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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.
First, let me comment that this album has the most complete
liner note credits I've seen — I wish that others would be as good.
The Derbies tell not only the title and original artist, but arranger,
soloist, and singers on other significant parts. Nice looking, too.
They have a good mix of all pop tunes, and the singing is fairly good.
Many of the soloists pronounce lyrics very strangely and have odd
colors on their vowels. I pay a lot of attention to intonation, so
this bothered me a good bit. Arrangements are solid, but no
stand-outs. The live tracks suffered from poor recording and very
significant audience noise. They do percussion on many tracks, and it
is usually fairly good. Overall, a fairly good album.
Rating: 6 (6.0)
The Derbies are one of the few groups who seriously use vocal
special effects apart from vocal percussion (i.e., distorted
vowels, syllables which emulate instrumental sounds, etc.), and
they use them very effectively. Apart from that, their ensemble
is very tight, their tuning is practically flawless and their
soloists are very strong. Oh yeah, and their arrangements are
consistently interesting and well-written. Let's see, what can
I complain about? How about this — the smoking fish logo sets
a bad example for aspiring singers.
Rating: 9 (8.3)
Nice job by the Derbies. Very good amateur sound, and nice
arrangements. A couple of things make this album less enjoyable: it
tries way too hard to be cute. Some of the stuff is funny, really, but
enough is enough. Even live too many dumb gags get to me after a
while, and in the sterile atmosphere of recordings it doesn't fly to
_constantly_ try to make a joke. The other thing that bugged me is
that a lot of things appear twice on the album — maybe they should
have named it Doubletime. Both of these things can be very effective
in moderation, but the candy overdose leaves me feeling a little
sick. I also think their disclaimer about outside influences including
no *nasty studio tricks showed poor judgement — there were some
obvious manipulations in the album, and while I found them effective,
especially in Alive, my *oh yeah?* register goes into overdrive at such
a challenge. I want to commend them for excellent renditions of tough
songs and with an exception or two very high overall vocal quality as
individuals and a group. Let's hear it for a little soul.
Rating: 7 (6.3)
These guys are good! Their timing was impeccable on all
tracks, and there were only a few tuning problems that I detected.
Their arrangements were outstanding, as were their choice of music.
The only flaw I found was the mix on the live recordings, and some
misuse of studio effects, other than that, it was outstanding.
Rating: 8 (7.1)
This cd is quite accomplished-sounding — the
recording quality is excellent, and it has obviously been mixed by
someone who knows how to deal with a cappella. They have one bass
who is really great, although it's too bad they don't have more like
him. The live tracks are of significantly lesser quality, both in
terms of recording and overall musical quality, although that might be
because it's hard to hear the parts. Their blend could definitely be
better, especially on the live tracks. They also tend to rush faster
songs live. They make very good use of their fifteen people, sounding
full but not like there are eight hundred of them in the studio.
Their tenors are not as solid as they should be, but this fact is
frequently well disguised by their arrangements. The best thing about
this album, in my mind, is that they actually have rhythm! I think
it's because they have someone who does quite good percussion
(although nowhere near Andrew Chaikin standards, but then, that can't
really be expected) and he keeps them all on the beat. But they've
also obviously worked on it, and deserve credit for that. This is
really the best male a cappella album I have heard yet, although (as
usual) a little editing would work wonders.
Rating: 8 (5.7)
The soloist is fairly good, but some of his intonation is odd — some
very unusual vowel colors and word pronunciations. Percussion pretty
Impeccable ensemble; excellent changes in feel
Nice try but no cigar. The tempo is too fast, the downbeats too
exaggerated. The cut doesn't have the feel of mellow syncopation
found in the original. The solo is whiny and melodramatic, ruining an
otherwise decent, if not extraordinary background. I never thought I'd
say this for a collegiate a cappella album, but the bass is too loud
— the background smoothness needed to be at the same level as the
rhythm parts. The pitch and percussion are good, and I have to say I
like the ending.
