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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.
This is a very difficult album to rate, because so much depends on whether
you like a street-corner, small group sound. The Kingsmen have that sound,
but lack the rhythmic textures of bigger collegiate groups. This album is
very consistently decent, with a couple of songs that move into the good
range, but there's nothing terrible and really nothing great. It is no
insult to the Kingsmen to say that they do doo-wop as well as any
collegiate group I've heard, but they try so hard to be diverse, and they
have mixed success when they branch out. I have to admit their sound is not
one I'm particularly fond of, but that's a personal preference for
contemporary music, and I could see how someone could rate the Kingsmen
higher that I just did.
Rating: 5 (5.2)
These guys have a great blend, better than most
collegiate groups I've heard. They used a lot of studio effects, so
that might have helped, but hey, that's what studios are for, anyway.
The fact that they have only 8 people and can blend so well is
definitely a plus. This helps them stay away from having a choral
sound. Their arrangements tended to be simple, leaving a lot of room
for improvement, but their blend and solo work was solid, giving them
a good strong base to build off of. I look forward to hearing future
works from these guys.
Rating: 7 (6.6)
The Kingsmen have some strong voices, and a good group sound.
This album showcases a variety of styles from pop to bizarre
originals to 50's doo-wop, a genre which does not appear much
in college a cappella. Their originals are among their best
songs. They are offbeat and fun. Their harmony is tight, and
their blend is consistently smooth. Some vocal percussion
would be a nice addition, however, and the group needs to
expand its vocabulary of background syllables beyond 'doo
doo.' Other than that, there is not much to complain about on
this album. I have one comment about the recording, though.
The gaps between songs on the CD are very short. The
transitions from one song to the next are very fast, and
abrupt at times. This doesn't allow any time to digest a song
when it is done, but you forget this once the next song gets
Rating: 7 (6.6)
If the album picture and my memory are accurate, then this group has
only 8 members. They sound like it. That's not good or bad, but they
sometimes sound thin, especially on tunes where the background isn't in
unison. On the doo-wop type tunes, however, the small group sound
works. The Kingsmen may suffer in that it is harder for them to
perform more intricate arrangements. Basses need to be louder, with
better blend would be nice. Often they seem absent. Kingsmen — use
some nonsense syllables besides "doo-doo"! There are many many to
choose from. Another small point — watch out for "popping" Ps and Ts
during recording. This was a problem on several tunes.
Rating: 6 (5.4)
So incredibly well recorded and showily mixed that
it's hard to tell what the group actually sounds like underneath all
the studio stuff. They do sound really full, though. It's almost
_too_ well recorded in that you can hear every pimple on the soloists
(so to speak), but the backgrounds sound pretty uniformly well
balanced and resonant. Their arrangements are all extremely similar,
and rely far too heavily on the word "bop". They blend nicely although
there are definite trouble spots, namely the basses, although it might
be that it's just the arrangements are written to make them stick
out. If their arrangements were a little more varied, if they had some
percussion, and if their soloists were more consistent, they could
kick. They're just not quite there in their current incarnation. They
don't sound bad at all though.
Rating: 6 (4.9)
The doo-wop standard is performed with energy and the infectious enthusiasm
characteristic of the style. Musical precision is not at a premium here,
but that really isn't the point. An enjoyable opener.
Great blend and mix throughout, good soulful soloist.
Their version is much better than other collegiate versions I've heard.
A solid, hoppin' rendition of a standard. I love this song.
The soloist has a nice voice and is charismatic. Good
harmonies with solo line, and the snaps keep the song moving.
A promising start for the album. This is a very good 50's style
doo-wop version of this song. The Kingsmen's smallish double quartet
sound is perfect for this material.
One of the better songs on the album — soloist
right on, the only part I don't like is the "awww"'s right before the
verse, the only way it could be better is if it genuinely swung a
little more, but they sound really together — their timing/intonation
is really quite good.
Oddly, the Jackson Five masterpiece, one of the most energetic songs to
come out of Motown, lacks energy. Coupled with a simplistic arrangement,
some uninspiring solos and slightly sour harmonies over the chorus, this is
not a very good track.
Arrangement was a bit sparse at times, pitch was a
bit off in the chorus. The second soloist rolled his notes a bit too
much, almost where it sounded like he wasn't taking his part very
serious. The mix was excellent throughout, however.
This is a great arrangement, and the bass line is very good,
and remains consistent throughout the song. Unfortunately the
same cannot be said for the solos. Though none stands out,
they are all pretty dull.
