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The GelCaps

Take Two (And Call Us in the Morning) (2001)

3.3

May 6, 2001

Tuning / Blend 3.0
Energy / Intensity 3.7
Innovation / Creativity 2.7
Soloists 3.0
Sound / Production 2.7
Repeat Listenability 2.3
Tracks
1 Never Let You Go (Haken-Tompkins-Voets-Mathis) 4.0
2 Everyone's Laughing (C. Carter) 3.3
3 What's Your Name (Claude Johnson) 3.3
4 Don't That Prove I Love You (Charm) 3.0
5 Morse Code of Love (N. Santamaria) 3.3
6 My Girl (Robinson/White) 3.0
7 Sure As the Flowers (Hi-Tones) 2.7
8 When I Woke Up This Morning (Smarr-Ivey-Johnson-Robinson) 3.7
9 Walking My Baby Back Home (Turk/Ahert) 3.3
10 Louie Louie (R. Berry) 2.3
11 Under the Boardwalk (Resnick-Young) 3.0
12 Let It Be (Lennon/McCartney) 3.0
13 Zombie Jamboree (Conrad Eugene Mauge, Jr.) 3.3
14 Later That Night (F. Zappa) 3.3
15 1000 Miles Away (Sheppard-Miller) 4.0

Recorded 2000
Total time: 40:40, 15 songs


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 2
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 2
Tracks
1 Never Let You Go (Haken-Tompkins-Voets-Mathis) 4
2 Everyone's Laughing (C. Carter) 4
3 What's Your Name (Claude Johnson) 4
4 Don't That Prove I Love You (Charm) 4
5 Morse Code of Love (N. Santamaria) 4
6 My Girl (Robinson/White) 4
7 Sure As the Flowers (Hi-Tones) 4
8 When I Woke Up This Morning (Smarr-Ivey-Johnson-Robinson) 4
9 Walking My Baby Back Home (Turk/Ahert) 4
10 Louie Louie (R. Berry) 2
11 Under the Boardwalk (Resnick-Young) 4
12 Let It Be (Lennon/McCartney) 3
13 Zombie Jamboree (Conrad Eugene Mauge, Jr.) 4
14 Later That Night (F. Zappa) 4
15 1000 Miles Away (Sheppard-Miller) 4

The GelCaps are a very good doo-wop group hailing from Clark Lake, Michigan. These guys were a pleasure to listen to. Although, if you you ever had aspirations to be in a doo-wop group and sing in a cave, then look no further! Save your money on that trip to the Grand Canyon and purchase this CD! There is way too much reverb on many of these tracks, and it really does sounds like the group is singing in a cave.

The GelCaps perform a mix of standard and not-so-standard street-corner songs of yesteryear. Their performances are pretty solid, especially for a doo-wop group. There are very few pitch problems on this album. Actually, there really weren't any that I could hear. Generally, I make concessions for doo-wop groups when it comes to pitch because slight pitch variations in the parts tend to be stylistically correct. None needed or found here.

There is very little going on here that is new, but of course I didn't really expect to find much. They sing their songs, they sing them well, and that's pretty much it. The only song I had a problem with was Louie Louie. Their diction is a little too precise for this song. The preciseness of this cover version really loses the drunken fraternity-party feel of the sixties version we all know and love.

The production quality of the album is quite good, except that little reverb problem, which does not plague the whole album anyway. The booklet and cover could use a little bit a work, though. They looks pretty amateurish and could have benefitted from a professional designer.

Overall, not a bad album. I enjoyed listening to the GelCaps much more than many other doo-wop recordings I've listened to in the past.


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Never Let You Go (Haken-Tompkins-Voets-Mathis) 4
2 Everyone's Laughing (C. Carter) 3
3 What's Your Name (Claude Johnson) 3
4 Don't That Prove I Love You (Charm) 3
5 Morse Code of Love (N. Santamaria) 3
6 My Girl (Robinson/White) 3
7 Sure As the Flowers (Hi-Tones) 3
8 When I Woke Up This Morning (Smarr-Ivey-Johnson-Robinson) 4
9 Walking My Baby Back Home (Turk/Ahert) 3
10 Louie Louie (R. Berry) 2
11 Under the Boardwalk (Resnick-Young) 3
12 Let It Be (Lennon/McCartney) 3
13 Zombie Jamboree (Conrad Eugene Mauge, Jr.) 3
14 Later That Night (F. Zappa) 3
15 1000 Miles Away (Sheppard-Miller) 3

The GelCaps' Take Two has an easy warmth that will remind many a listener what first got them hooked on a cappella music. The routine is familiar — Four guys. My Girl. What's Your Name. Louie Louie. Nice harmonies thrown together with a wink and a smile. A bit of nostalgia for better days, when Under the Boardwalk meant a kiss and not much more. It's nice.

