At first glance, this 30-track compilation of Dale Hawkins' late-'50s and early-'60s Checker sides might seem like a preferable collection to MCA's briefer (18-song) best-of. Actually, however, this only repeats 11 of those 18 tracks, with the emphasis on some cuts that haven't been on CD before, as well as no less than eight previously unreleased songs. It's hard to figure if this was meant as a best-of compilation or just a disc that mixes some of his biggest and best singles with obscure items; the omissions of "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby" (which is on the MCA collection) alone prevents this from being definitive. It does include a couple of songs that should be on any Dale Hawkins collection, "Yea-Yea (Class Cutter)" and "Mrs. Merguitory's Daughter," that do not appear on the MCA anthology. As for the more obscure material that's only on Rock & Roll Tornado, it's largely respectable, but not so essential that you would compare it to "Susie Q," "La-Do-Dada," or others considered among Hawkins' best performances. Sometimes it's heavily derivative -- "Boy Meets Girl" sounds like it's trying very hard to imitate Jerry Lee Lewis, and "Someday, One Day" is quite Buddy Holly-like -- and some of the unreleased cuts, like the cover of "Caldonia" and the country-soul ballad "Convicted," show him trying styles removed from rockabilly. In all, a good compilation that Hawkins fans should get even if they have the one on MCA. But if you just want one, it's a pretty tough call, each disc containing worthy selections not on the other, though each has his most essential recordings (i.e., "Susie Q," "Liza Jane," "La-Do-Dada").
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