The "5" Royales

Sing "Baby Don't Do It"

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The "5" Royales' Apollo Records sides have the status of holy writ in R&B circles, and this CD explains why -- drawn from the group's original Apollo session tapes, the group is caught in full cry, beginning with the 1953 number one R&B hit "Baby Don't Do It" (itself a blueprint for James Brown's later "Please, Please, Please") and its extraordinary B-side, "Baby Take All of Me." Their other early chart entries are present, along with such change of tempo pieces as "I Am Thinking," a previously unissued ballad. They were at their best, however, on the rhythm numbers, like the pounding and soaring "I Like It Like That" -- occasionally, they could also loft a slower number like "Crazy, Crazy, Crazy" onto the charts (the latter getting airplay of its own as a B-side), but even that song had a pretty relentless, compelling beat amid the smoother singing; and the penultimate track, "Cry Some More," is close to a decade out of its own time as an eerie precursor to '60s-style soul music. Thanks to the sources, one gets a sense of the room ambience in the studio, and the singing by lead vocalist Johnny Tanner is up-close and personal the way listeners on jukeboxes could only imagine. The biggest variant in their sound comes in the previously unissued outtake of "I Wanna Rest," a harmony number on which Lowman Pauling's guitar plays an usually up-front role.

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