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ALBUM REVIEWS / POP

The Orioles, "The Orioles Sing Their Greatest Hits," (***)

November 06, 1996|ROBERT HILBURN

Collectables. Thanks to readers who wrote to correct a recent report in these pages that there are no CDs devoted to the Orioles, the outstanding R&B group that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year in the "early influence" category.

It turns out there are at least three Orioles collections on Collectables Records, the Pennsylvania-based oldies label. Besides this and one other single-disc greatest-hits package, there is a three-disc box set titled "For Collectors Only." While the last is only for serious students of early R&B, this 14-song disc is a solid introduction to one of the most influential of all the '50s R&B outfits. Its "Crying in the Chapel" was a hit on the pop and R&B charts in 1953.

Led by Sonny Til, the Orioles--who were formed in Baltimore and named after the Maryland state bird--combined the professionalism of '40s groups such as the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers with a more bluesy, contemporary feel. It was a seductive mixture that became a virtual blueprint for scores of the R&B groups, including the Drifters and the Clovers, that contributed so greatly to the birth of rock.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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