Review: Ronnie Hawkins – Rock & Roll Resurrection

Ronnie Hawkins – Rock & Roll Resurrection – (Monument KZ 31330)

Any album that claims to be the “album of the year” is asking for it. Call it  “a classic” and it’ll still be pretentious but at least palatable. Call it “brilliant” and that’s alright. Call it “a fine achievement” and it very well may be. But call it the “album of the year” and any red-blooded American (or for that matter just any) critic will be aching to tear it to shreds. Especially if the year is only half over.

Rock & Roll Resurrection is such a self-proclaimed product. However since this album is a bit more significant to the rock press than to the average record-buyer, a little history is in order.

Many albums are preceded by the release of a preview review telling what to expect, or something along that line. The actual release of the album is usually two-to-three weeks after the initial announcement. Rock  & Roll Resurrection is a minor exception. Promotional agency Richard Gersh & Associates found it necessary to unleash obnoxiously gaudy press releases three months in advance. Every week rock journalists across the country dreaded the arrival of another “Ronnie Hawkins Story Of The Week.” Sure enough, every week, the supposedly heralded master story-teller would come up with a story more contrived and synthetically “down home” than the previous.

And then one day we found out that Hawkins was in the studio. That stars from all around were bribing officials to be allowed to sit in on the sessions. That Kris Kristofferson was to write the liner notes for Hawkins’ first album. That the album was to be “one of the greatest ever recorded”. And the sessions weren’t even over yet.

Well, time passed and we all were sent the album. Excuse me, the album of the year. To make a long story short…the LP is less than memorable. The most articulate would simply say it sucks. The most compassionate would give it a “two” (it has a decent label design) on American Bandstand.

The album, intended to breathe a new life into rock n’ roll, employs such notables as David Briggs, Boots Randolph and Pete Drake (Kristofferson steered clear). Only one of the LP’s ten tunes is Hawkins’ own. The others are the usual standards with the miraculous exclusion of “Johnny B. Goode”. There’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, which sounds like Mel Torme fronting and the Doc Severenson Carson Show Orchestra doing an imitation of Blood, Sweat and Tears doing a satire of “How Can I Be Sure?”.

Let’s not leave out “Memphis, Tennessee”, Hawkins’ incorrectly titled re-work of the (gulp) Chuck Berry tune. One gets visions with this delivery of Andy Williams singing the tune to a six-year-old human prop seated on his knee.

But make no mistake, Ronnie Hawkins is a “raunchy fellow”. Why the liner notes even quote him as saying “fuck”. Yes, boys and girls, he’s a tough no-talent. The type of guy to put strings on “Jailhouse Rock”.

Courtesy of the Door (aka San Diego Door) – Cameron Crowe –  August 17, 1972  – September 7, 1972