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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 one of the best collegiate albums I've ever heard. Maybe not quite
as precise musically as some of the best vocal jazz groups, or as energetic
as the best contemporary groups, it is a wonderful middle ground. The high
end of this album is very high indeed, and it is without a real bomb. While
not every song measures up to "Ave Maria" or "On The Street Where You Live",
this is an album you can listen straight through, and on the way to the end
you'll pick up some really extraordinary tidbits. More than the sum of its
parts, I wholeheartedly recommend "What You Want" to anyone interested in a
Rating: 8 (6.5)
It's very rare that an album comes along that I can truly
nitpick. But this one is it — most everything is really, really well
done. For once I can rate an album really based on how much I like the
song and its interpretations, because nearly everything has incredible
pitch, execution, good voices etc. If you only buy one collegiate a
cappella album this year, this is the one. The song choices are kind
of standard, but they're new standards — very little is overdone. The
Duran Duran medley is a model for how to do contemporary covers, and
as the only truly contemporary song on the album stands out. Their
Biebl Ave Maria sounds like it's coming from one of the best English
college choirs — close your eyes and you can see the arches of the
chapel King's College Cambridge. I do wonder where these guys find
time to do anything besides sing — this album is so good it's
scary. Because of the song choices, they don't exactly burst with
energy, which might be a serious flaw in an intimate live performance,
and purist that I am I think they have too many effects. When you're
this good, though, you've earned the right to play with your sound.
Rating: 9 (8.2)
This album has consistently good singing, and is well-recorded. Often
the lead is mixed softer then I'd like. I didn't particularly like the
song choices, but they are performed with polish. It's hard to put my
finger on what it is about Fleet Street, but I felt that a lot of
their songs just sounded "too much the same". The Duran Duran and Ave
Maria show that this group has a good range of sounds, but they don't
always show this variety in their other songs. But arrangements are
uniformly interesting and soloists are all good. A very solid album,
if I had liked the songs more I probably would have given it a higher
Rating: 8 (7.5)
The Fleet Street Singers maintain their record of excellence.
Blend, balance and tuning are wonderful. Their soloists are uniformly
strong and occasionally inspired. And the arrangements of Jerry Cain
would be an asset to any group. Add to that excellent engineering,
and what's not to love?
Rating: 9 (8.8)
They sound very _impressive_, but they're rather bottom-
heavy — I can never hear the high tenors, but the basses positively stick out.
This could be the result of their mixing technique, or it could be because of
the (rather old-fashioned) way that they arrange, which is like an exact
transcription of a 40's jazz band. When their style works it is quite good, but
too often it sounds stodgy. This album is far too long, and many of the songs
sound alike — I would be far _more_ impressed by putting only the best of
their repertoire on the album, than by this over-inclusion. I also think that
they should branch out a little — they obviously have the ability and voices
to do many more styles than they currently limit themselves to. The mixing
/ recording quality of the album is good but a little showy — they often use
effects when they're really not necessary, and the lead is consistently too far
back in the mix. It sounds like there are 800 of them, which tends to detract
from the more emotional songs, and makes the group ensemble ones (which
are numerous) harder to stomach.
Rating: 7 (5.8)
Well, it wouldn't have been my choice to open the album,
but there isn't really anything wrong with it. Kind of a strange
blend between jazz voicings and multi-timbral standard collegiate a
cappella fare, and the result is a little disconcerting, but there is
some fine singing going on here.
Neat use of overdubbed solo to get that vintage Simon & Garfunkel
effect. You can pick out voice tones that aren't perfect, picky
points, but this song is incredibly well executed. The first tenor
"dwees" in the middle make me really happy.
They get a good, electric type "wah-wah"ish tone on this. The lead
should have been mixed higher, however. Everything else was good.
