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RARB REVIEW

School: Brigham Young University
Group: Vocal Point
Album: (instruments not included)

Ordering Information

Total time: 62:41, 19 songs
Recorded 1994


Track Listing

  1. Istanbul (7.6)
  2. Sign Your Name (6.8)
  3. Fugue in D Minor (5.4)
  4. Drip Drop (7.0)
  5. Rubber Duckie (6.4)
  6. The Garden (7.0)
  7. Star Spangled Banner (7.0)
  8. Child's Play (7.4)
  9. Paper Moon (7.4)
  10. E'en So, Lord Jesus (7.2)
  11. Hey Ho, Away We Go (6.8)
  12. With or Without You (6.8)
  13. Instant Mash (6.2)
  14. Scottish Spring (8.0)
  15. One Last Cry (7.2)
  16. People to People/ When the Morning Comes (6.0)
  17. Summertime (6.2)
  18. Brrrlak! (7.6)
  19. Don't It Make You Want to Go Home (6.8)

Reviews

This album was reviewed by five members of RARB. In this compilation, their comments are always listed in a consistent order. Thus, for each song (and in the "overall" section), all comments numbered "1" are from the same reviewer, as are those numbered "2", etc.

Overall

  1. This group dwells solidly in the average category. They are generally in tune, ambitious in their song choices and arrangements, and they have a couple of good soloists. Their ambition is both positive and negative, however, as they step out of their league at times on this album.
    Rating: 5 (5.5)

  2. One of the best collegiate albums I've heard. Uniformly strong singing, high energy, and good blend. There is a lot of variety in song choice as well. The recording on this album is very good; it is clean, and usually mixed quite well, with a strong signal (i.e. it doesn't sound like it was recorded at a concert with one mike). Not all of the tunes are great, but even the clunkers on this album are above average, and they are numerically overwhelmed by strong songs.
    Rating: 9 (7.6)

  3. The main problem here is that I feel they're trying to do too many things, and aren't excelling at any of them. They have some rock, some jazz, some classical,some spiritual, some comedy....and the net result is that they have an eponymous album that really doesn't mesh as a unified concept. They have some very good songs, and they seem at their strongest when they do jazz and/or choral harmonic works. They're at their weakest in the rock category, as the basses and the soloist have severe problems sensing the style of the pieces they work with. Maybe its a product of their environment, being at a Mormon school where rock isn't looked upon in the best light. But they are severely "rhythmically challenged" at points and it hurts their overall feel as a group. My advice would be to settle on a style or two, perfect it, and then branch out from there. Maybe then the overall product would improve.
    Rating: 7 (7.1)

  4. The wide variety of music performed by Vocal Point makes for an album that does not get boring. No song sounds like any other, which seems to be a trap that many other college groups fall into. Their arrangements are generally full and interesting. In my opinion, this group is best when they sing as a chorus. Their choral singing and the many less common musical styles they sing are much stronger than their pop covers. I applaud them for having the courage to include religious music. And lest that subject matter turn some folks off, it is worth hearing for its musical value. The religious songs are beautifully done — some of their best pieces. Overall, Vocal Point is a very solid group. They have some excellent soloists, always supported by a rich, full background.
    Rating: 8 (7.0)

  5. The best thing about (instruments not included) is its street-corner sound. Many of the voices would not really fit into any other genre, and despite their talented sound, obviously the result of a non-street-corner work ethic, they never seem to lose sight of the fact that this is fun. Because they do have a street-corner sound, many of the songs have their share of pitch problems, but that's to be expected and nothing is too egregious. The small-group format and the lack of distinct weak spots allows them a lot of personalization of arrangements. This one, maybe two on a part style serves them well, and they make much better use of the full-harmony available to them on this album than on If Rocks Could Sing. I also like the way they're not afraid to use smaller groups for a number or two, which adds variety to the set. This album has a very high funny/trying-to-be-funny ratio, and also a high originality quotient as one might expect. Kudos to their bass for his perseverance and force throughout the album, and I have a weakness for high tenors with soft, fuzzy chest voices such as the few on this album. There is some nicely groovin' solo stuff.
    Rating: 7 (7.2)


