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I ain't lyin', I put a spell on you,
This review is from: Cow Fingers & Mosquito Pie (Audio CD)The world is not that well off for good compilations of Screamin' Jay Hawkins work but this is undoubtedly one of the better ones. The selection is all from his Okeh/Epic period in the mid `50's and these are the first and best takes of some of these numbers (that comment is in light of Jay's predeliction for re-recording his songs). Track listing below.
1. Little Demon
2. You Ain't Foolin' Me
3. I Put a Spell on You
4. You Made Me Love You
5. Yellow Coat
6. Hong Kong
7. There's Something Wrong With You
8. I Love Paris
9. Orange Colored Sky
10. Alligator Wine
11. Darling, Please Forgive Me
12. Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle
15. Person to Person
16. Little Demon [Alternate Take]
17. I Put a Spell on You [Alternate Take]
18. There's Something Wrong With You [Alternate Take]
19. Alligator Wine [Alternate Take]
The material contained here breaks down into roughly three types. There are the up-tempo R&B belters like the first couple of tracks plus others like "Take me back to my boots" and "Yellow Coat", where Jay is probably at his most conventional albeit with some gobbling and burbling sounds thrown in. He's excellent on these as are the band with a fiery guitarist and steaming sax section. Then there are the slow bluesy numbers where Jay is more inclined to throw in everything bar the kitchen sink. Even as early as the first verse in some cases. I'd put "Spell" and the excellent "Alligator Wine" in this category, the latter featuring hysterical cackles within the backing track. Lastly there are the standards, numbers like "Temptation", "You made me do it" and "Orange Coloured Sky", where for brief spells, Jay demonstrates that he could beat many "normal" singers with his hands tied behind his back and without any resort to vocal calisthenics. But, being Jay, he feels he has to give us something extra which, of course, he does. Were songs like "I love Paris" ever subjected to such treatment before? It starts off about as near straight as Jay ever gets but then goes an insane middle section. Achtung! I saw Mau-Mau kissin' Santa Claus!
Even a conventional slow blues cum soul item like "Darling, Please Forgive Me" which Jay takes totally seriously, sounding not unlike someone like Chuck Willis say, has a near demented backing singer. "Person to Person" is another good slice of early soul showcasing Jay's voice superbly - he leaves the googly moogly stuff till the climax on this one. The overall atmosphere is also helped by the fact that the producer has left on some brief bits of studio chat before some of the numbers.
I was going to give this four stars but just had another listen and heck, it's worth the full five. I ain't lyin'!