Your browser does not support our new site design, so some things might not display or function properly.
We suggest upgrading to Google Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer 9+ for the optimal experience.

RARB REVIEW

School: UC Berkeley
Group: Artists in Resonance
Album: We Did It With Our Mouths

Total time: 45:10, 13 songs
Recorded 1993

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Express Yourself (7.0)
  2. Sesame Street Medley (7.4)
  3. They Won't Go When I Go (6.8)
  4. Shambala (7.0)
  5. Living in the City (6.8)
  6. Sweet in the Morning (8.0)
  7. Synchronicity (6.8)
  8. Future Love Paradise (7.0)
  9. One More Minute (5.8)
  10. Higher Love (7.4)
  11. I'll Give My All to You (8.0)
  12. Leave It (5.8)
  13. James Bond Medley (6.6)

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 album is my first exposure to Artists in Resonance and on the whole, I'd have to say that I'm glad I came across this coed group's work. The main selling point of this group is the women. Not only do they all have strong voices and an impressive command of the lower register, but they also have a refreshingly aggressive approach to their vocals. These women come out of the corner fighting. On many of the song, such as "Express Yourself," this is just the right approach.

    The bad news is that the men don't hold up their end of the bargain. Most of the coed groups I've heard rely on the men to provide the bass and the background of their sound. Fortunately the women in this group don't need that kind of support, because the men fail to provide it. They all have nice, but unimpressive voices.

    The song choices are rather interesting: They don't seem to care about singing obscure songs (and that's a good thing), singing more than one song from the same artist (2 Stevie Wonder tracks), or doing multiple novelty medleys, covering songs that were originally a cappella. In the end, I have to respect them for singing what they want to sing. One final, the album is plagued by low sound levels on some of the songs.
    Rating: 7 (6.5)

  2. They sound a lot like the Penn Off the Beat, but a little more experimental — which would be good except for the fact that they do all their songs with the same sort of Top-40 feeling. This makes their forays into various genres not as convincing as they could be. For the most part they have strong voices (especially the sopranos and the basses, both of which are excellent), but they don't put them to best effect, with busy and/or awkward arrangements and inappropriate vocal stylings. The recording quality is extremely muddy, which makes it difficult to make sense of the arrangements, and sometimes they rely on studio effects such as reverb to heighten soloists that really don't need it. There are some interesting things on this album, though, such as the two medleys, both of which are ambitiously arranged and well sung. Many of the other songs, however, fall short of what they appear to be trying to achieve.
    Rating: 5 (5.2)

  3. This group has a great mixed-voice sound and balance. Tuning is generally excellent (the chief but infrequent problem coming from vibrato in the high female voices, usually) and the soloists are quite good. They prefer imitative-type arrangements, but cover them well, my biggest complaint being that the endings of nearly all of them sound more like amputations than closings. They seem to be shy of vocal percussion for the most part, but when they roll up their sleeves and seriously get down to it, it works quite well.
    Rating: 8 (8.0)

  4. This is a very good coed album — they do a good job of blending the women with the men and in a few places do some great falsetto overlaps. The female vocal percussion is also very well done — there is a tendency in these groups to just let the men take over and not make use of the range available. The biggest problem with the group is the tendency of the women to oversing — the hitting-it- hard, broadway style is fantastic in some places, but they almost never back off, go for a light tone that would be more appropriate. A very white sounding group for the most part, but with infusions of soul in some key places that work very well. The studio tricks are kept under control for the most part, though some go a little overboard.
    Rating: 8 (7.3)

  5. This is one of the best collegiate albums I've heard. Singing, solos, and arrangements are strong throughout. They have lots of variety, both in terms of song choice and in terms of the type of sound they are getting. They cover Madonna and Sesame Street with equal skill. They use their co-ed range to good effect, and don't have the blending problem that plagues many co-ed groups. The album isn't perfect — one slight but annoying problem is soloists too often going for pop growls and soul slides; it sometimes sounds a little corny. There are also occasional lapses in energy and tightness. Overall, though, a very strong album.
    Rating: 9 (7.8)


Individual Tracks

  1. Express Yourself (7.0)
    1. You wouldn't think that a Madonna song would be a good way to get an album off to a rockin' start, but it is in this instance. I was instantly struck by how strong the women's voices were in this group. Normally in a coed group, I expect the men to provide the bass, but here the women's voices clearly stand on their own. They have genuine strength and bass behind them. Anyway, back to Express yourself...The arrangement is solid and evolves just enough to be interesting. There is some particularly nice (but brief) use of clap and stomp percussion towards the end. Unfortunately, this is pointlessly accompanied by a distracting quote from Queen's "We Will Rock You."
      Rating: 8