Individual Tracks

  1. Istanbul (7.6)
    1. Ironic that an album with this title opens with chimes and a bongo drum. This is a perfectly adequate, perfectly standard rendition of this song. Some pitch variations between the two soloists also.
      Rating: 5

    2. A very good version of this song (I don't even like this song). Very high energy throughout; the background singers put real intensity into the "bop"s without having them be overly prominent. Mixed very well.
      Rating: 8

    3. Decent sound effects in the beginning. Soloists are a little under the pitch at points. The background is very good, and gives a solid reproduction of the They Might Be Giants version of this song. Overall, though , the song has little forward momentum and is just there a good bit of the time.
      Rating: 7

    4. This is a fun song, and a good cover. The sound effects are good, and the arrangement is nice and full, as is usually the case with this group.
      Rating: 9

    5. Way cool beginning with the chimes and all. Nice first tenors/falsetto, including a really high instrumental solo.The soloists are almost classical, but not in a horrible way and they can sing and are in tune, two qualities missing from a lot of covers of this song. Good job.
      Rating: 9

  2. Sign Your Name (6.8)
    1. The bass line seems out-of-synch with the upper parts. The soloist obviously has a good voice, but he tries a little too hard to capture Terence Trent D'Arby's R&B stylings. I don't like this arrangement: it's choppy (as if they were performing a medley), and too much of it just doesn't work.
      Rating: 4

    2. Strong solo, backup smooth. Pace and tempo are well kept up; this doesn't drag or rush the way many rock ballads do when done a cappella. The soloist was very good but sounded more natural during the verse than the chorus.
      Rating: 9

    3. A much better rendition of a Terence Trent D'arby song than their last album. The soloist has a decent grasp of the style (even though he sounds overwrought at times) and the background is nice and smoooooth. Their rock style has improved a bit.
      Rating: 8

    4. This is just not my favorite song, but it is a good imitative arrangement and the solo carries it off well. Not bad.
      Rating: 6

    5. Gotta give the bass credit — he does an admirable job on the really low stuff, although he does run into problems as he gets way down there. The soloist is too much pretention and not enough soul, but does alright. That's basically the way the song goes — nice job but needs more soul, more sense of a rhythm. A few problems with flatness.
      Rating: 7

  3. Fugue in D Minor (5.4)
    1. No, no, no!!! After a terrible intro, this builds into at least a tolerable piece. I commend them for trying, but they don't pull it off.
      Rating: 3

    2. It's very hard to do instrumental classical music well a cappella. Even when it's done well, it's hard to keep it as interesting as a song with lyrics. This version is done well and is kept fairly interesting (there's a lot to grab your ear in a fugue). A well-sung track, but I couldn't really get into it.
      Rating: 7

    3. YUCK!!!! Poor vocalization of an originally instrumental fugue. Leave the "da ba da"'s to the Swingle Singers and Pebbles Flinstone. A truly bad idea.
      Rating: 2

    4. Doing classical music a cappella is a difficult undertaking, and in this case, it is very well done. The use of the same syllables throughout gives it uniformity and makes it flow, with more of a classical feel.
      Rating: 7

    5. Alert listeners and RARB readers will recognize the opening of this fugue from the intro to Sesame Street on If Rocks Could Sing. Except this is the real thing. These guys have pleasant voices, but they are not classical in timbre so it comes off more as fun than King's Singers-caliber vocalese.
      Rating: 8

  4. Drip Drop (7.0)
    1. This is more like it! Excellent solo by Brad Ransom over a cool jazz groove in the background. In tune, this track is the first song on the album that moves in unison. I like the arrangement, especially the last minute, where it speeds up to become a real rocker.
      Rating: 7

    2. Strong solo. Nice, doo-wop style tune. I didn't like the hissy "hi-hat" percussion. The Jailhouse Rock bit works quite well.
      Rating: 7

    3. One of the MAJOR strengths of the BYU crew is their originality of source material for their music, and turning an army cadence to a jazz/doo-wop tune certainly qualifies. This is more of the solid jazz delivery they demonstrated on their last album, and they sound like they have fun doing it.
      Rating: 8

    4. Street corner doo-wop with strong solo(s). Great energy, and it's nice to hear a tempo variation, though the transition is a bit rough.
      Rating: 7

