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RARB REVIEW

School: Columbia University
Group: Uptown Vocal
Album: Token Gesture

Total time: 39:29, 16 songs
Recorded 1995


Track Listing

  1. Take the "A" Train (3.7)
  2. Come to My Window (4.8)
  3. Good Lovin' (5.0)
  4. Walking on Broken Glass (4.4)
  5. Can't Help Falling in Love (4.8)
  6. The Sound of Silence (5.2)
  7. Night & Day (5.2)
  8. She's Got A Way (5.4)
  9. Least Complicated (5.2)
  10. Helplessly Hoping (5.4)
  11. I've Got A Crush On You (4.6)
  12. Under African Skies (6.2)
  13. Take A Chance On Me (6.0)
  14. Life's Gonna Suck (6.4)
  15. How High the Moon (6.4)
  16. Take the "A" Train (2.0)

Reviews

Overall

Steve Bogart

This mixed group shines on vocal jazz material. The voices are well-suited to it, and the arrangers seem to have a special place in their heart for it. They're somewhat less successful on high-energy rock and pop; something's missing in the Blood, Guts and Naked Fire department when they try a real rocker. When they stick to other, less demanding pop (i.e. for the second half of the album), they do sound great. For such a relatively young group (5 years old), this is a good effort overall.
Rating: 6 (6.5)

Mike Connelly

I don't know which bothers me more about this album, the problems with the execution, or the lack of inspiration in the song choices and arranging.

The sound of the group is generally muddy, caused by murky, sloppily sung arrangements, and a dull sounding recording. They also fall into the trap many big college groups run into: the sound is often very choral — too much vibrato, too dark of a sound, and overdone enunciation. The men are barely audible in some songs. The soloists? To be completely honest, I generally didn't notice them all that much. The group is just sloppy, having numerous problems with pitch, timing, etc.

Aside from the performance problems, the album is just plain mundane — even if all of the songs were performed flawlessly, we'd still be left with a dull end result. I can't say there's anything on here that I haven't heard before. The song choices are unoriginal, as are the arrangements (90% of the background parts are "Doo."). There is no conception of style - the group doesn't seem to know the difference between jazz, pop, or classical music. "Swing" and "Groove" don't seem to be in their vocabulary. Their repertoire is way too ballad heavy — the group seems to enjoy hearing themselves sustain chords endlessly. And on the up-tempo numbers, there is no energy. Overall, I found the album a dreary and tedious experience.
Rating: 3 (3.2)

Rebecca Christie

For the most part this group is very laid back with a breathy sound, yet some surprisingly avant garde arrangements. A lot of the songs combine a jazz-choral style with breathy alternapop solos a la Jill Sobiol or Deep Blue Something. It's a strange mix, but in a lot of places it works. Because of the sophistication of their arrangements (not all of which work, but still) I guess I would have expected more precision and a tighter sound — for most of the songs the four parts sound all ok by themselves, but they never really came together as a chord even though they're being sung at the same time and in the same rhythms. They make good use of this split effect at times, putting the men low on a two note chord and the women playing over top. For the most part when they try to overcome this it backfires, plus the women sound vibratoey, overambitious and not quite in tune. But twice on the album it all comes together and they really stand out: the last chorus for Take A Chance on Me and How High the Moon.

There are some really neat a cappella ideas in this album; unfortunately the execution isn't good enough to show them off, and I'm at a loss as to how to explain how it could be fixed. Most of the time when something is well-executed, it becomes pleasant and innocuous and nice (in the genuine sense of the word and not its other implications) but fails to inspire. A pity, because there are some really worthwhile arrangements in there, with all sorts of rhythmic and harmonic overlays that fill in the sound and make more parts or vocal percussion unneeded.
Rating: 6 (6.3)

Alison Berube Sullivan

This album contains an easily recognizable set of songs from several musical eras, to appeal to a variety of tastes. What they really could use is a no-holds-barred, rocking, foot-tapping song. Overall, Uptown Vocal does some nice work on this album. They are still a little rough around the edges; in particular their group entrances and group exits tend to get a little sloppy. But they have the potential to be very good if they tighten up a bit.
Rating: 6 (6.6)

