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RARB REVIEW

School: Washington University
Group: Mosaic Whispers
Album: Watercolors

Total time: 53:09, 18 songs
Recorded 1995

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Debut (4.0)
  2. Hope of Deliverance (6.0)
  3. I Can't Make You Love Me (6.4)
  4. Believe It or Not (3.4)
  5. Kayaking (5.8)
  6. Kiss the Girl (5.4)
  7. 500 Miles (4.2)
  8. The Tenderness Place (6.2)
  9. Africa (4.0)
  10. December '63 (6.0)
  11. The Logical Song (4.2)
  12. Just for You (5.4)
  13. Leave It (5.8)
  14. The Rose (6.4)
  15. I Hope That Something Better Comes Along (4.2)
  16. Standin' by the Bedside (6.2)
  17. Please Don't Go (3.8)
  18. Somebody to Love (6.0)

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. The Mosaic Whispers have got some nice voices in the group, and when they pull it together, they have a really nice sound. When they work at it, the group choral stuff is well balanced and well blended. But sometimes they get a bit sloppy and forget to work together. However, they have a lot of potential if they can tighten up overall. On blend, it my just be a matter of mixing, but the sopranos need to tone down a bit. And just one more suggestion: credit should be given in the liner notes to the original songwriters or performers of songs covered by the group.
    Rating: 5 (6.5)

  2. Despite slightly ridiculous and/or pedestrian song choices, some weaknesses in vocal delivery, and an overwhelming aura of cheesiness, this is not bad for a first album from a group that's only existed for four years. That said, all of the above problems are in evidence. Their arrangements are frequently choppy and/or inappropriate, and many of them sound the same, which detracts somewhat from their boast of the diversity of their song choices. The album is actually pretty well mixed, however, which helps to smooth over weak spots in the singing. Overall the group is not devoid of potential, and they're off to a decent start.
    Rating: 3 (3.7)

  3. This album has the most apropos title of any a cappella album I've heard. The Mosaic Whispers' sound does remind one of impressionist art, all high and pastel sounding and kind of runny. There are men in the group, but they leave sometimes and aren't much of a force when they are around — the women, and particularly the sopranos dominate but there are some great alto voices lurking.

    It seems like I should say more, but really the album speaks for itself. It is a modest attempt that tries and does alright, but I really can't think of anything worth warning people away or recommending.
    Rating: 5 (5.8)

  4. The group is willing to take some risks musically; unfortunately, the group seems to lack the talent required (both performing and arranging) to pull off these risks. There are intonation and timing problems on a majority of songs, blend isn't consistent at all, and soloists are nothing special. There were spots where I just couldn't figure out what was supposed to be going on. I found myself wondering, "Did the arranger really intend to write chords this dissonant, or has the entire group just completely lost the tonal center?" I imagine the problems were a combination of both.

    The group's frequent use of gags and gimmicks often seems like a crutch, as if they are looking for something to distract the listener from their lack of musicality. Production is spotty - reverb ranges from none to cave-like, sometimes changing abruptly mid-song. Soloists are sometimes lost in the mix. Songs tend to build toward the end, which is normally a good thing, but not in this case. Many of the songs start out reasonably well, but just go downhill — soloists get too carried away and end up yelling instead of singing.

    Overall, the group needs to get some arrangements that are within their ability and focus on the basics instead of letting themselves get distracted by overly complex arrangements and cheesy gimmicks.
    Rating: 3 (3.9)

  5. The first thing I did when I opened this CD was skip to Africa, which I've always loved and was looking forward to having a good version in my collection. I was disappointed, to say the least. The track was sluggish at best. Then, Being a HUGE Muppet fan, I skipped to I Hope That Something Better Comes Along, fully expecting a clever cover. Again, disappointment. The singers couldn't make the arrangement, such as it was, hold together. Oh well, I thought.

