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RARB REVIEW

School: Stanford
Group: Mixed Company
Album: mean say love

Total time: 65:07, 15 songs
Recorded 1996

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Interstate Love Song (7.2)
  2. Take On Me (6.2)
  3. No More I Love You's (7.0)
  4. Roam (6.0)
  5. Don't Dream It's Over (6.6)
  6. Techno Medley (6.8)
  7. Possession (7.8)
  8. The Sign (6.6)
  9. Better Man (6.4)
  10. Carnival (6.6)
  11. Total Eclipse of the Heart (6.2)
  12. Satellite (8.2)
  13. Tainted Love (5.0)
  14. You Oughta Know (7.6)
  15. Why Should I Cry for You? (8.0)

Reviews

Overall

Brookes McKenzie

A competent yet not particularly original group, the Mixed Company sound like The Amalgamates — both coed groups with strong voices and relatively good arrangements who produce the hell out of themselves to try to sound more like the trendy music which is all they do. But while the 'Mates get credit for at least doing some lesser known songs, almost every single song choice on this album is utterly predictable — either a recent Top 40 single or an 80's song that everyone knows (and every group sings). They don't even make the oh-so-daring move of having a woman sing a song sung by a man, or vice versa. Many of them also extend the philosophy that is the musical equivalent of photorealism by doing the full length of the song without varying the arrangement in the slightest. This works fine in regular genres of music, but for a cappella it gets old. Fast. On some of them they start to get inventive towards the end, but it's too little too late to really count as putting your own stamp on the song. If I want to listen to an exact copy of the original, I'll listen to the original (or not, since they're all so overplayed). If I want to hear something a little more exciting in a cappella, I'll turn elsewhere. That said, this is far from a bad album. I've just heard far too many like it to be able to jump up and down anymore.
Rating: 6 (5.7)

Matt Cohen

I've only recommended two RARB albums to date. I'd like to add this to the list. Mean Say Love, although it has a few dud tracks, is a fairly consistent co-ed disk from a group with a full, healthy sound. What's keeps this album from being GREAT is that you never get the sense that the group is having any fun. (I'm not saying every album has to be tongue in cheek. "Flail" was deadly serious, but its arrangements were on a level all to themselves and the lead vocals were consistently top notch. This album can't say that.) The seriousness kills tracks like the early 80's classic "Tainted Love". What you will get, in exchange for that shortcoming, is the ambitious "Techno Medley", which is seven minutes of almost faultless a cappella dance music. (You heard me right — dance music.) Throw in the best versions I've heard of the compulsory "Interstate Love Song", "Possession" and "Why Should I Cry For You" and you've got a pretty good bang for your a cappella buck.
Rating: 8 (7.2)

Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

It is rare that I truly can say that I enjoyed listening to an entire album by a collegiate a cappella group. Am I alone in that? Maybe. But I enjoyed listening to mean say love. Maybe we're on the road to better times. Maybe I'm just a lucky guy. I believe neither of these things to be true. However, I can say in all candidness that I was truly impressed by this album from Mixed Company. The song selection is at the same time fun, brooding, current, retro, dance, alternative (whatever that means), grunge. Taken as a whole it is as high quality as I've ever heard a college group achieve. The production value is excellent; the arrangements are wonderful, clean, and uncluttered; the soloists are very good; uh, wait, what else is there... Oh yeah, there's percussion everywhere, and pretty good percussion at that. Ok. Now what else. Nothing. The album is great. Highly highly recommend.
Rating: 9 (7.4)

Alison Berube Sullivan

This is high quality college a cappella. It's that simple. This album from Mixed Company features complex and well-executed arrangements, many talented and confident performers, and excellent vocal percussion. One listen to the wonderful group blend and even balance of parts on this album proves that a team effort really makes the difference. From the beautiful "Possession" to the groovy "The Sign" to the poignant "You Oughta Know" to favorites from the 80's and current pop, the quality delivered by this group is consistently good, song after song, and this is a great album for any a cappella collection.
Rating: 9 (7.5)

Rebecca Christie

Consistency is the name of the game in "Mean Say Love", the latest release from Stanford Mixed Company. Overall it's pretty okay, with decent pitch, nice percussion, and the same vocal strengths and weaknesses regardless of who is singing what. Dynamics are particularly good for a college group in the studio.

Unfortunately, they don't manage to avoid the bete noire of the studio environment — they distinctly lack energy, zip and passion throughout most of the songs. There are one or two cases where I attribute this to conscious choice (the light prettiness of "No More I Love You's") but mostly it's a fault. Other weak parts are a preponderance of Chris DeBurgh-like solos (fill in the almost passionate, almost in tune Englishman of your choice if you don't remember "The Lady in Red") and a couple of arranging gaffes. The scat theme in "The Sign" was a very, very bad idea, and "dun" is just not in vogue as much as they would have you think.