A swing arrangement of the Paul Simon song. Tight, cool, nicely
Cute. I like the slower, more swinging pace than the
original. This is a great song to do _a cappella_, and their arrangement is
busy but interesting — it holds your attention for longer than a simpler one
would, although the bass line is relatively lame. Solo sounds like it's been
doubletracked, but otherwise, aside from occasionally sounding like almost a
parody of Paul Simon, is fine.
This is a cute parody, sustained by effective and judicious use of studio
effects. A wonderful musical bridge reminds the listener that this group
can really sing. Sometimes in this arrangement, the tenors are exposed on
top, but not enough to bother me.
It seems to me the background could have been a little lighter, but
I'm not familiar with the original song so I can't comment too
much. The falsetto verse is interestingly done, maybe not to my taste,
but I love the jazz chord at the end. Comments like "fighting for the
freedom of the press" in the lyrics have to count as gratuitous
sucking up to reviewers, but I did appreciate it anyway.
A jazzy song with a marching-type beat. Soloist solid. I loved the
A neat arrangement of the Tom Lehrer tune. I particularly like
the way the arrangement progresses.
This could be good if it wasn't quite so annoyingly
arranged, and if the solo wasn't so (melo)dramatic. Although I really
hate musicals in general, so it could be that this just isn't my
thing. Parts of it are amusing, like the added-in lyrics in the
A wonderful arrangement by musical director Jerry Cain is performed with
rare skill and musicality by Fleet Street. A very nice solo is complemented
by a skillful guest scat by Ben Evans. One of the most energetic examples
of vocal jazz I can remember. If I had to find any fault, it would be with
some strange studio tricks, especially on the basses.
What a great solo — light and strong and clear even in
the high registers. The percussion could have been a little crisper,
though. Great execution of a doo-wop standard with cute lyrics in the
background that I kind of like.
An upbeat jazz type tune. Again, nice solo, and good arrangement.
A swing arrangement of the Broadway hit. Outstanding
arrangement, great feel, excellent lead.
Nice percussion. I am not familiar with
the song but I gather it's a jazzy number which suits them well. Solo a
little too showy, and it clashes with the background. The background is too
loud, and the solo too far back in the mix, perhaps to disguise some
In the spirit of their previous album, '50 Minute Fun Break', this is a
slow ballad loaded with jazz chords and no solo. This incarnation of Fleet
Street lacks some of the precision of the earlier group, but there are
still some impressive moments.
Great harmony piece. Sounds like the Swingle Singers, but without that
nasal pronunciation favored by most vocal groups. Tenors get a little
breathy at one point, but the bass resonance later more than makes up
Nicely done ballad. The arrangement has some very thick
chords which are pulled of quite smoothly.
Lush, jazz arrangement. Nicely done.
They swell well, etc. but sing almost entirely without emotion
on this song. You can actually hear a few tenors here, which is an
improvement, but doesn't make up for the wooden singing.
I never much liked this song when the Shawsheen River Rats performed it,
and though Fleet Street tries desperately to make this a better performance
piece with a minute long introduction, I still don't really like it. It is
well-sung, however, so if this is a style you like, you will like Fleet
Street's version. Wonderful jam at the end saves it for me.
This is funny. :) Neat percussion effects, and the standard great
voices, pitch, etc. It's a little too long, though and the actual song
itself doesn't really do it for me. The bass is a little breathy — I
like a stronger, richer sound. They've got all that talent, might as
well use it. I really like the gratuitous use of "It ain't necessarily
so towards the end — personal prejudice there.
A well done, but too long, intro involving a weather report. The song
itself I found somewhat uninteresting; it was fine but just kind of
"there". Well sung, however.
A whole bunch of fun messing around introduces this number; the
tag is also entertaining. The arrangement itself is OK.
Cute intro. The added-in lines are only mildly amusing
to everyone under age 60. The song itself is all right, but overly cheesy. I like
the weird ending better than the entire rest of the song.
