Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Goin' Home: A Tribute To Fats Domino

(No official website.)
Style: tribute, blues-rock, pop rock, classic rock
Label: Vanguard Records
Year: 2007
Home: n/a

Members: Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Robbie Robertson ~ guitar/vocals
Taj Mahal ~ guitar/harmonica/vocals
Robert Plant, Ben Harper, Joss Stone, Theresa Andersson, Walter "Wolfman" Washington ~ vocals
Olu Dara ~ trumpet/vocals
Big Chief Monk Boudreaux ~ tambourine/vocals
Marcia Ball, Bruce Hornsby, Jon Cleary, Art Neville ~ piano/vocals
Herbie Hancock, Allen Toussaint ~ piano
Renard Poche ~ guitar
Sam Bush ~ mandolin
Zigaboo Modesliste ~ drums
George Porter, Jr. ~ bass
Soweto Gospel Choir, Jubilee Singers Of Fisk University ~ b. vocals
Maceo Parker, Donald Harrison, Jr, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis ~ horns
John Lennon & band, Paul McCartney & band, Elton John & band, Neil Young & band, Lenny Kravitz & band, Norah Jones & band, Willie Nelson & band, Irma Thomas & band, Lucinda Williams & band, Bonnie Raitt & band, Dr. John & band, Randy Newman & band, Marc Broussard & band, Corinne Bailey Rae & band, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Los Lobos, Toots & The Maytals, Skatalites, Natchezippi Band, New Orleans Social Club, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Lil' Band O' Gold, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Galactic ~ n/a

This 2 CD 30 track tribute came about after legendary R&B/boogie-woogie pianist Fats Domino had his home damaged in Hurricane Katrina. Many folks didn't even know he was still alive as at 79 as he'd become as reclusive as his music, i.e. seemingly non-existent. Unquestionably a legend that has inspired many the music community pooled their talents to create a tribute album of his songs giving his compositions a modern edge while also encompassing rock, jazz, R&B, country, folk & blues stylings. Money raised from this tribute went towards rebuilding Domino's home along with creating a community center in New Orleans. Some listeners enjoyed this result but others, myself included, have mixed reviews. I respect unquestionably the movement to honor Domino as he is a legend but so many tribute albums have flooded the markets over the years that its hard to judge them just in terms of being a gift to a past musician. Honestly ... some gifts are great but others are okay, while the gift says just as much about the buyer as it does the receiver which can sometimes be a problem. Further, tribute albums if done well can make you want to dig up the musician they are about not just the musicians involved. It's not about the artists today, it's about the artist of the past. There's two problems with this tribute. One is the length. It's a laborous listen & as every track, except for two by Robert Plant, being different the ebb & flow is tenuous. Though it should be mentioned that there's no heavy rock on this album so every songs stays pretty commercial friendly. These are musicians & interpretations that the mass is going to like, not just a minority. That leads into the second problem. Domino has a particular boogie-woogie sound long since gone from the music scene. It would be one thing if contemporaries like Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry were included, but this is second, third & forth generation of artists that are anything but boogie-woogie. A perfect tribute album, for me, is one where the artist reinterprets the source material with their own personality brining a new & distinct life to the old song. But, largely this album is about musicians trying to sound like Domino. I find the results less than spectacular as these artists aren't boogie-woogie or early R&B & trying to be him is an odd study in oppositions with mixed results, even if many of the artists have bluesy roots. The best artists are those that try to sound like themselves just performing great old songs. When this happens the results shine ... which might make the others seem worse than they really are. The blues folks are the most successful, who are more familiar with boogie-woogie then, let's say, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Taj Mahal turns in a highlights with "My Girl Josephine" as the sound is his as he lifts the old song to a new place, versus giving a modern touch to something out of his comfort zone. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band with the soultry voice of Joss Stones & the always vibrant guitar of Buddy Guy send in a highlight in one of the most emotional gut-wrenchers on the album, "Every Night About This Time". It's so distinct that you don't even know the song is anything but written yesterday. It's a timeless rendition. That's the key to the best of this tribute. Robert Plant with Lil' Band O' Gold turns in a haunting "It Keeps Rockin'" that opens moodily before going into an accordian chug. Plant is sultry & superb in a way that previews his later work with Alison Krauss. He returns with the Soweto Gospel Choir & a little drum for "Valley Of Tears" in one of the most suprising tracks of the album that is hypnotic & Plant at his best. Without doubt one can hear the movement from his worldly tinged work with Jimmy Page in the Led Zeppelin unplugged reunion to his work on Mighty Rearranger & with Krauss. Corinne Bailey Rae turns in the only live track "One Night (Of Sin)" that soars. She not just will make you a fan of her voice but you'll also want to know about the material she's working with. Neil Young might put in one of the most interesting songs of his career with "Walking In New Orleans" that does away with his guitar, harmonica remains though, as he croons against a small symphony & choir. Haunting in a way Neil Young rarely lets himself be. Norah Jones's "My Blue Heaven" is delightful. It works perfect for her with a guitar gently in the background over the piano. Marc Broussard with mandolin great Sam Bush put in a great folk flavored "Rising Sun" showing how far Domino's music can be taken. There's even some ska courtesy of Ben Harper & the Skatalites via "Be My Guest". Elton John works through "Blueberry Hill" & sounds like he's just come from the Leon Russell sessions ... or is about to go to them. For many of the songs in this collection one wishes it was the Elton John/Leon Russell album The Union. It has a similiar boogie-woogie blues sound as Domino but a far greater emotional quality then all but those artists given mention so far. There is some cheating. John Lennon covers "Ain't That Ashame" throwing out his less fantastic skiffle honkytonk side ith the Plastic Ono Band going full throttle on the horns ... the only old song in the collection & an odd inclusion. It's only becuase he's famous that the album opens with him as its by far the best track.




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