20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best Of The Mills Brothers by The Mills Brothers
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It might not strike one listening to the music on this collection--smoothly crafted, perfectly harmonized pop often set to gently loping swing rhythms--that the Mills Brothers
were actually outstanding pioneers of black music. Their close harmony work, based on the barbershop quartets of a previous era, were an innovation in '30s popular music, arguably laying the groundwork for '50s doo-wop and by extension even the music of the Backstreet Boys
and 'N Sync
(but don't hold that against them!). This collection serves as a good introduction to the Mills Brothers' legacy, serving up a dozen of their infectious hits, a few of which ("Lazy River," "You Always Hurt the One You Love") still stand among the definitive renditions of the classic American songbook. And what other band has had a seven-decade career (their sons, nephews, and grandsons now filling the ranks), scoring Top 40 hits ("Paper Doll" and "Cab Driver") 46 years apart? --Jerry McCulley