A definitive mood piece with a generous helping of blues, this is one of
the finest performances on 'What You Want'. I'm not as high on the soloist
as his CARA award would indicate, but he is undeniably in command of the
song. But I think it's the sensitive coloring of the background that makes
this song extraordinary.
I really like this one. The soloist sounds a lot like Cher on the new
Gershwin tribute album — check it out. Clear, gorgeous tone,
appropriate amounts of soul, great subject matter. Ella would be
proud. The background does a great job of setting the mood.
Sometimes hard to understand the words; lead needs to
enunciate slightly better. As the song speeds up, the extreme
variations in the volume of the backgrounds were overdone. Lead does,
however, give the solo an nice tone.
Another fat jazz-blues arrangement. Technique is up to
the usual Fleet Street high standards, but the sound is, well, imagine
The Lettermen singing "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone", and I think
you'll get the idea. Gotta love that tuning, though.
Solo's voice is meltingly ravishing but sounds exactly
like a woman. The group doesn't seem to notice — if they played it up just a
little, it would be amazing. The arrangement is also kind of boring, and
doesn't complement the solo in the way that it should.
Outside of the Whiffenpoofs, I can't think of a collegiate group performing
Sondheim. This is one of Sondheim's strangest songs — a love song with
murderous overtones, and I don't think Fleet Street captures its
complexity. The basses are a little too gruff also. While I can't see any
other college group pulling this off, I never really bought this version.
Kind of schmaltzy. It reminds me of the old UNC Clef Hangers
interpretations of Send in the Clowns and others a few years back,
only it's better done. The interpretation rubs me the wrong way,
Soloist has a very straight classical style that I didn't like. The
singing is well-blended and in tune, but I simply didn't like this
song. I found it boring rather than beautiful.
The Sondheim number from "Sweeney Todd". This works really well
for me, I'm not sure why. I particularly like the lead.
This song sounds exactly like the previous one, without
the benefit of a fantastic lead. The soloist on this one is decent, but marred
by excessive vibrato. The group also seems slightly out-of-control at times.
This song really does not do it for me.
An inspired repertoire choice, this track is punctuated by brilliant mixing.
The great Elmer Fudd impersonation and brilliant quartet backing the solos
makes for a thoroughly entertaining and musically interesting choice. A
rare example of a performance piece working very well on a CD!
This song frightens me. It's just a little _too_ well
done. Are these guys for real? Who would sit down and do a deadpan,
amazing rendition of a Bugs Bunny tune. Who has time to do this?
It's so long, and so done too a tee, and absolutely perfectly. What's
Kudos to the group for trying to recreate this famous cartoon. I
imagine that on stage they do this with full costume, and I bet it's
great. The voices for Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny are actually fairly
good, Elmer better than Bugs. This version should have been shorter,
it is very long. (I feel that I should warn those that haven't seen
the original that they may not enjoy this as much as I did).
A piece which attempts to answer the burning question: What if
Wagner had worked for Warner Brothers? Great vocal effects;
Really quite well done for the most part — although I
have to confess that the thing that is the funniest to me is that the
one who sings Elmer Fudd sounds exactly like Adam Sandler. It goes on
too long though, and we don't really need all the dialogue in the
middle. Also the quality of the arrangement varies, although the
sound effects are nice.
Again, lacking some of the precision of the previous
Fleet Street incarnations, especially in the bass section, and in the
fact that individual voices tend to stick out a little more, but this
track has nice energy to compensate for the minor musical deficiencies.
Whee! Fun little standard-genre song. Didn't I hear
this one on that Tigertones record? What about that Whiffenpoofs CD?
Doesn't matter — no one can really tell the difference. It's a fun
song, and I really love the scat guy.
Nice, tight jazz chords.
A bit of percussion would do the beginning of this
number a world of good. Swing without a rhythmic accent on 2 and 4
sounds a bit weird. Otherwise fine.