Brookes McKenzie

A nice try by a young group, this cd shows their potential but unfortunately fails to develop it as much as it could. This is partially due to the recording quality, which is poor to awful, in most cases sounding completely unproduced, with people all over the place in space, some sounding really far away from the microphones and some closer, but no one really jumping out at you. One nice thing about this group, however, is that they don't oversing; as a result the women have a nice delicate sound without being weak, whereas other co-ed groups I've heard the women tend to blast. Another is that when their arrangers are on they have some good ideas, most of which the group can't quite carry out, but I give them credit for coming up with them nonetheless.
Rating: 3 (3.6)


Individual Tracks

  1. Take the "A" Train (3.7)
    Steve Bogart

    The fact that they use this snippet to frame the album indicates further to me their heart is with the jazz side of things. It sounds pretty good, with a nice solo scat. My only comment is that I wish they'd done a whole version of this song, not just a snippet. Ah, well. Always leave 'em wanting more, I guess...
    Rating: none

    Mike Connelly

    We only get half of the melody on this one? Well, I guess it's supposed to be some kind of Intro thing. The opening note starts off out of tune, so right off the bat, your ear is trying to find something to grab onto. The backgrounds are positively spartan — simplicity can be a good thing, but this arrangement is just naked. (Oh, and it was written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, not just Ellington as listed in the liner notes.)
    Rating: 2

    Rebecca Christie

    Real horns are better than fake horns in part because of their tuning imprecision, I know. But this is a little more than people have in mind — the whole thing just doesn't sound in tune.
    Rating: 4

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Given the group name and album title, this is a cute idea for an opener. It is brief and gets the point across.
    Rating: 5

    Brookes McKenzie

    A little snippet — okay, but nothing to write home about. Repeated at the end, inexplicably so because it's exactly the same, and it didn't get more exciting in the interim.
    Rating: none

  2. Come to My Window (4.8)
    Steve Bogart

    Parts of this song have the necessary energy to approximate the original, but on the whole I'm pretty unsatisfied. There's an interesting jazz-chord intro that works pretty well. The soloist has a weird reverb on her that doesn't do it for me, and she doesn't have the desperate sound that I think a Melissa Etheridge song calls for. Not the best choice to open an album; maybe "Good Lovin'" or "Night & Day" would have been better?
    Rating: 5

    Mike Connelly

    This is one of those songs where the intro has nothing to do with the song that follows: the beginning sounds like a bad Manhattan Transfer knockoff, which is followed by a bland pop song. Was the original really done by Melissa Etheridge? You'd never guess from this anemic arrangement. The recording is kind of nasty, too — the soloist's voice distorts in some of the louder sections.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    Jazz intro with madrigal accent is a little weird, again doesn't sound quite in tune. From there it sounds pretty good, but it's a wee bit fast. The solo has a good tone like the Melissa Etheridge, but no emotion. This is a problem, I think. Background does a good job of coming across as more complex and more full than it really is.
    Rating: 6

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a great choice of song. Unfortunately, the beginning is really weak, but the song vastly improves once the group picks up the regular tempo. The arrangement is good, the performance could be tighter.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    Beginning is ridiculous and unnecessary, but then it breaks into an overly busy and strange arrangement of "ba-bap-ba"'s which is somewhat helped by the decent percussion. Soloist sounds like the verses are too low for her; she proceeds to quaver, rush and blare through the chorus.
    Rating: 3

  3. Good Lovin' (5.0)
    Steve Bogart

    Being used to both the hyperactive McFerrin version and the rockin' original, this threw me off at first but I grew to like it. This has more of an easy groove instead of an urgent feel. The soloist has a nice lazy sound while also having an edge in his voice that sounds great. The background syllables need a little work; "bah doo bah" doesn't always sound natural for the notes & rhythms being sung. Also, the pause and spoken "One two three" seemed thrown in instead of being the climax of the song. Maybe a bigger crescendo right before it and a longer pause?
    Rating: 7

    Mike Connelly

    The delivery is almost clinically precise — it's like listening to a synthesizer piece that's had all of the human feel quantized out of it. This is about as square and bland as you can get — it's that "King's Singers trying to do Rock'n'Roll" kind of sound.
    Rating: 4

    Rebecca Christie

    This is actually kind of cool, in a strange surrealist sort of way. I mean, no soul, syncopation or anything, but the new rhythm and occasional locked jazz chord give it a trendy, alterna-feel that surprisingly works
    Rating: 7

