I think it’s safe to assume that Eddie Hinton consumed his share of grits and collard greens over the course of his 51 years. The one-time Muscle Shoals session stalwart possessed a rough-hewn voice “with more gravel than an Alabama back road,” as his publicity sheet aptly states. Hinton was Deep South in the way that frightens most cultured Yankees. Deliverance scary. On Hard Luck Guy (Capricorn 314 538 655-2; 43:35) the Otis Redding influence is apparent, particularly on the stirring title track and his raucous remake of Redding’s “Sad Song.” But Hinton’s passion is so pure and his delivery so intuitive that it’s hard to imagine him being influenced by anybody. Most of the tracks here were recorded shortly before his death in 1995. And though his voice sounds ravaged by a hard luck life at that point it is still undeniably dripping with soul. Four songs -“Hard Luck Guy,” “Here I Am,” the tough rockin’ “Lovin’ Chain,” and the edgey punk-funk of “I Got My Thang Together,” were recorded in 1978 at Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia, and feature a 34-year-old adenaline-pumped Hinton at the top of his game, right on the heels of his critically acclaimed debut for Capricorn, Very Extremely Dangerous. He gets a bit menacing on “Watch Dog,” his answer to Muddy Waters’ “King Bee,” then turns on his downhome appeal on the swampy “Three Hundred Pounds of Hongry.” Like Georgia’s Wayne Cochran, Eddie Hinton was that rare commodity -“a white boy who truly sang and played in the spirit of the great black soul artists he venerated,” as Jerry Wexler put it. Imagine Gerry Cooney with Tyson’s killer instincts and
Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.