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IMPERIAL 5138; JULY 1951



“Do you want the good news or the bad news first?”, is a question that really has no safe answer.

Either way you’re going to be hurt, disappointed or sad and choosing whether to lead off with the revelation that will negatively impact you, or to hold off on it and get some good news to try and ease your inevitable pain, all while being unable to enjoy it much because of what you know will follow, is hardly an enviable choice.

We thoughtfully spared you from having to make that choice yourself by just giving you the bad news first… or at least the slightly disappointing – but by no means awful – side of this single yesterday.

Hopefully that means by comparison the good, if not quite great, side we’re offering now will look that much better by comparison.

Emotional manipulation at its finest!


We’re Gonna Be Together For A Long, Long Time
Outside of Fats Domino loyalists, I’m sure there’s not much personal investment in either side of this single considering that it’s been largely forgotten by the masses in the years since… if it was ever really known to begin with. Since it didn’t even chart in New Orleans where Fats could usually be assured of spending a couple of weeks on the listings, it shows just how inconsequential a single this was in his career at the time.

But while that indicates both sides of this release were nothing special if his own home town couldn’t be bothered to spin it on the local jukeboxes, maybe they just tried the designated top half, Right Or Wrong, and decided to save their extra nickel for a phone call or some candy rather than be disillusioned should the other side prove to be just as nondescript.

They needn’t have worried, for even though Domino is not yet to the point where he seemingly can do no wrong, his track record to date suggests that he doesn’t miss too often and while No No Baby sort of plays like a roll call of some of his greatest hits, there’s plenty here which is compelling enough to hand over that last nickel to hear it rather than rotting your teeth with JuJuBees or calling your grandmother to hear her complain about the how hot it is there in New Orleans.


Ain’t No Sense
Hammering the keys with stiff drumming echoing him, Domino is taking no chances that you’ll let your mind wander before he gets his hooks in you.

With the horn section delivering compact riffs behind him this has got a machine gun rhythm to it which tends to distract you from the fact it’s lacking a solid bottom. Once again we can point to the absence of Dave Bartholomew in the producer’s chair for this, as he would’ve surely had either baritone saxes, a more prominent bass doubling Fats’s left hand, or the drummer stomping the bass drum to give it more heft.

Though that’s a flaw, it’s not a fatal one because of how energetic and focused everyone is on No No Baby, attacking their parts with demented glee at times, burning off energy led by Domino’s flying fingers which are establishing the boogie foundation everything else is working off to keep the pace relentless.

That’s the draw here, the frantic motion they’re creating, almost as if they want you to see the musical notes shimmying in the air as they play.

At its core this is an instrumental record with a story tossed on top and had they left the vocals off it would’ve worked well enough on its own to get you moving. With lyrics the risk of course is that those might not live up to the excitement they’re hoping to stir, but if anything the rudimentary plot actually strengthens its case somewhat and gives this a more plausible reason for its pent up energy… as if they needed it.

I Will Never Leave This Town
In real life Fats Domino and his wife Rosemary were married for sixty one years, so it’s safe to say that the relationship troubles he put himself into within his songs were mostly fictitious.

On the flip side we were critical of him enduring his girl’s bad behavior and whining incessantly hoping in vain that would put an end to her mistreatment of him. Maybe he listened because here he has an entirely different attitude, one that’s not exactly more enlightened, but is at least a lot more forceful about their marital issues as he strenuously vows to stick with her no matter what.

Of course the lyrics of No No Baby actually suggest he’s tying himself to her apron strings but at least he’s doing it willingly and without giving up his self-respect in the process which makes him seem as though he’s fully in charge even if we know better.

Admittedly as a plot it’s hardly very deep – and not very descriptive either – but it is effective simply because he’s so adamant in his declarations that the entire story appears more impressive than it actually is. Besides, we don’t have the time or inclination to pick through it for weaknesses when it’s just a sideshow to the main event anyway.

In between the runaway vocal lines Domino keeps handing off to others in the band to carry the ball, including both the alto and tenor sax for solos before we get a welcome return of his own vocal imitation of a mouth harp that he’d used so effectively in his first release. This time around it’s not quite as unexpected or compelling, but it’s nice to see him break it out again because it isn’t something other acts do which means we either hear him do it or we don’t hear it at all.

The real dark horse star of the record however is someone who doesn’t even get a solo, as drummer Teeno Coleman is keeping manically busy behind him for much of this. He’s got the quickness and power of a boxer and great reflexes too, easing off when need be and then sensing when the song requires him to start flailing away again. Chances are this was a hasty head arrangement conceived on the floor and Coleman, who Fats always positioned right next to him on stage each night, saying he’s “where I get my drive from”, doesn’t let up and between the two of them they’re really bringing the thunder.

Maybe the horns are a little light and maybe there isn’t enough melodic variation to make this truly classic, but this is the kind of record that encourages you to lose your inhibitions and as we know in rock ‘n’ roll that’s never something to complain about.


We Are Doin’ Fine
Things have a way of calibrating themselves in time, though not always this quickly.

Water finds its level and all that.

In that spirit there are times when as a reviewer you’re vacillating between two scores for a side and the more you listen the more you’re convinced the weaknesses are too evident to give it a pass and go with the lesser score, even if you think that might be an unpopular verdict.

But that’s okay because then there are records like No No Baby which might not actually have enough individual positives to warrant going with a higher mark when stuck between two grades, but the relentless fury of the overall performance renders those quibbles largely irrelevant and so we wind up with the slightly better score, thus balancing things out nicely in the end.

Combined this single earns an eleven (out of twenty), certainly not great by any means, but slightly above average. You can split the individual numbers differently if you want, but the end result is going to be the same, and this way you get to move on to the next record with a good taste in your mouth.


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