With five consecutive Top 20 hits, the Orlons were Cameo/Parkway’s premier group, with the tight harmonies of Rosetta Hightower, Marlena Davis and Shirley Brickley offset by Steve Caldwell’s froggy bass interjections. 1962’s “The Wah-Watusi”, their first long-player, showcases each member on a collection of mostly covers, but the real Orlons masterpiece is “South Street” from 1963, by which time they had perfected their signature sound and applied it to a wildly disparate repertoire. Amidst jangling tambourines, honking saxes and thumping kettle drums, the group Orlon-izes folk favourite ‘Walk Right In’, big band warhorses such as ‘Muskrat Ramble’ and ‘Cement Mixer’ and a highly imaginative take on Bobby Rydell’s ‘We Got Love’.
Other highlights include Roy Hamilton’s ‘Don’t Let Go’ (check out the modulations in perfect harmony) and, of course, the insanely infectious title song. I challenge you to listen to this album without smiling!