A rather crude and populist judgement on the music contained in this set can be gleaned from the chart placings shown on the reverse of the sleeve. All the A sides in the set hit the Billboard Hot 100, with all bar two hitting the top 50. Quite a number of the B sides charted as well suggesting strongly that B sides weren't viewed as throwaways in the Domino/Bartholomew camp.
So the man's recording in this time frame certainly shifted a heck of a lot of units but was this really good Domino music or had he sold out to commercial pressures from his record label? It's true that much of this material sounds more poppy than the man's records from the first half of the `50's but at the same time there's a much greater variety of songs than he'd recorded hitherto and a wider palette of colouration. His blues muse hadn't gone away; it's often present in these songs but hidden under a veil as it were.
What had come in were standards but standards done the Domino way. For many of us, self included, the Domino versions of "My Blue Heaven", "When my dreamboat comes home" and "Blueberry Hill" in particular, ARE the originals - forget any alternatives. He had done the occasional oldie before - there was a very nice version of "Careless Love" in 1951 - but during the second half of the `50's the production team had raised the revivalist approach to an art form. Another thing one notes about this set is the regular appearance of (Antoine Domino, Dave Bartholemew) in the writing credits. And the songs, while relatively basic in structure still have more to them than the twelve bar blues that the pair had started out writing. During the period covered by this album and a year or so either side of it, Fats and Dave between them defined a form of New Orleans rock'n'roll which owed little to the forms flourishing elsewhere in the US and instead had emerged from a gumbo of R&B, New Orleans second line music, some old fashioned boogie woogie (or barrelhouse if you prefer the term) all seasoned with an understanding of what made popular songs work and an absolutely immaculate band.
I would echo the words of an earlier reviewer who commented that the set starts on a high with "I'm in Love Again" a great original from Antoine and Dave and finishes on a high with the Fats' version of the oldie "When the Saints..." (which was the way the Fat Man used to finish his live sets). The latter could be construed as a tad corny but if anyone is entitled to have a crack at it it's got to be Fats, the man who taught us that New Orleans funeral music could be uplifting and joyful. What comes in between these tracks isn't too bad either. It's certainly joyful.
In 1956 Fat's Domino announced 'Yes it's me' in the song entitled 'I'm in Love Again'. It was recorded in 1955 but was his breakthrough in Britain and gave many Rock n Roll fans their first taste of the music that white singers were borrowing from. 'I'm in Love again' is track No.1. 'When the Saints Go Marching In' is track No.30. In between there are 28 other stunning tracks including many of his best known: My Blue Heaven, Blueberry Hill,Blue Monday and I'm Walkin'. Domino's Piano and vocals reach across the decades. The tracks were releaseed between 1956 and 1958. Just listen and you'll hear why he was as big as his name then and why so many of these tracks are still played 50 years later. One of the best advertisements for New Orleans Rock n Roll that anyone will ever hear.