After all, it's hard to fault the GelCaps for doing, well, what most a cappella groups do, if reluctantly. The songs on Take Two are the bread and butter of the a cappella world, and darn it if most groups not only learn them to satisfy the requests, but end up sort of, well, liking them after all.

Listeners may feel the same way. The tracks are brief (only two out of fifteen run over three minutes), so the album moves at an enjoyable clip. The group's bass is excellent, and soloists do an acceptable job on each track.

My one caveat is the production. The airy mix helps their blend somewhat, but overall the album could have used a bit of softening and tightening. I would advise The GelCaps to find the best album of their favorite group and play it for their engineer. If he can't duplicate it, keep shopping.

If you are an a cappella fan looking for an outstanding album of a cappella standards, check out The Nylons' Illustrious instead of this one. But if The GelCaps' Take Two falls into your lap, give it a listen. It may just grow on you.


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 2
Repeat Listenability 2
Tracks
1 Never Let You Go (Haken-Tompkins-Voets-Mathis) 4
2 Everyone's Laughing (C. Carter) 3
3 What's Your Name (Claude Johnson) 3
4 Don't That Prove I Love You (Charm) 2
5 Morse Code of Love (N. Santamaria) 3
6 My Girl (Robinson/White) 2
7 Sure As the Flowers (Hi-Tones) 1
8 When I Woke Up This Morning (Smarr-Ivey-Johnson-Robinson) 3
9 Walking My Baby Back Home (Turk/Ahert) 3
10 Louie Louie (R. Berry) 3
11 Under the Boardwalk (Resnick-Young) 2
12 Let It Be (Lennon/McCartney) 3
13 Zombie Jamboree (Conrad Eugene Mauge, Jr.) 3
14 Later That Night (F. Zappa) 3
15 1000 Miles Away (Sheppard-Miller) 5

Doo-wop is about improvisation. It's about pushing a guy out of the song circle and seeing if his ideas match or better what is already going on. Doo-wop groups ought to have the motto, "Only Live — Never Memorex". Doo-wop is an art form that should not be finely tuned. Dissecting, analyzing, and overanalyzing recordings of doo-wop destroys some of the real fun of what is happening between the singers and the songs.

The GelCaps have a nice following in Michigan from all their live gigs. Their songs are fun to listen to. The songs and the group are fun to have fun to. Unfortunately, the CD does not show how hard the GelCaps have worked to gain their fans. But it also makes the CD listener think that they did not work hard enough to record their songs.

Before any group takes songs that work in a live performance and attempts to record them, the group must spend many hours honing great arrangements and perfecting the singing techniques. Only after this tedious work will the live fun bloom as recorded fun.

This is what I perceive as the problem on the GelCaps' album Take Two (And Call Us in the Morning). They wanted to record their live act. Live, you can get away with songs sung not quite on key. Live, you can have doo-wop arrangements created dynamically, never appearing on paper. Live, you can succeed without using the full range of musical techniques by substituting body language. But you cannot leave these problems in songs that you cement to disc. The songs will be listened to over and over and over.

As I look at the song list, it contains many of the great 1950s and '60s songs. It contains some "non-wop" from the '90s. All of it is stuff you know. Methinks, "Land mines. I already know how these should sound. If they don't sound the way I've heard them before, or better, I'm gonna be disappointed.".

Land mines they are. The songs you know by heart, with their signature musical phrases, do not come up to expectations. On My Girl, the second note is not quite there. They miss the melodic line at the beginning of Under the Boardwalk and then completely blow the last chord. Zombie Jamboree is full of rhythm and tuning errors.

There was a high spot on the CD. The last cut, 1000 Miles Away, is very, very good. They use all the appropriate musical devices. They succeed in creating a song that represents the genre of music they enjoy and are preserving. There are several other cuts that are pretty good. However, that one song, plus a couple of others, is not enough to save the CD. Unfortunately, I think that even doo-wop fanatics will have a problem listening to the album more than a couple of times.

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Ordering Information

CDs are available online from Mainely A Cappella and on The GelCaps' website. It can also be ordered by sending $12 to:

Mike Reed
188 Crispell Lake Road
Clark Lake, MI 49234

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