This is one of the poorer versions of this song I have heard. I don't
want to be too harsh, but suffice it to say: tuning problems, solos
sounded drowsy and lackluster (and were oddly sung down the octave
from the way it is usually performed), VERY low energy. This song
seemed to increasingly drag as it continued. Shifting solos from one
bored soloist to another didn't help.
Arrangement pretty imitative, would be _so_ much
better if they had a little more energy — soloist flat and has no
feeling, trio does not blend at all and sounds really disconnected,
bassline is really pretty lame. Hurtin' for percussion. Not a bad
choice of song though.
A mixture of the Kingsmen's classic street-corner sound and some awfully
strange lyrics about Cezanne, the master of cubism. An oddly quirky tidbit
by a group called 'Five Chinese Brothers', this style seems to suit the 8
I enjoyed this piece, though why anyone would write a song
about Cezanne is beyond me. Typical silly a cappella humor. The
soloist was excellent as was the mix.
Cute, a bit bizarre, and a lot of fun. Clever lyrics and a
great doo-woppy arrangement combined with energy make this one
I have never heard this song, and I loved the lyrics. Again, doo-wop
seems to be this group's strength. Basses sound thin (should be
boosted in recording, perhaps). Nothing terribly interesting in the
Cute, solo a bit much/overly dramatic, basses aren't
quite there on lowest note, arrangement gets annoying/repetitive after
a while. This song would be so much better if it were a lot shorter,
because the weak things wouldn't be as noticeable. It is mildly amusing
The Kingsmen's diverse choice of covers is highlighted by this Concrete
Blonde song. At times this track really works, creating a dark texture
particularly over the verse, but the arrangement breaks down in too many
places. The inconsistency
makes pedantic what could have been a refreshing track.
Wonderful chord progressions in this song and variations in
rhythm created by the bass line. Good use of effects and a good mix,
as is the case throughout the album. I thought the soloists range was
great, especially in the ending of the song.
A change of pace here — a slow, pretty ballad, yet somewhat
heavy and kind of a downer. The choral harmony is nice and
tight, even if the arrangement is a bit choppy.
Opening needs to be crisper. Echo effects on solo should be better
hidden in the mix. Nice, flowing tune.
Arrangement kind of weird — I can't tell whether it's the
song or the arrangement, but the "bop-doo-wop" in the beginning of
every verse is really annoying, other than that (and another so-so
bassline) — solo needs to be a lot more sensitive, the whole song is
just kind of blared out at the same volume. This song really just
doesn't do it for me.
Tuning problems rear their ugly head during the fast flowing counterpoint
sections, and the solo, while fine, is not enough to compensate. The high
notes seem a little out of the soloists' reach. Good production almost
Nice arpeggiated chords throughout the song,
taking good advantage of the good blend these guys have. Pitch was a
little off in parts, but not enough to be overly distracting. I'd
rather have the pitch be off slightly than add another 8 guys to the
group giving it too much of a choral sound.
The intricate movement in the background at times is a nice
feature of this arrangement, but the tuning is not as precise
as it could be. This is a light, upbeat song, which is a good
choice to follow the last one, but the arrangement is not done
Solo has good tone, but misses pitch occasionally. Arrangement nice.
I was really psyched to see a group doing this
song, and although they don't massacre it, they fail to do it
justice. The arr. isn't bad, it's not great either, it doesn't have
the rhythm or the subtle groove of the original — the basses are
singing out of their ranges — they're so low you can barely hear
them. The solo is the thing that detracts the most from it though — he
can't hit the low notes, and he just sounds too wavery, also his
phrasing is screwy. The whole arrangement sounds like it's just the
beginning of the song, as if it hasn't gotten into the real song
The Kingsmen have a nice group sound, but they simply don't have the solo
voices to move to "the next level". This is a very pretty arrangement by
Tom Kitt, but of course one of the problems of covering a well known
classic is that you better sing the lead up to the standards of the
original. While Kitt does a creditable job on the difficult lead, it just
doesn't measure up, and I found myself wanting to hit the fast-forward
button in this most repetitious of songs.
Wonderful blend between the soloist and the
harmony vocal, the background vocals had a great blend throughout,
though there was the occasional pitch problem now and then. The
arrangement of this song could have been better. There were too many
long "oohs and ahs" which made it boring after a while. It just
needed a little more complexity to keep it moving along, since it's a
The soloist is great for this song — just enough emotion
without overdoing it. He does a good job of going beyond
imitation to make it his own. The background harmony is also
very good. My only complaint is that "doo" is the only
syllable used in the background throughout the song, and this
The runs of "doo-doo-doo-doo"s seem heavy-handed. Harmony part needs
to blend better with the soloist. This song should have widely varying
intensity through it, with some very dramatic parts. This version
sometimes sounds like it's about to somewhere serious intensity-wise
but they never actually go there. Not a BAD version, though.