    Then I jumped to I Can't Make You Love Me, which I fully expected to be an average collegiate a cappella song (with a sub average performance.) But wait! What's this? Hold the presses! I Can't Make You Love Me was a sharply performed, smartly arranged, and emotionally stirring number that made substantial improvements on the original recording. It instantly jumped onto my favorites list. With ears wide opened I listened to the rest of the album, which turned out to be briskly sung by a high spirited group of students (with the exception of the two aforementioned clunkers.) The men are uneven, often fairly solid, often not (but never unbearable). The women are consistently strong with a consistently noteworthy blend.
    Rating: 7 (6.1)







Individual Tracks

  1. Debut (4.0)
    1. Groovy signature blurb.
      Rating: none

    2. Cute, but not necessary to list as a separate track — it could just as easily have been tacked onto the beginning of the next song.
      Rating: none

    3. Picture the Jetsons' intro done slowly in pastels, and you'll see why it's silly to give a score to three chords at the beginning of this album. But what the hell, I'll play — it's in tune but a little too wishy-washy for anything too high.
      Rating: 7

    4. I don't know if I'd call this one a song — it's only three notes, for gosh sake! (Actually, for a second I thought they were going to do the Simpsons theme, but alas, I was disappointed)
      Rating: none

    5. Okay, so say you're recording your very first album and someone says, "Hey, lets tack on a little intro to mark this special occasion." Great. Let's do it, you say. It's a once in a lifetime chance. Now think for a minute — see how many ideas you can come up. Five will get you ten that they're all funnier and more interesting than this track. It's basically them saying "The Whispers" in a soft harmony. The best sense I can make of it is that they're doing a parody of the opening notes of the Simpsons (but lower). Anyway, it only serves to draw attention to all the missed opportunities.
      Rating: 1






  2. Hope of Deliverance (6.0)
    1. This is a decent opener. It's a good arrangement of a good song. Overall, the blend is good. The only spot where blend could be better is on the "duet."
      Rating: 6

    2. Overly boppy arrangement, percussion negligible and really not necessary. The swell on the chorus would be so much more successful if it were more subtly done, instead of just blasted. Instrumental solo is badly rendered, on "noo". Duet does not blend at all. Solo has an absurd-sounding voice, but performs adequately. The ending is nicely done.
      Rating: 4

    3. The solo reminds me of a Marc Cohn who didn't speak English as a first language. The background is busy — the whole thing can't decide if it wants to be rock or a polka. It seems a little long — must be the repetitive background/choruses. Pitch is good overall, but those women in the middle are a little iffy, though they sound pretty good on the choruses..
      Rating: 6

    4. Lots of energy to start things off. A straightforward arrangement of a catchy tune, and the group performs it reasonably well. If the group had only done more songs that rely on the performance and energy of the ensemble, like this one does, instead of resorting to jokes and complexity for complexity's sake, the album would have been much better off.
      Rating: 6

    5. What do I like about this track? Mainly the lively, uplifting choruses. The treatment of the harmony on the "of" in "hope of deliverance" is a little upper every time it comes around. This song scores high points on the "Sing-along-with-the-record-until-the-neighbors-complain" scale. (If you must know, I also do a little samba around my apartment to the "instrumental" section. Try it. It's fun.)
      Rating: 8






  3. I Can't Make You Love Me (6.4)
    1. A solid cover. I like the way it opens. The soloist is strong and clear. And the song sports a great arrangement, too, with nice chords and use of timing for emphasis.
      Rating: 7

    2. Too fast and not delicate enough where it needs to be. Solo is alright, although a little perfunctory. She's very typically alto-sounding, breathy and making the solo sound lower than it actually is. Arrangement unnecessarily emphasizes the stop-and-go nature of the song itself, and the near-violence of the dynamics don't help. However, the arrangement is far from unsalvageable — if they sang it with even the slightest hint of feeling, it could be good.
      Rating: 5

    3. Linda Ronstadt move over — there is a new queen of the piano bar. Aside from this being too fast and made for an easy listening station far more than the original (a feat) it sounds pretty good, mostly due to the solo having a great voice for what she does.

