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Classic of the Week : The Roches "The Roches" (1979), Warner Bros.

December 24, 1992|MARIA D. LASO

The first thing you have to get past is the name, which is not a gross gimmick but their surname. Sisters Maggie, Terre and Suzzy Roche have developed a fiercely loyal following in the 13 years since they released this, their first album (which was produced by Robert Fripp), but they've never caught on big time. And although their concert-goers like it that way, it's a shame because these women are really good. Their sound is beautiful, and their songs are a rare combination of smart and funny without being hokey. This album, 10 songs written by the Roches singly or in combinations, is an excellent introduction to their luscious harmonies--part barbershop, part doo-wop and part pop, with be-bop and Irish melodies thrown in. The sisters, who sometimes play guitar and synthesizer and other times sing a cappella, seem to have some unclassified category to themselves.

The opening "We" introduces the trio ("We don't give out our ages, and we don't give out our phone numbers. Sometimes our voices give out, but not our ages and our phone numbers"). "Hammond Song" is a haunting ballad; funny-smart songs include "Mr. Sellack" ("can I have my job back?") and "The Train," about sitting next to an obese commuter. Sad-smart "The Married Men" was covered later by Phoebe Snow. Whether your idea of a girl group is the Andrews Sisters or En Vogue, check this one out.

MORE CLASSICS:

The Patti Smith Group, "Radio Ethiopia" (1976)

Miles Davis, "Porgy and Bess" (1958), Columbia; Bill Potts, "The Jazz Soul of Porgy & Bess" (1959), Capitol

Love, "Forever Changes" (1967), Elektra

Skeeter Davis & NRBQ, "She Sings, They Play" (1985), Rounder

Joe Ely, "Joe Ely" (1977), MCA

Tim Buckley, "Goodbye and Hello" (1967), Elektra

Van Morrison, "Saint Dominic's Preview" (1972), Warner Brothers

The Dwight Twilley Band, "Sincerely" (1975), Shelter

The J. Geils Band, "Full House" (1972), Atlantic

The Partridge Family, "Greatest Hits" (1989), Arista

Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Cosmo's Factory" (1970), Fantasy

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