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This song has a good tempo and good energy, but the arrangement is too pretty to carry the punch that this song really needs.
    Rating: 4

    Brookes McKenzie

    Starts out slightly underpace and only gets slower, with a choral and completely rhythmless arrangement (I mean, I know it's the Rascals, but c'mon, people!), only the chorus slightly amuses with exceedingly high female echoes. Solo seems to think that he's auditioning for the Allman brothers (i.e., excessively country).
    Rating: 3

  4. Walking on Broken Glass (4.4)
    Steve Bogart

    Even though otherwise it's an okay version, I can't get past the tuning problems in the accompaniment figure at the beginning (and every time the figure comes back). The soloist also doesn't have the fire of Annie Lennox, which this song really calls for. I found myself wishing for a more energy and precision throughout.
    Rating: 4

    Mike Connelly

    The beginning of this one is so exposed - two singers, with virtually no reverb; very risky, and it's just not solid enough here. I didn't like the harmonization of the melody at the beginning, or the fact that the melody started out with a male voice, then switched to female. The arrangement alternates between sections that are overly sparse and overly cluttered.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    Kudos for not rushing this one. The jazz-inspired arrangement does little for me, and the solo has occasional glimpses of extreme niftiness but mostly comes up short. She's at her best when she uses a smooth, full head voice, but most of the time she tries to push into a light chest voice that I think is misguided. Actually, I take half of that back about the arrangement. I've heard a lot of versions of this song and this one has some way cool ideas in it, but the execution isn't there and I question whether it would sound good as a whole if it was.
    Rating: 6

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Overall, this cover is pretty wimpy. The soloist has a very nice voice, pretty and clear, but could be much stronger. The background tends to fade out in order not to overpower the soloist.
    Rating: 5

    Brookes McKenzie

    Soloist has a lovely limpid voice — she's the only person I've ever heard on this song who is not only not annoying to listen to but actually enjoyable, even though she is too slow throughout the entire song. However, points are deducted for the arranger choosing to leave out the climactic "woo-yeah" part on the chorus. Arrangement is nice, particularly in the beginning (although it becomes weird and murmury on the bridge), but they are unfortunately unable to nail the notes. The choice of a horribly out of tune male to sing the key title echo was a very bad move.
    Rating: 4

  5. Can't Help Falling in Love (4.8)
    Steve Bogart

    A fair number of chords here and there aren't quite in tune, which is a bit jarring. Aside from that, this is a very pleasant arrangement with a good blend.
    Rating: 6

    Mike Connelly

    Oh, sorry. That should be "_Caaahnt_ Help Falling in Love." This has to be one of the most drippy, self-indulgent performances I've ever heard. The song is a borderline snoozer to start with, but this arrangement pushes it way into drowsy territory, with its glacial tempo. The group's operatic sound and ostentatious diction make the song sound completely pompous.
    Rating: 1

    Rebecca Christie

    This sounds like a not quite up-to-snuff English choir. Accent and all. "Con't" help falling? In New York? The group sounds disjointed — all four parts are solid enough, but the chords don't lock, they don't sound right.
    Rating: 5

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a soft and soothing group number. The group blends well on this one, with good dynamics. There are a couple of voices, however, that anticipate each entrance too much.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    They have some _really_ nice chords here, but the arrangement would be better served if their blend were better, and if they didn't enunciate so oddly. The bridge is overly quavery on the women's part, but overall this is actually a fairly interesting idea for this song.
    Rating: 5

  6. The Sound of Silence (5.2)
    Steve Bogart

    This one doesn't work for me. The arranger tried to mix other Simon & Garfunkel songs in amongst the verses, which wouldn't normally turn me off, but the transitions are awfully abrupt. In addition, the rhythms of the inserted songs don't all fit where the arranger put them; for instance, "Are you going to Scarborough Fair" requires three extra beats to be put in between two lines of a verse. This just disrupts the flow of the song for me. Some of the insertions work, but often they either don't fit well or the singers cut off the last note unnecessarily abruptly. If this arrangement didn't have all the extra beats in it, it would have been quite nice.
    Rating: 5

