Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Orioles: For Collectors Only [Murray Hill, 1985]
The first bird group bridged jump blues and doowop, neither of which they typified--they swing mildly and were simpler and more halting than their male-harmony heirs. Lost in reverie, cool Sonny Til insures that such seminal classics as "Crying in the Chapel" and "Tell Me So" remain virtually arrhythmic while the likes of "Hold Me! Squeeze Me!" party casually if not at all. May not sound like much, but they're as substantial as (and more original than) say, Sonny Boy Williamson. This five-record box--"Their Greatest Hits plus 19 Previously Unissued Recordings!"--shows amazing steady-state listenability. There are secret classics everywhere, from "I Challenge Your Kiss," good enough to lead off the second of two separately available hit discs even though none of the standard r&b books mentions it, to record four's "I'm Beginning To Think You Care for Me," one of many brand new finds. A superb double-LP could be pieced together from all this, but the box does justify itself. And if you're cash-short skip "Crying in the Chapel" and spring for Volume 2. A-