Although her contribution to the evolution of post-WWII R&B went unacknowledged for decades, happily the world caught up with the talents of Hadda Brooks while she was still with us and able to bask in the glory of her rediscovery. Since purchasing the Modern catalogue, Ace has done much to preserve Hadda’s legacy with the issue of four CD packages to date. Now we have a fifth – the result of many hours of vault research, and based around her first album.
The original “Queen Of the Boogie” package, Modern’s first foray into the albums market, consisted of six tracks on three 78s. How well it sold at the time can be gauged by the fact the company didn’t issue another album for more than 10 years. With a total of just half-a-dozen selections, it was never considered for reissue on vinyl. However, the generous playing time of a CD allows us to augment those tracks with a further 18 examples of Hadda’s piano artistry, none of which has previously appeared on an Ace CD. Factor in the four tracks from the original set that have never been reissued, and the alternate take of ‘Bully Wully Boogie’, and the reality is only one of the performances here has appeared before on an Ace set.
Although Hadda’s voice can be heard here and there, this collection is designed to showcase her instrumental virtuosity, with boogies making up the majority of the CD. For the first time ever, we have collected Hadda’s classical boogie adaptations, which were big sellers for her at the time and fully deserve restoring to catalogue after a near 70-year absence. There are also some strong examples of Hadda playing the blues – not a side of her that surfaced very often, although she did cut a number of fine vocal blues tunes. In most cases we have been able to use brand new transfers from the original Modern acetates, although some disc dubbing has been necessary where acetates no longer exist. And as ever, we’re pleased to have a situation where over 50% of the tracks are previously unissued.
Here’s Modern’s First Lady at her musical best, forever and always the “Queen Of The Boogie”.
By Tony Rounce