    Mike Connelly

    Having the backgrounds made up of fragments from other Simon & Garfunkel songs is a creative idea, but many of the songs used are quite a stretch. The overall effect is very choppy and only distracts the listener from the original song.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    This sounds pretty good, though I actually could have gone for a little faster tempo. Good job arranging the guitar chords for voices. Ooh, though, I don't care at all for the miscellaneous Paul Simon song snippets that flood the background. A) they're misplaced and ruin the mood and B) half of them don't rhythmically fit. I know it's a long song, but I could have used it straight. I liked the choral effect with the sopranos high on the "and the sign flashed out its warning" verse — maybe they could have done more with that through the framework of the actual song.
    Rating: 5

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    I like the song choice and I like the performance, and I love the arrangement, with short samples of many Simon and Garfunkel songs interspersed. Very clever, and it works. The two male voices blend quite nicely.
    Rating: 8

    Brookes McKenzie

    Interesting arrangement with again some nice chords, and echoing other Paul Simon songs, some of which work ("59th Bridge Street Song (Feeling Groovy)" and "Slip Sliding Away" are quite good) and others which flop miserably ("Me 'n' Julio"). Again the soloists have strange and inappropriate timing and enunciation. I give the group credit, though, for trying to pull this off.
    Rating: 5

  7. Night & Day (5.2)
    Steve Bogart

    Strong soloist, serviceable arrangement, no tuning problems, smooth blend on the jazz chords... this is the kind of music this group does best. Impressive, frankly. If I were to wish for more, I'd want more interesting stuff in the background, but you know, the soloist carries the song just fine without it. Thumbs up.
    Rating: 8

    Mike Connelly

    Wow, we're talking new heights in cheese here. I actually laughed at some of the background parts, they're so cliché. The soloist is simply annoying, and the rest is, well...it's got about as much soul as Howdy Doody. The group doesn't really seem like they understand what jazz is supposed to sound like (see comments for track 15).
    Rating: 2

    Rebecca Christie

    Nice, mellow background, interesting but subtle and quite together. Too bad it's got that solo — she does odd shadings that don't work, is a bit off-pitch in the first verse and has overall the wrong coloring for a solo that spends so much time on one note.
    Rating: 5

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    What stands out in this song is obviously the soloist. She has strength and substance and handles the song well. The song is jazzy, but that one note that dominates it gets old after a while. The background arrangement is a bit thin, but maybe it sounds that way in comparison to the strength of the soloist.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    Soloist's voice starts to become unbearable after about the third line — it sounds too much the same, no matter what she's _supposed_ to be doing. She also doesn't quite have enough control for this song. We all know that it's nice to have someone in your group who sounds like a forties jazz chanteuse, but if she isn't _that_ stellar, there's really no need to foist her on us for an entire song. Background is so quiet that they might as well be completely inaudible, but what I can hear sounds nice.
    Rating: 4

  8. She's Got A Way (5.4)
    Steve Bogart

    A bit too much reverb on the soloist. He's got a good voice for this; not a Billy Joel knockoff at all, but with an edge of his own that fits nicely here. Background is a smidgen sloppy in spots, and says "doo" a few dozen times too many (feel free to suggest a syllable change to your director here or there, folks!), but all in all, pretty nice.
    Rating: 6

    Mike Connelly

    Not quite as pompous sounding as track five (probably due to the fact that most of the group is singing "Doo" for the entire song — and it's kinda hard to over-enunciate "doo"), but approximately as slow. The backgrounds are almost all half notes. If you're looking for the musical equivalent of watching paint dry, this is it.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    Solo has that Rembrandts alternasound that can have some cool moments but in others sounds like (and probably is) vocal weakness. He does a good job with what he's got. Background basic, nice.
    Rating: 7

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    I love the arrangement of this song, and the group performs it with nice blend and nice balance. Also a very nice performance by the soloist — smooth and emotional. Well done.
    Rating: 8

    Brookes McKenzie

    Very weird beginning that I can't make heads or tails of. Then the soloist comes in — at times he's amateurish-sounding, for the most part he's tolerable, but he doesn't sing it with the amount of sincere emotion you need to make this (cheesy) song work. Arrangement is fine when they just do the plain soft chords, but when they try to get fancy it backfires, sounding too crowded. The end is both rushed and forced.
    Rating: 3

