Various Artists: Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Vanguard)
As one who has groused occasionally about the plethora of lame “tribute” CDs in recent years, I have to admit that 2007 has produced two of the best to come down the pike in a long time: The John Lennon Instant Karma benefit for Darfur and this two-disc tribute to the great Fats Domino (a fund-raiser for Tipitina’s Foundation to help revitalize the Lower 9th Ward, Fats’ New Orleans neighborhood, which was completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina). Wisely, most of the artists stick fairly close to Fats’ originals (and Dave Bartholomew’s brilliant arrangements) but they bring their own personalities to the proceedings, and in all cases demonstrate their affection for this timeless R&B, rock ’n’ roll and blues. Believe it or not, there isn’t a clinker in this batch of 30 tunes, which includes all the expected hits, but also many lesser-known numbers, so to single out a few is to ignore many that are worthy of praise. Still, favorites so far include Paul McCartney’s uncanny Fats imitation on “I Want to Walk You Home,” Elton John’s perfect “Blueberry Hill,” Randy Newman’s moody “Blue Monday,” Taj Mahal & the New Orleans Social Club’s bluesy “My Girl Josephine,” Robert Plant and the Soweto Vocal Choir’s Africanized take on “Valley of Tears,” Neil Young’s quirky “Walking to New Orleans” with swelling strings and choir, Ben Harper and the Skatelites joyous “Be My Guest,” Norah Jones’ tasteful and moving “My Blue Heaven,” and the Los Lobo-ized reading of “The Fat Man.” But it’s all good stuff—a can’t miss party in one package!
Executive producer: Bill Taylor. Coordinating producer (and also engineer on several tracks): Chris Finney. Too many individual producers, engineers and studios to list here. Mastering: Stephen Marcussen/Marcussen Mastering.