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I Put A Spell On You

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Album Review

Ex-boxer Screamin' Jay Hawkins' live show, full of on-stage coffins, skulls, and toilets, prefigured the extravagant concert productions of later artists like Alice Cooper and George Clinton, and Hawkins' full awareness of the visual aspect of rock music extended even to his lyrics, which were purposefully graphic and surreal. In essence, Hawkins was a one- or two-trick pony, but boy, those ponies could run. His masterpiece was "I Put a Spell on You," which he originally recorded for OKeh Records (supposedly while extremely drunk) in 1956, and while Hawkins' version was never even close to being a commercial hit, the song has been covered so many times (most notably by Nina Simone) that it has deservedly been certified as a rock and R&B classic. "Spell" is here, of course, on this so-so collection of '50s and '60s tracks, and it's clearly the high point, although Hawkins' gives "Little Bitty Pretty One," Fats Domino's "Please Don't Leave Me," and Little Willie Mabon's "I Don't Know" nice workouts. This same set, with different cover art, has also been issued as Essential Recordings by Golden in 2000 and under the same title, I Put a Spell on You: The Best of Screamin' Jay Hawkins, by Master Classics in 2005.

Biography

Born: 18 July 1929 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: R&B/Soul

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

Screamin' Jay Hawkins was the most outrageous performer extant during rock's dawn. Prone to emerging out of coffins on-stage, a flaming skull named Henry his constant companion, Screamin' Jay was an insanely...
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