      The background got the weirdest effects on this one — I mean, I know this is a coed group and all, but the bottom of the chords fizz out just the way I've heard women's groups when they do this song, and it's not very low at all even for a second tenor masquerading as a bass. And aside from the bassline, I can't hear men at all. Maybe they asked all 7 or 8 of them (depending on which year this was recorded — I hate when groups won't tell you which tracks belong to which set of members) to sing the bass line in falsetto.
      Rating: 7

    4. Right off the bat, intonation is a mess (which is especially painful on a ballad). Soloist sounds pretty nice, but the song is ruined by ensemble pitch problems throughout.
      Rating: 3

    5. I like the original a lot and when I read the track list to this album I thought it would translate very nicely to a cappella. Yet I wasn't really expecting much. The song is just too easy and obvious to do a cappella. I expected something innocuous and average. Boy, was I wrong! I've reviewed 8 albums for RARB and this is easily the best track I've heard from that bunch. It's a little faster and more urgent than the Bonnie Raitt ballad from the start, but after the first chorus, it really picks up. It isn't rushed, but the tempo and the backing vocals really drive this song along in a way the original never considered. There isn't anything extraneous going on in the arrangement, just some very clever tempo changes. The lithe vocal percussion makes excellent use of the brush on cymbal sound (listen to the dynamic control!). The entire performance is extremely emotionally — if it doesn't move you, you must be dead. The faultless soloist flirts with a soul sound without ever sounding ingenuine. Killer track.
      Rating: 10






  4. Believe It or Not (3.4)
    1. This used to be one of my favorite songs, and I loved the "Greatest American Hero!" So bravo for choice, but the whole thing could be tighter. Gaps could be filled in with percussion, and the soloist would do just fine without pushing so hard.
      Rating: 4

    2. Kind of a bizarre choice of covers to do, unless it's a joke, in which case it's not nearly tongue-in-cheek enough. That aside, a flawed arrangement (unnecessary movement in the beginning, ridiculous twiddly bits in-between verses, an awkwardly managed key change, and a weird jazz-chord ending); the song _seems_ as if it's slower than it should be even though it's actually in an appropriate tempo, tuning and cut-off problems in the background and a soloist who seems to think that shouting in the general direction of the pitch during the high points that will compensate for quavering off of it in the quiet parts.
      Rating: 1

    3. The intro is searching desperately for a key and a rhythm. It never completely settles on either. The chorus is the only place the solo seems to have found them. The soprano isn't as high as she sounds but is that flat. Too long for a song without purpose, but they did get an extraneous "out of the blue" in the background so maybe the Duke group could cover it and fix it.
      Rating: 4

    4. This arrangement is way overdone. The arranger seems like he was trying to use every "trick" he knew in one song — there are tempo changes, a key change, an antiphonal section that has the melody going in a two-against-three thing. But none of it makes any sense musically. The soloist is whiny, has pitch problems, has an awkward time making the transition from full voice to falsetto, and uses way too much (and too fast) vibrato. And phrasing? He takes a breath in the middle of a word! And to top it all off, what's with the bass solos? There's a solo, then another, then where it seems like there should be a third... nothing. Just silence. Sorry, I just don't get it.
      Rating: 2

    5. What an amazing idea for a cover! If you don't know it by name, you'll probably remember it as the theme song to "The Greatest American Hero." I know what you're thinking, but there's more than enough material for a 3 minute pop song. The tenor on the lead is a little warbley and too high for my taste on most of the song. It would have been nice to have a stronger voice that could really soar (no pun intended, honest). But the arrangement is top notch. It makes good use of repeating lyrics as background lines. And they really mix it up at the end to keep your interest, mostly by playing with syncopation and energetic choral styled singing.
      Rating: 6






