This Louisiana guitarist's 1957 hit "Suzy Q," with its crackling bluesy guitar and insistent cowbell, was one of the most exciting early rockabilly singles. Recording for Chess (as one of its few White artists) between 1956 and 1961, Hawkins never quite duplicated its success, either commercially or artistically, but came close enough on a number of occasions to warrant respect as one of the better rockabilly singers.
This is a rockabilly song, with an R&B beat and was released before Hawkins-who is a recent inductee into the Louisiana Hall of Fame-turned 19. It helped to establish rockabilly music in the minds of the record buying public, and served to make listeners familiar with James Burton's stellar guitar proficiency. "Susie-Q" was covered by Creedence Clearwater Revival and helped to launch their career in 1968.
The 14-track CD recorded at Hawk's Nest Studio is filled with lots of acoustic guitars and Hawkins fine and folksy vocals. Highlights include a sincere cover of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene," or "Irene" as Hawkins' traditional arrangement is called here and Chuck Berry's "Promised Land."
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.