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"...I Let It Linger...",
This review is from: Femme Fatale (Audio CD)
In 2008 I did a Listmania on Amazon UK called "Ace Records Hip Pocket Series..." and have added to it subsequently as further releases turn up. The "Hip Pocket List" pictures 24 releases - 5" card repros of albums covering all types of music in their reissue back catalogue of 35 years - Rock, Pop, Punk, Metal, Soul, Blues, R'n'B, Doo Wop etc. This very rare and obscure American Torch Singer album from the late Fifties is part of that series...
"Femme Fatale" by Hadda Brooks is a straightforward repro of her 10-track 1956 album originally released on Modern Records MLP-1210 in the USA [Mono]. It was re-released on Crown Records CLP-5010 a year later in 1957. This November 2006 CD on Ace Records CDCHM 1129 uses the Crown Records artwork and comes in a "Hip Pocket" card sleeve with no inner (33:53 minutes).
Musically - imagine a more intense version of Peggy Lee or a huskier Nellie Lutcher or even Frank Sinatra sat at the bar on the cover of "No One Cares" - drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Then imagine slow blue and boozy tunes with shuffling brush strokes on the snare drums and a low piano tinkling in the background - and you get the idea. It may only have 10 tracks but that's all it needs. It's fabulous stuff.
Downsides - as other reviewers have pointed out - the repro card sleeve is small and flimsy and the original liner notes on the rear are barely legible. The CD itself does at least have the smarts to list who wrote what song and so on - but visually it's not a lot to go on when this is one of those occasions crying out for an in-depth booklet. But that quickly evaporates once you start playing the music.
Given the vintage of the original analogue recordings, the listen is helped incredibly by the gorgeous sound quality - her voice to the fore - clear, powerful and full of passion. Highlights include the opener "The Thrill Is Gone" which sets the sad tone (lyrics above) and the lovely guitar solo on the Rogers & Hart standard "My Romance". Aching female lounge-lizard never sounded so good...
Three other Hadda Brooks compilations are in print by Ace Records - but musically they couldn't be more different. They feature her 'Queen Of The Boogie-Woogie' piano-playing on Modern Records in the Forties and Fifties. With virtually no vocals featured, the tracks are almost all instrumentals dubbed from scratchy 78's - but like Pete Johnson or Amos Milburn tinkering on the keys - each CD is blindingly great fun and hugely evocative of bars jumpin' and people having a ball. The great lady could play too.
To sum up - I've never seen a copy of the original album and clocking in at hundreds of dollars in rarity value - this is a very clever and brilliantly chosen reissue. Forget the flimsy packaging and concentrate on the wonderful music and sound quality. And dig that great photo of Miss Hapgood (her real name) in her prime.
Hadda Brooks lived to be 85 and died in 2002 - beautiful and gigging to the end. Ace Records have done her memory and musical legacy proud. I love it...