  5. Kayaking (5.8)
    1. The lyrics and feel of this one are truly cute. It sounds like the Muppet song, in a good way! The chords are a little strange, perhaps by design, and there are some tuning problems, but I think this would work well live — I'm picturing fun choreography.
      Rating: 6

    2. A very cute song choice, and well done for the most part, with good timing on the perky little back-and-forth bits between the women and the men, and a fairly good arrangement, although I'd be interested to hear the original. It could have been mixed better, however — in the verses all the women sound too far back. This type of song suits their innocently corny vocal delivery very well.
      Rating: 7

    3. This belongs in a Wireless catalogue under "wacky gifts for the outdoorsman in your life." It has no other raison d'etre, but if I pretend I'm letting my fingers do the shopping and/or love kayaking it's not bad.
      Rating: 6

    4. Where's the key at the beginning of this one? The opening makes no sense harmonically. I suppose this one is supposed to be cute or funny, but I didn't buy it. Too many screams/sound effects/spoken comments for me. Soloists are drowned out in spots (no pun intended). Also, the women are singing together (all fairly high), and the men are all singing together (fairly low), but the two groups seem like...well, two groups, with a big gap in the middle.
      Rating: 3

    5. A good natured old style novelty number. Most of the bouncy lyrics are sung in sync by the women (showing off their unique blend). This song has one of the few spoken lyrics sections in a cappella that I like. The overall sound is of a tight vocal jazz ensemble.
      Rating: 7






  6. Kiss the Girl (5.4)
    1. The use of another "Little Mermaid" song, "Part of Your World," at the beginning of this one is a clever idea and well done. The percussion is great — very good effects. Balance could be better, though, since it is a little top-heavy.
      Rating: 7

    2. Arrangement decent if oddly choral in places, nicely understated percussion, good soloist precisely because he doesn't overdo it and embarrass himself. Overall a solid performance of a relatively often- covered song.
      Rating: 7

    3. Generally lackluster. The pastel high sopranos that seem to be in every song are here again, giving it that patented Whispers "underwater music" sound. Definite cool points to the percussion guy for that nifty popping sound.
      Rating: 5

    4. Soloist's cheesy pseudo-jamaican accent comes and goes; the spoken intro is particularly weak. The solo is also pitchy. "Yah yah yah's" are just plain abrasive. This one seems like it's here only for its gimmick value.
      Rating: 3

    5. I have never heard this song live up to it's potential. I guess it looks better on paper than it sounds a cappella.
      Rating: 5






  7. 500 Miles (4.2)
    1. Good song choice. The soloist really has a nice voice, but the Irish accent is way overdone. The blending of the two lead voices is very nice. The group has really captured the feel of this song.
      Rating: 7

    2. Begins with a ridiculous-sounding bagpipe imitation; overly realistic accent on the part of the soloist, but he carries it off. The arrangement has some interesting touches with repetition of the soloist, which work in the beginning (with the glaring exception of the sopranos going "500 miles!" like a Christmas chorus), but then deteriorates into confusing and boring combinations of the same chord. Soloist's scatting would be so much more tolerable if it wasn't so flat. Has the potential to be a good rendition of the song, but falls short in some key areas.
      Rating: 4

    3. Earth to the Whispers: bagpipes that sound like kazoos are not cool. Ever. The background of the song proper does a nice (?) job of maintaining that flatness. Basically the whole thing sounds like Marc Knopfler on those goofy drugs that Kirk and other 70's and earlier sci-fi heroes were always being slipped on the lotus-eating planets. Oh yeah, the long ad-lib ending sucked too.
      Rating: 3

    4. It probably wasn't a good idea to put the two songs sung with silly accents back to back on the album. I actually kinda liked the bagpipe sounds on the opening, although they don't go with the rest of the song. The echo parts sound odd — the soloist sings a line (with no vibrato), then it's repeated by someone with a completely different sounding voice (with really fast vibrato!). The soloist attempts to go into bluesy mode toward the end, which doesn't match stylistically (not to mention the fact that it is a pretty feeble attempt at bluesiness).
      Rating: 2

