16 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though he first gained fame for his primitive and deranged interpretations of early rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly, Hasil Adkins was a country singer at heart. In 1994, Norton Records finally afforded him the opportunity to cut a complete set of old-timey songs—delivered with a Hasil twist, of course. Hearing Adkins do a bunch of classic Carter Family and Bill Monroe songs may have been a disappointment for a cult audience that had come to love Adkins' frantic chants about hot dogs and cutting off his baby’s head, but it's in these performances that Hasil’s soulfulness shines. It’s extraordinary to hear him sing the 1949 Stanley Brothers song “White Dove,” because you know he’s playing it as a memory of what he heard on the radio (or in person) during his West Virginia childhood. Anyone who doubts Adkins' authenticity must experience “Song of Death”: a mortal dirge that exposes Nick Cave as a lightweight. But what you eventually come away with is a sense of the wildman’s sweetness. Of the Hasil originals, check out “Tomorrow I’ll Still Be Loving You,” in which the softest saxophone curls around Hasil’s vocal.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though he first gained fame for his primitive and deranged interpretations of early rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly, Hasil Adkins was a country singer at heart. In 1994, Norton Records finally afforded him the opportunity to cut a complete set of old-timey songs—delivered with a Hasil twist, of course. Hearing Adkins do a bunch of classic Carter Family and Bill Monroe songs may have been a disappointment for a cult audience that had come to love Adkins' frantic chants about hot dogs and cutting off his baby’s head, but it's in these performances that Hasil’s soulfulness shines. It’s extraordinary to hear him sing the 1949 Stanley Brothers song “White Dove,” because you know he’s playing it as a memory of what he heard on the radio (or in person) during his West Virginia childhood. Anyone who doubts Adkins' authenticity must experience “Song of Death”: a mortal dirge that exposes Nick Cave as a lightweight. But what you eventually come away with is a sense of the wildman’s sweetness. Of the Hasil originals, check out “Tomorrow I’ll Still Be Loving You,” in which the softest saxophone curls around Hasil’s vocal.

TITLE TIME

More By Hasil Adkins