Ah, but there are some benefits, too, things that stand out in my head even after I've put the album away. Some power-packed female chords amidst the chaotic barrage of "Interstate Love Song". Some wonderful swelling chords and backing vocals lurking in most of the songs. The occasional bass presence, and the uncomplicated but very effective bass drum/hi-hat percussion. And there is "Satellite".

This cut is worth the price of admission, especially since there's nothing here that will make you run screaming in agony, just some less remarkable repertoire. Read my song credits and see me rave some more. At least about this song. And hey, before you go, you might also congratulate me for not making any — that's right, not one — overt California jokes. There was potential, but I honestly think this group deserves better than that. A nice thing, that surprises me somewhat but rings true in my head as I think it over. Like Satellite.
Rating: 6 (6.3)


Individual Tracks

  1. Interstate Love Song (7.2)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Pretty good rendition of the song, soloist not (even) as resonant as Weiland but not bad. I like the arrangement for the most part, nice swells and female tags on the intro to the chorus. I would say overall the best version I've heard of the song.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    There was a time when I would have been shocked by an a cappella group covering the Stone Temple Pilots. But "Interstate Love Song" has become something of a standard since then. That's why I was only half paying attention the first time I popped "Mean Say Love". While I was still trying to decide if the cover art was cool or way too reminiscent of something off of an old Air Supply record (the later as it turns out), the opening track caught my ear with some nicely distorted vocal lines. The slick production drew me in, but it was the full coed sound and the solid lead vocals that make this version better than the rest.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    great arrangement, decent solo. allow me to elaborate: both men and women are given wonderful parts in the choruses, weaving in and out of and around the soloist. also, in the musical interlude which stone temple pilots sprinkled throughout the song, the women sing a beautiful little melody with fresh and interesting harmonies. percussion is solid, pitch is unwavering. the only thing i was waiting for was the soloist to start kicking and screaming, but i was sorely disappointed by his overall lack of passion. all credit, nonetheless, to jon goldman, the freshman arranger, the man responsible for getting his group to wail on this tune (just wish that 1. as a soloist he could've taken some hints from his altos and sopranos, who were belting it out the whole time, and 2. he had some other arrangements on the album).
    Rating: 8

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a strong opener for the album: a good, solid cover of this popular grunge song. Great arrangement, nice blend and percussion.
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    I must commend mixed company on the dynamic range of an otherwise iffy beginning. The tenor Kermit-does-guitar line on the quieter bit falls particularly flat, as if prelude to an underpowered, edgeless solo, and the rest of the chords are one dimensional. This makes the chords seem as if the notes aren't connected to each other at all, there's little innate lock in the arrangement of sound. The same cannot at all be said for the duet or trio of female voices that comes in at the end of the intro and periodically throughout the song. They sound great and almost lift the song out of obscurity.
    Rating: 6

  2. Take On Me (6.2)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Solo has an unpleasantly grating tone on the bottom of his range and slightly unsure falsetto on the top (he was obviously the only guy in the group who could hit all those notes, even though the way he hits them isn't particularly nice). Background is okay but blend suffers, especially on the chorus, although all the verses after the first are nice with little fading bits in the background. The chorus sounds a little girly - something about the way they pronounce "take on me".
    Rating: 4

    Matt Cohen

    A Ha! Not only was "Take On Me" the best damn video ever made, but it was also a darn good pop song to boot. This version is enjoyable enough. The lead vocalist has the necessary range to tackle the chorus (although, oddly, he sounds a little strained in the mid range section). The down side is that Mixed Company's sound isn't at its fullest. This song seems to call for some fun, old-school a cappella "Ba di da da da" type of stuff on the instrumental sections, but only a few of the voices are on that part of the arrangement.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i don't really like this song. never been a huge fan of one hit wonders a-ha. i will try, i will try, i will try not to let that affect my review. ok, here goes. here are some personal things i wish would have happened, or not happened, on this song: i wish that the women echoing the words in the chorus would have had a second to breathe before their next note; i wish they wouldn't've done this song; oh, sorry, i said i wouldn't do that. ok. otherwise, the arrangement builds nicely; vocal parts stagger their entrances, great effects in the bridge (both processed and sung), soprano lick enters in the third verse for a little variety, a drum fill panned 360 degrees signals the final choruses, even the obligatory 80's pop tune fade out. nice. but wait, i thought i hated this song! oh yeah. still do.
    Rating: 7