The only thing that could have made this better was
Peter Gabriel singing lead. I thought the lead did a great job, but I
felt that where he needed to be piercing, he had wound up being a
little whiny. That term is far more derogatory than it should be, on
a whole, this song was excellent.
There are so many good things going on in this
arrangement — the basses are really solid and good, and the swells are
consistent and appropriate. It sounds really full in the beginning,
but then for some reason thins out in the chorus. The use of a drone
is excellent (inspired, really) when it happens, but I think it could
have been used throughout the whole song. The only thing that doesn't
come out as well in this version as in the live one is the solo, which
is uneven and straining. In general, very crisp and on 99% of the
Soloist has good tone for verse, but sometimes misses pitch. Echo
effect on "night to night" could have been smoother. Good energy on
the chorus, and the Listerine reference was cute.
Feels like it's holding back a bit, but that's probably the
studio environment vs. a live performance.
Lovely solo. The background is smooth, but could use a little more
energy — some moving parts beneath the *tarzan* parts would
help. Bass at the end is nice. The Listerine stuff is pointless —
don't try so hard to be cute guys.
The soloist had a great voice. There were a couple slight
pitch problems but they were barely noticeable. The impressive thing
on both this song and the previous track was the group's impeccable
I heard them do this song live and it sounded a
hundred times better than this version. The chorus wasn't on such
geeky syllables, and it was faster and had much more energy. Solo is
good — he has a resonant voice — but has too much reverb on it.
Background sometimes sounds like someone's singing the wrong notes.
Arr. not bad but a little awkward especially in the area of syllable
choice. The percussion absolutely _kicks_. Ad voiceover in the end is
This was recorded in such a way as to give it an "oldies" sound for
the intro, but in the bridge it loses this sound. Boppy arrangement,
Excellent use of the studio; I especially like the treatment
of the bridge.
This song has that 50's record-player sound, like they're singing
in a tunnel. It's kinda fun in a goofy sorta way.
Nice use of studio effects to add something to the song
without unnaturally enhancing the voices. The transition to a normal
studio sound was a bit abrupt. I like the humorous background
This song is excellently done. The
beginning old- record sound is rendered perfectly, and the fade into
regular sound works well. The arrangement for the most part is quite
good, but it could have been mixed a bit better and rendered a bit
better. The solo would be entirely perfect, except that the top notes
don't have the same quality as the rest, and sometimes are scraping
the edge of being flat. Their tenors are good on this song, and you
can hear them, which makes it more balanced than many of them. This
song should have won something in the CARAs.
Simple solo/group background arrangement. I didn't particularly like
this ballad. The singing is pretty solid, however.
A live recording of a song I've always found to be musically
negligible and lyrically inane. Still, the Derbies do a
better job on this than the song deserves, and they know
when to end it.
The solo sounds like he's straining and has a very forced
tone. The background is fragmented and speeds up after the first
verse. The key to successfully doing this song is smoothness, the one
thing these guys don't have.
I would have much happier if this was done in the
studio, a live recording doesn't do the song justice. It was done
very well, but the recording made it hard to really get into the
background vocals and the arrangement.
Not a bad version of a song I find completely
inexplicable to want to do a cappella, as it has no background and
nothing much in the way of a melody line. The arrangement does some
interesting things to make up for this. However, the solo is strained
and not very natural-sounding. He also gets off-rhythm with the
background at times.
Intro funky and interesting. Soloist pulls off the
funk/soul sound pretty well, scat sections enjoyable.
The best energy on the album.
Outstanding lead, very tight ensemble. A little more funk
and it'd be great...
Hurrah for scatting!! I've always thought groups don't do this
enough. I love the first bass to come in; he has a lovely rich
tone. (Why couldn't he have sung the song before? Never mind) Great
beginning, and I also love the energy of the background rhythms. The
solo has feeling and makes up for a few problems in tone quality with
perfect pitch and a little soul. Nice scats, too.
Nice solo scat at the beginning with a wonderful
transition into the full arrangement. This piece had an excellent
groove to it, and was really easy to get into. The soloist did a
great job, and they didn't totally overdo vocal guitars like most
This song/arrangement starts out really well,
until the solo comes in again (after the beginning scat). His voice
is fine — well suited for the song, although slightly perfunctory -
but the mixing confuses the ears, because there's not enough space
between him and the background. Also with just a little more feeling,
this song would be fabulous. Very interesting/original song to do _a
Hissing in distracting, drowns out the backgrounds. Soloist strong,
(sometimes annoyingly pronounces "man" as "muuuaaaann," or "space" as
Neat, layered arrangement well done.
The soloist makes lovely use of his break. Some of the chords sound
a little funny — could be I just don't like the song. Nice beginning
effect with the bass percussion.
I loved the arrangement! They took full advantage of all
the different sounds the human voice can make. The soloist didn't
have the haunting effect I would have liked, but he was far from bad.
Another solid song!
Sometimes this arr. works, but most of the time it's
overly crowded. Things pop in and out of it for no apparent reason. It
is ambitious though. Awkward bass line in the beginning, and later I
can hear one bass scraping the bottom of his range. Solo is pretty
good for the most part, though at times the lyrics are unintelligible,
I much prefer that to leads who enunciate so unnaturally clearly that
you hear lyrics that you never knew existed.
I feel that I shouldn't really rate this one...it's a 30 second
message, apparently designed to be put on one's answering machine,
done to the tune of the recent Coca-cola ads. Well done, cute.
Send-up of the Coca-Cola Jingle. Love it!
Great idea, great background. But the soloist makes me wince every
time I hear it, so no matter how much I like the idea I just can't dub
it onto my machine.
Nice phone message to the tune of the Coca-Cola jingle.
Sure outdid my a cappella message (but then
again, all I had was my own voice and a 4-track...)
Not really very amusing until you hear the
counterpart. Solo appropriately captures the slight nasal quality of
many voices on tv commercials, but not particularly pleasant to listen
Nice intro, esp. the "manamana" keyboard parts, but I felt the the
"dow"s might have been more effective if they were more "doh" and had
a more pitched sound to them. The solo really didn't work for me on
this one, unfortunately. He tries for a rocky sound but it just
doesn't work very well, and pitch is sometimes poor. The "Rocky" theme
section is cute, but basses are on overdrive in the mix during this
Very exciting arrangement, excellent vocal percussion, great
I really like the percussion here. My *Tarzan Boy* soloist makes a
second appearance. I like him on this one too.
Another great example of how vocal guitars should be
done. Great vocal percussion and a cool arrangement. A couple slight
tuning problems here and there, but only if you're a very picky
listener. If I wasn't reviewing, I probably wouldn't have caught it.
The bass could have been turned down a bit in the surprise interlude
in the middle...
The low parts of this arr. are excellent, but
unfortunately the higher ones don't really measure up to their
standards — so the bass line and percussion are amazing, but the
tenor/bari parts don't work as well, and they don't match the
others. The bad syllables on the top parts are distracting. The
"Rocky" thing is well-done, but I find it only mildly amusing. Solo is
perfectly fine, with the requisite melodramatic treatment, but if I
got even the slightest sense of tongue-in-cheek it would be
"Dm-dm-dm"s are dominating not only the other background
parts, but also the solo. The mix should have been different — more
even background parts, and higher solo (esp. in the beginning).
Something about this arrangement made the many parts seem uncohesive.
It sounds hurried and busy rather than energetic and driving. The
solo is fairly good, but not huge.
Arranging this piece for a cappella ensemble is a major
challenge. This result is pretty damn good.
Now see here. I know I heard a studio trick at the beginning of this
song. It's not a bad thing, but their disclaimer is looking more and
more like a broken promise. Again, I think the bass is a little
overloud here. The high obbligato is very nice, and the soloist does a
good job. Great ending, and nice percussion. I would've liked them to
lean a little more on the chorus trio. This is a tough song to do, and
the Derbies do an excellent job. It doesn't have much melody, though.
Way too much depth in the effects in this one, I could
barely make out the background vocals, all I heard was bass. What I
could make out was good, but the effects really hampered this track.
This arrangement starts out only decently, but then
improves somewhat. Too much reverb/space on the solo, which in turn
strains on top notes and is occasionally flat. Background is
occasionally (seemingly unintentionally) dissonant. They sound like
they're rushing, and the solo, which is more like the correct speed,
sounds slow compared to their hyperspeed. Random weird noises in the
background, the purpose of which is not clear.
The solo has a pretty nice tone, but has trouble with some of the
timing on the more "talky" parts of the verse. The backgrounds should
have been tighter in pitch. Arrangement was a little to "boppy," and
the scat seemed inappropriate to the tone of the rest of the song.
I really like the way the Derbies' arrangers develop an
arrangement, even while they are adhering so closely to
the style and feel of the original.
The scatting here isn't nearly as successful. The
solo is uninspired and unexceptional. I like the "oo" trio. The
background doesn't blend on the background rhythms, though the last
verse is very nice and the best part of the song.
The lead slurred his words too much, and his vocal
coloring was far too low for this song. Howard Jones has a much
higher colored voice, and it helps in really punching out the words.
Great vocal percussion, though.
They really nail the rhythm on this, producing
a much better version than the other attempts I've heard of this song.
Arrangement is quite good, in parts reminiscent of Rockapella.
Sometimes the swells are too harsh and too fast, when they should be
softer. Solo is ok, though sort of nondescript, and it needs a
little more space. The percussion break is okay, although not great.
This is a hard song to do though, so I give them credit for a decent
version of it.
Suffers from the live recording. Very uptempo version. Hard to hear
what's happening in the arrangement due to recording quality.
Everything is really quiet, except for the soloist on the chorus. He
sounds pretty good.
The live environment doesn't do anything good for this
recording. It also doesn't explain the repeated metrical
glitches. Here's an unusual complaint: I can't hear enough
of the background.
Nice solos, particularly the bottom soloist. Nice job. For once a
live song that I like.
Same problems with the live recording...I realize
it's far easier for college groups to record some of their live
performances, but the mix of the background vocals really needs to be
a lot better if you're going to lay it on a CD.
Arrangement is very choppy, and they rush
through it in such a way as to make it even more chaotic. The leads
are sort of strained and melodramatic-sounding, probably so that they
can be heard in the hall or wherever they're singing. They get
off-rhythm with background too. Audience is annoying — this is the
other reason I rarely like live tracks. Does not live up to the
original, although better than the other versions I've heard of the
The soloist is the same one as on "Eye of the Tiger," and he's much
better suited to this song. Arrangement is uninspired. (Solo — the
"whoa-whoa"s don't really work).
You won't often hear a falsetto voice in the background so
well-blended and in tune as here, at least on a collegiate
CD. The lead is also particularly effective in this one;
and my goodness those ensemble chords are beautiful!
A bit slow. Solo has odd inflection at times, but is pretty
good. Same with the background chords — some oddities at times, but
nothing too grievous
Kind of a strange beginning, but as the song
progressed, they did a really wonderful job in bringing it together.
I liked how they actually used words in the background, something many
groups forget they can do. The soloist did a great job.
I hate this song, but the lead has a fabulous
voice — very resonant and well-projected without sounding unnatural -
which sort of makes up for it. Arrangement is nice and lush, and
doesn't detract from the solo. At times it's old-fashioned (I take it
that it's deliberate) but that works ok, and it's an interesting
twist. Really quite well done.
This one *really* suffers from live recording. So much audience noise
that it is fairly impossible to hear the things going on. Only the
first voice/solo sounds at all like a muppet. Pitch doesn't sound
tight, from what I can hear. It sounds like some funny visuals were
going on, unfortunately, that doesn't help on CD.
Neat arrangement; I like the special effects.
I wish I could have seen this live — it's very funny,
and disgustingly accurate. I didn't think collegiate a
cappella singers had that much free time.
Arrrggghhh! An a cappella version of the
muppet show theme!!!! I wish the recording was better! The live
recording really didn't pickup the bass line at all, which is crucial
on this piece.
Cute. Arrangement could be better, but I
suppose that's not really the point. Sound quality is terrible, but
you get the idea. Good Muppet (tm) imitations.
Percussion convincing, and driving. Soloist trying REALLY hard. It
kind of works, but not quite. He's got a good voice, but he's pushing
it way too hard. Off-time singing from the backup singers doesn't
work very well here. Arrangement is good.
Great energy, especially good percussion bits.
I like the bass. The background chords seem a little lost and
unrooted, a common problem on the album. The soloist has a lot of
energy and the choruses are fun, although the trio never seems to sing
quite at the same time. Three cheers for the harmonica, and the drum
corps had some nice stuff.
A wonderful groove to this song again, though the
lead was just a bit-too full voiced. When he first came in, I thought
he was going to sing the song a la Pavarotti or something. There's
other ways of showing energy other than being loud.
The basses kick on this song, and they're
also well mixed to best effect. Solo is a little thin compared to the
background, but not bad. Again the rhythm is on, almost — in a weird
way — _too_ on, there's something slightly unnatural about it. The
trio does not blend at all, although maybe the way they're separated
into different speakers has something to do with it.
The thing that's funniest about this, to
my mind, is the way their syllable is changed to "do do do do", which
genuinely makes it sound like Menudo. The lyrics are also amusingly
ridiculous. Very cute and justifies its existence on the album.
Soloist good. It needs a little more drive in the verse, but chorus
works pretty well. They do get somewhat of a "grunge rock" sound.
Seems a little plodding, tempo-wise, but that may be a function of the
As nasty as the original, but a good performance is a good
I'm not too familiar with the original song. This sounded pretty good,
especially the beginning. Towards the middle things got a little
shaky, but I did like the funky bit almost to the end, where they used
a really neat effect on the chords and bass. Guys? That was cool, but
has always counted as a *nasty* studio trick in my book. What's the
Quite the interesting intro to this song, but yet again they
somehow brought it together. The reverb was turned up a bit too much
on the lead, but it worked out okay with the song.
Something about the way this is mixed is bizarre — it
sounds like there is a huge space between the solo and the
background. It also sounds like only half the group is singing. This
seems like at any minute it's about to take off and kick in, but it
never quite gets there. The drum fills are quite good. The "grunge"
guitars almost work, but the contrast between them and the rest of the
arr. is too great, so they just sound weird. Solo has all of the grit
of Eddie Vedder's voice with none of the resonance. Unnecessary
studio effects on one section.
This is a live version of #1,
obviously, in which they get the audience to sing along by chanting
"your eyes" during the chorus. The intro explaining this is a solid
minute long, and the version is no better then #1
(same arrangement, I think that the solo on #1 is
better). If you like concert albums, you may like this one more. I
don't think that they needed to include it on the album...one version
One of the best live cuts I've heard on a collegiate CD.
Works better than the studio version — solo is a little (only
slightly) more bearable. I personally don't think this song is good
enough to merit being on the album twice.
The best live recording on the
album, they got a decent mix this time. Just as good as track one,
and the crowd was in tune!!!!! :)
This is the only live track where the
sound quality is anywhere near the rest of the album. Intro and
mid-song patter is annoying, and distracts from the song. The solo is
also much better than on the studio track, although unfortunately the
background is proportionately worse, and he's still not perfect -
still overly abrupt for this song. To be honest, I would probably
think this a much better rendition of the song if I hadn't heard the
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