    2. There are some strange things going on in the studio here — the lead seems to fade or retreat away from the microphone, possibly to compensate for her increase in volume. Her Madonna imitation isn't bad, but something about the quality of her voice makes it sound like she's going flat. The arrangement, unfortunately, reinforces this by giving many of the parts descending lines. It is also crowded and distracts from the solo. They do not blend very well on this song. The percussion is good but badly mixed so that it's indistinguishable from the rest of the background. Lame insertion of "We Will Rock You" at the end, although I like their use of a male falsetto as the high harmony instead of a soprano.
      Rating: 3

    3. Excellent lead. The background gets a bit boring, but I expect this is a carry-over from the original.
      Rating: 8

    4. Good blend between solo and duet, and nice tone quality. The beginning is odd but not bad, but the tempo change between the intro and spoken stuff at the beginning and the first chorus is unsettling — a percussion throughout might have helped out. The Queen insert doesn't do it for me, and the breakdown section tries to hard with different voicings and studio tricks. But the strength of the solo covers up a lot of the flaws.
      Rating: 7

    5. Strong solo, driving arrangement, great energy. "Backup" singers really filled out the melody well. The "We Will Rock You" reference should have been dropped, doesn't really work, and not really funny.
      Rating: 9

  2. Sesame Street Medley (7.4)
    1. A confession: I'm a huge Sesame Street fan, so I liked this track before I even heard it. They start off with the theme (the version you probably grew up with.) The harmony is nice but the arrangement is innocuous. Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz. Except for C as for Cookie and I Love Trash the vocals aren't imitative, which is probably a shame since they usually aren't doing anything very interpretive either. (The one exception is Rubber Ducky, which is vaguely sexy) The People in Your Neighborhood song (and it's seque to I Love Trash) are the only sections that are funny for reasons beyond the recognition value. On the whole the performance is too SLOW, particularly the 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 song (the one that went with the pinball machine). Although the arrangement needs help, you'll probably get a nostalgic kick out of this track.
      Rating: 6

    2. The women's voices are gorgeous here, but unfortunately they sound totally inappropriate. The arrangements are simple but effective, but the solos are (for the most part) annoyingly sung. The best song in the medley is "One Two Three Four Five", which is actually both amusing and a good song. For some reason, though, most of this is not as funny as it should be — maybe because they sound overly choral. It almost works, though.
      Rating: 7

    3. Some of these work really well, the others range from a bit uncomfortable to grating. About half of these struck me as being too slow. A couple of cheap shots at Mr. Rogers may amuse some people.
      Rating: 7

    4. I like the jazz adaptation of the theme. Some of the songs they do are sort of odd, and all the female soloists are sort of weird. Some work pretty well, like "One of these things" but some of the stuff on "I love trash" are different, and the song about the big word, which I won't even attempt to spell, is annoying. This song would probably be great for little kids, except for the bit about hating Mr. Rogers which is funny [and on the money] but not good for kids. "1-2-3-4-5" is really great, though. Overall, a nice effort but long and inconsistent. Cool live if you're not expecting it, though.
      Rating: 7

    5. The best medley of this type I've heard. Great song choice. Arrangements very good, they get lots of different colors/sounds. Consistently entertaining. One nit-pick: female soloists on the Sesame Street theme should decrease their vibrato.
      Rating: 10

  3. They Won't Go When I Go (6.8)
    1. There is some REAL PASSION in this track. The trouble is that the mixing isn't at the same level as the first two tracks. The lead vocals, which spill over with mournful soul, are so distant that they sound like they're being sung from across state lines! This is a great performance that is ruined because you have to make allowances for poor engineering.
      Rating: 7

    2. I'm not familiar with this song, so it's hard to tell, but this interpretation of it is extremely melodramatic. Again, though, they have beautiful voices — they should be singing in a choir, as they don't quite have enough pop sensibility to pull this off. The soloist has a completely different quality than the rest of them, which does not mesh well. Her voice isn't bad, though, but I like her better on the high notes. The arrangement is sometimes very pretty, sometimes cluttered and wall-of-sound-like, but again inappropriate.
      Rating: 4

    3. Excellent lead; interesting texture in the arrangement, but it never seems to gather any sort of momentum.
      Rating: 7

