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