Personnel: Sonny Til (vocals); Alexander Sharp (tenor); Johnny Reed (bass voice); Lloyd Thomas Jr. "Tommy" Gaither, Ralph Williams (guitar).
Liner Note Author: Dave Penny.
Led by the sultry tenor voice of Sonny Til, the Orioles -- in spite of being regarded by many as the originators of doo wop -- have been poorly served in the CD era, with most of the collections available consisting of re-recorded versions of their late-'40s and early-'50s hits. There is the massive and definitive six-disc box from Bear Family, of course, but little for the more casual listener to seek out, a situation this double-disc, 52-track set from Acrobat addresses nicely. It features all of their major hits, including "It's Too Soon to Know," "(It's Gonna Be A) Lonely Christmas," and their signature tune, "Crying in the Chapel," as well as more bluesy and raucous material like their version of "Baby Please Don't Go." One of the first groups to bring an overt gospel influence into the pop arena, the Orioles are well worth investigating, and since this collection features original recordings (rather than revisits), it makes a perfect and affordable place to begin. ~ Steve Leggett