1001 Albums 0004-0005

Published May 13, 2012

My continued journey through the albums featured in the book
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

0004 Louis Prima: The Wildest! (1956)

According to the 1001 Albums book, Louis Prima had enjoyed a great deal of success in the Thirties and Forties, but was in something of a slump career-wise in the mid-Fifties. An engagement in Las Vegas, together with his wife Keely Smith and band-leader Sam Butera, turned things around, and Prima was a success from then on.

This lively album seems to be pretty much a studio-recorded version of their stage act. You can’t fault Prima and his cohorts for energy and joie-de-vivre, and the musicianship is flawless. But as much as I would have loved to see their show at the time, as a listening experience throughout a complete album the constant high-energy feels a little bit like peeking in at a party you weren’t invited to. I think the only track I’d heard before was the medley of ‘Just A Gigolo’ and ‘I Ain’t Got Nobody’, perhaps more familiar these days in David Lee Roth’s cover version, and this remains the stand-out track for me, along with ‘Jump, Jive, An’ Wail’ and ‘Buona Sera’.

Verdict: Some of the tracks here would brighten up any Fifties compilation, but I don’t think I will want to hear the album from start to finish again.

0005 Fats Domino: This Is Fats (1956)

This is more like it. I almost wrote that it was a pleasant surprise, but although I’ve basically only heard Fats Domino’s hits before, I love them all, so it wasn’t really a surprise that there was so much to enjoy on this album.

A rock’n’roll pioneer if there ever was one, Fats Domino’s singing style is inimitable and never less than charming. He doesn’t need to yell or shout or engage in vocal acrobatics to grab your attention, he’s just one of those intuitive singers who manages to make each and every song his own. His band is truly smokin’ throughout this album, so if you have any taste whatsoever for Fifties rock’n’roll, you will love this – I know I was tapping my foot from the start of the first track.

For me the album dies a little towards the end: for example, Reelin’ And Rockin’ (not the Chuck Berry song) is the kind of dreary blues-based complaint of some man being left by some woman that makes me want to press the skip button fast. But with an album containing hits such as ‘Blueberry Hill’ and ‘Blue Monday’, it feels churlish to complain.

Verdict: The first seven tracks on this album are absolutely lovely, and I’m really glad I got to hear it. Made me want to make further explorations into the Fats Domino catalogue.

Warning: If you plan on listening to this album on Spotify, for some reason the tracks on the actual album runs too slow. Fortunately, there are playlists that bring all the tracks together, but from other sources (compilation albums etc.).


Louis Prima: The Wildest!


Fats Domino: This Is Fats.


Judging by the reviews on Amazon, there is no decent-sounding version of This Is Fats on the market, so I'm not posting any ordering links here.