Fats Waller and his Rhythm: The Middle Years 1936-38 RCA

Copyright (C) Thomas L. Morgan 1995. All rights reserved.

It appears that the "Fats Waller Fan Club" is in for another celebration. After last year's wonderful Bluebird triple CD reissue of Fats Waller's "Last Years" this RCA label has followed up with an equally impressive 3 CD set of his "Middle Years."

For a man who recorded over five hundred songs in his lifetime, Fats Waller's entire musical legacy is finally close to being completed. Many of the tunes on this new rerelease have not been heard in many years. As opposed to the previous reissue which included many of Fats's characteristic novelties, this triple set is filled with wonderful ballads done in the inimitable Waller style.

The 70 song set includes a virtual Who's Who of thirties songsters. There are forgotten numbers by Waller and his sometime songwriting companion, Andy Razaf. There are at least a half dozen gems from the team of Harold Adamson and Jimmy McHugh, who were writing for Hollywood musicals at that time. Also included are long lost melodies from Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Sam Coslow, Ted Koehler, Harry Warren, James P. Johnson and Fred Coots to name a few.

But don't think that this set doesn't have something in store for the novelty fan. There are some wonderful songs that will put a smile on your face such as The Meanest Thing You Ever Did Was Kiss Me, You've Been Reading My Mail, and The Joint is Jumpin'. Two personal favorites are "She's Tall, She's Tan, She's Terrific,"a song that got it's start at the Cotton Club and a goofy tune about that mad fiddler, Nero.

The musicianship on the recordings is top notch. Waller's orchestra never had any famous players as Fats was the star of the group, yet every song has a swing that is infectious

So if you are in a quandry as to which triple CD set of Fats Waller's material you should buy, whatever you do, don't delay because the choice may get harder. This is because in small letters next to the "Middle Years," it says Part 1. So there is probably another huge set of incredible, unheard of songs just around the corner. My advice is that you should probably go ahead and mortgage the house and buy them all, as this is great music from one of America's most beloved entertainers. The CDs can be acquired by clicking here.

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