Thursday, 6 October 2011

"Femme Fatale" by HADDA BROOKS (2006 Ace Records 'Hip Pocket' CD Reissue and remaster in 6" Card Repro Artwork) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...I Let It Linger..." 

In 2008 I did a Listmania List 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 Hip Pocket CDCHM 1129 (Barcode 029667022125) uses the Crown Records artwork and comes in a "Hip Pocket" card sleeve with no inner (33:53 minutes). 

1. Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere
2. Don't You Think I Ought To Know 
3. Dream
4. How Do You Speak To An Angel
5. My Ideal 
6. My Romance [Side 2]
7. Stolen Love
8. Take Me 
9. There Is No Greater Love
10. The Thrill Is Gone

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 muttering "rack ‘em up Joe" to the bartender. Then imagine slow blue and boozy tunes with shuffling brush strokes on the snare drums and a low piano tinkling in the background (only with a woman singing) — and you get the idea. It may only have 10 tracks but that's all it needs. It's fabulous stuff and beautifully produced (given the vintage).

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 writers credits - but visually it's not a lot to go on - when this is one of those occasions that cries 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 (the Remaster was done at Sound Mastering in the UK - probably by Nick Robbins or Duncan Cowell). 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...

Titles in Ace Records Mid-Price 'Hip Pocket' CD Series are:

1. DONALD AUSTIN – Crazy Legs (Ace/Westbound CDHP 016, Dec 2006)
2. THE BISHOPS – Cross Cuts (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 256, June 2005)
3. HADDA BROOKS – Femme Fatale (Ace CDCHM 1129, Nov 2006)
4. THE CHAMPS – Go, Champs, Go! (Ace CDCHM 1126, Sep 2006)
5. THE DAMNED – Machine Gun Etiquette (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 027, July 2007)
6. THE ESCALATORS [ex Meteors] – Moving Staircases (Ace CDHP 017, Dec 2006)
7. THE EVERLY BROTHERS – The Everly Brothers (Ace CDCHM 1127, Sep 2006)
8. FUNKADELIC – Maggot Brain (Ace/Westbound CDHP 030, Aug 2007)
9. CHUCK HIGGINS – Pachucko Hop (Ace CDHP 024, April 2007)
10. B. B. KING – The Jungle (Ace/Kent CDHP 031, Nov 2007)
11. JOHNNY MOPED – Cycledelic (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 029, Oct 2007)
12. JACKIE LEE – The Duck (Ace/Kent CDHP 032, Dec 2010)
13. LONNIE MACK – The Wham Of That Memphis Man! (Ace CDCHM 1134, Nov 2006)
14. MOTORHEAD – Motorhead [1977 Debut LP] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 021, Oct 2007)
15. THE OLYMPICS – Something Old, Something New (Ace/Kent CDHP 018, Dec 2006)
16. THE RADIO STARS – Songs For Swinging Lovers (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 5, June 2006)
17. THE SONICS – Here Are The Sonics! (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 022, Feb 2007)
18. THE SONICS – The Sonics Boom (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 023, April 2007)
19. ROOSEVELT SYKES [aka 'The Honeydripper'] – Sings The Blues (Ace CDCHM 1132, Nov 2006)
20. VARIOUS – For Dancers Only [Kent's 1st Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 019, Feb 2007)
21. VARIOUS – For Dancers Also [Kent's 2nd Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 020, April 2007)
22. VARIOUS – Hollywood Rock 'n' Roll [80ts Rockabilly compilation] (Ace CDHP 026, July 2007)
23. VARIOUS – Fool's Gold [70ts Punk compilation] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 028, August 2007)
24. LINK WRAY – Early Recordings (Ace/Chiswick CDCHM 6, June 2006
25. THE ZOMBIES – Odyssey And Oracle (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 025, June 2007)

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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