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Best of Bizarre Sessions

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Album Review

This 18-song compilation is taken from three albums that Screamin' Jay Hawkins recorded in the early '90s for Bizarre/Straight Records: Black Music for White People, Stone Crazy, and Somethin' Funny Goin On. While these albums contain some spirited performances, including the hysterical operatic version of "Ol Man River," they do not contain the fire or spontaneity of his classic '50s recordings. Some of the material may have been too sincere for Hawkins' style, such as the two songs penned by Tom Waits: "Ice Cream Man" and "Heart Attack and Vine." While "Ignant and S**t," "Shut Your Mouth When You Sneeze," and "Swamp Gas" swing in the opposite direction, proving the song titles funnier than the actual songs. Best of the Bizarre Sessions: 1990-1994 has its moments, but for a clearer glimpse of Hawkins original R&B theatrics which created such a stir in the '50s check out the Rhino compilation Voodoo Jive: The Best of Screamin' Jay Hawkins.


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 theatrical figure long before it was even remotely acceptable. Hawkins' life story is almost as bizarre as his on-stage schtick. Originally inspired by the booming baritone of Paul Robeson, Hawkins was unable to break through as an opera singer. His boxing prowess was every bit as lethal as...
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