    5. The pitch on the background of this just doesn't sound right. The solo has a nice voice and the percussion is a nice addition to their sound. It hisses too much; I think it could have gotten more mileage out of a cleaner sound and more of a bass drum, but experience will add that. The liner says its arranged from a marching cadence — neat idea. Too bad its not in tune.
      Rating: 6

  5. Rubber Duckie (6.4)
    1. Close, but no cigar. Just a solo and a bass line, I think that to work, the solo would have had to sound EXACTLY like Ernie, and he doesn't quite make it. Still an amusing little tidbit.
      Rating: 5

    2. A duet, and the soloist has the perfect voice for it. The bass is solid as well. Just a good, fun track.
      Rating: 8

    3. The bass is painfully out of tune at spots, which is a major flaw when only two people are singing. My other problem is why do this at all? It's hardly an impressive use of two voices, and they certainly have the talent to take this song further. A disappointment.
      Rating: 5

    4. Jim Henson would be proud — an excellent Ernie imitation. They could have done more with the arrangement, but nonetheless, it's cute.
      Rating: 6

    5. Oh I like this one. Surprisingly musical, and in the true spirit of the song.
      Rating: 8

  6. The Garden (7.0)
    1. A credible performance of one of my favorite McFerrin tunes, this is very true to the original and an enjoyable track. I also liked the very subtle, but very good scat by Bob Ahlander near the end.
      Rating: 7

    2. Whistles worked very well. The lower voice of the duo lead had a slight gravelly tone to his voice, as if the solo was a little too low for him. He also sounded a little bored at times. The tune might have been sung with a little more intensity (although I realize that it is a laid-back tune).
      Rating: 7

    3. What is here is very good; chords are in tune, and the high tenor has EXCELLENT vocal control. The guys here don't seem to have a Bobby McFerrin mood to their vocal quality and delivery, but since I've never heard the original, maybe they do. From what I know of McFerrin, though, these guys could use a dash of soul behind what they sing here.
      Rating: 7

    4. This one is subtle and groovy. The use of whistling works in the background, and I found myself really listening to the lyrics.
      Rating: 7

    5. I like the mellow, jazzy close harmony. The high echo soloist has a lovely soft voice that scats well. The very top tenor is at times flat on those very high note, and the whistles aren't great. A lot of the solos don't have the right sort of voice, and the song requires exact precision and mood to be effective. Very good in spots.
      Rating: 7

  7. Star Spangled Banner (7.0)
    1. This is an ambitious arrangement- very jazzy, and at times it is wonderful. At times, though, it seems overly dissonant, and some chords are missed.
      Rating: 5

    2. This begins as a traditional arrangement, with a nice blend. It then moves into a more unusual arrangement that is somewhat dissonant, with some changing meter. The arrangement was interesting, but I prefer a more traditional version. Nitpick: I didn't like having the tenor stand out solo on the word "land."
      Rating: 7

    3. Solid rendition of a staple of most groups repertoire; Dave Barduhn is a respected jazz arranger, and the chords here really bring out that aspect....if they were tuned a bit better, this piece would have been great instead of good.
      Rating: 7

    4. I love this arrangement. This group is very strong chorally — they blend very well. The entrances and cutoffs are crisp, and the unison singing is impressively tight.
      Rating: 9

    5. Shaky opening oh. The "soprano" has a curiously male timbre to his falsetto. There are some wonderfully powerful jazz chords, except for the couple that bomb; I applaud their use of the big-harmony, one on a part sound you can get from a small group.
      Rating: 7

  8. Child's Play (7.4)
    1. A rap romp through children's rhymes. A little white for my tastes, but the rhythmic groove is solid, and it IS a funny idea...
      Rating: 5

    2. A medley of various nursery rhymes, starting with a soulful rendition of "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider." It moves onto a rap incorporating "Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater" among others. These guys get points for effort but rap isn't their strong suit. It sounded forced, and in my opinion, it just didn't work.
      Rating: 6

    3. GO WHITE BOY! GO WHITE BOY!!!! Hee hee hee......I nearly bust a gut when these guys started singing "Little Bunny Foo Foo" with a new jack feel. Absolutely hilarious, and very imaginative.
      Rating: 9

