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IMPERIAL 5197; JULY 1952



If you have a few minutes to spare go to your local library before all the books are pulled from the shelves by puritanical loons seeking to keep citizens sheltered from life that doesn’t conform to their rigidly myopic worldview, and look under Ancient History, Music division, subtopic Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Flip through the pages until you come to “D”… scan down to Domino, Antoine (Fats), 1928-2017.

Now do you wanna bet that somewhere in that (probably way too skimpy) entry you’ll find him and his music described as “cuddly” or “non-threatening”… or my favorite, “rock ‘n’ roll’s safety valve”.

In other words, an artist who seemingly did not stir any passion with his music or in the listeners… who somehow still bought more than a hundred and ten million of his records along the way.

Not surprisingly those who label him with these rather demeaning terms focus on surface attributes – his physical dimensions, his ubiquitous smile, his unassuming public persona and his unique pronunciation – rather than actually studying the music which constantly put rhythm at the forefront and rocked as hard as anyone.

Don’t trust those who tell you otherwise… but then again, don’t trust us to set you straight either. Like he says here, all you really have to do is just trust Fats himself.


I’ll Make Everything Alright
When compact discs were the latest rage in the early 1990’s one of the most reliable ways to get people to buy those shiny silver discs was to put out definitive greatest hits packages of past rock stars, thereby ensuring older generations who were no longer seeking out new music – and the modern means with which to play it – would be tempted to invest in this technology to hear upgraded sound quality of their favorite hits from yesteryear to replace scratchy old vinyl or cassettes whose tape speed could fluctuate badly from overuse.

As an added inducement they frequently hired some desperate writer masquerading as a rock historian to pen new liner notes while they compiled things that collectors might be curious about such as recording session information.

The latter we kinda take for granted now but in our parents generation – a/k/a the dark ages – this was viewed as groundbreaking detective work.

Naturally many got it wrong.

The Fats Domino session that produced the storming Trust In Me was said to have been cut, as most of his dates were, in Cosimo Matassa’s J&M studio in New Orleans, this one supposedly on April 28, 1952. But that wasn’t the case… actually, that’s surely when Lew Chudd listened back to the tapes two days after cutting them in Nashville where Domino was holding court at a club for the month.

Chudd had then most likely taken the recordings back to Matassa in the Crescent City to transfer them and simply logged them as being cut then. Some even placed Dave Bartholomew on the date, even though he had yet to return to the Imperial fold.

Instead this was the work of Domino’s road band, playing as if they were still on stage and it’s only the absence of the roaring crowd to give you some idea of how potent they were as a live act.


What Are You Doin’ Tonight?
The difference between the Bartholomew led studio tracks that made him a superstar and the live gigs that allowed Domino to be feted as a superstar by those who saw him essentially came down to this… With Dave behind the control board and arranging the songs for the sessions, they were built like custom cars, each part chosen for what it brought to the finished product.

On stage however it was like a drag race where it doesn’t matter what the car looks like, but rather only what it’s got under the hood.

The first was about refinement, the second was about concentrated power and Trust In Me has that to spare.

The songwriting here – Ted Jarrett’s lyrics rather than Fats who likely worked out the music – is forceful and direct as he’s coming onto a girl using whatever line he can think of to win her over, from seeking sympathetic companionship to coming on to her more crudely and promising her a rip-roaring time. It comes across as if he knows it doesn’t really matter what approach works on her, so long as she agrees to go because he’s fully aware that once she experiences the thrill of the night on the town with him, the details won’t matter all that much.

He’s right too, because this has a sloppiness that only adds to its visceral appeal. Reportedly Domino wasn’t happy cutting Jarrett’s song and was bitching about it to him in the studio, but that resentment only fueled his vocal fire and turned this into something even more loose-limbed and frantic with the band taking their cue from their frontman.

Bartholomew wouldn’t have allowed this to sound quite so unhinged, but the thrill of Domino pounding on the keys to open it which leads right into his runaway freight train vocals backed by riffing horns and supplemented by some scintillating guitar flourishes in the first half is hard to beat.

Where they COULD’VE used Bartholomew is in shoring up the instrumental break which features the horns at each other’s throats in a death match, something that is not as exciting as it sounds because it’s clearly unintentional.

They’re playing contrasting patterns designed to compliment one another’s parts, but they clash instead because there’s no underlying technical cohesion to pull this off. Wendell Duconge is like an electrical wire knocked down in a storm, sizzling and thrashing wildly in the street while the other horns are steering clear of him so as not to get shocked, but in the process they become untethered from each other.

If you’d tightened that up Trust In Me still might’ve been a little too intense and unfocused a record for mainstream hit status, but it sure would’ve been the packaged equivalent of a showstopper any time you cued it up.

As it is though, the end results are still more than powerful enough, giving you a taste of what you were missing if you didn’t catch Domino when he blew through your town.


You’re The Type For Me
Earlier in 1952 pop sensation Eddie Fisher had a smash hit with a song with the same title and if there were any curious – or sadistic – fans of his who saw this record and assumed it must be the same tune, they were certainly in for a shock.

That song had also received treatment from pre-rock Black stars Louis Jordan and Bull Moose Jackson, something which only served to show how their own time had largely passed. The Orioles took a whack at it too, but then we already know they were always being steered in that blander direction by Jubilee Records and it hadn’t done them much good with their rock constituency.

In the future it wasn’t going to be songs like THAT one which stirred the masses, it’d be Fats Domino telling an entire generation of listeners to Trust In Me and while they didn’t do so in enough numbers here to get this onto the charts, they would fall in line soon after and keep Domino – and rock ‘n’ roll – at the top of the heap for the rest of the decade.

Though this record still has some flaws the sheer exuberance of it thanks to the unusual circumstances in which it was recorded makes this one of the great lost gems of Fats’ deep catalog and one which puts to rest that he was somehow less dangerous than many of his peers.

The academics may still prefer putting him in a restrictive little box, almost using him as a counterweight to their narratives about the rebelliousness of Messrs. Presley, Penniman and Lewis, but the true rock fans would attest that Domino had earned their trust long before any of them stepped foot on the national stage thanks to wild rockers like this.


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