WOULD you believe that it's six years since Bloodstone hit the world's record charts with their haunting "Natural High" ballad — probably one of the simplest and best (and certainly most under-rated) R&B records of all time. However, in those six years, much has happened to the travelling band of Californians — culminating in their signing with Motown last year and the release of their "Don't Stop" album earlier this year.
Without further ado, then, let's bring ourselves up-to-date on the more recent events of the four Bloodstone-rs, Charles Love, Willie Draffen Jr., Charles McCormick and Harry Williams Jr.
The signing with Motown is probably the greatest event in their last couple of (frustrating) years. It seems that Berry Gordy IV met Harry on the street in L.A. and they exchanged pleasanteries; with Berry IV adding that he had always been a great fan of Bloodstone.
At the time, the quartet were negotiating with CBS (see later in story!) and it took a further full year before the two parties could come together and work out the deal that eventually was signed during January of 1978.
"We had co-produced an album with Richard Rome, then presented it to CBS," explains Harry, "but they chose to ignore it and we wasted a full year there before we could leave. They didn't feel we were compatible with CBS and that we were not stable enough.
"It's true that we had no manager at the time and though we don't agree with what they said at the time, I guess they were doing what they felt was right for their company."
What it actually meant was that Bloodstone were idle for a year. On joining Motown, they took the best part of 1978 to complete the "Don't Stop" album and its initial acceptance suggests that they were right to adopt this abnormally conservative approach.
"We wanted the album to be just right," was their communal statement. And just right it is — a perfect blend of today's Sound of Young America and the distinctive vocal sound that Bloodstone made their own during the middle years of this decade.
"Maybe there is a lack of disco material and a little too much ballad material," Charles admits. "But we are happy with what we have done and we will veer more towards uptempo material for our next album."
The quartet had some reflective comments on the soundtrack from their movie, "Train Ride To Holly-Wood". Sadly, the success that looked guaranteed was lost through poor distribution of the movie — and the soundtrack album, too.
"Everybody wants to do a movie," Harry beams. "But we know now that it took us away from our main goal and that was recording for the group. But it was very educational for us and we were able to expand our horizons.
"In fact, we felt that the script and direction of the movie itself were good. It was just the fact that the distribution was so bad. We also got good critical acclaim and that helped, too. The test runs of the movie were quite good but it fell down at the last minute. The film industry is not an easy one!"
Much of Bloodstone's success began in London. They were discovered there by London Records — on a "Blues & Soul" sponsored concert with Al Green headlining, would you believe. All through their London Records era, they recorded in Britain and some of their major concert appearances took place in Britain. Had, then, the temptation to go back there during their non-active period in the States not reared its head?
"Sure, we thought about it," Charles freely states. "But the money isn't good enough there. To be honest, I prefer recording there — and I find I can write songs easily enough there, too. It's funny, looking back — because when "Natural High" first hit, people in the States thought we were a British group.
"In fact, our name, Bloodstone, even sounds like some of those Rock bands they had over there at the time. And to this day, we are considered to be an international group. And also by being with a foreign label for so long, we have been able to build up a different perspective of music and of the industry."
The four guys all agree now that all of this background slog will be in their favor now that they are back in business — and with a company that means business.
"We have also got a new manager, Bernie Gross," Charles adds. "And we feel that the combination of a new company and new management will give us that extra edge that we know we need now. We feel we are better now than ever — because we have added determination to the other assets that have already proven successful.
"We are planning now for a major summer tour here in the States. There is so much competition out there now that we know we have to be at our best. But we can play on our vocal ability. And we have a good record in the business for being at shows on time and for being easy to get along with. We are so dedicated to what we are doing — I think we'd have to be because most people would have given up long ago!
"We are troopers but we have survived because of that dedication. Music is our life and we always live with the hope that tomorrow will be a better day."