This song irritates me for some reason that I can't pin
down — it sounds like there are a million of them, and I think maybe
it would have a better effect if they were just a smaller group.
There's something very foolish about the way they sing it, which they
This Kenny Loggins classic is very cute, and is well
sung, but I have to admit that it does nothing for me. If it wasn't
about Winnie the Pooh, nobody would pay any attention to this very
mediocre song, and I guess being about that lovable bear isn't enough
of a justification for this questionable repertoire choice.
I do not like this arrangement. It is too slow and too
lugubrious — this song always struck me as a lighthearted, fun song,
and the solo and delivery is a little too heavy, too much going on.
This is the only song on the album that really rubs me the wrong way.
Soloist has a nice tone, but sometimes his pitch is
slightly off. Backup solid, the doubling voice on the chorus is nice
Nice handling of this insomnia-cure waiting to happen.
Ridiculous arrangement which occasionally even sounds
out-of-tune or unintentionally dissonant. Solo is also wavery and
weak. The thing that sounds stupid on this song is the fact that they
appear to be singing it entirely straight — if it was even the
slightest bit tongue-in-cheek it could work.
A short, strange original dominated by heavy-duty studio
effects. Somehow it just doesn't fit on this album, and for that
reason alone I don't like it.
I really don't think I want to know where this one came
from. It's really kinda nifty, though — Great bass part, nifty
studio tricks. Short, too — always a plus.
A song that was apparently written about (group member?)
Neb. Very short. Lots of obvious studio echo effects, soloists going
for a silly growly soul sound.
First of 2 originals, must be an in-joke. Neat little
I actually like this song better than many of the rest
of the songs on this album, as it is more genuinely laid-back and
cute. The only thing I don't like about it is the reverb, which it
doesn't need. It sounds like they were playing around in the studio
to try to make the song sound as full as the rest of them, which isn't
necessary as it is obviously an original and trying to disguise it
does not fool anyone.
If Richard Greene and Gunnar Madsen had liked jazz more
and had a bigger group, this is the kind of song The Bobs would have
performed. Musically, this song keeps you off-balance, moving as
easily as it does between flowing passages of seventh chords into
straight suspension/release textures.
For some reason, this song really musically reminds me
of a more pleasant version of that Andy Summers classic "Mother" from
Synchronicity. It's kind of nifty, rather bizarre, and you wouldn't
want to be subjected to parts of it for long periods of time in an
enclosed area. I really identify with some of the lyrics, too.
A bold beginning, arrangement very good (and complex).
The high tenors are sticking out a little more then they should be in
The second original. Very interesting arrangement, with
a bunch of vocal effects and a couple of studio effects on top.
I find this hard to make sense of — arrangement very
busy, blend worse than the rest of the songs, people going "whee!"
and "thanks!" at random intervals, and the people singing the words
are too far back in the mix.
A terrifically timbral solo, this is a very nice jazz ballad. Another
skillful arrangement by Jerry Cain (who is also the soloist), this
demonstrates their blend skills, which had been somewhat subdued to this
Yay. Happiness. Note my enthusiasm. This song is musically very well
done, yeah, yeah, but damn if I wonder why they chose it. It's slow,
melodically uninteresting and really doesn't seem worth the
effort. Broadway types will like it, though, and hey — it's their cd.
A jazz ballad with clever lyrics. Soloist quite good.
Another beautiful jazz ballad. What more can I say?
Exactly like "Tenderly", "Black Coffee" and
"Pretty Women". Why have four songs that sound exactly alike, rendered in
the exact same way? By this point in the album, moreover, their style is
getting rather old.
A little too cutesy for my taste. Coming as it does in between two musical
tours-de-force, this track just doesn't measure up to the high standards
Fleet Street sets for themselves. Nothing wrong with this tune, it just
isn't anything special.
