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I Put a Spell On You - the Best Of

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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.

Customer Reviews

I put a spell on you - Review

Hi! Just heard the song "I put a spell on you" in both the censored version and the original. This dude where so insane that you just have to hear it to believe it. The original version was banned on US radioes at that time and I do really understand why. He was so unbelievably drunk during the recording that he had to relearn the song by listening to it later. The censored version is very different from the original but it is brilliant in another way. This album has the original. Download and enjoy.


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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