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    From the beginning, the percussion and synth sound are impressive. And anyone who was in high school in the mid 1980's will love this rendition of A-ha's hit. From the lead vocal to the instrumental riffs, this is an enjoyable track.
    Rating: 8

    Rebecca Christie

    Interestingly produced and (I think, if not I am scared) purposely flat intro; I am attracted to the minimalist idea although I don't think it came out quite as they intended. The ba-da-da-dup-dup line is ill conceived, particularly not when sung by what sound like a section of stoned valley girls (they blend well, I'll give them that). Solo has a very pretty voice and manages the range well but the falsettoey tone isn't quite enough to do this song justice. Nor is it strong enough to compensate for his flattening out a la Chris DeBurgh. Kudos to the percussion section on the chorus, by the way, and the synth solo in the middle has real potential before the valley girls come in.
    Rating: 5

  3. No More I Love You's (7.0)
    Brookes McKenzie

    A nicely subtle and inventive arrangement of a song that I dreaded the thought of — for the irritating beginning if nothing else. But they put the trio very softly in the background, which works well. I like this version much better than the Annie Lennox version (which isn't saying much). Soloist is merely okay, however - "lingwich is leaving me"?! — she's a little too far back in the mix for her frail approach to be as effective as it could be. She has a pretty voice, however, when you can hear it. Also the soprano parts on the chorus are lovely.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    Is it the fact that the solo gets off on a bad foot with a thin, breathy entrance? Is it the fact that the people singing back up don't seem to care? Either way, this song neither captures the emotional intensity of the Annie Lenox version, nor does it have the pop sensibility of the early 80's original version. (Remember: Medusa was all covers.) Overall, this tracks fails to live up to the standard established by "Interstate Love Song".
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    ooh, nice. basses are huge, nice and wide from start to finish. sopranos are superb on their big lines. percussion is laid back and quality (although the fill here, as in take on me, happens with no pause in the original drum pattern, which is a physical impossibility for a human drummer, and which, in my humble opinion, sounds somewhat artificial — even groups who use loops leave space in the pattern for a fill. sorry to go off there for a second. just a pet peeve). music director jeff deason obviously knows his way around a contemporary a cappella group; his arrangements are clear and concise, never too complicated, and at the same time never boring and true to the feel of the original. the melody, sung by melody, sits gracefully atop this pretty ditty.
    Rating: 8

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This arrangement starts out very simply, and this group makes it work without sounding thin or empty. Then, the song builds smoothly throughout. The percussion on this one is truly top-notch.
    Rating: 8

    Rebecca Christie

    Very pretty. Light, ethereal, and not without a charm of its own. The sopranos are in tune, not at all shrill and have some beautiful interior harmonies, the percussion tasteful and the mix for the most part nicely balanced. What is missing is the hurt, the edge, the passion that develops the contradictory, twisted bent of the lyrics. Unlike the energy deficiency of the previous songs, this is really more of an interpretational thing they may have shied away from, choosing instead a direction they knew they could develop more. But for one familiar with Annie Lennox' almost sadomasochistic passion, it ultimately comes up short.
    Rating: 7

  4. Roam (6.0)
    Brookes McKenzie

    An overdone song in a cappella to begin with, the fact that the arrangement is dominated by an extremely nasal guitar riff doesn't help. The main soloist is also overly brash and forward in the mix, while the other doesn't have the same volume, so the main effect or gimmick of the song is lost. Also the echo lines off the chorus, and the guitar solo, while a nice try at getting the spirit of the B-52's, end up sounding mildly idiotic. The rest of the arrangement has little to no variation and gets rather old.
    Rating: 5

    Matt Cohen

    The B-52s are about as subtle as a car alarm. And this version wisely sticks to the spirit of the original. The lead vocalist don't have the same, brassy tone that made the original so much fun, but they make up for it with an extra helping of aggressive. The only problem I have is on the "instrumental" section. A melody line is given to a lone male voice who doesn't cut the mustard (besides, what set "Roam" apart from the other "Cosmic Thing" tracks was that Fred Schneider kept his big mouth shut and left it to the women).
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    the b-52's. at least they didn't pick love shack, or one of their tunes where the guy gets to yell off pitch. anyway, mixed company succeeds very well doing this b-52's cover, although i'm not sure why they wanted to in the first place. sorry. i'll talk about their performance of the song now instead of my personal thoughts on the song as a song. ok — they committed the mortal sin of contemporary a cappella, punishable by a year of listening to the entire a-ha album: they had a guy "sing" a guitar solo. the worst mistake any a cappella group can make. sounds dumb, ruins the illusion that this is not really a cappella but a band of voices. but lets move on. the soloists are great. the arrangement is also great. i most certainly was not bored with repetitive verses (although i admit to having wanted to kill myself during the guitar solo), and the breakdown towards the end of the tune was superb. great production, as well, in terms of panning and reverb-ed vs. dry vocals.
    Rating: 6

