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No, this is not a coincidence.

Yes, it was definitely intentional to follow up a Dave Bartholomew single for King Records with one by his most famous musical cohort who was now recording without Dave’s imput while still on Imperial.

In due time they’d reunite and continue to re-shape rock ‘n’ roll as much as any two men of the 1950’s, but for the time being we’re able to get some sense of how they were faring on their own and the answer is… adequately, but hardly exceptionally.


I Can Hear My Baby Calling
The back to back sequencing of these two artists forever joined at the proverbial hip in rock history wasn’t just to be mildly clever, but rather to try and show precisely why their partnership endured despite personal differences along the way when both had to quell their sizable ego to keep things going smoothly.

Usually when it comes to songwriting partnerships we know what each is bringing to the table. Jerry Leiber wrote lyrics, Mike Stoller the music. Brian Wilson was a musical genius who leaned on others – Mike Love, Roger Christian, Tony Asher, Van Dyke Parks – to come up with the words to put his broad ideas into a concise story. Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier created the vibrant tracks at Motown while Eddie Holland fashioned the narratives that went with them.

But with Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew their roles seemed interchangeable at times, neither one sticking to just one aspect of the creative process. While Bartholomew unquestionably handled the arrangements, building the music up from the simple rhythm patterns that Domino had come up with, oftentimes that rhythm was the entire driving force of the record.

Although at times Bartholomew’s own records tended to sound half improvised lyrically, the songs he came up with for others entirely on his own were some of the most indelible songs of their day such as the impossibly catchy working man’s lament Blue Monday, first done by Smiley Lewis, then taken higher by Domino himself.

Yet listen to Domino’s You Know I Miss You – done without Bartholomew (and without Al Young, who got co-writing credit, for that matter) and you see where the piano intro on Fats’ version of that later classic was taken from. Or the fact that Fats recycled a melody line he came up with here for their “comeback” hit as a tandem, Going To The River.

In other words while each of them on their own could come up with perfectly realized compositions, their work together seemed to compliment one another, filling in weak spots that otherwise might be all too apparent. Whoever brought in the songs, those songs became better by the other one’s contributions. The last sides we saw by Dave would’ve benefited enormously from Domino’s inspired playing, while Fats could’ve used Bartholomew’s story editing here to make this far more streamlined for mass consumption.

Yet both of them were sure to come up with something intriguing enough to catch your ear even when they were flying solo.


The Sky Is Getting Clearer
That aforementioned intro throws us for a loop here in the present where we recognize it from a later hit, but in 1952 before anyone heard it in a different context on a song that hadn’t even been written or recorded yet, this was a warm invitation to a record.

Unfortunately once that intro ends the song trips itself up by not letting that flow continue unabated.

Instead Domino shifts his focus to a more dramatic effect, sort of a stutter-step progression to build suspense but which isn’t quite ominous sounding enough to pull it off. For one thing the horns are pitched too high as you have just two saxes, an alto and tenor, but no baritone, throwing off the balance.

This was something Bartholomew probably would have corrected, as we know how he relied on Red Tyler to give Domino’s records a heavy bottom which is desperately needed here to convey the despair that Fats is singing about early on in You Know I Miss You.

But on the other hand maybe Bartholomew’s absence here also allowed them to stretch out in ways that he might not have been as eager to try, such as giving Papoose Nelson a sterling extended guitar solo rather than relying on Domino’s piano or Buddy Hagans tenor sax to carry the instrumental break.

Their time together definitely rubbed off on Domino though as he’s carried over the piano triplets that Bartholomew was instrumental in making such an identifying feature of Fats’s records and even if it’s not playing a very complex part, the bass is very prominent throughout the song, something that the famed producer was known for as well.

As for the song itself, though it’s relatively simplistic like a lot of his compositions, it’s helped by how endearing Fats is while singing it. Coming across as both shy and hopeful, yet still uncertain of his chances to reconnect with his sweetie, his love for her sounds so sincere that it transcends a few bouts of laziness when it comes to his tendency to favor repetitive chants when he ran out of more probing lyrics. Even the way he unsuccessfully tries to cram in too many words in the last line manages to sound overanxious rather than sloppy.

It’s still a long way off from his best work with Bartholomew of course, but there are enough good ideas found here to make it worthwhile creatively even if it didn’t seem to reach that level commercially.


Lawdy, Lawdy, Lawdy!
After a full year apart, we still have no definitive sign that either Fats Domino or Dave Bartholomew is going to be able to compete at the highest level without the other beside them.

They had two hits that reached the Top Five in a just a single year together, plus a bunch of other hits that Bartholomew oversaw while at Imperial working with others, all of which has led to… one song that barely scraped the Top Ten for a single week for Fats on his own while Dave’s departure has resulted in his best shot at a national hit get usurped by The Griffin Brothers’ cover version.

In other words while they both remain in sight of stardom on their own, they’re still on the outside looking in and You Know I Miss You won’t change that.

In fact if you wanted to judge it by the title, you might be inclined to say one of them was not too proud to say he was missing the contributions of the other.

That’s clearly not what it’s about, not even surreptitiously, nor was Bartholomew saying I’ll Never Be The Same intended as a sign he was reaching out to Domino, but the fact remains that while each has shown they’re capable of quality work alone, we know they’re capable of so much more as partners.

Something has to bring them back together, for even if we didn’t know what was in store for them, we can hear for ourselves that neither one has been quite as good since they parted.


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