    4. The soloist has a great voice, and the high obbligatos are very well done. The falsetto stuff is a perfect example of how a coed group can bridge the gap in voice quality. Some parts of the song are wonderfully full and sultry. The bass is good here too. The arr. can get a little odd at times, though that may be just the song, and the gregorian chant stuff is sort of out of place. The other unfortunate thing is the sharpness of the really high note at the end — a quarter tone lower and it would be really spectacular.
      Rating: 8

    5. Very interesting arrangement; sort of a choral/soul mix. They get a sound I haven't really heard anywhere else.
      Rating: 8

  4. Shambala (7.0)
    1. Again the lead vocals are distant, but it isn't as damaging here. Largely because this simple ditty is punctuated by a full choral sound on the chorus, which help improve the overall sound. If anyone from Three Dog Night, who originally performed this, is reading this, I'd just like to say that I have NO IDEA what this song is about.
      Rating: 7

    2. This would be so much better if the mix wasn't so muddy — the lead is too far back in the mix. The solo is for the most part pretty good, if a little coy at times. Arrangement is also nice and simple, with only a few awkward moments. Their blend is not too good, as I can pick out almost every voice. Overall, though, I like this song.
      Rating: 7

    3. This number cries out for vocal percussion. Blend and balance are quite good, though, as is the lead.
      Rating: 8

    4. Nothing glaringly bad here, but the song is very dead and very white — should be a lot crisper. The chorus especially could really benefit from some definition and punch. Bland.
      Rating: 5

    5. Good. Would've been nice to get a little more energy near the end, and the backgrounds could have been crisper. Generally, an enjoyable tune.
      Rating: 8

  5. Living in the City (6.8)
    1. Vocals distant and echoey, again. The song is saved by a nice switch of tempo in the arrangement in the end. For what it's worth, this is the second Stevie Wonder cover on this album. (The first being They Won't Go...)
      Rating: 6

    2. Blend is terrible on this song, and the mixing distracts from the solo, who in turn is unnecessarily soulful. The percussion is (deliberately) sporadic, but it doesn't quite work. This song is okay, but not my favorite.
      Rating: 5

    3. Great alto lead, but the intensity level of the background doesn't match it in the verses.
      Rating: 8

    4. The soloist has a very full sound which works well, and she has a good sense of when to really lean on the notes. The instrumental bridge parts are weird, but I suspect that's par for the course.
      Rating: 8

    5. Slightly plodding arrangement, but soloist has tons of energy.
      Rating: 7

  6. Sweet in the Morning (8.0)
    1. They really show off their harmony skills on this track where they get an impressive sound out of their ten members. If you're not familiar with this Bobby McFerrin tune, the only lyric of any note is the title line which is chanted throughout the song. Over that base, the lead vocalist spins a non-verbal melody line that is so deft, affecting that it almost seems religious. (In a way, the whole song is a simple prayer.) I sort of wonder why they bothered to perform this track, since the original was both a cappella and coed. They don't have anything to add and they obviously can't touch Bobby's performance, although it is interesting to hear the lead vocals sung by a female voice. The echoey distant sound that had been plaguing the rest of the album isn't as bad here and actually lends itself quite well to the tone of the song.
      Rating: 7

    2. I really have no concrete reason to fault this song, but it fails to convince me. They blend well, swell well, and are right on top of everything — the arrangement is excellent, the soloist (while a little too Valley-girl sounding) can do amazing things with her voice, but for some reason I'm not moved.
      Rating: 8

    3. Very intense feel throughout this song complements the lead very well. I love to hear a group which understands dynamic control!
      Rating: 8

    4. I have a feeling that this song is not for everybody, but I really like it. The beginning is sweet and soulful and the rest of the song does a good job of keeping the mood.
      Rating: 9

    5. A cover of the McFerrin tune; I'm used to the lead as a falsetto. The woman who solos actually sounds too low for my ears. (This is a timbre comment, her pitch is fine). Sung smoothly, entrances and fadeouts well done.
      Rating: 8

  7. Synchronicity (6.8)
    1. Synchronicity isn't just the title, it's also how they sing this track. The group, split into sections for the overlapping vocals, share the lead vocals. In the most interesting part of the track, all the background drops out (except for some thigh slapping) and they sing as a crisp singular unit. Nothing to write home about.
      Rating: 6

    2. I really do not like this arrangement at all — bad syllables, percussion sparse, it just does not capture the driving rhythm of the original. They divided up the parts badly, as well. The experiment with the knee-slapping (at least that's what it _sounds_ like) does not work.
      Rating: 3

    3. Apart from the occasional bit of harmonic and metrical weirdness this is a good rendering of a difficult piece.
      Rating: 8

