All the Hits: Her Complete Cameo Recordings

Jo Ann Campbell

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All the Hits: Her Complete Cameo Recordings Review

by Steve Leggett

Jo Ann Campbell was much more than a pretty-faced teen girl pop singer in the 1950s. She not only sang, she wrote songs, good ones, and she was an accomplished dancer, played piano and guitar, and she could belt songs out from the R&B songbook with a lusty, sexual rockabilly growl, then turn smooth and velvety as a jazz singer when she got her hands on a good ballad. She was a minor star in the late '50s and early '60s, but she should have been a bigger one, and even now, in the archival wing of the 21st century, she deserves to be much better known. This set hardly has all her hits; in fact, it only has one, her answer song to Claude King's 1962 country hit "Wolverton Mountain" called "(I'm the Girl From) Wolverton Mountain," which was a hit as well that same year, and led many to assume Campbell was a country singer, which she decidedly wasn't. Campbell had just signed with Cameo Records, and the label, eager to capitalize on the success of the single, rushed her into the studio with a crack New York session band and had her burn through covers of various hits of the day, then tossed it all together with the "Wolverton" single and two later singles from that year, "Mr. Fix-It Man" and "Mother, Please!," to make an album titled All the Hits, which hit the racks before Christmas in 1962. This set includes that album with seven additional tracks from the New York session added at the end. So, it's hardly all of Campbell's hits, or even anything close to it, but it is still an interesting collection, mainly because it allows Campbell to stretch out and do many kinds of songs and styles, from country to pop and pop-country to late-night jazz, jump blues, and R&B, with just a touch of nascent rock & roll. Given her wide-ranging talents, if she were to be active in the 21st century at her prime, Campbell would undoubtedly be a multimedia superstar, a powerful, passionate singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and dancer with the good looks and talent to stick in anyone's memory.

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