Screamin' Jay Hawkins' career as a singer is often cut short to his most famous hit : "I Put a Spell on You". The song was released in 1956, and rapidly became one of the biggest hits in Rhythm and Blues history, selling over a million copies, despite the shocked white establishment's attempt to ban the record. Apparently, Hawkins' grunts and screams were just too much to take. Besides "Spell", Screamin' Jay Hawkins has gone through ups and downs, most of them well represented in this best-of recording, "Voodoo Jive", which perfectly covers his Rhythm and Blues and Rock n' Roll style, his screams, grunts, and groans that made him famous.
Actually, Screamin' Jay Hawkins is known more because of his crazy way of performing on stage, than for the songs that he sings. His wildly colored outfits, his leopard-skin shoes, and his use of such props as fireworks, fuse boxes, coffins, snakes and his ever-faithful companion, Henry the skull, gave him the reputation of the wildest rock n' roll performer ever, and are now part of his character.
"Voodoo Jive" contains 17 tracks, all released between 1955 and 1969, and that encountered different destinies. Among those, Hawkins' first singles, unsuccessfully released in 1955 : "This is All" and "(She Put the) Wamee (on Me)" ; the famous "Spell" of course, "remarkable" versions of Cole Porter's "I Love Paris" and "Orange Coloured Sky" ; and his most outrageous song ever : "Constipation Blues". That last song was released in 1969 on the B-Side of "Do You Really Love Me ?", and caused some outrage among audiences and people in show-business.
His death, on February 12, 2000, in Paris, is somehow ironic. The author of "Constipation Blues" died at the hospital, ...of an intestinal obstruction ! He had spent his last years in a Parisian suburb. He had released an album of new songs in 1997 : "At Last", and a live recording from his 1998 concert at the Olympia, in Paris, featuring left-handed guitarist Frank Ash.