    4. Neat beginning. The male melody is really neat, and the female parts are good to but the intonation/diction is not quite right. I'm not sure they fix that with what they've got. Good adaptation of a very busy, tough song.
      Rating: 8

    5. Attempting this tune is brave, and they do as well as a collegiate group could be expected to do. Which is to say, very well. A great arrangement. There's no way the human voice could "tink" like the keyboards in the original; aside from this, a great cover.
      Rating: 9

  8. Future Love Paradise (7.0)
    1. A healthy cover of this Seal track. The only shortcoming is the leads. They're good, they just aren't Seal. But who is? If you can get over that, you'll enjoy this track's energetic arrangement.
      Rating: 8

    2. This song would be good a) if it had a better solo and descant-ist, and b) if the arrangement consisted entirely of the what they sing during the verses. On this song they sound particularly like the Off the Beat, but with stronger basses. In the middle the arr. disintegrated, but then recovers. I am not all that fond of this song anyway.
      Rating: 4

    3. Neat tune, very neat effects.
      Rating: 9

    4. Not a bad soloist, though I would have slowed it down and added some feeling. The duet has a better grasp of the"feel" than the solo does and it shows. He has good tone, but is missing that last link to the song that could take it to the next level. The bass is great, and the female percussion is among the best I've heard during that breakdown verse, an overall great moment.
      Rating: 7

    5. Both of the soloists were good, but they didn't work together for me. No nightmare clash, but they didn't complement each other. I enjoyed the arrangement. Liked the unison ending.
      Rating: 7

  9. One More Minute (5.8)
    1. If you haven't heard this violent, 50's styled anti-love song from Weird Al, then I guess it's about time you got it into your collection and this version will do nicely. But if you have heard it before, forget it. Go directly to track 10. They just can't seem to do anything particularly funny or original.
      Rating: 5

    2. Fairly good approximation of one of my least favorite songs in the Bobs' catalogue, including the annoying lead vocal. The bass also does a decent RichardBob imitation. The very end is mildly amusing, but for the most part they don't quite have enough to pull it off. Nice try though.
      Rating: 6

    3. Traditional arrangement in the usual style.
      Rating: 7

    4. I'll admit I never have really liked this song, which may have something to do with how critical I am. The soloist is not quite bitter enough, though I like his goofball tone. The background women would have done better to remove all vibrato. I do like the bass "yeahs," and this is a pretty good version of this song. Studio effects on the last chord are kinda cool, if out of nowhere.
      Rating: 6

    5. This is done as well as any of the other many versions of this song. The arrangement is simple and the soloist has an appropriate nasal tone.
      Rating: 5

  10. Higher Love (7.4)
    1. Dear Katie Cheap,
      I love you. Please marry me. I know we've never met. I don't know what your interests are. I don't even know what you look like. But that doesn't matter. All I know is when I first heard you singing on Higher Love, I was totally blown away. Sure, the arrangement is great, but so much of the credit goes to you and your bottomless vocals. What a performance! Without a doubt, one of the best tracks I've heard in a long while.
      Rating: 10

    2. This arrangement starts out well, but then turns into a mess that is at once cluttered and predictable. The soloist leans too heavily on the notes for this song. Percussion is randomly introduced in the middle and then disappears again. Blend is extremely variable - sometimes good, sometimes awful. Overall a more-or-less mediocre version of the song.
      Rating: 4

    3. I like the treatment of the lead line throughout this arrangement, which I prefer to the original.
      Rating: 8

    4. This woman is a little too on to this song. This is not a broadway show tune. Back off, have fun. The whole song could stand to take a step back and get a little light funk. Good basic arr, voices, but everybody needs to back off. Good percussion. The male soloist has the right idea, but slower and lighter is key
      Rating: 6

    5. Very well done, but too long. Soloist strong.
      Rating: 9

  11. I'll Give My All to You (8.0)
    1. You probably don't have anything like this in your collection. This sparse song, sung by two lone male vocalists, is plaintiff and expressive. Captivating. You have to give them credit for doing an arrangement with only two of their singers and for doing such an obscure song. On the other hand, they loose points for covering a song that was a cappella to begin with (by an artist called Vinx. Speaking of which, allows me to take this moment to recommend Vinx. He's a rock/pop/world/jazz performer whose music is based mostly around his excellent percussion, but he is also a singer of McFerrin quality. Sting discovered him and he sort of discovered Zap Mama. Usually not a cappella, but you'll like him.)
      Rating: 9