Everybody always scrambles to find the song they can sing at those
grade schools alumni pay you to sing at. This is the one. It's funny,
its good, it's engaging, and it has enough inside jokes to keep the
adults from puking. Maybe not the listening choice of millions, but
it's near the top at what it is.
The familiar children's song, done very well.
A fun arrangement of a really cute number that I've always had a
soft spot for. Love the background figures and the ending.
I'm sorry but this is downright geeky, again
because it sounds like they are taking it seriously. Only in the end do they
admit how ridiculous it is for them to be singing this song, which is why
it's the only funny part of the whole song. It (along with "The Neb Song")
also shows that they could sing in a more soulful way if they wanted to,
which would be a refreshing improvement.
As well sung as I had any right to expect, this is a wonderful composition
and they do an admirable job with it. Biebl's choral masterpiece being done
by a collegiate group is a novel idea, but it really does work. They
perform and engineer this track with a skillful delicacy one could only
expect from a professional chorus. Some brief musical lapses are the only
thing stopping this from being as good as any Chanticleer recording.
This song sounds professional. The countertenor soloist is amazing,
the blend is great, the bass is to die for — makes me think I'm back
An unusual choice, which I appreciate. This is a slow
version (at least slower than when I sang it). Very nice; blend is
quite good. It would have been nice to have a louder finale.
Wonderful combination of old and new idioms. Perfect blend,
balance and pitch.
Beautifully if somewhat boringly sung, but the studio
effects make it sound... like studio effects have been added. I find it
inappropriate for this kind of song. There are too many of them and
they sound like they're all either singing baritone or bass. The solos are
Unlike anything else on this album, this track is marked by substantial
creativity. Nonetheless, they are not as skillful at polyrhythmic textures
as they are at dissonant chords. In addition, although this is a very
creative arrangement in the way it puts the different Duran Duran classics
together, the individual sections are not up to Fleet Street's high
I never thought I would ever give a song a 10. There is no such thing
as perfection, I said. But this is pretty damn close — great
arrangement, integrates just about every song on Duran Duran's
greatest hits. Uses lots of neat soloists, has stratospheric first
tenor bits, some nifty studio tricks — wow!! [True confession: I loved
the madrigal bit.] It may not have been performable live, but I
wouldn't put it past them to come close.
Very good. They do a medley of several songs; mixed in an unusually
good arrangement. (Is that bass drum simply someone hitting a
microphone over and over?). I could make slight criticisms of almost all
of the soloists, but they are generally strong. This might have been a
9 or 10, but the different songs and soloists were of varying
qualities. The joke sections are some of the weakest (although some
are good). Particular compliments for the last 30 seconds of the song
where several songs are going all at once, they complement each other
Part medley, part juxtaposition of several tunes. I
would have preferred one or two attempts at transitions, but there's
no faulting the performance, and there are several really clever bits
Parts of the first arrangement are quite good, but the
bass line still sounds like a transplant from the 40's. It improves a lot,
though. "Reflex" soloist not comfortable with high notes, neither is the
"Wild Boys" one, but others are good. Particularly good is the "Hungry Like
The Wolf" segment. Goes on much too long — we don't need every hit
Duran Duran ever had. But I give them many points for ambitious arranging,
singing different songs simultaneously, etc.
A nice rendition of a traditional Stanford song.
What can you say, it's the alma mater. I'd love to have them if I were
graduating from Stanford. But it'd be a crime to waste these guys as
background music at an administrative function.
This is a smooth, one and a half minute college song ballad.
Traditional choral-style arrangement, beautifully done.
I hate it when collegiate groups put their school song
on their cd — at most schools the only enjoyment people who go there
get out of their school song is to make fun of it. So doing one's
school song completely straight is not even worth it for them, let
alone for people who don't go to the school. I personally cannot
think of anything more stultifying than someone _else_'s school song.
To top it off, not once have I heard an interesting arrangement of a
school song, and this one is no exception. It's not bad — there's
nothing wrong with it — but who cares to listen to it?
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