1998.09.19 Billboard "Screamin' Jay Hawkins: AT LAST"
Producer: Jim Dickinson
Last Call/Valley Entertainment 15008
At a time when so many decisions in the music industry are dictated by sales projections, genre limitations, and a fear of offending people's sensibilities, blues shouter Screamin' Jay Hawkins is a fish out of water. Brash, possessed, and oblivious to current social or musical trends, Hawkins stomps all over convention with a fiery album of mostly original tunes that seem to spring from a place so deep in his soul that he sounds as if he's being consumed by them. In "Listen," he whelps, cackles, screams, hollers, and shrieks, imitating a woman whose language he can't understand; in "Coulda', woulda', shoulda" - a duet with an unidentified female singer - he puts on his best baritone and comes across as a heart-wounded balladeer; and in "Shut your mouth when you sneeze," he describes in graphic detail the consequences of not heeding his warning. Hawkins even manages to spike Bob Marley's "I shot the sheriff" with political venom and do-or-die desperation. A welcome return. Contact: 505-992-4902.