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Good, full sound, taking advantage of the large number of voices in the group. The unison singing, which can be more difficult to pull off than harmony, is well-done. The lead voices are strong and clear, and blend well.
    Rating: 6

    Rebecca Christie

    Ah, a return to the upbeat, energy lacking songs. Main solo needs a few more darks in her voice and a lot more spunk. She sounds fashionable and clueless rather than retro and wicked. That guy solo halfway through is way strange, but sounds exactly like Fred Schneider so I think that cancels out its inappropriateness. Why do they cut "wilderness" so short at the end? It is clipped rather than campy. Some neat background going on, when the middle women remember to open up.
    Rating: 6

  5. Don't Dream It's Over (6.6)
    Brookes McKenzie

    A nice arrangement that captures the feeling behind the song, but the solo is too tenory and separated from the background for the whole to really work. This song sounds like that outmoded concept, blend, would have helped a lot — the individual parts are nice, but they don't hang together the way they should. Beautiful soprano line at the end of the chorus, the basses come down too hard on their notes, though. They sing this song with the genuine feeling it deserves, rather than for the nostalgia value of it (unlike "Tainted Love"), which I give them credit for.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    A good song choice. The chorus is occasionally just barely higher than the leads range goes, but he plunges forward bravely, so it's never painful. And other than that, he's well matched with the material.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    here's an example of what groups should be trying to do, in my ridiculously underqualified and annoying opinion: do a song nobody does already, do a song nobody will be doing anytime soon, but do a good song that can be all your own, one you won't see on ten college albums next year. another beautiful arrangement on an album filled with 'em. i seem to be drawn to the women's parts on many songs from mean say love, and this crowded house tune is no exception. here they mimic the guitar delay of the original in a simple yet perfect way. john bagdanoff did 5 of the 12 arrangements on this album, and although this song might not blow people out of the water (the solos, both on this version and the original, are not amazing, just good), it accomplishes it's modest goal with warmth and precision.
    Rating: 7

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    I like the arrangement of this song — it is full yet unobtrusive, and is supportive of the mildly-sung solo. The dynamics of the background are very good, and overall, the song flows soothingly.
    Rating: 6

    Rebecca Christie

    Ooh, another pretty falsetto male solo. I am sensing a real trend here. This one is slow so has sufficient energy, and is actually a nicely credible rendition of this 80's song. Nine out of 10 people can sing along with the chorus but would have no chance in hell of identifying song title or artist, or even consciously dredging up the words immutably fixed in the twentysomething subconscious. (By the way, guys, I noticed that great dynamic swell before the bridge. Good stuff, need more, the rest of the song is a little too tasteful and understated.)
    Rating: 6

  6. Techno Medley (6.8)
    Brookes McKenzie

    A pretty good techno imitation — mostly due to the percussion and the thumping bass. The women's solos are pretty good for the most part, but the male solos fall short — the rap ones are too slow and the sung one has a bizarre tone. I guess the question is: Why do a 7 1/2 minute techno medley in the first place? To prove that you can? I mean, it's well done and all, and I am mildly impressed by the fact that they more or less pull it off, but I don't particularly want to listen to it over and over. Or even twice, for that matter.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    Most of the medleys I've heard don't hold together as a coherent whole. But this one just plain makes sense: after all, it's how we're used to hearing dance music. Being rhythm-deficient, I don't spend a lot of time at clubs and only own one dance album ("Electique Plummagram" by Poi Dog Pondering), so I might not be the best person to judge this track. That aside, The percussion is forceful and has enough bass to make the whole thing work. Most of the vocals are sung with total confidence by the women. The rap sections are rock solid. The only cog in this dance-machine is the "What is Love (Baby Don't Hurt Me)" section. It's the one lead vocal, other than the raps, that are done by a guy, and, although it starts off strong, it's painfully wimpy. Other than that, this track has a big enough sound to pull off a tricky job.
    Rating: 9

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    uh, cool. uh, i think. well, i think this track is no more than the sum of its parts. it's a trip through the techno wonderhits of the first half of the 90's. no more, no less. well, maybe a little less. arrangements of techno tunes for a cappella must be more than just a vocal percussion beat and a bass line, which unfortunately, is what the listener is treated to here. the weaving of these "songs" together at the end of the arrangement is far from ingenious, and the solos in general are not stellar. this was probably a great time live, but on this album it's a no show.
    Rating: 5

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    I love this track. It is a great change of pace following the gentle ballad which precedes it. The techno sound is great, from percussion to rap. It has life and energy, and a real punch.
    Rating: 8

    Rebecca Christie

    Great basic beat. Good sop overlays. And dun, dun dun dun dun, dun dun etc. Energyless (surprise), with weak syllables and a first solo that sounds like Amy Grant. Rap solo has a nice deep tone and seems to be speaking through an opium haze. Maybe that's their problem. "Rhythm of the Night" solo is quite good, even with slightly incongruous chick-rock accent — if you are unfamiliar with accents of Ani DiFranco,The Story etc. this will make no sense so unread it and give the girl deserved kudos.

