Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino
Fats Domino's decision to stay in his home in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward during Hurricane Katrina nearly cost him his life. The home was flooded and sustained major damage and the rock & roll pioneer had to be airlifted by helicopter from his roof. Age 77 when the storm hit, Domino was no longer performing as often as he once did, but he emerged proud and resolute and even recorded a new album, whose proceeds he donated to an organization aiding musicians hurt by the disaster. Just how loved Fats Domino is by the music community is borne out by the A-list names who've contributed to one of the more remarkable tribute albums to surface in recent years. Spanning the worlds of rock (Neil Young, Elton John, Los Lobos, Tom Petty), blues (B.B. King), country (Willie Nelson), jazz (Herbie Hancock), and even reggae (Toots & the Maytals, who just nail "Let the Four Winds Blow"), 30 artists are represented on the two discs, along with -- of course -- a healthy sampling of New Orleans artists of various grooves, among them Irma Thomas, Dr. John, Art Neville, and others. It's a celebratory affair, for sure, and it would have to be, as Domino's music has always tilted toward the upbeat, and you can bet he wouldn't want it any other way. The project gets moving with one pulled up from the past, no less than the late John Lennon, who cut Fats' "Ain't That a Shame" for his 1975 Rock 'n' Roll album. Lennon's former bandmate Paul McCartney teams up with NOLA mainstay Allen Toussaint for a duet on the jaunty "I Want to Walk You Home," one of a number of inspired pairings of seemingly mismatched artists who find common ground in the Fat Man. Both Joss Stone and Buddy Guy hook up with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band for an electric "Every Night About This Time," Ben Harper meets the Skatalites for -- what else? -- a zippy ska version of "Be My Guest," and, in one of the album's most surprising and satisfying moments, Robert Plant and the Soweto Gospel Choir collaborate on a stunning and haunting a cappella "Valley of Tears." Of the individual performers, Randy Newman presents "Blue Monday" faithfully, Norah Jones applies her signature quasi-jazzy style to "My Blue Heaven," and Corinne Bailey Rae's live "One Night of Sin" -- penned by Domino's writing partner Dave Bartholomew, as are so many of these classics -- returns to the song the danger removed by Elvis Presley when he cut a cleaned-up version and had a smash hit with it. There really are no clunkers here -- these artists have done Fats Domino proud. And it's a blessed thing that he stuck around to hear it.