    5. If it were possible to do a good version of this song a cappella (and everyone seems to be trying nowadays), then this version is it. The beginning half is mostly a parody of the original (note the bagpipe intro, the light accent and the line "When I haybor...well we don't know what that means..."). Nothing new there. But the later part of the arrangement brings some serious oomph and starts to turn this into the primal folk rocker that it could be.
      Rating: 5






  8. The Tenderness Place (6.2)
    1. I enjoyed this pretty, lilting song. The sweet harmonies are sung by the women. The only minor problem is that the endings are occasionally tossed off.
      Rating: 6

    2. A strange song — I don't understand the purpose, intent or genre of the song from the arrangement. Cheesy lyrics which one is forced to notice due to the women's lack of blend. Also, someone is off and it sours much of the song.
      Rating: 4

    3. This is just the women, doing a Crosby-Stills-Nash-Whoever sort of group thing. I actually rather like it.
      Rating: 7

    4. Simple (and brief) tune done by the women only. Needs much more feeling & some rubato — it's just too mechanical. The simplicity works well at this point in the album — it kind of clears the palate musically. (Is it just me or does this one sound like it was recorded in a public bathroom?)
      Rating: 5

    5. This song, sung in sync by the women of the group of the group, is a gentle, simple pleasure. Although it is a seemingly simple melody, the rhythm of the song is original and engaging. Overall, a wonderful blend. The arrangement makes good use of giving two (short) lines to a single soloist.
      Rating: 9






  9. Africa (4.0)
    1. Although this particular song has been done to death by college groups, in my opinion, this group's version is not bad. Nice arrangement of women's intro parts. The choruses lack energy and punch, but the verses are better, with fuller background and percussion.
      Rating: 6

    2. This arrangement starts out somewhat convincingly, with good percussion aided by mixing, but then degenerates into choral lameness that never kicks in and annoying instrument solos. Having the solo sung by too many people (various duets, including an uncredited female one) doesn't help, either.
      Rating: 4

    3. Nice intro, but I think it and the whole song suffers from a need to double any interesting background parts in high soprano. Aside from being utterly lacking in energy it's okay — I like the elegant way they arranged the chorus background.
      Rating: 6

    4. Tempo wavers all over the place. The "dit dit dit's" in the backgrounds are sloppy. The soprano obbligato is horrible — waaay flat. Toward the end, the soloist sounds like someone being choked. But worst of all, the scat duet interlude — timing is a disaster, and not they're not even close to hitting the right notes half the time. I'm amazed that a group would release a recording this sloppy to the public.
      Rating: 1

    5. I know everyone else thinks this song is overdone, but I didn't own it until this album came along. I love the original, so I eagerly popped the disk into my player and skipped directly to this track. Boy was I disappointed. Well, not at first — the track starts off with some innovative lush, jungle-esq percussion. But it gradually it became apparent that the lead vocals on the verses were sung unemphatically (although the sound was fairly close to the Toto original) and the pace was too slow. The chorus was the real problem, being even more noticeably sluggish and unemotional. For some reason, the chorus is sung by the women. (Did they misinterpret the line "That's something that a hundred men or more could never do"?) Given the spunky, upbeat delivery on most of the other tracks, this track is even more disappointing.
      Rating: 3






  10. December '63 (6.0)
    1. What a great song choice. This is a classic. Like the preceding track, the background arrangement is interesting at times but somewhat empty at others, giving an impression of inconsistency. But I must say, great '70s "wokka wokka" effect!
      Rating: 7

    2. (aka "Oh What a Night") — The solo is flat and strangely naked-sounding in the rather sparse and uninteresting arrangement — he also sounds slower than the background. Sounds like there are half as many of them as in the previous songs.
      Rating: 3