    Hey hey — background picks up some spunk for the Mr. Vain section. Solo is decent on chorus (low chest voice overwhelms her a bit, but nice upper parts), and the bridge into the "instrumental" is cool, with some nicely executed tricks lurking. Overall much better, almost makes me feel like dancing. (Pause as medley continues.) Aw man, the medley went on too long, though. There was some cool stuff, I was getting in a good mood, "What is Love" background is great, but the guy is laughably limp.
    Rating: 6

  7. Possession (7.8)
    Brookes McKenzie

    I've heard so many group's versions of this song, and they all sound the same. The only differences are how much of a clone of Sarah McLachlan the solo sounds like. This one varies only in sounding more plaintive and not as breathy. This version also happens to be too slow. The bass line is also mildly interesting although it sounds awfully high for a bass line. Arrangement gets as boring as they all do. Descant is far too quiet although her tone is nice.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    This is one of the album's real winners. I like it better than the Amalgamates' version and the Off the Beat version (as heard on BOCA II). I liked both of those versions, but this one has the most emotional conviction.
    Rating: 9

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    although percussion in this song is executed well, i think it's the wrong groove. the original seems to have an almost hip hop beat, whereas mixed company performs it with a much straighter 4 beat. but you probably don't care about that. here's what you might care about: the arrangement is very pretty, as usual for john bagdanoff, as usual for the group in general on this album. produced very much like the original (complete with fade-in) and arranged with the cd handy, the bass line is nice and tight, the male backups are a great imitation of the guitar parts, the women provide the pad that glues the arrangement together. a very nice bridge shows off the background, and soloist emily korell sounds great.
    Rating: 8

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Beautifully sung by both the soloist and the high descant, this is a pretty, emotional ballad, backed up by an intricate and interesting arrangement.
    Rating: 9

    Rebecca Christie

    Gosh, look, another slow, pretty female voice song that doesn't attempt to touch the pain. I really like the seamless background swells before the main chorus. The harmonies on the chorus are nicely done too, and the song builds decently. I'm wondering, was taking it up what feels like a step and a half a really necessary thing? Methinks it hindered any attempt the solo might have made to get down and dirty, or play with the breathy break flips that give Sarah McLachlan eternal dominion.
    Rating: 7

  8. The Sign (6.6)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Annoying syllables for the main riff, and soloist needs to learn how to utilize her head voice on occasion. Especially on this song — it's sort of crazy not to. She also blasts out the entire song with even more of a plastic quality than Ace of Base, if such a thing is possible. Arrangement also bores me to tears by the second verse — there are more things to do with this song, believe it or not. This is the best Ace of Base song to do, however, and they don't entirely ruin it.
    Rating: 4

    Matt Cohen

    I liked it, but if you tell anyone that you heard I actually enjoyed a cover of a song from the dreaded Ace of Base, I will have you hunted down and killed. Anyway, I actually enjoyed this a lot more than any of the ABBA covers that have been coming out lately.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    uh, hi. oh yeah. a really good solo by lisa rubin makes this song a success, along with, of course, another quality arrangement from john bagdanoff (the only place where i might have disagreed was with the "wee on doo doo wee on doo wee" syllables for the main riff sung by the women, but hey, i'm just the reviewer). nice panning of the women's choir at the end of the tune (you thought we didn't notice that kind of stuff? sure, sure). this is a rare track on mean say love where the basses kinda sound like basses. that is, they sing low here, and not in too many other spots. whatever. cool.
    Rating: 7

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a fun track, and yet another one with exemplary vocal percussion. The solo is great — strong, confident, and has fun with the song. A really groovy track.
    Rating: 9

    Rebecca Christie

    Oh wow, this is marvelously incongruous. Rockin' intro drum bit, great little solo reminiscent of early Madonna, and in between? A warbly scat solo! Yes, amidst a cute, bubble gum Ace of Base tune, the hook is sung on "Dwee-a-doo-doo-dwee-a-duie". (Sounds like a Scottish intoxicant there.) Oh, and why not have the "ooh" before the solo sung by the background — disrupts the solo line, I think. But after that "scat" thing, anything else is peripheral.
    Rating: 5

