Blossoms – 1972 – Shockwave

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The Blossoms were one of the premium female backing vocal groups during the 60s and 70s and existed in many versions under many pseudonyms. Familiar artists that came and went include Edna Wright, Gloria Jones and Merry Clayton – the trio featured on this LP includes only one member of the original sextet, Fanita James – accompanied by Darlene Love and Jean King. Together they bring some of that chirpy feminity that graced the sixties, in particular the Phil Spector sound, and soak it up in a whole lot of soul. This was sadly their only long player, so savour their spirited scent as they invite you to their sweet garden of soul.

This is a 320 LP rip of the Lion Records original vinyl including covers.

Tracks
A1 Touchdown (2:15)
A2
It’s All Up To You (2:57)
A3
Cherish What Is Dear To You (2:25)
A4
Moody (2:40)
A5
Fire And Rain (3:45)
B1
Last Call For Love (2:20)
B2
Shockwave (2:15)
B3
Grandma’s Hands (3:33)
B4
Heartbreak (2:47)
B5
Just Remember (3:07)

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Review by Trakbuv

Believe it or not, this is the only LP released by The Blossoms. The Blossoms were one of the greatest secrets of the 60/70s, backing artists from Elvis to Tom Jones, with a career stretching back as far as 1954 where they started out as the sextet, The Dreamers. Comprising of Fanita Barrett (later James), Gloria Jones, Jewel Cobbs, Pat Howard and twin sisters Annette and Nanette Williams, they formed at high school with a strong gospel routine. And although they garnered favourable support from radio DJ Johnny Otis and crooner Richard Berry, their activities were not so popular with the parents of Jewel and Pat who promptly had to leave the group. They recorded several creditable singles for Flair and RPM records accompanied by Richard Berry, including the delightful chirper ‘Daddy Daddy’ release in 1955 (which did include Jewel and Pat before their departure). They also surfaced as The Rollettes (minus Nanette) on Class Records, releasing the ever-so-sweet ‘More than you realise’ in ’56. They then signed to Capitol Records whereupon one of the executives likened them to a bouquet on account of their different skin tones, and from that sprouted the name The Blossoms. Several singles ensued that unfortunately fell into forgettable pop fodder, although ‘He promised me’ is quite enigmatic.

In 1958, Nanette was planning to leave for motherhood when the band fortuitously met her replacement, one Darlene Wright (Darlene Love), performing at a friends’ wedding around the same time. Things now start to get a bit complicated with respect incarnations of the band. They released some cutesy pop numbers out on RCA as The Playgirls (’59-’60), and had a minor hit as The Co-Eds (on Challenge) in the catchy ‘Son in law’ (#79 US Pop in 1961). They were also becoming highly regarded session singers which kept the money rolling even if the hits weren’t so prolific. Their next hit was much more impressive, this time under the pseudonym of The Rebelettes. Duane Eddy provided the basis for the poptastic‘Dance with the guitar man’ – a sure-fire fingersnapper that clicked all the way to #12 US Pop 1962. And just to mix it up even further, The Blossoms ACTUALLY recorded ‘He’s a rebel’, the huge smash that was credited to The Crystals in 1962. Gloria Jones left soon thereafter forcing the remaining duo to join up with Bobby Sheen as Bob B Soxx & the Blue Jeans. Yet another huge hit came tumbling in the form of Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah’ (yes, the one and the same !) breaking into the top 10 US Pop. But still no hit for ‘The Blossoms’ !!

The Blossoms continued doing session work, now for the Philles label (where Darlene secured solo success), recruiting Merry Clayton or Edna Wright (Darlene’s sister) to make up the trio from time to time. In 1964, they finally recruited full-time member Jean King (an awesome singer in her own right – just check out her ‘Don’t say goodbye’ and ‘Something happens to me’ for soul heaven) and thus begun a love affair with the public as regulars on the TV Show, “Shindig !”. They then entered their most soulful tenure yet at Reprise Records, with excellent sides in the form of ‘Let your love shine’, ‘Good, good lovin’ and ‘That’s when the tears start’. Other glorious 45s that met with a lacklustre public reaction were the tremendous ‘Stoney End’ (Ode Records 1967, with Jean on lead), and the gorgeous ‘I ain’t got to love’ and the pleading ‘One step away’, both for Bell Records (1970). They then (re-)joined MGM and were assigned to their Lion Records subsidiary and given a moderate budget to record their first and only long player in 1972.

