The greatest vocal group of the era that straddled the end of the big band years and the beginning of rock & roll, the Orioles of Baltimore, led by tenor Sonny Til, revolutionized group-harmony singing by sounding utterly agonized. They were unabashed romantics, heavy on melisma and their harmonic swoops were like butter smearing in a frying pan. Their three chart-toppers ("It's Too Soon to Know" is sadly unavailable in this version of 1947-1955) are all ballads that soar and drag, so enticingly and bewitchingly that alongside their skeletal instrumentation the songs can seem outright spooky. Doo-wop begins here.
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By John Morthland on 02.23.15 in Features
John Morthland on Rick Bragg's 'Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story.'