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Topical songs can and do have their place in the music kingdom and although they invariably sound dated after the time they came along in has passed, that doesn’t mean they’re not important historically to remind future generations what was impacting the culture at any given time.

It’d be almost impossible to think of the World War Two era without making note of the songs that reflected the fraught emotions and optimistic confidence in the face of an uncertain outcome that existed during that period.

Twenty years later music gave voice to the increased opposition to another war in Vietnam and the late 1960’s rock scene would be all but unrecognizable without hearing the angry and desperate sentiments of a generation tired of being sent by their elders to die for absurd reasons in some foreign land.

But the war in between those two more enduring events that was fought from 1950-1953 in Korea has often been called the forgotten war, in part because it came before television could really bring it into America’s living rooms, and in part because it was the first time the United States got hung with an L on the scorecards when the fighting stopped.

Maybe that’s why there were so few songs about it, pro or con, that have lived on in memory and maybe why Fats Domino should’ve avoided enlisting in the cause to try and change that.


People Over There Messed Up
For an artist with over a hundred single releases in his career plus countless album cuts from his prime, there’s no ironclad consensus on which of his massive hits is definitively his BEST record.

Throw his top five or ten songs in a hat and whichever one you pull out will be sure to have its supporters.

But if you were to ask which was his worst record over the years you might find there was a unanimous consensus.

Surely there are some records of Domino’s that are far more generic than this one, even a few that are downright forgettable… but there can’t be any that could realistically vie with Korea Blues when it comes to being almost unlistenable.

For starters we have lyrics that are both embarrassingly jingoistic and utterly simplistic. It’s as if they were written by a nine year old whose only concept of war is playing in their backyard with sticks as guns while making noises with their mouths to simulate gunfire. Needless to say there aren’t many casualties in those games other than your mother’s flowerbed as you trample her tulips and daisies while running amuck.

So to hear Domino sing about how to win this war they just needed to show who’s tough is farcical considering the North Koreans were out-manned and outgunned and still kicked the crap out of American forces, most of whom wanted to get back home to re-plant those flowers for dear old Mom.

Luckily though you can barely hear Fats sing this because he’s all but obscured by something even worse.


Pray For Me
Unlike his partner in this debacle, Dave Bartholomew actually served in the Armed Forces, though he played in the Army band, not slung a rifle over his shoulder. But it would’ve been better for all involved if Dave had gone A.W.O.L. back in World War Two for the simple fact he surely wouldn’t have thought this was a good idea if he’d been a conscientious objector.

His concept – on paper anyway – might’ve been worth considering… for about three seconds. What he’s trying to do on Korea Blues is have Fats sing a very simple, straight-forward song with little melody while his own trumpet answers him using stock Army musical phrases to break it up. In the Army the trumpet – or bugle actually – does the job of modern day text alerts, waking you with Reveille, calling you to lunch at the Mess Hall and gathering soldiers for Mail Call, as well as more militaristic commands such as Assembly and the old favorite commanding you to ”Charge!” into battle.

Since those are so widely heard in the Armed Forces every single day you can see why accomplished trumpeter Bartholomew would think it might be clever to incorporate them into a song about a military operation that was taking place as they recorded it.

The problem is none of those snatches really qualify as MUSIC! Not good music certainly, and considering they’re played primarily to get your attention at a moment’s notice, not to be melodically pleasant in the process.

Furthermore, when trying to fit it into a song that ostensibly DOES care about melody and structure, the fact the bugler is playing loud enough to cut through any bombs exploding or cavalry horses stampeding, tanks rumbling, planes buzzing or soldiers firing machine guns every which way means these calls are not supposed to blend in to ambient sounds around them.

To his credit (if taking the position of a Drill Instructor that is) Bartholomew fulfills this requirement by blasting away at full volume, overwhelming Domino’s voice and the other instruments who are hoping to find some foxhole to dive into no doubt so as not to get hit with any shrapnel.

Not only are Dave’s trumpet parts grating to the ears, they’re also undermining the supposed song, as Korea Blues sounds as if it is a radio tuned to two different stations, one of them Armed Forces radio, the other an amateur contest for music school drop outs.

Everything Will Be Alright… When This Record Ends
Sometimes the really bad records are the most fun to write about because you can be really have a good laugh at the expense of the singers, musicians, producers and songwriters for their ineptitude, but not here.

Just as America never should of gotten into Korea unless they were willing to cross the boarder and engage directly with the Chinese, an act which almost certainly would’ve led to some modest nuclear annihilation, Dave Bartholomew never should’ve waded into such a musical quagmire as Korea Blues, by far the worst record he and Domino ever made… together or singularly.

If that’s not enough of a deterrent for you then you can chose from among the following adjectives to drive the point home regarding the quality of this record.









Am I missing one? If so, feel free to add some derogatory words of your own if you’re so inclined.

Maybe the best thing we can say about this atrocious attempt is this… For those who were forced overseas to protect the fragile image of a country that should’ve been above such actions by this point, who were facing months of brutal conditions, incompetent command and unfocused objectives in carrying out their duty, at least those duties spared them from having to listen to this indescribable mess being played by some demented flag jockey back home.

For what it’s worth the following score, the absolute lowest we can give in our rankings, is still about ten points too high.


(Visit the Artist page of Fats Domino for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)