The back-cover blurb on Best of the Haze describes the album as "a one of a kind compilation that documents the career of a true original artist." As it happens, that description is a bit short of the truth. If anyone in rock & roll was ever a true original, it was Hasil Adkins, the rockabilly one-man band from West Virginia whose ragged but wildly energetic approach and singular worldview made him perhaps the most unusual artist the genre ever produced. However, if you're expecting this disc to be a career overview compilation, that's where you're mistaken. After releasing a handful of albums for the visionary Norton Records label in the late '80s and early '90s, Adkins scored a contract with IRS Records, the new wave-centric imprint run by Miles Copeland; Adkins recorded some material for the label, but the projected album never materialized, and IRS went out of business in 1996. Best of the Haze has been assembled from recordings Adkins cut for IRS in 1993, and has been released through CIA, Copeland's new label. By the standards of latter-day Adkins, this is pretty good stuff; the re-recordings of "She Said," "Wild Man," and "This Ain't No Rock n' Roll Show" are no match for the originals, but they still sound plenty enthusiastic, and "Change Them Gears" and "Santa Claus Boogie" show Adkins could still bring the heat in the studio. There are also a few numbers that haven't surfaced before, including the sincere if wobbly spiritual "Me & Jesus," the romantic (yes, really) "Jesse's Song," and the mournful "I'm in Misery," though for a blue mood, nothing tops the dead-of-night interpretation of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" that closes out this disc. Is this the best of Hasil Adkins? Nope; it does unearth some worthy lost recordings that fans of this mad genius will want to hear, but first-time listeners should introduce themselves to Adkins' genius with 1986's Out to Hunch instead.
|Label:||Cia - Copeland Int'l|