If you like Fats Domino’s rollicking style of Fifties rhythm and blues, you owe it to yourself to try out The Complete Imperial Singles. It is a six-disc collection filled with the dozens of pop and R&B hits the New Orleans-based musician put out between 1949 and 1963. Yes, dozens. Though we all remember “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill,” and rightfully so, the Imperial singles reveal a songwriter who ranged far wider and a singer who also tackled jazz, standards, and even Hank Williams (“Your Cheatin’ Heart,” no less!)
Among his many steady, horn-inflected 45s was “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” a song that had been around since 1928 when Fats had a go at it during his heyday. Penned by lyricist Dorothy Fields and composer Jimmy McHugh, “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” enjoys the distinction of having been covered by not only Mickey and Minnie Mouse but Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. Ella, Judy, Billie, Dino, Duke, Satchmo—if you recorded on vinyl and sang in smoky nightclubs, “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” landed on your music stand at one time or another.
McHugh and Fields came out of Tin Pan Alley and jumped to the movies when talkies, and thus musicals, became a reality. In their seven years as a team they made a specialty of composing for the famed Cotton Club reviews and, by extension, Duke Ellington. “The Sunny Side of the Street” remains a standard, as does “In the Mood for Love,” another recorded-by-everyone number that Louis Armstrong made a hit but Alfalfa Switzer of Our Gang fame made immortal.