Saturday, September 29, 2007

Goin' Home: a Tribute to Fats Domino

Antoine “Fats” Domino is one of the towering figures in the birth and history of rock and roll and so it’s no surprise that a tribute to him would bring out an eclectic group of musical luminaries (including legendary vets like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, B.B. King, Robert Plant, Elton John, Neil Young, and two former Beatles.)

Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino is a 2-disc collection of performances (some newly recorded, others not) of Domino’s delightful songs (he wrote or co-wrote 24 of the 30 songs here) with the proceeds from the set going towards restoration of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood where the New Orleans born Domino lived until Katrina flooded him out and to the Tiptinia’s Foundation, which is keeping the unique musical heritage of Louisiana alive.

The set gets off to a rockin’ start John Lennon’s raucous take on “Ain’t That a Shame” (produced by Phil Spector) and follows that with a sprightly “I’m Walkin’” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and bluesy stroll through the title track by B.B. King (backed up by Ivan Neville’s Dumpstafunk.)

Both Elton John (on “Blueberry Hill”) and Paul McCartney (On “I Want to Walk You Home”) stay in their lower registers as they invoke the living spirit of “the Fat Man”. McCartney benefits from the production and piano work of the ever-amazing Allen Toussaint while John, of course, effectively tickles the keys on his track. Randy Newman slips into the sinewy groove of “Blue Monday” with accomplished ease (his grand piano playing ably aided and abetted with a sweet sax solo by Bill Liston.)

Taj Mahal and the New Orleans Social Club are gritty and funky on “My Girl Josephine” and Joss Stone is sassy and sexy on “Every Night About This Time” with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and ace guitarist Buddy Guy. Corinne Bailey Rae is confidently soulful on a live version (recorded at Tipitina’s earlier this year) of “One Night (of Sin)”.

Lenny Kravitz teams up with the Rebirth Brass Band and legendary James Brown sidemen Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker for a rock solid, horn driven jam on “Whole Lotta Loving”. And the good doctor…Dr. John…comes to the proceedings with a sly, growly, mid-tempo stroll through “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” Bonnie Raitt is fine voice (no surprise there, of course) on a rollicking medley of “I’m in Love Again” and “All by Myself” with pianist/singer/producer Jon Cleary.

Art Neville, accompanied only by his own nimble piano work, offers up some fine blues on “Please Don’t Leave Me”. Similarly, Bruce Hornsby lets his piano do a lot of the talking…and an effective “speaker” it is…on his version of “Don’t Blame it on Me”.

Robbie Robertson joins forces with Galactic for the slinky soul of “Going to the River”. Galactic later backs up Big Chief Monk Boudreaux on the dense funky rock of “So Long”.

Robert Plant is in suitably nuanced voice on the swampy blues of “It Keeps Rainin’” supported by the rock solid Lil’ Band o’ Gold. Plant later joins forces with the glorious Soweto Gospel Choir for a heavenly version of “Valley of Tears”.

Neil Young’s graceful version of “Walking to New Orleans” with the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University (from the ReactNow Katrina aid show) fits onto this disc quite naturally.

Norah Jones’ sweet, smoky voice and sweet, nimble piano playing combine for a lovely version of “My Blue Heaven” while Lucinda Williams’ full-bodied blues rasp invigorates her rockin’ take on “Honey Chile”.

Marc Broussard…with the lovely mandolin playing of Sam Bush anchoring the band to nice effect…slides surely and soulfully through a gently loping “Rising Sun” while Olu Dara and the Natchezippi Band slip down a jazzy road with “When I See You”.

Ben Harper and the Skatalites make a joyful noise with their jaunty romp through “Be My Guest” while Toots and the Maytals bring a soulful reggae groove to “Let the Four Winds Blow” and the ever-wily Willie Nelson slows “I Hear You Knockin’” to a stately stroll punctuated by softly-soaring saxophones.

Irma Thomas brings the indomitable music spirit of the Big Easy to the fore with “I Just Can’t Get New Orleans Off My Mind” featuring great piano playing and harmony vocals from Marcia Ball while Herbie Hancock leads a crack quartet through an irresistibly funky take on “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday”.

Los Lobos chug and churn through their way through a potent take on Domino’s theme song, “The Fat Man”, with guitars and saxophones combining to make pure rock and roll joy.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and Theresa Andersson bring things to a righteous close with a rousing version of “When the Saints Go Marching In”.

Goin’ Home is a grand tribute to the great Fats Domino, to the rich musical history of the city of New Orleans, and to the eternal spirit of rhythm and blues and rock and roll.

No comments: