The following is a review of Pennsylvania Six-5000's "Jacket Off". For those who are not aware of RARB, our purpose is to give college a-cappella groups a chance to have their albums reviewed by our board, made up of people from around the country, with different perspectives on college a-cappella. "Jacket Off" was reviewed by Ken Purchase, Anne Raugh, Chris Tess, and Alison Berube. They each took the recording home, blasted it on their stereos until their friends, roommates, and relatives caned them senselessly. From there, they offered a rating for each track on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). They also added their own impressions about each song listed on the album. What follows is the rating for each song, a range of the actual scores, and a selection of quotes from the reviewers. At the end, there will be final comments about the album, as well as information on how to get your group's recordings to the review board.
Available on CD and Cassette; for more info, contact them through
recorded March-October 1993
#1: I TOUCH MYSELF Rating: 6 Range: 5-7"Interesting arrangement with good background, but overall, I found it unexciting."
#2: BUILD ME UP BUTTERCUP Rating: 7.8 Range: 6-9"Tasteful vocal percussion"
#3: MASOCHISM TANGO Rating: 6.3 Range: 5-8"While the change in some of the words is refreshing, I prefer the original words. The rest of the song is pretty standard." "The solo is rich and strong, but the arrangement is a bit monotonous." "Very nice production of the Tom Lehrer song." "The lead delivers a respectable impression of Tom Lehrer's voice...the pitch problems in the piano-like accompaniment seemed particularly annoying."
#4: PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE Rating: 8.0 Range: 7-9"Great percussion, good energy...Penn Six's first song on the album that shows their CARA abilities."
#5: CONRAD BAIN Rating: 6.8 Range: 6-8"Cute, but some of the notes are too low for the basses, and some of the arrangement isn't all that perfect."
#6: JUST A GIGOLO/I AIN'T GOT NOBODY Rating: 6.3 Range: 5-7"Vocal Percussion was overwhelmed by the background...basses are scraping bottom, generally out of tune on lowest notes...blend and intonation of ensemble are adversely affected by this." "Tom Ward pulls of an effective solo for this song, not an easy thing. Funny cuss-out at the end."
#7: I'LL BE THERE Rating: 6.3 Range: 6-7"Pretty, but the lead is a little weak." "Nice standard arrangement...the group sounds great." "Leads here are excellent...background unisons are quite shaky, but improve as the piece progresses. An early promise of dynamic variation goes unfulfilled."
#8: THE WORLD'S WORST JELL-O RATING: 5 Range: 4-6"These guys show they're not very good at tuning up barbershop." "The idea and lyrics are entertaining, but the group does not deliver barbershop intonation."
#9: ROSANNA Rating: 5.5 Range: 3-7"The solo could be stronger, since the background overpowers the solo sometimes."
#10: SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK MEDLEY Rating: 7 Range: 6-8"This one is fun, and worth the price of the tape!...this one has great energy. The transitions are a little sloppy, but the group recovers well." "Fun, shows how good these guys actually are with tuning and blend, live." "Energy level is very high, perhaps too high-the tempo frequently is unworkably fast. Musically the weakest cut on the album...Arrangement is very good...leads are excellent. Despite its weaknesses, this is one of my favorite cuts."
#11: DOMINO Rating: 6.5 Range: 6-7"Good rockin' solo, upbeat song."
#12: LITTLE BLUE SMURFETTE Rating: 7.0 Range: 6-9
"Musically, the percussion and blend, again, are noteworthy. Some people
may be turned off by the sexual content, though."
"Great arrangement, rude words, good singing."
"Spoof of Prince's 'Little Red Corvette', not hilarious, but cute;
group sounds great, OK solo."
"Intonation is somewhat better on this one, and dynamic control begins to surface, though the lead is still sometimes difficult to hear over the background."
#13: MACK THE KNIFE Rating: 5.3 Range: 4-7"Annoyingly chunky bass line, decent solo, but not the end-all; An O.K. 'big-band' sound."
#14: THE OOMPA-LOOMPA SONG Rating: 8.0 Range: 7-9"Great! A strong and authentic version of the original." "Best song on the album...fabulous arrangement, very inventive, yet very true to the original in feel and sound. An example of an a-cappella cover that is better than the original."
#15: WALK OF SHAME Rating: 6.3 Range: 5-7"Tuning problems, funny, but repetitive words." "The usual standard arrangement with the usual pitch problems." "Funniest words are the ones repeated for each chorus, but its funny every time. Good group sound, but the the pitch falls on the very last chord...studio problem?"
#16: ROCKIN' ROBIN Rating: 6.8 Range: 6-8"One of those songs that makes you want to dance (and I don't like dancing!). Though relatively standard, the group sounds fab." "The usual sort of arrangement, but not the usual sort of lead voice quality, which is an interesting change. Energy tends to flag a bit." "What they do is nicely done, but the arrangement is a bit empty." "Why do this song???"
#17: THE LITTLE STRING THAT HANGS DOWN FROM THE ROOF OF YOUR MOUTH WHEN
YOU BURN IT ON PIZZA Rating: 6.5 Range: 6-8"Very Strong Background. This song failed to be funny on me, though, and it was way too long."
#18: Coconut Woman Rating: 5.8 Range: 4-7"Good Island feel; tuning problems; a little annoying." "A unique song choice, but not one of my favorites. The solo could be stronger, and I didn't like the accent. They do a good job with a difficult musical style, though."
#19: THE 12 AND 1/2 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS Rating: 7.0 Range: 6-8"A very difficult arrangement, intonation is unusually good and the ensemble is excellent."
OK, the original title to this song is "Christmas Soup", by Prof. Richard Gregory of the Williston Caterwaulers & Widiggers.
#20: ROCKET MAN Rating: 8.3 Range: 7-9"Nice arrangement, could have had more dynamics, and the basses sound klunky."
#21: COME ON EILEEN Rating: 7.8 Range:6-9"It's a challenge to listen to this catchy tune and not sing along." "Good arrangement and great percussion. Very solid, and nice blend. They do a good job of changing tempo within the song." "Very Good Guys!!! Now I can't get the song out of my head." "Intonation is not bad. It seems to go on a bit long for me, but then, so did the original."
Average score: 6.3
"The first a-cappella album I've ever heard that has a 'warning:adult
language' sticker on it. These guys are a real powerhouse, and this album
is a pretty good representation of them. They have a full sound, strong
voices, and for the most part, interesting arrangements. They have one
dynamic level-LOUD, but it's nice that their vocal percussion, unlike
some groups, is as a tastefully mixed in level."
"This is a good quality recording, and it has a lot of originality and
creativity. They are heavy on parodies of popular things, as well as
sexual content and sexual profanity."
"A good effort...It should be noted that the humor tends to be earthy, if you didn't flinch at the cover art and can overlook the occasional in-joke you should have no complaints with he comedy content. Most of the pieces are standard, imitative arrangements suited for a group of 15. Penn-Six does a good job of keeping energy level up despite recording studio environment."
That's it for this edition of the RARB...if there are any questions about this or any past or future review, give me a call at (314) 935-1911, or e-mail me at email@example.com
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