    3. Now this has groove. Maybe like the Partridge family, but that's not so out of place. Drags a little bit, but that's better than rushing, and the neat-weird breakdown stuff sounds like the really cute aliens from 70's and earlier sci-fi movies.
      Rating: 7

    4. Other than a fairly cool waka-chicka guitar part and some sloppy bass fills, nothing much stands out (for better or worse) in this mezzo-pop tune.
      Rating: 6

    5. You probably know this song better as "Oh What a Night." This arrangement, starts small, just a few voices without much harmony. Then the lead comes in with a nicely textured tenor voice. Okay, you think, that's better. Then, bit by bit they start folding the other members in. By the chorus, they have a pretty good track on their hands. There's one quick percussion break that's totally old school rap — a very scratchy sound. It's a non-sequitur, historically speaking, but it seams to fit with the leads slightly raspy tone and the segue back into the melody, basically the lead commanding the rest of the group to "Kick it!", works well.
      Rating: 7






  11. The Logical Song (4.2)
    1. I like the song, but the arrangement is a little boring. This, however, could just be because there wasn't much to the original. The soloist is not bad, but the harmony and blend could be tighter.
      Rating: 5

    2. Arrangement gets old really fast due to bad syllables ("bop-n-doo-wop-n-doo-wop", alternating with choral "ooh's"). Their blend is negligible on this song. Soloist is alright despite an overly coy tone. Annoying and unnecessary reverb on equally annoying and unnecessary free-form whooping.
      Rating: 3

    3. Reminds me of a B-side track on an 80's David Bowie album, sung by an Artists in Resonance-type brassy solo. Despite all its attempts to be novel, it's basically just another boring song. *sigh* I sure hope somebody in the group had big hair.
      Rating: 5

    4. Too much "Bap-N-Do-Wap." The syllables used distract from the rest of the song (and are repeated endlessly). There is a solo that sounds like attempted-trumpet that doesn't make it. Pitch problems again. Yelled/spoken parts & pseudo-festive noises at the end don't add anything.
      Rating: 3

    5. Supertramp! An early 80's type of melody, yet with a dissonance and anger on the verses. The leads go to a woman, which works well on the whole. The harmonies never really click and keep this song from truly taking off. (The strange ending isn't out of nowhere, it's from the original.)
      Rating: 5






  12. Just for You (5.4)
    1. I love this track. This is a beautiful ballad with beautiful harmony and a Mosaic Whispers original to boot. Nice blend, and nice feel, with just enough emotion.
      Rating: 9

    2. Sounds like an outtake from a Disney movie that was rejected due to excessive cheesiness. Not badly sung, however, but not well enough to make it palatable, either — I still wouldn't want to listen to it.
      Rating: 2

    3. This is Singers Unlimited without the 9-part chords, studio effects and pinpoint accuracy. (In other words the average listener would note a similarity and Puerling fans are shouting blasphemy at the thought of comparison.) Point being, whether excellent or just ok, muzak-y jazz isn't really all that nifty.
      Rating: 6

    4. A lullaby, this one just trudges along very mechanically. The group sings with no emotion whatsoever. Harmonies sound somewhat better than some of the other numbers, but the arrangement sounds really muddy.
      Rating: 4

    5. At first this old fashioned ballad didn't do it for me. But after listening to this disc on the shuffle mode and hearing it a few times through, it grew on me. It's sound is traditional, yet it's an original by one of their arrangers.
      Rating: 6






  13. Leave It (5.8)
    1. This is another popular choice among college groups. The solo handles this song well. Good percussion, and an interesting arrangement. I like the "electric guitar" at the end. Nice ending.
      Rating: 8

    2. The solo is too into his "doo-doo-dit-dit-doo" part, although on the rest of it he is no more irritating than the original. The soprano descant is too quavery and unsure of her notes. Mildly pathetic guitar imitation. Arrangement combines the blared-out-with-no-feeling-style of covering this song that men's groups use with the coy-and-swooping-style women's groups use. If these two things, respectively, were toned down however, it could be a decent rendition.
      Rating: 4