    2. Interesting experiment, with only a lead and one other singer. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I am not familiar with the original, so I can't tell how big of a departure it is, but it sounds fairly adventurous for almost any song. The main guy has a great voice, but the other one is significantly weaker, and sometimes they're dissonant when it doesn't seem like they mean to be.
      Rating: 5

    3. A duet of two outstanding voices; a great change of pace with respect to style.
      Rating: 9

    4. This is really cool. It capitalizes on its difference, just the simplicity of two voices havin' fun, kickin' back. Very genuine. The two voices blend well; although there are imperfections, it doesn't wreck the grace of the song.
      Rating: 9

    5. This is quite unusual — a male duo a cappella folk/rock ballad. I give this group points for trying something different. I also happened to like it a lot. The singers work well together, and the backup singer does a couple of different things to keep it interesting — straight harmony, delayed repeat of melody, and "doo-doo" backup.
      Rating: 8

  12. Leave It (5.8)
    1. Skip it. Why, oh why, do college groups keep doing this song? I know why — they hear the a cappella intro and think, "We can do that." But they never can match the original intonations and perfect production values of the original. Sure, this arrangement has some things to add to the original toward the end, but you'll never make it that far into this cut. The opening is downright laughable. If you want to hear this song a cappella, the all-vocal version by Yes is on Modern A Cappella.
      Rating: 1

    2. Arrangement often cluttered, but for the most part works pretty well, although I hate the way they shout/speak the chorus. Soloist is overly strident, but her voice is pretty good. Blend is weak on this song. Basses are quite strong, but the tenors are choral-sounding. Unintentionally amusing "big drum" sound when they repeat the intro in the middle.
      Rating: 5

    3. The usual sort of arrangement, but the energy level is excellent throughout, and the tuning on those staccato chords in the background is pretty darn good.
      Rating: 9

    4. Easy there, killer! Slow down! Good arrangement of instrumental parts and ensemble stuff that most groups never come close to when they do this stuff. In addition to the ridiculous tempo, the soloist hits it too hard — this song could be made fantastic if it slowed down and got a light, vibrato-free solo, because it's got some great moments and a lot of potential. Some parts at the end go really flat, but they slowed down enough to hear the song.
      Rating: 7

    5. Another song that is unfortunately overdone. This is as good a version as I've heard, but I've heard it too much. I like the soloist, but she goes over the top on the "breaking dow-wow-wown" when she is singing non-synchronized over the backup.
      Rating: 7

  13. James Bond Medley (6.6)
    1. Whereas the Sesame Street Medley had a fun sort of nostalgia going for it, what is there that would make you listen to this track? The medley consists of the James Bond Theme (kind of Manhattan Transfer-like), Live and Let Die (the tenor doing the leads is just off, but the percussion and female vocals on the fast section are good), For Your Eyes Only (a surprisingly nice ballad with effective use of whistling), and From Russia With Love (funny mock Russian Bass vocals, but who wants to listen to this?). For Your Eyes Only would have made a great stand alone song (with maybe quote from Live and Let Die thrown in) but as a Medley, it just doesn't work. Not a smart way to end an album.
      Rating: 5

    2. As in the previous medley, the background often sounds great, but the solos are overdone and foolish-sounding. They do too much of each song - we don't need to hear all of "For Your Eyes Only" as _well_ as every other James Bond song. The arrangements are often quite good, but they don't hold one's attention that well. The entire thing goes on far too long.
      Rating: 6

    3. Nice effects. This arrangement makes good use of the differences between male and female voices.
      Rating: 8

    4. Great adaptation of the opening instrumental theme! The "Live and Let Die" theme is less successful but not bad, but after that comes some great female VP. "For Your Eyes Only" is very pretty, though the soloist before that commits the common sin of oversinging with edge, schmaltz and broadway vibrato. "From Russia with Love" is up and down, with cool bits and pitch problems. So it goes.
      Rating: 8

    5. This medley didn't work as well for me, it was unfortunately not consistent in quality throughout. The instrumental intro was good but should have been smoother/blendier. "Live and Let Die" was ok. Loved the whistling on "For Your Eyes Only." "From Russia With Love" was just *odd*; the soloist has a very strange tone, perhaps he is attempting an accent? It got better as it progressed, however. Overall, hit-and-miss.
      Rating: 6

How To Get Your Work Reviewed

To have your album (2 or more tracks) reviewed by RARB, please email us with your name, group name and album title. You will receive a response with information on how to register your album in our system.

To have your digital single reviewed by RARB, please fill out our online singles registration form.

×