Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Listen Or Die? #5 - This Is Fats...

Listen Or Die? Our weekly examination of the albums listed in the book, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Must you hear them? We'll be the judge of that... 

by Fats Domino (1956)
Running Time: 27:11

1. Blueberry Hill
2. Honey Chile
3. What's The Reason (I'm Not Pleasing You)
4. Blue Monday
5. So Long
6. La-La
7. Troubles Of My Own
8. You Done Me Wrong
9. Reelin' And Rockin'
10. The Fat Man's Hop
11. Poor, Poor Me
12. Trust In Me

There's just something about an album called This Is Fats I find so... unappealing. This uneasy feeling isn't improved when I spy the opening track is 'Blueberry Hill,' a song I've long held disdain in my heart for (sorry, Mum and Dad). "Tho we're apart you're part of me still, for you were my thrill on Blueberry Hill." Urge to barf (50s slang), rising. 'Blueberry Hill' plods along, making two minutes feel like an eternity, even in Fats Domino's talented hands. Next up is 'Honey Chile' which dials up the excitement level ever so slightly; the horns and brass getting moments to shine alongside Domino's inexpressive vocal line. A problem I have with many of the tracks on This Is Fats is the lack of emotion or any real feeling that comes across in so many of the songs. Domino has a great tone in his voice, but there's not much behind it. 

Take a track like 'So Long' as an example. The band plays their part perfectly, with the saxophone solo perfectly carrying the emotional weight of the track. Then there's Domino's vocal line with pleading lines like, "goodbye, please tell me why," and "oh why, why are you never satisfied," sung in the most dispassionate way. I've been told the 50s weren't such a great time for expressing one's feelings (explaining why this kind of performance would have gone down a treat), but this is R&B music on the threshold of the birth of rock and roll. Where's the emotional punch? By the time you get to 'Poor, Poor Me,' arguably the biggest 'feel sorry for me' song of all time, I found myself ready to give up on This Is Fats. Thankfully I didn't, because closing number 'Trust In Me' was the most satisfying listen on the album. Don't think of that as too glowing a recommendation though. It's the right kind of boogie-woogie number to keep you just happy enough to not be completely bored. 

Now, Fats Domino is an artist that definitely has appeal to a huge music loving population. Most of them are old. The rest are probably jazz students. I just couldn't find the love for This Is Fats, so if you're unfamiliar with Domino, you could just live your life and DIE without ever missing out on anything. 

The tally...

DIE - 3  


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