded hundreds of songs on my own, and I know that it's almost impossible to get a perfect recording on just a one-take recording, especially with an entire band playing on the same track. Also, with this style of recording, they would have had to mix all of their instruments through their actual amplifiers and by standing in different areas of the room, rather than just moving the slider on the soundboard up and down. The quality of this album isn't good by today's standards, but it's as good as they could get at the time, and that is really interesting and cool to me.

This is an album I can see myself putting on again when I'm feeling like listening to something classy and fun. When I'm in these kinds of moods though, they typically don't last for very long so the fact that there aren't any songs over 3 minutes long makes this an album that is very easy and enjoyable to listen to.

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