Monday, June 13, 2016

Minnie Riperton - "Les Fleurs" (1971)

Minnie Riperton - "Les Fleurs" (did not chart). Written by Charles Stepney and Richard Rudolph. Produced by Charles Stepney. 45: "Les Fleur"/"Oh! By the Way" (GRT 1971). LP: Come to My Garden (GRT 1971).

A cult favorite nowadays, Minnie Riperton's first album flopped in 1971, so it's interesting to see that stations like Los Angeles's MOR outlet KMPC had been hip to it in the very beginning by including it on a playlist. An experienced backup vocalist and a member of Rotary Connection, Riperton adopted a floral concept-album approach for her debut, and one wonders if Stevie Wonder - who would later work with Riperton - had drawn from it as inspiration for his 1979 Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants soundtrack music.

"Les Fleurs," with its "Dear Prudence" changes, was the only single released from the album, which featured the string-psych production, arrangements, and compositions of Charles Stepney along with the musicianship of Ramsey Lewis (keyboards) and Phil Upchurch (guitar). In 1974, Riperton would release "Loving You," her chart-topping signature song with those high whistle-pitch vocals, and in 1976 she would announce on The Tonight Show that she had breast cancer, which she succumbed to in 1979.

The original Come to My Garden LP showed the first song's title as "Les Fleur" - a case of plural/singular disagreement that CD reissues later fixed as "Les Fleurs."

Minnie Riperton - "Les Fleurs"

Also see: A KMPC Playlist circa 1971

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