CD Review of Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino by Various Artists
Recommended if you like
Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis,
Chuck Berry
Label
Vanguard
Various Artists: Goin’ Home:
A Tribute to Fats Domino

Reviewed by Michael Fortes

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W
hen Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast two years ago, New Orleans in particular was thrust into the spotlight, being the most famous location to bear the brunt of the storm’s wrath. Musicians have stepped up in the storm’s wake to raise money and awareness to help rebuild the city through benefit concerts and TV specials, while artists like Prince and Dr. John have released CDs to raise cash. One of NOLA’s most notable residents, early rock n’ roll icon Fats Domino, also has been chipping in with a CD release and donations to the Tipitina’s Foundation, which itself is dedicated to preserving Louisiana’s musical culture.

Now, the Foundation is raising cash by paying tribute to Fats with a double disc compilation. As far as charity discs are concerned, Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino is a rather generous helping of good will. For one, the roster of artists who contributed recordings to this collection is a fantastic cross-section of top rock, blues, jazz and roots talent: Tom Petty, B.B. King, Randy Newman, Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, and Toots & the Maytals are all there, among many others. There’s even an old John Lennon recording of “Ain’t That a Shame,” which would be a nice bonus if it wasn’t already available elsewhere and if it was even a tenth as good as Cheap Trick’s version (or Fats’ own original). But it’s John Lennon, and if he were alive he’d probably have contributed something new. Since he’s not, this is what we get.

Speaking of Beatles, Paul McCartney is present too, with a recording of “I Want to Walk You Home” featuring Allen Toussaint. Unfortunately, the review copy of this collection only includes 13 of the 30 selections contained on the commercially available double disc, so no judgment can be passed here. However, this space can confirm that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers give a great, respectable, straightforward take on “I’m Walkin.’” Elton John also takes the reverent route on “Blueberry Hill,” albeit with somewhat less spectacular results. Extra points go to Willie Nelson for reminding us how a great a song “I Hear You Knockin’” can be once we forget all about the jumpy, overplayed Dave Edmunds version. He sticks to that ol’ N’awlins flavor in his signature laid back style, and ends up a winner.

Two of the best cuts, however, are chewed up and spit out in new iterations by jazz cats, of course. Alto player Donald Harrison gets some smooth baritone vocal support from Olu Dara (a.k.a. Nas’ daddy) on “When I See You,” while Herbie Hancock throws a tinge of jazzy funk down with George Porter Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste & Renard Poche on “I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday.”

Even Jamaica throws its good graces towards Fats by way of the Skatalites, who get some help on “Be My Guest” from Ben Harper, while Toots & the Maytals make “Let the Four Winds Blow” all their own.

It’s entirely possible that some of the 17 cuts that cannot be covered here might be dogs, but it’s not likely. The spirit of the cause seems to have brought out the best in many of the artists who contributed to this disc, giving the effect of an old-time New Orleans rock n’ roll party with a few surprises thrown in to keep proceedings spicy. So turn it up and get down!

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