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CD Review
Ted Hawkins
"The Final Tour"
Evidence ECD 28002-2
68 minutes, 20 tracks
by Ray Stiles
I first ran across Ted Hawkins several years ago listening to a Rhino Records compilation. I had to play the song again because I couldnít believe what I was hearing. I was amazed. Who was this guy with this distinctive, incredibly captivating voice? And why hadnít I heard of him before? His voice reminded me of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding wrapped up into one gritty, gut-wrenching performance. I immediately went out and bought what little was available of his recordings and regretted having never seen him perform live. Ted Hawkins died from a stroke on New Yearís Day, 1995 right when he was on the verge of receiving the well deserved acclaim he had struggled to attain his whole life. What a loss; what a talent. Fortunately, Evidence Records has issued two excellent Ted Hawkins CDís in the past few years, "Songs From Venice Beach" and this one, "The Final Tour." What is so special about this recording is that it captures Ted Hawkins live during the last few months of his life at concerts in California, Washington and Wisconsin. This live recording doesnít make up for not being able to see him in person but itís the next best thing.

The live recording immediately captures your attention with Hawkinsí piercing scream on the opening note of the Webb Pierce classic "There Stands The Glass." You are then are taken on an emotional tour de force with self penned songs like "Watch Your Step," "Bring It On Home Daddy,"and the hauntingly beautiful "Strange Conversation." His covers are inspired interpretations of classic country, blues, pop, rock and R&B songs. The touching "I Got What I Wanted" (originally done by Brook Benton) moves me every time I hear it.

Ted Hawkins, the street busker, was somewhat of a local legend along the boardwalk at Venice Beach, California. He could be found most days perched on his old milk crate playing and singing his heart out. He wore a black leather glove on his left hand and strummed his guitar using an open tuning. But it was his raw, emotion laden voice and song writing skill that captured the hearts of those lucky people who happened to see him out on the boardwalk. His original songs are poignant glimpses of his personal life and tell a story that grabs you by the gut and pulls you inside out. If I had an award for the CDís that have stayed in my player the longest, the Ted Hawkins CDís would be right at the top of the list.

This review is copyright © 1998 by Ray Stiles, all rights reserved.

Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at: mnblues@aol.com

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Copyright 1997, 1998 by Ray M. Stiles. All rights reserved.

Copyright 1998 by Ray M. Stiles. All rights reserved.