    4. Many favorite nursery rhymes presented in a funky rap. The voices are effective, and I just liked it.
      Rating: 8

    5. Awwww yeah; wish they'd come to _my_ elementary school. Any pitch problems are more than compensated by the wacko originality of the arrangement.
      Rating: 9

  9. Paper Moon (7.4)
    1. Arlen & Rose's classic is treated with respect, and the result is a good track for Vocal Point. Understated, but elegant solos by Ahlander and Rick McFarland. Great scat!
      Rating: 6

    2. The "trumpet" introduction was very nice. Smooth, and recreated the timbre of the instrument reasonably well. The solo is mixed well, volume-wise, in relation to the trumpets (which are sometimes dominant).
      Rating: 8

    3. Standard arrangement of standard jazz, with a standard job by the lads; which is a good thing. Soloist tone is nice and clear. Nothing really notable about it; just nice.
      Rating: 7

    4. Good song. The great vocal trumpet is notable, and overall a swingin' big band sound. The basses are good, and the solos are excellent. The background tends to get a bit sloppy toward the end, though.
      Rating: 8

    5. Lovely treatment of a standard. I really like the "yes it's only a canvas sky" verse. The scatting is nice if not particularly inspired. At times, the background really lets out.
      Rating: 8

  10. E'en So, Lord Jesus (7.2)
    1. An outstanding track, particularly the beginning by Brad Ransom. The group does a nice job building and building the mood of this tune, and the suspended chords are very powerful.
      Rating: 7

    2. Opens with a wonderful tenor 1 solo. This tune builds nicely in volume and intensity as it goes on. Blend is very good. A couple of entrances could have been tighter.
      Rating: 8

    3. Good reading of a fairly difficult gospel choral work. Tuning is very good, and the ensemble moves very tightly. Enjoyable listening.
      Rating: 8

    4. This song is beautiful and haunting. The blend is good, as is the use of dynamics.
      Rating: 7

    5. This is in the style of the Cambridge College Choirs and isn't too bad, but this ensemble just does not have the overall type of sound of a classical ensemble and along those lines the pitch and blend have holes.
      Rating: 6

  11. Hey Ho, Away We Go (6.8)
    1. I don't like this at all. The vocal percussionist does his best to sound like Andrew Chaikin, but for all that, I never got a sense of where the rhythm was going. Pitch problems in the solo. It's a clever arrangement, but it relies too much on the vocal drum, and the drumming sounds strained to me.
      Rating: 4

    2. The hip-hop style percussion is much more successful on this tune than on "Child's Play." This is a work/folk song, I believe, but it is sung with a hip-hop or slightly reggae-ish beat, which works well.
      Rating: 7

    3. A Eurodisco remix of a Scottish (?) Folk song? Surprisingly it works, thanks to some good vocal percussion and solid, danceable background. Proves the old saying "If it's not Scottish, it's CRAAAAAPPPP!!!!"
      Rating: 8

    4. An example of the wide variety of musical styles performed by this group. The vocal percussion is great, and the energy is kept up all the way through.
      Rating: 8

    5. Interesting treatment. I find it hard to believe that they they could perform it with a straight face. I rather like it, actually, and the dialect could have been a lot worse. The "nn-na" background works well. The bass is very strong, if not always in exact tune, like everywhere else on the album.
      Rating: 7

  12. With or Without You (6.8)
    1. This song is moved by a GREAT vocal percussion beat. A good interpretation of the Knudsen Bros. arrangement. Star Hall doesn't really have the range to pull off the high parts, and is a little too lounge lizardy for this arrangement, in my opinion. I still found myself liking this track a lot, though.
      Rating: 7

    2. Again, the percussion is very good. Opens with an effective mimic of the U2 version, well-blended quiet chords that move slowly. The soloist is very good, but occasionally has a slight lounge-singer quality to his voice (esp. on the "I will wait for you"). Overall, however, quite good. Backup singers on chorus are quite effective.
      Rating: 8

    3. This would have been the best track on the disc if they had a soloist who had any feeling behind what he was singing. The solo delivery was too much like a Roger Whittaker cover of the song...very earnest, without the pathos that Bono has and that the song needs. Everything else is wonderful, but the soloist really brings this one down.
      Rating: 7

