Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Centennial Collection

Well, thinks I to meself, finally a Fats Waller CD. Good--I never play my Book-of-the-Month Club vinyl, or those unsorted Vintages. But soon I notice many apparent obscurities fleshing out "The Joint Is Jumping" and "Your Feets Too Big"--some superb, like Fats striding through James P. Johnson's "Carolina Shout," most merely good. So I go buy RCA's 2000 The Very Best of Fats Waller, figuring the gold is buried there. Only it's not. Neither of these CDs features the original "Ain't Misbehavin'" or "Honeysuckle Rose" (Very Best has two others), and though I remain a seeker, not an expert, this is clearly suspicious. So here's what I propose: one expertly annotated CD of piano solos, with a few band instrumentals and organ numbers thrown in, and one of the novelty songs that made him a crossover pioneer--selected, please, by somebody with a cheap sense of humor. I'd be grateful if it included his "One Meat Ball," which I haven't seen nor heard since my parents threw out their 78s--and which I am thus no longer sure ever existed.

Village Voice, May 3, 2005

July 12, 2005 July 12, 2005