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Swingin' The Boogie, CD (£7.43)
The early response to Ace's new mid-priced "10 Inch CD" series has been heartening, to say the least. The good people of Collectorland seem to have latched onto the idea in a big way, and already there has been no shortage of suggestions for worthy future contenders for the "10-inch" treatment.
We already have our next few volumes in various stages of completion, and by the summer the series should be at least five strong. Next month brings our long-awaited second Gene Phillips CD, which will make available all the remaining Modern sides by this underrated R&B pioneer. And right here and now in May, Ace is delighted to bring you an equally long-awaited project - an all-blues'n'boogie, no-ballads CD by Ms Hadda Brooks.
Ace's previous Hadda set (CDCHD 453) tended to concentrate more on the lady's excellent vocal sides. But as her many fans will know, Hadda also recorded a stack of superb instrumental boogies. These ranged from then-popular commercial adaptations of classical pieces to rapid-fire, powerhouse originals that were often made up on the spot to fill unused session time. It's generally agreed that the latter have stood the test of time rather better than have the former, and they're what SWINGIN' THE BOOGIE concentrates its attentions upon. Among its many treats you'll find the first ever legal CD anthologising of the title track, and its original flip Just A Little Blusie - the record that, as Modern 101/102, started the Bihari brothers' careers as music biz entrepreneurs. Here, too, are the best cuts from Hadda's early Modern 78s and the cream of her extemporaneous boogies that were not originally released, but that later made it onto Crown albums in the late 50s and early 60s.
In the course of preparing this set it's been my pleasure to listen to every single one of the surviving Modern acetates - most of which weren't originally titled beyond the all-purpose appellation "Boogie" or "Boogie In (Insert key here)". Indeed, most of the titles given to the tracks on the Crown albums were made up by a Bihari at the time of each album's release, which didn't help identification matters overmuch! But the satisfying end product of all this extensive acetate research is that it has allowed us to include a significant number of previously unissued piano workouts. These include the original 1944 rehearsal session for Swinging The Boogie, and a fragment of a priceless 1946 aircheck, which mightn't be hi-fi, but it sure is history in the making! (This research has also unearthed some excellent previously unissued Hadda vocal sides, which will make their first appearance on a future volume in our "10-Inch Series" along with early cuts by the likes of Numa Lee Davis, Pearl Traylor and Effie Smith, among others...).
Here, then, are more than 50 minutes of the boogie, the whole boogie and (almost) nothing but the boogie from one who played it better than most. It's unfortunate that this set has turned into something of a memorial for "The First Lady Of Modern", as Ms. Brooks passed away during the early stages of its preparation at the end of last year. Unlike those of many of her contemporaries, she had enjoyed worldwide reappraisal and acclaim in her twilight years. Thus it's Ace's hope that Hadda's many newer fans, as well as her longtime ones, will enjoy our salute to the Modern label's first recording artist of note, and one who was among its most prolific during her hit heyday (1945-51)...
by Tony Rounce