    4. Again, the vocal percussion is very good. The arrangement is full, and the background is good, with steady, consistent basses. The solo is unremarkable — nice voice, but needs energy. And this song is very long.
      Rating: 6

    5. Nice intro/background. The soloist has the right idea, but he's flat a lot and at times his interpretation goes right past Bono to unsuccessful. He does well with the higher stuff, although still flat. The ohs are very nice and the high line is well done, as is the duet. I don't like their ff-based percussion at all.
      Rating: 6

  13. Instant Mash (6.2)
    1. I am impressed with the versatility of the two guys who perform this track (Bob Ahlander and Dave Boyce). This is a two man jam, and like all jams, it sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.
      Rating: 5

    2. Another duo. This is a very catchy tune... I have gotten it stuck in my head several times. The bass might have had a darker tone, but the fuzz guitar effects are good. Soloist is solid.
      Rating: 7

    3. This is a two-voice song with some imagination and feeling...but it still doesn't feel like it belongs on the album. It seems really empty without the other voices. It's funky enough, though, and they two seem like they had real fun with this one.
      Rating: 7

    4. A weird song, kind of funky. Yet another song notable for percussion. But since it is primarily just solo and percussion, it's a little empty.
      Rating: 6

    5. When I was a kid I used to love the instant mash potatoes that my mom made from the blue box. This is nice, too, but in a completely different way. I wish I could be more informative about the music of this song, but basically it's two voices indulging in modern art. Some of it speaks to me, a lot of it floats right by.
      Rating: 6

  14. Scottish Spring (8.0)
    1. This song cracks me up. It's a commercial for a soap that "has sand and grit and broken glass to scrub... the sins right off of you". Todd Seymour does a funny Scot accent and the group keeps up a brilliantly nasal bagpipe sound.
      Rating: 8

    2. I usually dislike skits put on albums because they rarely stand up to repeat listening the way the music does. I found this one, however, very funny. They pack a lot of jokes into this 1:30 track. Bagpipes done well.
      Rating: 9

    3. The 9 is for humor value, as this really isn't music. DAMN funny, though. "If it's not Scottish......"
      Rating: 9

    4. Amusing. The background and Scottish accent are well done. This "ad" must be a great skit at live concerts.
      Rating: 5

    5. This is really really funny. The bagpipe arrangement of Scotland the Brave is hilarious, drones and all. The dialect is good enough to fool anyone who doesn't actually know any Glaswigians (I do, I could tell) and if you do, the sentiments are perfect for teasing them about their backwoods old-country lacking in any appreciation of modern conveniences. :)
      Rating: 9

  15. One Last Cry (7.2)
    1. The best solo on the album, Brad Ransom glides effortlessly on a difficult lead. The arrangement is quiet and doesn't try to upstage the lead.
      Rating: 8

    2. Great blend on opening. Soloist is a very good high tenor. His head voice/chest voice transitions are smooth, and his head voice is strong. This song is a cheesy light pop ballad, unfortunately, but is very well done.
      Rating: 9

    3. Very pretty ballad; VP really has a strong high tenor, and this shows his range very well. A voice very reminiscent of Christopher Cross.... maybe they should try "Sailing"....would be interesting. Solid background... all in all a very enjoyable sound.
      Rating: 8

    4. At the beginning of the song, it is hard to figure out what the tempo is. The original wasn't a great song to begin with, and this song just doesn't seem to be of the same caliber as most of the other songs. There are tuning problems all over the place.
      Rating: 4

    5. Pretty solo. Background doesn't always maintain crispness, and by itself is unremarkable. This song is the most soulful on the album and that's entirely due to the solo.
      Rating: 7

  16. People to People/ When the Morning Comes (6.0)
    1. I hate this song. The music is tiresome, the message redundant, the solos off key. There are some good chords in here, but the overall effect does nothing for me.
      Rating: 3

    2. The beginning is a well done but (IMHO) boring religious tune. Intros and volume are tightly controlled, and blend is great. Solos are all good. The second part is much more uptempo, also done well, but nothing spectacular. Blend is not as good in the second part.
      Rating: 7

    3. The song itself bored me. No drive, no energy behind it. The singing is in tune, but it's almost robotic in texture; there's nothing emotional in the song to make me want to listen to it. The 5 is for the execution, mainly, not the song itself.
      Rating: 5

