Reprinted from yesterday's late editiion.

It's easy to like the Osmonds. Witness the 17,000 fans who did away with generation gaps and simulated the enthusiasm of a sell-out crowd at Thursday night's Capital Centre concert.

It's much easier to dislike the Osmonds if music, rather than entertainment, is the criterion. It may be a long way - many years as well as many miles - since Ogden, Utah, Disneyland, Hollywood and literally dozens of gold singles and albums but the musical talent of the Osmonds could still be put into a tea cup and leave room for cream, sugar, perhaps a lemon. And lots of tea.

In their remarkably active career, the Osmonds have moved from barber shop quartet to bubble gum rock to a homogenized pop style that owes infinitely more to television, their natural environment, than to the recording studio. In fact, the easiest place to watch them last night was on any of the Capital Centre's numerous mini-screens, or on the giant Tele-Screen.

Within these limited parameters, the vapid and vacuous shortcomings of the music were supplanted by the group's slickness, which paraded as enthusiasm.

Donny, like his five brothers and sister Marie, represents cleanliness and a certain godliness in American music, and although the Osmonds' show didn't start until 9 p.m., it's been taking place in the family hour far too long to expect any changes. Unfortunately, at the Capital Centre, there is only one channel.