Fats Domino, I’m Walkin’

Fred Goodman

By Fred Goodman

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Fats Domino is the undisputed heavyweight champ of New Orleans rhythm & blues. With their thumping backbeats, throaty saxophone choruses, rolling piano and vocals as smoky as a barbeque pit, Fats Domino's string of hits came to define the Crescent City sound of the '50s. The singer and pianist, who launched his career as a teenager when he hooked up with legendary New Orleans record man Dave Bartholomew, enjoyed a tremendous string of hits from 1955 to the early '60s — although he had to watch white performers like Pat Boone and Ricky Nelson take covers of his tunes "Ain't That a Shame" and "I'm Walkin'" to the top of the charts. Fats himself never got to number one, but he enjoyed ten Top Ten hits with such classic records as "Blue Monday, "Blueberry Hill," "Walking to New Orleans" and "Be My Guest," earning a worldwide following in the process — indeed, the Beatles acknowledged their debt to Fats by paying tribute to his signature sound on "Lady Madonna."

I'm Walkin was recorded live at Baton Rouge's Louisiana Municipal Auditorium in May of 1983, for the Rock and Roll Legends Live! series on PBS. The set offers up a healthy serving of Domino's best tunes and biggest hits, including his debut hit, "The Fat Man," as well as "I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday," "Let the Four Winds Blow," "I'm Ready," "I Want to Walk You Home" and "Ain't That a Shame." Also included are covers of the twin pillars of Fats 'musical church: Big Joe Turner's "Shake Rattle and Roll," and Hank Williams 'Cajun anthem, "Jambalaya." Sound quality is good if uninspired, and both the band and the Fat Man are in fine form.