    3. No one really needs to hear about another underenthused version of this song that tires too hard. The solo is a cut above most, however.
      Rating: 6

    4. The solo starts out as one of the best on the album, but he degenerates into yelling toward the end. I expected the worst going into this one, but the group surprised me. One of the more solid performances on the disc. Nice use of reverb (or lack of it) at the very end — finally, a production decision that doesn't seem arbitrary.
      Rating: 5

    5. I was dreading hearing this track. Leave It, performed by anyone other than Yes, doesn't work a cappella. You can't match their intonation, production. But this version, except for a comically ineffective last note, has real energy. They actually insert percussion and other embellishments into the intro (which was a cappella in the original recording).
      Rating: 6






  14. The Rose (6.4)
    1. Well I have to admit I was afraid this song would be boring, but I was pleasantly surprised. It starts simple and builds into a really pretty arrangement. Very nice.
      Rating: 8

    2. Overly choral arrangement that drains whatever emotion the song contained out of it, although some of the crunchier chords in the beginning are kind of nice. Someone can't quite contain her vibrato, which sometimes causes problems. Solo is inaudible on the low notes. Arrangement becomes ridiculous in the middle, but then sort of recovers.
      Rating: 3

    3. This really is pretty good, once you get past the too-bright, childish tone of the melody. The men are absent again, it seems, and the harmonies are fairly original and pleasing to the ear. Oh, wait, the men show up toward the end, but it doesn't make that much difference.
      Rating: 6

    4. A ballad, with the group showing some subtlety and musicality. Nice build at the open — starts with 2 part women with the other parts gradually sneaking in. Sopranos get screamy in spots, and the group sounds more choral then they should.
      Rating: 7

    5. Either you consider this song a simple, beautiful summation of the human condition, or you think it's trite, sophomoric, Hallmark-esq crap. Even if you belong to the second group (which I did), you'll like this version if you give it a chance. It has big broad harmonies that swell as the song progresses, only to tastefully retreat to let a tender solo line come through. The only downside is that there's a few moments where the range of the harmony becomes so broad that the high part is a little irritating. But on the whole, it works on an emotional level.
      Rating: 8






  15. I Hope that Something Better Comes Along (4.2)
    1. And speaking of Muppets, here is a great tune from "The Muppet Movie!" It is cute and jazzy at the same time. A few difficulties with tuning, but nothing major. Nice tempo changes.
      Rating: 7

    2. Sounds like a commercial, due to their foolish delivery and the boppy, piping arrangement. Their blend is also not really there.
      Rating: 2

    3. Yawn. This is the boys-only song, in a Tom Lehrer sort of song, but I just can't get interested. Maybe live. The kayak reference also subtracts serious cool points, particularly following such a lame scat at the end of an otherwise cool ending.
      Rating: 6

    4. Intonation is dismal. Solos jump from person to person, but the solos don't match each other stylistically. The jokes don't make any sense — there are punch lines without the setups — these don't make ANY sense if you're not familiar with the original (What am I saying? I _am_ familiar with the original, and they _still_ didn't make sense). Horrible, annoying, unfunny ending. To summarize: bow wow.
      Rating: 2