They just need to be softer on songs
like this, better dynamics, and more sensitivity — they almost have
it. The arr. is kind of pretty but gets kind of boring as the song
goes on, also weirdly abrupt in parts, like in the chorus. Solo too is
almost there, but a little too strident, and not in full command of
himself, nor enough feeling, too busy trying to show off. His voice
isn't bad, but it's not as good as he thinks it is (he's also flat
occasionally, which doesn't help). They should have put him farther
back in the mix and brought the group out, or just had him sing
quieter. Not a bad version of this song though.
The best produced track on the album, this off-beat tune works very well in
its simplicity. The solo is talked with brilliant cheesiness by Matt Eddy.
What a bizarre repertoire!
Utter nonsense, but a lot of fun. They
could have dragged this one out and shot it, but luckily they kept it
short and sweet, making it quite tolerable, and actually a nice
Another slightly bizarre selection, but points for
originality. It's fun and it's got a good beat, and the
bassline is fabulous.
Here the background has some good energy. This is a quirky song, and
it didn't quite work for me. I suppose that the solo is the right tone
for the song, and sings it fairly well.
Why did they put this song after Don't
Let the Sun...? it completely negates whatever emotional impact the
previous song might have had. I can't decide if the basses are as good
as they sound or if they're just mixed to sound better than they
really are. They blend really well with each other, but not with the
rest of the group, so it's kind of a weird effect. The solo would be
good if he were just a little less spastic sounding. Another funny
song that would be much better if it were less repetitive and
A very nice song, I found myself disliking this track because of a strange,
simple arrangement that seemed to think it was reproducing "Kashmir" by Led
Zeppelin in terms of rhythmic repetition. A good solo, a good background
performance, but the arrangement is just too repetitive for me.
They used some cool chords, but listening to "doot
doot do doot..." for a minute straight was kind of hard. They added
a harmony vocal on the second verse, but they need to break it up a
little sooner. The transitions later on were nice, but the
arrangement needed more complexity. The solo section had a bass line,
more "oohs," and the occasional lead soloist. It just needed more.
Good song, boring arrangement. The solo is just ok, and the
whole thing suffers from low energy.
"Doo-doo"s had an odd, mushy/muted sound to them. The solo
unfortunately doesn't hit all the notes with the authority he needs;
pitch sometimes sketchy. Solo doesn't quite carry the song the way he
should; more energy at the end, a little punchier delivery would have
The chord in the beginning sounds really weird -
I don't know if it's supposed to sound like that or not. I think
they're flat. Solo is also flat, and tries to be soulful, but doesn't
quite succeed. This arr. is pretty rhythmless — really could use some
percussion, could groove more, and is so heavily reverbed in parts it
sounds sort of silly. Descant isn't bad, although it could blend much
better, bridge is annoying — too many breaks between lines. This song
could have been done so much more compellingly, but it's not bad.
The song I remember the Kingsmen doing years ago, this version has lost
some of the freshness and panache of when I first heard it, but I still
found myself getting caught up in the groove. Despite the musical
deficiencies of this version, it is still enjoyable.
The snapping added a lot. When the song started, I thought
"oh no, more 'doot doots'" but was pleasantly surprised by the
Once again, the bassline caught my attention. Good basses
make for a full, solid sound. The soloist seems to waver at
times, but overall, not bad.
This is pretty good, snaps work well. Soloist drops the ends of
phrases sometimes, in energy and pitch accuracy. Good arrangement.
Arr. pretty basic and repetitive, they don't blend as
well on this as they do on the rest of the album, but the solo is what
makes it worse, wavering on the notes, not very confident. I like the
song itself, but this version is only so-so.
One of my favorite songs from my childhood, I just don't think this
arrangement works at all. Matt Eddy captures the whiny quality of the lead,
but I just thought it didn't go anywhere. Where I wanted rhythmic intensity
over the chorus, I instead got whole note chords. Nothing wrong with that,
just not what I like to listen to.
Sometimes too much work is spent on the mix, and
it loses a lot of feeling. At this track, I began to notice that the
bass and background vocals seem to always be at the same dynamic level
on every song. The soloist did a great job, but more needed to be
done with the rest of the parts to bring out more emotion in the song.
Another instance of good song choice, boring arrangement. The
repetitive "doo doo"-ing in the background is endless.