  9. Better Man (6.4)
    Brookes McKenzie

    YAOS — Yet Another Overdone Song. Soloist quavers through the quiet part and tries to shout over the background during the loud part. He also sounds too much like a tenor. The percussion is mixed way too loud. The end of this arrangement is more interesting than the rest, with more jamming, which is good, but they should have integrated some of that into the rest of the song.
    Rating: 4

    Matt Cohen

    I listened to this before I read the liner notes, and from the gentle opening and the soft tenor lead, I never would have guessed that this was a Pearl Jam song. The song doesn't really kick in right before the second chorus, when everything picks up in both energy and volume. Most notably, the leads vocals gains strength. From there on in, it's a great arrangement.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    ooh, basses again, nice. great song choice, too. the soloist on this song has a very pretty voice. eddie vedder does not have a very pretty voice. eddie vedder sings this song better, man. jesus, john b., it seems you've outdone yourself. this is a very very cool arrangement. nice sailing women's lines in the choruses once the song kicks in, way to keep the song moving with kickin' percussion and a wild bass line very close to the original (if not exact, i'd have to break out the album and that's just too much to ask). i'm not sure how the solo from evenflow works harmonically at the end, but it was a good idea anyway. i like this one. maybe it's just because i like loud music.
    Rating: 8

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This song seems at first to be a bit bland in comparison to others on the album, but it really picks up in the middle. The soloist really gains some life, vastly improving the song. Nice, tight ending.
    Rating: 6

    Rebecca Christie

    Interstate Love Song, take 2, with better original music to work from. I do not like the Stone Temple Pilots, but I do like this song. And it would be fine if we could get some gruff power on the solo. (And consistent tuning wouldn't hurt.) To continue the comparison, the women aren't as amazingly cool but the overall background is better with a very nice (post-solo) ending, so I guess it evens out. Same rating, slightly different path.
    Rating: 6

  10. Carnival (6.6)
    Brookes McKenzie

    This song is hard to pull off without Natalie Merchant's voice to hold the listener's interest, especially when you insist on doing the full 4 1/2 minutes of it — they should have cut it by half. Solo is perfectly unremarkable except for her unnecessary effort to hit the higher notes. In the second half of the song she sounds more full — I think she moved closer to the mic or something. The arrangement is serviceable, except for excessive nasality in trying to conjure up guitar sounds.
    Rating: 5

    Matt Cohen

    The lead vocalist delivers a very imitative performance. Like the original Natalie Merchant version, the melody line sticks to a very small range. This is actually a tricky thing to do (if it wasn't, Lou Reed wouldn't be such a genius) and she does it well. Unfortunately, the person assigned to sing the distant harmony (Annie Lenox in the original) doesn't provide the sharp contrast that should highlight the song.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i've still never heard the original of this song, even though the rest of the planet has. whatever that's worth. anyway, i love the percussion in this one. cheek slappin' goodness. i like the soprano imitation of the solo towards the middle. AAAAGGGGHH!!!! oh no! aaron! how could you have let somebody put a vocal guitar solo into your totally cooly chillin' arrangement? oh well. at least it was short. the rest of the arrangement is quite full, and well performed as usual. sarah does a great natalie merchant. whee! another good one.
    Rating: 7

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a good cover of Natalie Merchant, right down to the voice of the soloist. The consistent percussion keeps it rolling along.
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    Check it out — a bass presence, a falsetto tenor guitar line that is expertly done and overall togetherness. Great! What else could we ask? — oh yeah, they picked a boring song that's really tough to mess up. Oh well, can't have everything. At least it sounds good.
    Rating: 7

  11. Total Eclipse of the Heart (6.2)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Ridiculous overproduction, especially on the bass drum. Also the percussion is more forward than the entire rest of the group. Otherwise the solo sounds thin at times, and strained on the high part (her voice actually cracks painfully at one point). Male lead-in isn't very good. The whole thing is a tad too slow, not to mention too long, not to mention an exercise in the kind of '80's cheese nostalgia I hate. Arrangement works well at times, but at others is too choral.
    Rating: 4

    Matt Cohen

    I would have liked to hear less percussion and more of the harmony. After all, the big harmonies on the crescendos are the strongest part of this track.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i happen to love bonnie tyler. i have a weakness for women who scream. however nice of a voice the soloist on this tune has, she didn't quite give me the bonnie i was waiting for, that rough and rugged drugged out cigarettes-made-my-voice-kick-ass wail. anyway. this arrangement is replete with a thundering vocal kick drum doused in 500 gallons of dark reverb, something i'll never get enough of. there are some harmonic changes that i think might've been in poor taste, like doing a IV major to IV minor to I progression at the "total eclipse of the heart" lines. nice male "turn around" solo.
    Rating: 7