    5. Tenderness Place was the girls chance to show off, this is the boys turn to play. The feel they're going for is a bunch of guys standing around (at the local Gas & Sip perhaps) and bitching about women. If you're not familiar with the song, it's from the Muppet Movie. Miss Piggy gets a call from her agent (actually, it's from a Nazi Doctor hired by Doc Hopper to abduct Miss Piggy and lure Kermit into Hoppers trap) and she abandons Kermit in mid-date. Kermit, lament, along with Rolf the Dog, who is playing piano in the lounge, that "You can't live with 'em, you can't live without 'em, there's somethin' irresistablish about 'em." In this version, instead of being a duet, each of the guys takes solo lines in turn. A clever idea for a cover, but musically, it's off. The arrangement always seems to be crumbling apart and slipping through their fingers. I'm sure they do this one for humor value, but still... They have a hard time dealing with the tadpole and lily pad references. Also, toward the end, the original song switch to a bouncy/cheesy rhythm. (Rolf had an old electric organ that he switched into one of the prerecorded rhythms.) It doesn't make sense in this context. The only real energy comes at the end when they do a nice call back to Kayaking.
      Rating: 4






  16. Standin' by the Bedside (6.2)
    1. This gospel- style song has really got a good beat. It got me tapping along. Musically, it is a little top-heavy. Nice twang, though.
      Rating: 7

    2. Cutely done, and for the most part not bad — the bass, percussion are nice, solo's voice is sometimes on, sometimes a little grating on the low notes, but she has nice attitude, the yipping and "yee-haw"-ing are not necessary, and the women on the words of the chorus are a little annoying, but otherwise fairly good. An interesting song to do a cappella, and I rather like it.
      Rating: 6

    3. Is this a notch on the bedpost song or a dying-day song? Or both? It's kind of got a country feel to it but they don't sound all that country. Can't place who it reminds me of — oh well. Interesting attempt.
      Rating: 5

    4. A groovin' country sort of tune. Nice job of imitating various instruments. The group finally seems like they're having some fun.
      Rating: 6

    5. I hate country, but this is so spirited you can't not like it.
      Rating: 7






  17. Please Don't Go (3.8)
    1. Though the two soloists really sing with feeling and confidence, overall, this song drags a bit and is heavy-feeling. And yikes! The tuning is way off on the key change transition.
      Rating: 3

    2. At least this isn't the dance song. The male solo is overly tremulous, although the female is decent, and the arrangement is extremely and melodramatically choral (read: cheesy). Did not need to get any higher (via a key change).
      Rating: 1

    3. Ah, ah, ah — gotta have a piano bar Nylons cover. The tenor goes flat up high but has a pretty tone and better energy than most anyone else in the group. The female lead is warbly. The weird stuff toward the end is just wrong, but mercifully short. After that the song picks up some pizazz, and the ending is pretty.
      Rating: 5

    4. Female soloist is much better than the male one (see soloist comments for Believe It or Not). More screaming sopranos. Major pitch problems, and timing is slippery. Overall, pretty boring.
      Rating: 4

    5. A cheesy duet, but if you give it a chance, it's not bad at all.
      Rating: 6






  18. Somebody to Love (6.0)
    1. This song is very easy to get into. The soloist is obviously enjoying himself, and therefore I enjoy listening to him. A real vocal workout for him, and well done. As a group, nice full sound, nice backup.
      Rating: 8

    2. Solo is rather talky on the low notes, and tries a ridiculous-sounding falsetto on the high ones. He has to be commended for his guts, however, as well as his huge range. This song could be decent if it wasn't so predictable.
      Rating: 3

    3. Oh how peppy and cheerful! Misses the point rather entirely, but they're having so much fun and they do sound better than usual because of it.
      Rating: 7

    4. The soloist has some soul in his voice, but the rest of the group sounds like they're singing a madrigal. Toward the end, the soloist loses control and gets nasal and shrill. Doing a tune in 3 (or maybe it's slow 6/8 or triplets...you get the point) is a nice change of pace, and it has a nice bounce to it. If they could only figure out what style they want it to be...
      Rating: 5

    5. I suspect that this track is going to get a lot of very high and low scores from other reviewers. Either you find the over the top vocal contortions of the lead singer impressively deranged and expressive, or you just find them over the top. Myself, I tend to find the first minute of the song overly histrionic, but after that, it's pretty wild stuff. Imagine Randy Newman (on acid) singing Freddie Mercury.
      Rating: 7









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