“Hawk Squat” Showcases the Gritty Blues of J.B. Hutto
When an album is reissued with a whole lot of love, that’s a good thing. When a great album is reissued with a lot of love, that’s something special. On Hawk Squat, initially released by Delmark in 1968, slide playing madman extraordinaire J.B. Hutto laid down some of the grittiest, most brazen, bare bones slide ever put on disc! The album boasts 40 minutes of slide playing mayhem that is as instructional as it is inspirational.
The good folks at Delmark have now reissued Hawk Squat, as a Deluxe Edition. This new reissue contains the original album content, remastered, and an additional six tracks, previously unreleased. Along with Hutto on guitar, personnel include guitarist Lee Jackson, the great Sunnyland Slim on piano and organ, and Frank Kirkland on drums. Three bass players, Junior Pettis, Dave Myers, and Herman Hassell can be heard various tracks. Maurice McIntyre, who was actually working at Delmark’s Jazz Record Mart at the time, plays tenor sax.
The beauty and power of this music is rooted in the gritty, straight forward slide playing of Hutto. His guitar evokes memories of Homesick James and Elmore James, while his vocals recall those of a young Buddy Guy in tone, and delivery. The band does a bang up job keeping the beat and moving the songs along, maintaining the “live” vibe that infuses these tracks with the ambiance and immediacy that gives them their appeal. Hutto lures listeners in, while the band holds and keeps them.
Standout tracks include “20% Alcohol,” which really kicks, and features Lee Jackson on guitar. “Hip Shakin'” is a true thing of beauty; understated, with a quiet, grooving intensity. “Hawk Squat” shouts with urgency, as it grabs the listener, shakes them, and leaves them standing in place disheveled, and happy.
Hawk Squat will be a welcome addition to any blues collection. Drink in its energy, wallow in the old school vibe, and smile, knowing you are experiencing some really fine blues. Enjoy.