    4. Gorgeous — both background and solos. The arrangement is very pretty. Good segue from hymn into upbeat spiritual. I really got into this one. The basses are great, and key changes are smooth. Again, I have to say that this group is fabulous as a chorus with multi-part harmony.
      Rating: 9

    5. The first half of this is nice enough, but does absolutely nothing for me. It's sort of a Broadway-ballad type. The second soloist has a gorgeous chest voice; his falsetto, while impressive, is not as intrinsically pretty. The uptempo stuff is more fun; I know this spiritual as "We'll Understand it Better By and By," if that helps you figure it out. It's pretty white, but captures the street-corner sound well.
      Rating: 6

  17. Summertime (6.2)
    1. The blend sometimes doesn't mesh with the chords (which demand Take 6-type precision).
      Rating: 5

    2. A nice arrangement. The soloist is good, but his timing is SO STRAIGHT. I was praying for the slightest variation in rhythm. What's the point of jazzy chords and tunes with classical timing? The basses are mixed too high in parts.
      Rating: 7

    3. Decent journeyman cover of the classic Gershwin tune. The lower range is VERY muddy, but there are some good chordal spots in the piece.
      Rating: 7

    4. Well, all I can say is yuck for song choice. Musically, it is not bad, but it drags. Then again, every version of this song seems to drag.
      Rating: 5

    5. Sounds like an early record, in style and that "tunnel" effect. There are some fun background swank stuff. Second verse cool with the ensemble stuff, though the big jazz chord on "mornin" doesn't quite work.
      Rating: 7

  18. Brrrlak! (7.6)
    1. Unique! Kudos to Vocal Point for pulling this off. It isn't consistent, but one can hardly blame them for that. They do a wonderful job capturing the in your face element of the original.
      Rating: 6

    2. Great. This is a nonsense syllable tune, with a chant-like rhythmic African/Latin feel (it was originally done by Zap Mama). Very energetic performance.
      Rating: 9

    3. Points to the lads for covering a Zap Mama song with nine guys. My one problem is that it seems to lose the rhythmic flow at points through the piece; maybe that was intentional. Overall, though, a good tune that doesn't get heard by college audiences.
      Rating: 8

    4. It's hip, it's different, it's cool. I can't describe it, but I haven't heard anything like it from any other group. There are some really interesting and unique musical sounds and effects. It moves.
      Rating: 8

    5. Yes, they are a guys group doing Zap Mama. Good effort. Doesn't hold a candle to the real thing, but is a _damn_ good cover. The second solo is great, and most of them are good, as is the high stuff for the most part. The bass/bari guy has the wrong idea, but the rest do very good jobs with unfamiliar lyrics and scat styles.
      Rating: 7

  19. Don't It Make You Want to Go Home (6.8)
    1. Too slow!! They'd need to Jerry Lawson or someone with an equally gruff soulful voice to pull it off at this speed. Otherwise, I like it.
      Rating: 5

    2. The backgrounds are great — tight chord changes, timing is on, high energy, smooth blend. The soloists are slightly overwhelmed by the background — they should have been mixed a little louder. I don't think that the scat works on this tune. It's a little over the top for this type of song. The scatters are experimenting with a lot of different types of sounds, but they clash rather than complementing each other. The problem with starting this tune with such high energy is that it doesn't really intensify as the song continues, although I expected it to. Thus the song sounds a little down (relatively) at the end.
      Rating: 7

    3. A sentimental style of closer; maybe live this is fun, but the recording seems sloppy; the beginning was VERY out of time, and the basses are forcing their range again. Still, it is some nice doo-wop.
      Rating: 7

    4. Some nice variation in the background arrangement. The soloists really get into it, which is great, and the whole group just lets go in the middle — it works. Changes in tempo and feel really add to this one.
      Rating: 8

    5. I like the uptempo and admire the bass for sticking it out down there. The pitch isn't great all the time, but the third soloist (whose work I like throughout the album) comes through once again with a soulful verse. The percussive "hey!" throughout the fourth chorus is cool, and overall the song is groovin' street-corner fun, which definitely wins points with me.
      Rating: 7

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