Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Everything New Is Old . . . Everything Old Is New [Ambient Sound, 1982]
Like all formalist art, doowop is a cultist's calling. Not only is its view of romance willfully adolescent, its view of adolescence is willfully romantic, inspired in the face of irrefutable evidence by a few freak singles, most of them slow (which is a snap to duplicate) and preternaturally beautiful (which isn't). Even its oft-heralded vocalism serves this vision--doowop tenors are supposed to be mild, as moony as "a teenager in love." But by unerringly selecting the two best cuts from five brand new doowop albums, this sampler escapes cultdom. In the great indie-label tradition, it concentrates on the catchy and programmable, including five ingenious covers, so that most of the slow songs sound beautiful, though rarely preternatural. A-