Various Artists

Old Town Doo Wop, Vol. 2

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Few labels of the early rock & roll era boasted either the scope or the reach of Old Town. Founded in 1953 by brothers Hy and Sam Weiss, the New York City-based imprint assembled a roster of talent that spanned from blues legends Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry to balladeer Arthur Prysock, but its most enduring contribution to American popular music remains its remarkable doo wop catalog. The second volume in reissue label Ace's exemplary Old Town Doo Wop series picks up where its predecessor left off, scooping up both chart smashes like the Fiestas' "So Fine" and little-known novelties including the Royaltones' "Hong Kong Jelly Wong." What separates this material from the myriad rival doo wop comps on the market is its vitality and timeliness (quite possibly two sides of the same coin), not to mention a house sensibility favoring raw emotion over robotically flawless harmonies. Other highlights include the Cleftones' "My Dearest Darling," the Harptones' "Life Is But a Dream" and the Ovations' "My Lullabye."

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