Inspired By The Surrounding Crowd

Originally posted January 30, 2007

Ronnie Hawkins, it seems, is more famous for the musicians who backed him over the years – especially the five who went on to become The Band – than he is for the music he recorded and performed. That’s not to say anything negative about the Hawk’s music. It’s good ripping rockabilly and solid country love songs and ballads. And he did have some records that sold pretty well, including a Top 40 hit with “Mary Lou” in 1959.

 Still, there’s no denying that on this record – as on so many he recorded – it’s the identity and quality of some of the sidemen that lift the record from a good southern stew to a dish of undeniable taste. Duane Allman – in one of his last session gigs before his death in October 1971 – and the Dixie Flyers make Hawkins’ The Hawk more than just another Ronnie Hawkins record.

Certainly, Hawkins has always given good value, on record and on stage. But my sense is that he’s always performed best when challenged by the people around him rather than just accompanied by a band behind him. Witness the work he did in the studio with his most famous set of Hawks, and his possibly best-of-career performance with those same musicians when they closed out (at least the first stage of) their career as The Band in The Last Waltz. (Hawkins’ “Who Do You Love” remains one of the joys of the film and recording of the grand concert.) The same holds true here, as it did in his 1970 record Ronnie Hawkins, posted here a day ago: the presence of superlative musicians around him spurs Hawkins to performances that are by turns rousing and revealing.

Allman plays on ten of the record’s twelve cuts, missing only “Sick and Tired” and “Lonely Weekends.”  The other musicians are Duck Dunn of Booker T and the MG’s on bass, and the Dixie Flyers: Jim Dickinson on piano and acoustic guitar, Mike Utley on organ, Charlie Freeman on electric and acoustic guitar and Sammy Creason on drums. The Memphis Horns drop in on “Sick and Tired” and “Red Rooster.”

The record, released – like 1970’s Ronnie Hawkins – on Atlantic’s Cotillion label, was produced by Tom Dowd.

Track listing:
Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles
Sick and Tired
Lonely Weekends
Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee
Red Rooster
Ooby Dooby
The Lady Came From Baltimore
Leaves That Are Green
Treasure Of Love
Black Sheep Boy

Ronnie Hawkins – The Hawk [1971]


One Response to “Inspired By The Surrounding Crowd”

  1. The Return Of A Familiar Sound « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] Reposts The Hawk – Ronnie Hawkins [1971] Original post here. […]

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