Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Alive and Kickin'

The Fat Man releases choice tracks from 2000 to benefit the Big Easy

Champion Jack Dupree returned to New Orleans to cut inspird music before he died at eighty-two, and the entire city outdid itself post-Katrina on Nonesuch's Our New Orleans 2005 compilation. But it's Fats Domino's devotion to music, not his nearness to tragedy, that infuses this unexpectedly winsome old-man's album. The beloved Fifties hitmaker, now seventy-eight, had recorded its thirteen tracks by 2000. Always a model of pop economy like Allen Toussaint rather than an eccentric skyrocket like Professor Longhair, he pares down further here: The extremely fetching piano parts on "I'll Be All Right" and "One Step At a Time" could be played with one or two fingers. And the two assured covers--the Bobby Charles R&B, the Jimmie Davis country--don't overshadow Domino's originals, many of which play as prophetic love songs to his hometown. Alive and Kickin'? The twenty dollars this will cost you at can help make such optimism a reality.

Rolling Stone, Apr. 6, 2006