The Halos

Nag: A Golden Classics Edition

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The Halos were hardly the first or last doo wop group to have been strongly influenced by the Coasters, but they certainly followed their lead closer than most, and it says a great deal about how good the Halos could be that they didn't sound embarrassing in comparison. Like the Coasters, the Halos had tight but smooth harmonies, anchored by a solid bass singer (Arthur Crier) and a tenor who had a great flair for comic narratives and vocal sound effects. However, unlike the Coasters, the Halos didn't have Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller writing material for them, and while the singers are in fine fettle on every cut of this compilation, songs like "Nag," "Mean Old World," and "I Went to a Party" don't hold a candle to what their obvious inspirations had at their disposal. ("L-O-V-E," which parodies the old Lava soap jingle, comes a lot closer than the rest of the set manages.) Nag: A Golden Classics Edition shines brightest when the Halos have less gimmicky (and lyrically stronger) material to work with, such as the rapid-fire "Down the Road," the engagingly weird and echo-laden "Village of Love," and a great R&B-slanted cover of the Everly Brothers' "Bird Dog." While hardly lost classics of doo wop, the cuts on this album at least make it clear the Halos had plenty of talent, if not the best material, and fans of classic vocal group sounds will eat this up.

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