Darlene Love is probably not as well known as she should despite her familiar and instantly recognizable voice, but she was widely used by Phil Spector during his legendary hit making era, along with the rest of her group The Blossoms. She sang lead on some of the biggest hits by the Crystals, and also beside Bobby Sheen in Bob B Soxx and the Blue Jeans, but had few releases under her own name (a stage name incidentally given to her by Phil Spector, as she was born Darlene Wright). She is probably best known for Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), extracted from the album A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector [Digitally Remastered By Phil Spector], on which she was the most used contributor, but this now legendary album, coinciding with the Kennedy assassination, did not sell well at the time, and was probably responsible for the start of Spector's gradual withdrawal from the music industry.
As freelance session singers, the Blossoms did not benefit from royalties from the Spector hits and were not under contract to him. They needed to make a living, but he was very unhappy about the girls singing for other labels and they were obliged to use a number of pseudonyms to hide their identities.
This collection contains nothing produced by Phil Spector, collected elsewhere, but concentrates both on their earlier and later work as the Blossoms on a number of labels, and the recordings they did make in various guises during the Spector era, with label billing crediting names such as Al Casey and the K-C-Ettes, Dick Dale and the Del Tones, the Wildcats, Moose and the Pelicans or Duane Eddy and the Rebelettes. Sometimes, as on TV Commercials by Barney Kessel, they had no billing at all. Although they made records on their own, the Blossoms were essentially session singers, backing artists on their records, on the TV show Shindig! and on the road with singers such as Jackie DeShannon, so were not too concerned over billing, though often it was the Blossoms' contribution that was the selling point of the song, especially on the novelty items such as Boss Guitar, and many of the singles on here were big hits. Three of the sixties Blossoms recordings here are previously unreleased and include a beautiful 1963 demo made for Jack Nitzsche on a song he wrote with Jackie DeShannon, Let Him Walk Away.
Darlene Love continued to be highly successful after the sixties, in Broadway musicals, Hollywood films and on record, and there are seven examples here, made between 1971 and 1997, not least a great, deliberately Spector-esque Christmas song from the film Home Alone 2 in 1993, written by Steve Van Zandt, with what sounds like the entire E Street Band on it. Long overdue, this collection perfectly complements the Spector recordings and brings into catalogue a selection of forgotten jewels.
Ace can always be counted on to come up with exceptional compilations / reissues and, once again, they've excelled themselves here, not the least with the wonderful informative sleeve notes by Mick Patrick. Though I've always been a big fan of Darlene, I have to say that some of the material here is a bit under par, but as a review of the diversity of this amazing singer's recording history it can't be faulted.