Even with three different sets of producers, there is still a reasonable continuity throughout, reminding me a little of the string-laden Holland-Dozier-Holland stuff coming out on their own label. However, the material is slightly patchy, and lacks an obvious single. For example, “It’s all up to you” – the initial single – is a insiduous swayer that oozes class, but was probably too subtle to catch the attention of the public. The cover versions here are also exceptional, with “Fire and rain” given a captivating bluesy treatment, and “Grandma’s Hands” is brilliant in its understated thunder – and together with the sombre “Just remember” – is that 3 tracks featuring 3 different leads ? The catchy “Cherish” (written by H-D-H) had apparently already been a hit for Freda Payne, which would have otherwise been an obvious choice 45. The remaining tracks are all commendable and worthy inclusions, providing an extremely satisfying album experience. However, without that unique and potent single to fanfare its existence, the LP suffered poor sales. Which is such a shame when you consider the calibre of these girls and the varying winds of fate on which they had been carried – yet these blossoms held their majesty through it all.

Darlene left The Blossoms in 1974 amidst personal problems and allegations of Jean’s drug abuse. Jean sadly passed away in 1983 from a heart attack. Fanita continued to keep The Blossoms alive, with Gloria Jones coming back to the fold in 2000. I believe that they have since retired.

An excellent biography of The Blossoms can be found here

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Never released on cd. Buy the vinyl from Groove Collector or Ebay.

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Conversation for album: Blossoms – 1972 – Shockwave

30 Comments
  • Bloth
    Posted at 13:29h, 06 September 2010 Reply

    Dope tunes! Thanks for posting!

  • Chris T
    Posted at 15:06h, 06 September 2010 Reply

    Many thanks for a good album.

  • Tony
    Posted at 17:39h, 06 September 2010 Reply

    Thanks for this rarity. A nice Labor Day treat.

  • Freddy
    Posted at 20:01h, 06 September 2010 Reply

    thanx much, great lp i haven’t heard in years

  • Dan
    Posted at 07:29h, 07 September 2010 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this album! Something “new” is ALWAYS good! 🙂

  • Salim
    Posted at 09:47h, 07 September 2010 Reply

    Great forgotten Album.

  • Mario
    Posted at 19:19h, 07 September 2010 Reply

    grazie!!!

  • Zion
    Posted at 11:25h, 08 September 2010 Reply

    Thanks for this fine album,great post.
    Have a great day.

  • Will
    Posted at 15:43h, 08 September 2010 Reply

    Thanks for putting this one up

  • rich
    Posted at 21:19h, 08 September 2010 Reply

    cant wait to hear this thanx nikos

  • Marianne
    Posted at 21:34h, 08 September 2010 Reply

    Memories of my youth,sunny days,long summers.Thank you for what is more than just “music”.

  • goo
    Posted at 06:06h, 09 September 2010 Reply

    Funkkkkkkkk Myyyyyyyyyyyyyy Soooooooouuuuuuuuuuulll Funnnnnnnnnkkkkk Soooooooooooouuuuuuuuulllllllll !!!

  • Derek
    Posted at 09:30h, 09 September 2010 Reply

    Still worth to hear after all this years – thanks a lot!

  • manuel
    Posted at 10:26h, 10 September 2010 Reply

    gracias, excelente.

  • Yuri
    Posted at 11:59h, 11 September 2010 Reply

    One awesome post after another!… Cheers!

  • Jack
    Posted at 21:46h, 11 September 2010 Reply

    WOW! marvellous share. thank you.

  • Milton
    Posted at 17:41h, 12 September 2010 Reply

    Just wonderful. Such a fantastic blog.

  • Luis
    Posted at 10:28h, 13 September 2010 Reply

    Thanks again,for the series great post, great job

  • Francis
    Posted at 00:16h, 14 September 2010 Reply

    Loving it. Great.

  • Gomez
    Posted at 09:37h, 14 September 2010 Reply

    A rare gem. Never heard it before.

  • Jose
    Posted at 23:47h, 14 September 2010 Reply

    un gran disco, muchas gracias

  • Dimitris
    Posted at 09:30h, 16 September 2010 Reply

    A great discovery for me.

  • Brotherpete
    Posted at 23:48h, 16 September 2010 Reply

    great stuff !!!!!

  • whoknows
    Posted at 21:34h, 19 September 2010 Reply

    lovin this group! thanks again! : ) from Boston

  • pedro
    Posted at 04:02h, 27 September 2010 Reply

    Thanks nikos for theses tracks are good but as you refered in your comment not the strongest for this class act it could have been a lot better still i’m not missin out on another slice of soul history.

  • SCB
    Posted at 20:59h, 02 October 2010 Reply

    ….so I knew Darlene Love looked familiar. She was Danny Glover’s wife in the Lethal Weapon series. Hot damn!

  • Nas
    Posted at 03:52h, 03 November 2010 Reply

    Well, so glad to hear this album. Great blog. Big up.

  • Greg
    Posted at 19:55h, 09 March 2012 Reply

    thanks for sharing this great album 😀

  • JD
    Posted at 03:23h, 03 June 2013 Reply

    another great one!

  • thegroove
    Posted at 14:42h, 21 November 2013 Reply

    Truly amazing – thanks for this flavour of soul pop!

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