Generally, I like emotion in a song, but this is oversung.
The soloist sounds so anguished — too much 'cry' in his voice,
which probably contributes to some minor pitch problems.
Soloist, attempting intensity, sounds like he's in pain. (I don't mean
to be harsh, I just don't know how else to describe his voice
Solo has a really excessive vibrato,
melodramatic, and mispronounces New Orleans every time. I'm beginning
to see the standard arr. here, actually pretty choral-sounding, but
their voices aren't really that choral, so it's a weird combination.
This song sounds especially strange in this style — the song is much
more a) fast, and b) country/pop. The basses falter in spots here, and
the other parts are flat in the chorus. Overall I think it doesn't
quite pull it off.
Approaching the energy of the first song on the album, this is clearly the
style the Kingsmen are most comfortable in. At the very least, it is the
style they are most successful at performing. I can almost see soloist Jon
Berkun doing the twist.
Add a little vocal percussion to this song and it would
have been perfect. Without it, it was just good.
A simple, repetitive arrangement, sung with good energy and a
good solo. I'm not crazy about the song itself, but it seems
like it would be fun in concert.
Actually pull it off pretty well. Soloist shouldn't attempt reaching
for gravel-lined notes for emphasis — he doesn't quite have it, and it
thus sounds forced. Arrangement simple — solo, backup in block chords,
bass line. Something a little thicker might have been nice.
Totally soulless, the solo tries, would be helped a
lot if the background could have a rhythm. The bassline is insane and
doesn't work, the arrangement is oddly too clean-sounding for a song
like this. The solo is good though, despite the lame ending.
Brilliant production gives this half-skit an otherworldly quality. They pull
it off with musical precision they hadn't shown earlier. Solo voices also
come out that I simply didn't think they had. Very nice!
I'm going to avoid attempting to answer the question of
why the heck they did this song, since most Queen fans I know never
want to admit they actually recorded this song. They actually did a
decent job with it. I especially liked the weapons... "boom" "zap".
The effects were nice, the arrangement simple, but tolerable.
Well, I thought this was a pretty dumb song when Queen did it,
but nonetheless, I like it. They do a great job with it.
Strong choral sound and consistent bassline. Nice sound
effects, and an impressive Freddy Mercury impression to boot -
I'm torn between giving these guys a lot of credit for attempting this
completely non-intuitive choice for a-cappella, and blasting them for
not doing the original justice. In the end, this track just doesn't
work. It has a ridiculous studio-effects sound to almost every part;
huge echo, voice alterations, etc. But the irony is that even with all
of these studio effects the Kingsmen don't achieve (or seem to attempt
to achieve) the blasting "Flash!" or the powerful guitar parts that
are essential to this song. They sing it in an echo-y whisper. The
bass speaking as Ming just sounds absurd. This tune also does not
have the drive it needs.
Sounds like a combination of the Bee Gees, Queen
and Pink Floyd doing this song — the bassline is terrible, and so many
effects have been added that it's hard to tell what's really going
on. Too slow and seems too long, even though it's not actually that
long. Parts of it are amusing, the solos are appropriately dramatic.
A very pretty rendition of the Dream Academy's one hit, I found myself
liking their version of it, and liking Tom Kitt on the solo. Good tuning in
the background. Though I have heard better a cappella renditions of this
song, I think this is an excellent track.
Great use of a slight reverb on this song.
They could have arranged the "hey-o-mama"s a little better, the chord
spelling was pretty thin, and with their blend, they could have really
improved it quite a bit.
My first response was "not again, I am sick of this song," but
it turned out to be one of the best collegiate versions I have
heard. It features a great arrangement and a great solo.
Nice sound in the background — very full, supports the solo
well. As a whole package, one of the best tracks on the
This, on the other hand, is an intuitive (and popular) choice for a
cappella. This version is solid; neither background nor soloist is a
It starts off so well, but then they
suddenly break the line with "doo — doo — doo — doo" which doesn't
work, solo isn't bad at all, on the chorus they really need to a)
blend better, b) have more dynamics instead of just shouting, and c)
have some really low bass notes. I really like the solo's voice, even
though his low notes aren't quite as resonant as they could be and
he's slightly nasal on parts, his control is good. The end chorus is
nice — when half of them drop out, fadeout nice, overall a good
rendition of the song.
Back to doo-wop, this tune is actually just a touch too fast. But there's
no question that they have this style down pat. Nice production on the
claps and snaps gives it a very classic feel.
Great doo-wop song to show off their blend. The hand
clapping added the percussion that they needed on Tutti Frutti.