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Another favorite from the 80's, this is a great track. I really enjoyed listening to the emotion in the voice of the soloist. The arrangement is somewhat simple, but it really works for this song — the soloist carries it well.
    Rating: 9

    Rebecca Christie

    This is the Diet Rite version of Bonnie Tyler. Think Debbie Gibson. In other news, we have our trademark wimpy male guy — sounds like the unfortunate about to flop bigtime on Tainted Love. Funny, but in this song he sounds a lot like the lead singer for XTC. Hey, maybe they should have tackled "Earn Enough For Us". Now there would be a winner .... but I digress... There's a great bass percussion kick with some nice effects. "Dun" is the wrong syllable to feature prominently. Open fourths in background before bridge a little weird, not really me. Oh, and then tuning falls apart during the loud bit before the key change, almost on purpose. I guess something had to get really overwrought.
    Rating: 5

  12. Satellite (8.2)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Male cello-imitating voices sound overproduced, some bad syllables in the beginning, but all is forgiven due to the beautiful solo, who would sound even better if he stopped trying to imitate Dave Matthews — he has such a gorgeous tone that to spoil it with nasal twists is a real shame. They pull off the difficult bridge excellently, and the descant sounds good, but she should be mixed farther forward. The best song on the album.
    Rating: 8

    Matt Cohen

    It's a Dave Matthew's Band cover — that's all the information you need to know in order to imagine what the lead vocalist sounds like.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    hello, melody. you have written a great arrangement of a great tune, and you had the wise sense to put a great soloist, john wright (a bass? with excellent falsetto), at the mic to kick mighty solo flav. who taught you these things? john bagdanoff? whatever. very very very good track. the best track? uh, yes. you completely scored. the group performed the difficult rhythms with ease (or at least they made it sound that way). nothing too complex, nothing out of place, simple unobtrusive yet subtly additive percussion, beautiful pop harmonies. melody mestemacher, if ever there is a day when careers will be had in contemporary a cappella, you'll get one.
    Rating: 10

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    The soloist on this song has a unique and interesting voice, and has great range for a bass. I also liked the high harmonies in the background, but the song seems too long.
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    Yes!!! This is the song for them, the Dark Horse that justifies their existence. The falsetto male solo is exactly right, with just the right — dare I say it — edge! The women blend. The basses sound good. It's a laid back song that is perfect for their subdued energy and muted but noticeable dynamics. And the rhythmic precision on the intro and the hook is unreal! I don't remember the sop stuff being so prominent in the original but what the hell, it sounds good. Worth the price of admission right here, reminiscent even a bit of the good old days, before Dave Matthews sold out and traded his fiddle for four-four time.
    Rating: 9

  13. Tainted Love (5.0)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Bad guitar syllables, which make up 98% of the song. Soloist sounds like he has adenoids, and he's singing in a steel tunnel (plus effects). Cool percussion however, I can't figure out how they are doing it. The integration of "Baby, Baby", while inexplicable, sounds better than the rest of the real song. The end is somewhat nice.
    Rating: 5

    Matt Cohen

    I've heard this before and I've heard it better. The lead vocalist is too wobbly and just doesn't sell this. The main problem is that the group isn't having any FUN with the song. They don't seem to enjoy this song as much as everyone else who survived the 80's does.
    Rating: 4

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    every group seems to want to do this song, mixed company seems to be one of the few that actually did it, or does it. i think it's not so terrible, however, that fewer groups do it. it's not that great of a song. it's kinda boring. that's why ken and dav had to put the 50's "where did our love go?" breakdown in the middle, to relieve the monotony. well, the soloist didn't do a huge amount to relieve what monotony remained, and the rest of the arrangement, while providing that 80's quarter note after quarter note after quarter note feel, didn't really come alive at any point. at least not enough to prevent me from letting this tune slip into the "uh, whatever" pile of mediocrity.
    Rating: 4

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Though I feel that this song has been overdone by all sorts of a cappella groups, this version is not bad. The percussion is good, and the arrangement is more interesting than the usual fare.
    Rating: 6

    Rebecca Christie

    I wish they'd chosen here to have a longer pause, as they do at some earlier points. Anything was going to be anticlimactic after that last one there, and this one is a throwback to the rest of the album. Weak falsetto solo (at least he's in tune), nice background without quite energy but hey, great dynamics.
    Rating: 6

