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The Ultimate Collection

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Album Review

Ronnie Hawkins deserves credit for sticking with his own brand of ragged rockabilly long after the genre's other stars turned to slicker styles, but he remains a minor star in therockabilly orbit, known chiefly for his role in helping develop the musicians in his band the Hawks, who went on to fame and fortune as the Band. Hawkins truthfully always had more energy, swagger and suggestibility than he did actual singing talent, and while his limitations could be masked in the excitement of a live show, his studio recordings are remarkably tame by comparison. This 18-song set includes several of his late 1950s and early '60s singles for Roulette Records, including his incendiary version of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?," easily Hawkins' career high point. It also includes three recordings tracked in the '90s that were eventually included on 2002's Canadian import Still Cruisin'. One of these is a country duet with Kris Kristofferson ("Friendship"), another is an engaging rocker written by Hawkins' son Robin Hawkins ("Can't Stop Rockin'") and a third, "Blue Moon in My Sign," features Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm from the Band (the pair haven't spoken in years and their parts were recorded separately). Aside from the title track, these newer recordings are hardly anything to shout about, and the only truly essential Hawkins material remains his early Roulette sides.


Born: 10 January 1935 in Huntsville, AR

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Ronnie Hawkins is a rockabilly singer who formed his original backing band, the Hawks, while attending the University of Arkansas. After auditioning unsuccessfully for Sun in 1957, he started working regularly in Canada the following year, eventually taking up permanent residence there. After one release on the Canadian Quality label, he signed with Roulette in New York in 1959, having hits with "Forty Days" and "Mary Lou." The live fervor of Hawkins (known as Mr. Dynamo) and the Hawks' show continued...
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The Ultimate Collection, Ronnie Hawkins
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