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The Very Best of The Fleetwoods

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Album Review

Though the Fleetwoods (named after an Olympia, WA telephone exchange) generally don't receive a lot of critical acclaim, their best recordings are rather unique in presentation and mood. On this 1975 LP, which contains all but one ("Lovers by Night, Strangers by Day") of their nine Top 40 hits, the listener is treated to their soft, gentle style of doo wop that has a strong undertone of melancholy. The equal blend of the male and female voices as showcased, especially in "Come Softly to Me," gives a resonance that most soft-rock hits lack, and the spare folk-style instrumentation is mixed in such a way that it blends with the voices but never overpowers them. In other words, what normally might come across as mere lightweight pop takes on more power than one might think. Also, the loneliness that pervades much of the lyrics and music gives the material added style. Though later stars such as Gene Pitney and Roy Orbison brought more melodrama to their songs of solitude, the roots of their music lie — at least in part — in the Fleetwoods' style. A modern-day counterpart to the Fleetwoods might be the lovelorn confessions of Chris Isaak. Though this recording contains only ten songs, it is still a fine introduction to the essence of the Fleetwoods' style of late-'50s doo wop.

Biography

Formed: 1958 in Olympia, WA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s

Although the Fleetwoods' sound was smooth, without many of the rougher edges of doo wop groups, they were one of the few white vocal groups of the late '50s and early '60s to enjoy success not only on the pop charts, but also the R&B charts. Their forte was ballads — beginning with the 1959 debut single "Come Softly to Me," they racked up a number of hits over the next three years, and nearly all of them were ballads. The Fleetwoods...
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