Sunday, 5 February 2017

"Screamin' Jay Rocks [aka "Rocks]" by SCREAMIN' JAY HAWKINS (2008 Bear Family CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…I Put A Spell On You…"

I suppose if you were to nitpick - Screamin' Jay Hawkins never really 'rocks' (in the true sense of the word) on any of these 31 odes to lunacy, coffins and fragrant armpits - but he doesn't half put a grin on your face every time he opens his flamboyant and very unPC mouth. Lewd, crude and genuinely crackers in the frontal lobe area (he'd regularly expose his penis to old ladies in the audience on stage on a Saturday night and end up in jail on Sunday morning) - Screamin' Jay Hawkins was the real deal - the funniest shock-entertainer in Rock 'n' Roll's long pantheon of wild men and women. And this fabulous near eighty-minutes of musical mayhem is testament to his unhinged genius. Here are the degenerate and depraved details...

Released September 2008 in Germany - "Screamin’ Jay Rocks" by SCREAMIN' JAY HAWKINS is on Bear Family BCD 16687 AR (Barcode 4000127166876) and breaks down as follows (77:57 minutes):

1. Little Demon (1956, Okeh 4-7072, B-side of "I Put A Spell On You")
2. Baptize Me In Wine (1954, Timely 1004, A)
3. Not Anymore (1954, Timely 1004, B-side of "Baptize Me In Wine")
4. In My Front Room (unissued 1955 Mercury recording, first appeared on the 1990 2CD compilation "Spellbound! 1955-1974" on Bear Family BCD 15530)
5. This Is All (1955, Mercury 70549, A)
6. What That Is (unissued 1955 Mercury recording, first appeared on the 1990 2CD compilation "Spellbound! 1955-1974" on Bear Family BCD 15530)
7. (She Put The) Wamee (On Me) (1955, Mercury 70549, B-side of "This Is All")
8. Well I Tried (1955, Wing 90005, A)
9. Talk About Me (1955, Wing 90055, B-side of "Even Though")
10. Take Me Back (1956, Grand 135, A)
11. I Is (1956, Grand 135, B-side of "Take Me Back")
12. $10,000 Lincoln Continental (Take 2) (unissued 1955 Reco-Art Recording, first appeared on the 1991 CD compilation "From Grand To Gotham" on Interstate Music Ltd SJH CD 71829)
13. You Ain't Foolin' Me (unissued 1956 recording, first appeared on the 1991 CD compilation "At Home With Screamin' Jay Hawkins" on Acadia ACAM 8116)
14. Yellow Coat (first issued on the 1958 USA Mono LP "At Home With Screamin' Jay Hawkins" on Epic LN 3448)
15. I Put A Spell On You (1956, Okeh 4-7072, A - B-side is Track 1 "Little Demon")
16. Frenzy (1957, Okeh 4-7087, B-side to "Person To Person")
17. Alligator Wine (1958, Okeh 4-7101, A)
18. There's Something Wrong With You (1958, Okeh 4-7101, B-side to "Alligator Wine")
19. Person To Person (1957, Okeh 4-7087, A)
20. You Made Me Love You (1957, Okeh 4-7084, A)
21. Little Demon (Alternate Take) (unissued 1956 recording, first appeared on Disc 2 of the 4CD Box Set "Loud, Fast & Out Of Control: The Wild Sound Of 50's Rock" by Various Artists on Rhino R2 75704)
22. Armpit No. 6 (1958, Red Top 126, A)
23. Just Don't Care (1962, Enrica 1010, B-side of "I Hear Voices")
24. Strange (1964, Roulette 4579, B-side of "The Whammy")
25. The Whammy (1964, Roulette 4579, A)
26. Party Doll (unissued 1964 recording, first appeared on the 1997 CD compilation "Lotta Boppin' (And Plenty Scream' Too): Roulette Rock & Roll, Vol. 4" on Sequel NEM 921)
27. All Night (unissued 1966 Decca recording, first appeared on the 1990 2CD compilation "Spellbound! 1955-1974" on Bear Family BCD 15530)
28. Mountain Jive (unissued 1966 Decca recording, first appeared on the 1990 2CD compilation "Spellbound! 1955-1974" on Bear Family BCD 15530)
29. Do You Really Love Me (1969, Phillips 40645, B-side of "Constipation Blues")
30. Please Don't Leave Me (first issued on the USA LP "Because Is In Your Mind" on Phillips PHS 600-336 in 1970)
31. Knock-Kneed Nana (Take 7) (previously unissued 1958 Columbia recording - first issue here)