Occasional pitch problem now and then, but still tolerable.
It's hoppin'! Another standard, solid doo-wop performance.
The rich bass solo gives this one a nice change in sound from
most of the rest of the album. It moves.
Handclaps work, although they are rhythmically sloppy at
points. Soloist doesn't work for me. On a fast tune like this,
enunciation needs to be better, and the backup needs to be tighter and
crisper. Arrangement was mushy.
Sounds like they're missing some parts or some people
- maybe the bass on the solo is really being missed. He's not bad,
although sort of overly sonorant in this bizarre way, also he sounds
like he's lagging behind. Too much reverb, especially on the claps,
should be faster and more rockin'. It's nice and short, though.
Maybe the best background performance on "Hat Trick", this is a different
interpretation of the song, than I'm used, but I like the variety between
the verses, and the way the arrangement really emphasizes their strengths.
The soloist may not be Bono, but I guess I can forgive them for that. :-)
Once again, the arrangement could have been better. Too much
"doo doots" by the bass, and "aahs" by everyone else. The bass wind
up carrying the weight of the song, resulting in a very "thin" sound.
This song seems to be another popular one among college
groups. Overall, it is well done. The arrangement is full
and interesting. The solo works well for this song.
Bass voice quality hurt blend. Soloist needs to watch out for
"popping" Ps and Ts during recording. Again, backup needs to be
tighter. The "life"s aren't ending at quite the same time, the
following "ahhh"s aren't beginning at the same time.
They suddenly sound like they're really far away from the
mike, especially the basses. Does someone drop something in the
middle? It really could use percussion, arr. sort of lame — it tries
to be innovative but doesn't really work, with the echoing off the
solo, they get credit for trying though, bassline is not good, no
groove at all. The solo is too blaring and showy.
Some strange rhythmic inconsistencies prevent me from getting a real sense
of this song. Not my favorite song choice, but they do a creditable enough
job with it.
Doot doo, doot doo. The snaps eased it up a
little bit, and the chorus was a little bit of a break from the doot
doos. It had a little more complexity than some of their other
Good song, with a good hook, sung with good energy. The
harmony is tight, but the group seems to lose the tempo
occasionally. Also, the soloist is hard to understand at
This is ok, nothing really caught my ear. The soloist was trying too
hard for interesting intonation.
I can't understand any of the words of the
verses, because of the way the solo's phrasing it. Their arrangements
are really similar, and it gets old. I don't know this song at all, so I
can't tell what kind of a job they're doing at it, but for some reason
it's really not that compelling. The end of it is nice though, when
they get quieter it provides some nice variety.
An original "spiritual" written by Matt Eddy asking the lord for sex. I
can't get used to the Kingsmen's sense of humor, and "Oh Lord I Wanna Get
Laid" just isn't my cup of java.
I would have really done up the beginning a bit more to
give an obnoxiously church choral sound, then have a little dramatic
pause before the punchline of the song. It would have really
emphasized the humor in the song, and opened it up to a lot more fun
later on through tempo changes and a more upbeat gospel feel. My
editorial comment is that most male collegiate a cappella groups I've
seen have women falling all over them. If these guys need to sing a
song about it, the a cappella audiences at Columbia must be pretty
lame... time to go on a tour!
This one starts out like a spiritual, and turns into a prayer
for sex. The harmony is close and tight, but the soloist
tries too hard on the choruses. It is amusing, and probably
funny in concert, but not something I want to listen to for
enjoyment every time I play the album.
Nice lyrics — I was amused by the "love pact with
Satan" bit. Soloists so-so, wavery, arrangement/music isn't bad for an
original, it sounds just like all the other arrangements with their
strengths and weaknesses. Also too long though.
A traditional written and arranged by Rodgers and Hart, and the Kingsmen
have a little difficulty pulling off the barbershop-type harmonies. I never
much liked traditional school songs finishing an album, and this is no
exception, despite their attempts to make it funny.
Good use of effects again, but I felt like these
guys were getting drunk while singing the song.
There's nothing like school pride sung with rich
harmony and traditional feel. The blend could be
smoother — voices sound forced at times — and the
entrances and cutoffs aren't very tight, but this
sentimental song is a nice way to close the album.
I didn't like the "talking" part of this song. I just didn't find it
funny. The sung part was ok.
This song annoys me — the usual Ivy League
rivalry, although the Princeton caricature is funny. They really love
those effects, don't they? I find it more off-putting than
entertaining in the long run. I would respect it more if they did it
with their own unaltered voices.
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