This one’s a bit of a surprise. A cornerstone in the great Fats Domino band for decades, saxophonist Herb Hardesty only had a handful of solo 45s in the early ’60s (reissued here), but Ace also unearthed an entire unissued LP recorded in 1958, making this a CD of definite interest for R&B buffs. Buy on AmazonIronically, despite its title — and the fact Hardesty is accompanied by the nucleus of the Domino band — the Fat Man’s influence is in fact negligible here. All but two of the 20 tracks are instrumentals. As with the trend for rock ’n’ roll instrumentals of the era, they’re busy, they rarely last longer than two-and-a-half minutes, and they sport catchy names like “Beatin’ and Blowin’,” “Bouncing Ball,” “The Chicken Twist,” and well, you get the idea. Of the earliest songs, “Bouncing Ball” is the most New Orleans-sounding track, as Hardesty lifts the solo off “I’m Walkin’.”
Opener “Sassy” has the bold styling similar to Dave Bartholomew’s “The Monkey,” but also includes an inventive chord change. “Rumba Rockin’ with Coleman” showcases Domino’s longtime drummer Cornelius “Teenoo” Coleman, who really gives his kit a workout. The best track, though, is “Feelin’ Good,” where Hardesty rocks awhile and the band is in top form. Of the latter tracks, “Beatin’ and Blowin’” was obviously inspired by Bill Doggett’s influential “Honky Tonk,” and “The Chicken Twist” is a strong dance floor invitation. However, the highlights of this CD are the two vocals contributed by longtime Domino guitarist Walter “Papoose” Nelson. Why no one recorded this guy singing — his voice is not unlike his brother, Prince La La — is a mystery. To quote Dr. John about the ill-fated Ninth Ward guitarist, “That m…. f…. could sing.” “It Must Be Wonderful” is a magnificent ballad recalling the great Smiley Lewis. “Why Did We Have To Part” is no less in the pocket and a harbinger for the early ’60s New Orleans sound. Great packaging by Ace as always and over-the-top sound quality make this an unexpected treat.