1988 Screamin' Jay Hawkins 2LP "Feast of the Mau Mau"

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1988 Screamin' Jay Hawkins 2LP FEAST OF THE MAU MAU (GB: Edsel DED 252 / Demon)

country gb.gif GB: Edsel DED 252 / Demon

A 01 (02:12) What that is (Jalacy Hawkins)
A 02 (03:25) Feast of the mau mau (Jalacy Hawkins)
A 03 (02:10) Do you really love me? (Jalacy Hawkins)
A 04 (02:07) Stone crazy (Jalacy Hawkins)
A 05 (04:17) I love you (Jalacy Hawkins)
A 06 (04:30) Constipation blues (Jalacy Hawkins)
B 01 (02:28) I'm lonely (Jalacy Hawkins)
B 02 (02:35) Thing called woman (Jalacy Hawkins)
B 03 (03:08) Dig! (Jalacy Hawkins)
B 04 (03:17) I'm your man (Jalacy Hawkins)
B 05 (03:03) Ask him (Jalacy Hawkins)
B 06 (02:15) Reprise (Jalacy Hawkins)
C 01 (03:54) Please don't leave me (Antoine Domino)
C 02 (02:58) I wanta know (Jalacy Hawkins)
C 03 (02:12) I need you (Jalacy Hawkins)
C 04 (02:58) My marion (Jalacy Hawkins)
C 05 (03:02) Bite it (Last night) (Mar-Keys)
C 06 (03:12) Move me (Jalacy Hawkins)
D 01 (02:00) Good night my love (John Marascalo, George Matola)
D 02 (02:38) Our love is not for three (J. Jones)
D 03 (03:00) Ain't nobody's business (R. H. Grisham)
D 04 (03:38) Take me back (Jalacy Hawkins)
D 05 (02:40) Trying to reach my goal (McCree, Gene Thomas, Thomas)
D 06 (04:40) So long (Remus Harris, Irving Melsher, Russ Morgan)
  • Matrix A: DED 252 A1 TY1
  • Matrix B: DED-252-B2 TY1
  • Matrix C: DED 251 C1 TY1
  • Matrix D: DED-252-D-1 TY1
  • Production: [A-B] Milan Melvin [C-D] Huey P. Meaux, arranged by Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Jimmy Jones
  • Recording: [A-B] 1969.06.23-24 Los Angeles, Club Amigo. - Engineer: Hank Cicalo. - Second engineers: Mark Harmon, Russ Schmidt [C, D] December 1969 Houston. - Engineer: Burt Frilot
  • Musicians: [A-B] Mike Anthony (guitar, banjo), Graham Bond (piano A 04, B 01), Herb Ellis (guitar A 02, B 02, 05), Carl "Beef" Gottlieb (backing vocals A 03), Screamin' Jay Hawkins (vocals, piano), Eddie Hoh (drums A 04, B 01), Plas Johnson (saxophone), Ron Johnson (bass A 04, B 01), Deirdre LaPorte (backing vocals A 03), Théa Marcus (backing vocals A 03), Ernest McLean (banjo A 04, B 01), Earl Palmer (drums), Tom Reid (backing vocals A 03), Lyle Ritz (bass), Shorty Rogers (string arrangements B 01), Christopher "Egg" Ross (backing vocals A 03), Sal Valentino (backing vocals A 03), Billy Watkins Singers (backing vocals B 05) [C-D] Screamin' Jay Hawkins
  • Publishing rights: [A, B 01-02, 04-06] Intersong Music Ltd [B 03, C 01-04, D 04-05] SBK United Partnership [C 05-06, D 02-03] Copyright Control [D 01] Screen Gems / EMI Music Ltd [D 06] Lawrence Wright Music Co Ltd
  • Cover painting: Karl Wirsum (The Art Institute of Chicago)
  • Liner notes: Pete Brown
  • UPC: 5099767059326
  • Note: This is a repackage of the two albums Screamin' Jay Hawkins made for Philips: the 1969 Screamin' Jay Hawkins LP WHAT THAT IS! (US: Philips PHS-600-319) and the 1970 Screamin' Jay Hawkins LP BECAUSE IS IN YOUR MIND (ARMPITRUBBER) (US: Philips PHS-600-336).

