martes, 14 de abril de 2009

Camille Howard: Rock Me Daddy / X-Temporaneous Boogie (1947-52)

Piano-tinkling chanteuses were quite the rage during the war years. But Camille Howard's two-fisted thundering boogie style, much like her contemporary Hadda Brooks, was undoubtedly the equivalent of any 88s ace, male or female. Howard was part of the great migration from Texas to the West Coast. She was installed as pianist with drummer Roy Milton & the Solid Senders sometime during World War II, playing on all their early hits for Art Rupe's Juke Box and Specialty labels. Sensing her potential following the success of Milton's 1947 hit ‘Thrill Me’ (with Howard's vocal), Rupe began recording her as a featured artist at the end of the year. Legend has it that Howard's biggest hit, the roaring instrumental ‘X-Temporaneous Boogie,’ was improvised at the tail end of her first date as a leader (its flip, the torch ballad ‘You Don't Love Me,’ was a hit in its own right). Howard's vocal abilities were pretty potent too. Her ‘Fiesta in Old Mexico’ was a hit in 1949, while ‘Money Blues, credited to Camille Howard & Her Boyfriends, registered strong coin in 1951. Howard cranked out storming boogies and sultry ballads for Specialty through 1953, then jumped from Federal to Vee-Jay before landing in Los Angeles for good. Howard's strong religious ties put a stop to her secular music career. This 2-volume collection gathers 50 of her 1947-52 Specialty cuts, more than half previously unreleased. Divided between instrumentals and pop-influenced vocal numbers, Howard proves herself the master of boogie and jump blues piano styles, sometimes slowing things down into a jazzier mode. In addition to the storehouse of vault material, this compilation also includes the top ten R&B hits, ‘Thrill Me’ and ‘X-Temporaneous Boogie.’ Howard was nonetheless an important, and nowadays overlooked, star of the transitional era between jump blues and R&B.

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