"Rocks" comes in a (three-flaps) foldout card digipak with a detachable oversized booklet offering fans a chunky 64-pages of stunningly detailed liner notes by long-time fan BILL MILLAR. The text is peppered with up-close and personal black and white stills from a gig at The Washington Hotel in Mayfair, London in January 1965 and then The Ram Jam Club in April 1966. You get reproductions of a great Ebony Magazine advert from 1957 with the "Spell-maker" (Dr. Scholl's sandals ahoy!) - publicity poses with his trademark skull 'n' crossbones stage get up and even 'labour' papers to enter the UK in February 1966. The Richard Weize and George White discography from 1952-1970 starts on Page 41 and doesn't finish until Page 62. The CD reflects the Okeh label for "I Put A Spell On You" and the single in its label bag is pictured beneath the see-through CD tray - as usual - a very tasty job done by BF.

It opens with the lesser-heard "Little Demon" - the anarchic B-side to his 1956 lifelong signature tune "I Put A Spell On You" (over 35 cover versions of it and counting). "Little Demon" has lyrics like "...done put pretty hair on grandma's bald head..." - nice. After two dullish early 1954 cuts - things pick up big time with the Fats Domino piano-rolling R'n'B of "In My Front Room" showcasing his great rasping voice. "This Is All" is the same - a breakneck vocal hovering over a slow-rolling brass-filled Rhythm 'n' Blues section which features Mickey Baker (prominently) on Guitar with Big Al Sears and Sam 'The Man' Taylor on Saxes.

He goes all Muddy Waters got my-Mojo-working on the blues "$10,000 Lincoln Continental" and he names all the garish colours of his wardrobe in "Yellow Coat" - witty Rock 'n' Roll and up there with anything Chuck Berry could write. The wonderful "I Put A Spell On You" still makes me giggle but even better is "There's Something Wrong With You" with its manic giggles and lines like "...roast baboon salad smothering in ain't all there..." But the absolute bomb is "Armpit No. 6" about his woman's odours where he says "...she's stone from the sticks...with her own kind of perfume...armpit No. 6..." and then starts sniffing! "Just Don't Care" is brill Fifties boogie while "Strange" and "The Whammy" are full of his trademark manic voodoo rhythms and racy lyrics - what a blast!

If Screamin' Jay Hawkins didn't exist - you'd imagine God would have to invent him. He died in 2000 aged 70 with six wives behind him and approximately 33 children (I say approximately). And isn't that just 'so' Rock 'n' Roll...

PS: The "Rocks" Series by Bear Family features the following artists:

1. Chuck Berry [see REVIEW}
2. Pat Boone
3. Johnny Burnette [see REVIEW]
4. The Cadillacs [see REVIEW]
5. Eddie Cochran
6. Bobby Darin
7. Fats Domino
8. Connie Francis
9. Don Gibson
10. Glen Glenn
11. Bill Haley
12. Roy Hall
13. Slim Harpo [see REVIEW]
14. Dale Hawkins
15. Ronnie Hawkins
16. Screamin' Jay Hawkins [see REVIEW]
17. Wanda Jackson [see REVIEW]
18. Sonny James
19. Buddy Knox & Jimmy Bowen with the Rhythm Orchids
20. Sleepy LaBeef
21. Brenda Lee
22. Jerry Lee Lewis [see REVIEW]
23. Smiley Lewis [see REVIEW]
24. Little Richard
25. Bob Luman [see REVIEW]
26. Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers
27. Carl Mann
28. Amos Milburn [see REVIEW]
29. Ella Mae Morse [see REVIEW]
30. Ricky Nelson
31. Carl Perkins
32. Roy Orbison
33. Lloyd Price [see REVIEW]
34. Piano Red (aka Dr. Feelgood) [see REVIEW]
35. Charlie Rich [see REVIEW]
36. Jack Scott
37. Shirley & Lee
38. The Treniers
39. Big Joe Turner [see REVIEW]
40. Conway Twitty
41. Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps
42. Rusty York [see REVIEW]

The Bear Family "Rockin' Rollin'" Series features:

1. Johnny Horton
2. Marvin Rainwater
3. Marty Robbins Vol.1
4. Marty Robbins Vol.2
5. Marty Robbins Vol.3 

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