Liner notes

The wildman stops pounding out the blues on the piano and strolls over to where a long stick with a greenish-white skull on top stands. He picks up the stick, lights a cigarette, and places it in the skull's mouth. He regards the skull with a mixture of delight and disdain as it appears to puff the cigarette. A strange French band plays uneasy riffs in the background. Screamin' Jay Hawkins is in town

Eating a wax feather sandwich
In the middle of
Nineteen hundred and yesterday

Some of us in the Beat poetry movement in the late fifties / early sixties, under the influence of various forbidden or destructive liquids and substances, used to play a game invented by Corso, Kerouac etc called "wordslings". We'd make up weirder and weirder juxtapositions of images and sentiments, trying to outweird each other, with pauses for laughter. A kind of surrealist contest or exercise. Later we would incorporate some of our findings in our work. We didn't know then but Screamin' Jay Hawkins had done it all already, without anything in his bloodstream but his own blood.

Yesterday's comin' back tomorrow
Is is now

Let's face it, individuality is a pretty scarce commodity in these days of clip-on weirdness kits and midi'd chestwigs. People don't even make their own records anymore. Courage is even scarcer, because Courage and Corporate don't mix. That's why it's great to have these two albums, long favourites of mine, back in circulation, to stretch and disturb the minds of another generation of music lovers.

I'm not going into the history. The best of these performances are timeless and speak for themselves, standing proudly for themselves, standing proudly beside the work of Slim Gaillard, Eddie Harris, Sleepy John Estes, Victoria Spivey and Wynonie Harris (well, whoever wrote his songs).

These blasts put the most savage punk bands to shame, and rival the fiercest social and sexual commentators of our time.

A pain called
"Had to eat more"
Made me get a job

and

I've been hurt
Till I love the pain

I don't hesitate to say that WHAT THAT IS is a masterpiece. What album these days can boast a track like "The feast of the Mau Mau"?

Cut the fat off the back of a baboon
Boil it down to a pound in a spoon
Scoop the eyes from a fly flying backwards
Take the jaws and the paws off a 'coon...

This should be compulsory listening for all white South Africans. And it gets heavier - how about the sheer graphic horror of "Constipation blues" ("nobody ever made a record about real pain") with the great Plas Johnson's baritone sax expressively suggesting dark dysfunctions of the digestive system?

WHAT THAT IS was recorded live in a Hollywood club over two days with a changing personnel with more interesting contributions from Johnson and from the legendary British pianist Graham Bond (also signed to Mercury at the time), jazz guitarist Herb Ellis and the excellent Earl palmer on drums. I wish I'd been there. Just to see the audience.

There are few albums in the history of obscurely popular music less uninhibited than this.

The second album, BECAUSE IS IN YOUR MIND (ARMPITRUBBER) (both titles appear on the original sleeve) contains, on first impressions, more conventional material. It's efficiently produced by Huey Meaux, with a solid studio band and some nice horn charts. It's more soul than blues-orientated especially on such numbers as "Tryin' to reach my goal" and "Our love".

However, there's much of interest - all the songs are about love or sex, and on several Screamin' Jay duets with an intriguingly sensual female vocalist, notably on two pornohumorous songs. "Bite it", based on the Mar-Keys famous "Last night", is the funniest, featuring the lady on very rude backup noises that suggest that she indeed has the bit in between her teeth, and "I wanta know (what you do down there)" is about the same geographical region.

Screamin' Jay also subverts the ballad "Goodnight my love" by implying he is having dealings with under-age jailbait. "Move me", too, generates a strongly sexual groove.

To sum up, Screamin' Jay didn't just write "I put a spell on you". Digest these tracks and you will realize that: -

Screamin' Jay is a great singer, moving easily between Blues, Soul, Billy Eckstine and Spike Jones.

He is a great lyricist, exploring areas where most songwriters usually fear to tread.

He is a great humorist, both in writing and performing his own words and subverting the words and music of others. Listen to his loveably insulting mimicry in the "How do they talk?" sequence from "Feast of the Mau Mau", then try to find his earlier recordings of "I love Paris" and "Hong Kong" and you'll see what I mean.

He is a great screamer. His music is a cry from the streets of the mind. He is there to put you wise, and he isn't taking any shit.

There's a sack hangin' in your head
With your brains in it
Eating stuffed chop suey
Corroded biscuits
And bat meat soup
In a gas mask

Or -

To was
Or not to have been

Ignore these records and their philosophy and you will be missing an important stage in your development.

Luckily, Screamin' Jay is still with us. Be proud to have met him. Tell your friends. Don't be afraid. Maybe one day he will play in your town. Then you too will be able to see the skull smoke.

Pete Brown

All issues

1988 Screamin' Jay Hawkins 2LP FEAST OF THE MAU MAU country gb.gif GB: Edsel DED 252 / Demon
1988 Screamin' Jay Hawkins 2LP FEAST OF THE MAU MAU country jp.gif JP: P-Vine PJ-118/9
1991.02 Screamin' Jay Hawkins CD FEAST OF THE MAU MAU country gb.gif GB: Edsel ED 252 / Demon