Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Clovers: Down in the Alley [Atlantic, 1991]
When Nick Tosches claims they went out after "rock'n'roll was tamed for the masses," what he means (believe me, they never mean "masses") is that it was tamed for teenagers. Fans of Louis Jordan and the Ink Spots inventing a dirty doowop that didn't come naturally, the Clovers were funnier, raunchier, and suaver than their r&b predecessors the Orioles and the Ravens, hitting their stride several years before r&b turned teen music in 1955. With help from in-house sophisticates Ahmet Ertegun, Jesse Stone, and Rudolph Toombs, they made their Alan Freed move with "Devil or Angel" in early 1956, and when I was 13 I thought it sounded peachy. In fact, it did sound peachy. And up against the doggish "Little Mama," the bibulous "Nip Sip," and the Freudian "Your Cash Ain't Nothin' but Trash," its innocence is patently insincere. A