  14. You Oughta Know (7.6)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Just what the a cappella world needs, another cover of the Bitter-And-Possibly-Psycho-Ex-Girlfriend Anthem. This Alanis has the appropriate catch in her voice on the verse but whines even more than the original on the chorus. Egregious doubletracking on her anyway. The percussion is too far forward, and it's popping the mic throughout most of the song. Aside from one good bass part, the arrangement is okay, except for the "ya ya ya"s on the chorus, also falls apart slightly at the end.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    I knew it was only a matter of time before groups started singing this one. I'm still not sure if it's a good idea to do so. My first reaction was that it's a pretty good Alanis impersonation and that it was load and energetic enough to convey the requisite anger. I ran it by my ex-girlfriend (since it's THE ex-girlfriend song). She wasn't as impressed. The staccato-vibrato on the leads didn't work for her. What will you think? I'm not sure. It's a love/hate relationship. Either you buy it from the start, in which case you'll be impressed by how brutal a cappella can be, or else you'll instantly reject the idea of a cappella Alanis and you won't listen twice. All I can tell you for sure is, unless someone does a massive reinterpretation of this song when they arrange it, you aren't likely to hear a better version. And you are very likely to hear other versions. . .
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i bet that when mixed company first sang this arrangement (another of john bagdanoff's) they experienced something similar to the feeling alanis felt when she listened to the demo version she and glen ballard recorded. they were like, ok, here's a hit. stanford audiences were like, uh, ok, that ruled. anyway, there's not that much to say about this track. well, maybe there is: jessa lewis makes a really excellent soloist (although she's slightly deep in the mix occasionally), the basses tightly move the song along, the wana wana wana in the tenors is an unobtrusive murmur, the choruses are arranged to rock you, the bridge has the proper ethereal touches (i seemed to notice a fader slip here, however, a slightly careless mixing error), the percussion kicks more ass (look, i can curse in public, how come you can't say fuck on your album? alanis did...) than on any other track on the disc. ok?
    Rating: 10

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    I must say that this soloist does an excellent Alanis Morissette, complete with voice quality and attitude. The arrangement is not their best, but overall the song is good.
    Rating: 8

    Rebecca Christie

    This is like a second-tier actress reading through a part for the first time — you can hear the potential of the lines but the full emotion isn't there. Also, there's no continuity between phrases, as if the singer is sight-reading and isn't even vaguely thinking about the next phrase. So it's just that. Each breath is. Totally separate.

    In other news, the basses are painfully alone at the beginning and are not up to the extra low solo. Otherwise background is tending toward the excellent; it even picks up some nice energy during the choruses (loud ya, ya, yas were a surprisingly subtle nice touch). The dynamic range is, of course, quite good.
    Rating: 7

  15. Why Should I Cry for You? (8.0)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Solo is not resonant enough (as if anyone could be) and fails to emote sufficiently. Background is nice and subtle though, with well-controlled swells. I like the echoes. Arrangement is good but simplifies many of the rhythmic complexities of the song. At the end, however, it suddenly gets interesting — I like some of the variant lines a lot. Some of the women are too brassy for those parts, however.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    This track may be overdone, but it is also well done. This is the albums title track, sort of. If you listen to the backing vocals hold long notes on the syllables "Mean" "Say" and "Love" under the lyric "What would it mean to say 'I love you in my fashion'?" That's the sort of arranging that help make this track a great coda to this CD. It is a complex and layered arrangement, yet it retains a tranquil quality that makes it work as a ballad. It seems very natural and laid back, but there's really a lot of subtle stuff going on to keep you coming back for another listen.
    Rating: 9

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    beautiful. i love the echoes. jeff deason's arrangement gets so thick in parts, it sounds as if many of the voices were doubled. i don't know. anyway, the arrangement is truly a beautiful thing, once again dominated by the lovely women of mixed company. the only thing i can complain about on this tune is possibly that jeff is no sting. no one is sting, so it's not a valid complaint. i love how the arrangement fades over an ending that is continuing to evolve, this is something i appreciate as a listener. there's a reason sting did it, and it's good of you to include this in the arrangement.
    Rating: 9

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Mixed Company ends their album with a soft ballad, which is smoothly and flawlessly performed. Nice blend and group dynamics, and the familiar great percussion.
    Rating: 9

    Rebecca Christie

    Nice percussion. I am quite enamored of some of the subtleties in the Smithereens version missing here, although this is overall, I must admit, as listenable a version. Solo is barely adequate. Background swells really make the framework of the song, but they lose focus whenever they add words. Strangely, tuning here is not what it is elsewhere, which is a shame since the arrangement is interesting and not really any more difficult than some of the others. A surfeit of individually incidental pitch problems keep this from a better score.
    Rating: 6

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