Q (9/00, p.128) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...This has its moments...it's always entertaining and there are 4 new tracks from his last 1994 session..."
CMJ (7/31/00, p.26) - "...Although the music is in the typical blues/R&B vein, Hawkins' amazing pipes are in fine form here...a must-have for fans."
Personnel: Screamin' Jay Hawkins (vocals, piano); Michael Keneally (guitar, keyboards); Bo Diddley Jr. (guitar); Felix Flanagan (harmonica); Bara Southern, Dana Garrett, Robbie Helm (saxophone); Steve Ebner (trumpet); Mark Goldberg, Oscar Barajas (bass); Rik Shannon (drums, percussion, background vocals); Jeff Aafedt (drums); Jim Monroe (percussion); Meredith Marshall (background vocals).
Compilation producer: Evan Cohen.
Recorded at Tracks II, Hollywood, California between October 1990 and December 1990; For The Record Studios, Orange, California in January, 1994.
Personnel: Screamin' Jay Hawkins (vocals, piano); Mike Keneally (guitar, keyboards); Robbie Helm, Dana "Potato Boy" Garrett (saxophone); Rik Shannon (drums, percussion, background vocals); Jeff Aafedt (drums); Jim Monroe (percussion); Donna Gast, Octavia Bostick, Meredith Marshall (background vocals).
Recording information: For the Record, Orange, CA (10/1990-01/1994); Tracks II, Hollywood, CA (10/1990-01/1994).
This 18-song compilation is taken from three albums that Screamin' Jay Hawkins recorded in the early '90s for Bizarre/Straight Records: Black Music for White People, Stone Crazy, and Somethin' Funny Goin On. While these albums contain some spirited performances, including the hysterical operatic version of "Ol Man River," they do not contain the fire or spontaneity of his classic '50s recordings. Some of the material may have been too sincere for Hawkins' style, such as the two songs penned by Tom Waits: "Ice Cream Man" and "Heart Attack and Vine." While "Ignant and Shit," "Shut Your Mouth When You Sneeze," and "Swamp Gas" swing in the opposite direction, proving the song titles funnier than the actual songs. Best of the Bizarre Sessions: 1990-1994 has its moments, but for a clearer glimpse of Hawkins original R&B theatrics which created such a stir in the '50s check out the Rhino compilation Voodoo Jive: The Best of Screamin' Jay Hawkins. ~ Al Campbell