Bad Luck Is Falling: The Modern, RPM and Kent Recordings, Vol. 2

Bad Luck Is Falling: The Modern, RPM and Kent Recordings, Vol. 2

by Roy HawkinsRoy Hawkins


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If ever an artist had a right to claim the blues, it was Roy Hawkins. Born in Texas, he migrated to California in the late '30s, and by the mid-'40s the piano playing Hawkins was a fixture on the West Coast jazz and R&B scene. A car accident left him with a paralyzed arm, however, ending his piano career, but he was a subtle songwriter and singer, and his autobiographical "Why Do Everything Happen to Me" was a high-charting R&B hit in 1950. The following year another Hawkins original, "The Thrill Is Gone," attracted some attention, but not as much as B.B. King's cover version would get some 20 years later in 1970. Even then Hawkins continued to be snake bit, since royalties from King's hit version of "The Thrill Is Gone" were mistakenly assigned to a pair of writers who had written a completely different song with the same title. By the mid-'50s, Hawkins was essentially a forgotten man as far as the music business was concerned, and although he recorded sporadically through 1961, he never managed anything beyond regional success. Even the year of his death is up for debate, but is believed to have been in 1973. His complete obscurity is baffling, really, since his recorded work was always consistent, even compelling and poetic. Bad Luck Is Falling: The Modern, RPM and Kent Recordings, Vol. 2 follows Ace Records' first volume of Hawkins' collected work, 2000s The Thrill Is Gone, and collects what's left of his tracks for the various Bihari Brothers imprints (Modern, RPM and Kent) between 1949 and 1961, as well as four tracks from his 1948 session for Down Town Records, the masters of which were in turn leased to Modern. An alternate take of "The Thrill Is Gone" from 1951 is here (the released single version is on The Thrill Is Gone), and Hawkins gives the song a much more ominous and less-resigned feel than King's big-band version. Other highlights include a fine cover of Percy Mayfield's "What a Fool I Was," a lovely version of Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson's "September Song," a rendition of Richard M. Jones' oft-covered "Trouble in Mind," and a pair of solid originals, the ragged, New Orleans-styled "Welcome Home" and the eerie, creeping urban blues sound of Hawkins' 1948 version of "Strange Land" (a 1961 remake of the song is also included here). All good stuff, although listeners may want to check out the first volume, The Thrill Is Gone, first. That Hawkins continues to be so little-known is inexcusable, and that there is only one known photograph of him seems impossible to believe. He is well due for rediscovery, but if Hawkins' personal history is any guide, something is bound to go wrong, so pick up these two volumes from Ace before they inexplicably go up in smoke.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/14/2006
Label: Ace Records Uk
UPC: 0029667018128
catalogNumber: 1096
Rank: 9014

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