Hasil Adkins (Pronounced ‘Hassle’ sort of like those dudes who try and sell their hip hop album to you on Broadway) is a now largely unknown, rockabilly cult legend and maybe the godfather of Psychobilly. He learned to play as a one man band because he assumed his heroes like Hank Williams were a one man band. He played guitar and drums at once and when he didn’t have drums, he stomped his foot to mimmic their sound. Born in Boone County, West Virginia with a first grade education, Hasil was a giant personality, brilliant musician and a great lover of chicken.
So why didn’t he make it big? In 1961, he made his way out to California to try and get signed. After a month of trying and never hearing back from talent scouts, he decided to head back home. The story goes, he left California at ten o’clock one evening and when he got back to West Virginia, he was told by the friend he was staying with in California, that a talent scout had come to take him to the studio at nine o’clock, the morning after he left. Damn. So why not just go back? According to Hasil, soon after he was back home, his father died and he needed to stay home and take care of his mother, for the next 25 years. I guess that’s how it goes sometimes. Luckily, Hasil still managed to make one of the greatest rockabilly albums ever produced. In the mid-60’s through a local label, he recorded Chicken Walk/ She’s Mine.
Chicken Walk/ She’s Mine is a weird, hilarious, and just fucking awesome album. The first track She Said will hook you like a catfish getting noodled by a hillbilly. She Said tells the story of waking up in bed next to a monster after a one night stand. Since most of us at some point wake up in similar situations, thanks to alcohol and loneliness, She Said almost becomes an anthem of understanding. But my favorite part is his crazy, whooping and hollering chorus, it’s infectious. After your second listen, you’ll be walking down the street yelling it like a wino. He also compares the woman he had the one night stand to, A dying can of commodity meat. I thought commodity meat was forever.
Shake That Thing is a dance track masterpiece, Shake that thing/ hunch that thing/ wobble that thing/ birth that thing/ Let’s take a picture of that thing. How can you not want to go four wheeling, run from the cops, maybe throw some shit at the Bank man’s house, then get moonshine drunk at the local bar and dance to Shake That Thing? Or maybe you would rather just do the Chicken Walk? Hasil will show you how, Wiggle yourself from a head to toe/ do yourself up on the floor/ do yourself wherever you go/ do yourself wherever you go/ come on baby do the Chicken, Chicken Walk/ push in and a push out. A combination of dance moves, sex tips and a homage to them silly chickens that are always pecking around the yard.
Do you have an annoying friend who says unnecessary things like, “Life’s too short to dance with fat chicks?” Well, it wasn’t Hasil. He immortalizes bigger ladies on, Big Fat Mama. I got a big fat mama/ but she ain’t so fat to me/ no she ain’t so fat/ no she ain’t so fat to me/ kept me warm in the winter/ cold when the summer you see/ well she’s my baby and I lover so, you see. It must have been cool to see him playing guitar and drums to this one. So next time you hear somebody make a crack about chicks who are not thin, sing him Big Fat Mama.
So there is a song called, No More Hot Dogs and it is pretty awesome. Try to ignore the fact that it is essentially about decapitating his girlfriend and mounting it on his wall. Instead, concentrate on the fact that he is going to do it because he doesn’t want to share his hot dogs.
Chicken Walk/ She’s Mine is littered with classics waiting to be played at your house party. Plus, you’ll seem really cool when no one else knows who the hell Hasil Adkins is and that can’t hurt anything. He developed a big cult following in the 80’s after The Cramps covered She Said. Let’s get him another one, in whatever this time is called.
Review by Timothy White. You can follow him on Twitter @TipToTheHip