Ted Hawkins Story: Suffer No More Import
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Ted Hawkins Story: Suffer No More
A thumbnail version of the Ted Hawkins story goes something like this: Southern black man braves poverty and Mississippi's notorious Parchman Farm prison. He moves west and camps out on Venice Beach, where he sings for change, ultimately securing a major-label contract. A critically acclaimed album (1994's The Next Hundred Years is released. Months later, at age 59, he suffers a stroke and dies. Quite a tale, but that isn't the half of it. The illegitimate son of a teenage alcoholic prostitute, Hawkins claimed he was abused as a child. Substance abuse, crime (including child molestation and indecent exposure), and psychiatric institutionalization marked his adulthood. His final flourish was preceded by earlier fruitless "discoveries." Hawkins's music was as mixed up as his life. A thoroughly commanding vocalist, he was stylistically all over the map, as Suffer No More indicates. The 20-song compilation opens with two long-lost soul sides from 1966. By the early '70s, he'd developed into a singer/songwriter. Best (if insufficiently) characterized as a soul-folk singer, Hawkins had an unlikely taste for hardcore honky-tonk. Highlights here include a version of the Johnny Horton chestnut "North to Alaska" and an obscure cheatin'-'n'-drinkin' tune called "Happy Hour." --Steven Stolder
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Top Customer Reviews
If you like--if you can tolerate--hearing about life as it really is--get this CD.
If you'll buy only one of Hawkins' CDs, this is the one--it includes compelling songs all the way from his first known recordings in 1966--unavailable for decades until this CD--to several recorded in the last months of his too-short life. Songs from the Venice Beach boardwalk, where he had to command people's attention as they strolled by, then had to be entertaining enough to hold them there for awhile. His sole means of support for years was the tips from Venice Beach. Songs from studio recording sessions, sometimes even with professional musicians backing up the raw voice and ferocious strumming on his acoustic guitar. Even songs recorded for the BBC years before his brief success and overdue recognition in the States.
A bonus in the liner notes is an 8-page summary of Hawkins' life and music by Jimmy Guterman, who has written five books about pop music.