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They Sing Like Angels, CD (£11.50)
Is a vocal group the same group when several members change? Well, probably. How about when all the members have changed? There are several groups where this has happened and the group continued to be recognized as the same group. But what if the sex of the singers changes - when an all male group becomes an all female group or vice versa? Surely that can't be the same group. Well in the case of some record labels, that is exactly what happened. A group name could be regarded as the property of that record label and could be used for the regular line-up but also for entirely different personnel, even of the opposite sex. The Dreamers is a case in point. Although essentially a girl group during their time with Modern Records' Flair and RPM labels, there were times when a mixed male/female or even an all-male line-up was used and credited to the same group name. A CD compilation for such a group thus has to explore all the complications that such switches bring.
In The Dreamers - They Sing Like Angels the history of the group is explored through the recollections of the four principal, long-standing and founding members: Gloria Jones, Fanita Barrett and twins Annette and Nannette Williams. The notes, by Opal Louis Nations, are based on his interviews with group members and trace their recording stints for the Flair, RPM, Class and Flip labels in the 1954-1957 timeframe. After this, the girls became the Blossoms, recording for the Capitol, Challenge and Reprise labels. Later, featuring Darlene Love in their line-up, they became the West Coast's favourite back-up group in the late 50s and the 60s. Sam Cooke, Gene Autry, James Darren, Doris Day, Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin are just a few of the artists to have used their background vocal talents.
The Dreamers were closely associated with the Louie, Louie man Richard Berry, and were variously billed in their time at Modern Records as Richard Berry & The Dreamers or even The Dreamers Featuring Richard Berry. Their best known song from this period, Daddy Daddy, kicks-off the CD. Following their time at Modern, the girls, by that time down to a threesome, moved to the then new Class label, to be recorded by Googie Rene. After a couple of singles for Class (where they were known as the Rollettes), they moved on to Flip Records. There, they had a single out in their own name, this time with the lead singer being Jennell Hawkins of Moments fame. At Flip they were re-united with Richard Berry and backed him on a number of his recordings as the Pharaohs. Who were the Pharaohs? Well guess what, at Flip Records, they were sometimes all male, sometimes a mixture and sometimes all female.
So here's comprehensive coverage of the early work of the Dreamers and after that it was time to be the Blossoms....
By Peter Gibbon