  9. Least Complicated (5.2)
    Steve Bogart

    The complex rhythm in the background isn't always together (especially in the first few measures). The first soloist doesn't have the oomph of an Indigo Girl, but when the second soloist comes in the energy picks up. Occasional tuning problems in the background show through (e.g. at 1:42-1:45). On the plus side, the energy of the song does come through, and arrangement recalls the original pretty well.
    Rating: 6

    Mike Connelly

    The soloist misses her very first note! What's with that? Guys, you were only eight seconds into the song — was it too much trouble to go back and fix that? The second soloist has a really harsh, nasal sound. The group has trouble keeping the intricate rhythms locked together. Honestly, I'm getting really sick of hearing this song done a cappella (although this isn't the worst arrangement I've heard).
    Rating: 4

    Rebecca Christie

    Very Jill Sobiol first solo, light, airy, never bears down. Good arr for first verse, chorus. Bridge after first chorus icky: overcrowded and overbearing, vibratoey. Second verse continues this trend, with a muppety second solo who should have been left as an obbligato. Third verse nice again. Nice bits sound great in contrast to that middle stuff, but by itself I guess it would have been bland. Hm. Great ending!
    Rating: 6

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    While this is a good song choice, the tempo seems to speed up after the song starts. The first soloist is light and easy, then the second soloist comes on too strong in comparison. But they do even out as the song progresses, and overall, it is not bad.
    Rating: 6

    Brookes McKenzie

    First soloist has a nice voice, although she's a little unsure of herself, the low harmony is nice but when the second soloist takes over the melody, she overcompensates by attempting to be brash and failing. Arrangement mildly horrific, and certainly loses points for losing the main riff of the song in the background, the "na na na na na na" part. Loses it towards the end — they should have quit while they were ahead.
    Rating: 4

  10. Helplessly Hoping (5.4)
    Steve Bogart

    Disappointing in that the chords don't seem to be the original CSN chords; they don't seem to have as many suspensions as they should. I do like the arranger's concept of just the vocals carrying the song minus all accompaniment. The rhythmic changes from the original didn't always make sense to me; I would have preferred strict adherence to the original's rhythms given the big changes made to the other aspects of the song.
    Rating: 5

    Mike Connelly

    Another ballad taken way too seriously. Guys, just because you can sound pretty on long sustained notes, that doesn't make it interesting. This one basically covers the same ground as tracks five and eight again.
    Rating: 4

    Rebecca Christie

    I like this one. Suits their voices very well. I also applaud their decision to let this one mostly well enough alone and not really screw with the song structure.
    Rating: 8

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Solid choral number. Good use of dynamics and nice harmony. Group entrances could use some work, and the silent gaps leave me hanging, even if only for a second.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    Standard arrangement (there is basically only one thing one can do with this song, and it _has_ been done to death) distinguished only by weird timing/enunciation choices. Not badly sung, however, but penalties for severe lack of originality.
    Rating: 3

  11. I've Got A Crush On You (4.6)
    Steve Bogart

    Aha! More vocal jazz! Live, even! The women shine on this one; strong, strong stuff. A couple of not-quite-simultaneous cutoffs on this one (e.g. "cottage") are the ONLY things I could find wrong (big deal). Great job!
    Rating: 9

    Mike Connelly

    Opening soloist sounds like she's trying to do a Minnie Mouse impression — very shrill and shaky (with some major pitch problems). Actually, the whole song is piercing and warbly. Some of the voice leading is pretty nice, but the phrasing kind of ruins it. One of the better arrangements, but one of the weaker performances.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    There's that vibratoey, not quite in tune jazz woman again with an all over the place intro. She must have just not recorded well — to give her the benefit of the doubt I can see how she'd sound better live. Women only choral/jazz thing that just doesn't sound right
    Rating: 4

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    The first live cut on the album, and another old song. Rich harmony, but the soprano voice stands out. The song is sung with feeling and energy.
    Rating: 5

    Brookes McKenzie

    Soloist is gratingly over-vibratoed, but luckily short-lived. Blend is terrible on this song (probably because it's a live track) — I can hear the ex-soloist sticking out throughout the entire song.
    Rating: 2

  12. Under African Skies (6.2)
    Steve Bogart

    This is pop they handle well; it doesn't require screaming or wild abandon, just good singing. The walking rhythm in the background is suitably catchy, and the male & female soloists sound very good together. Some of Paul Simon's syncopation in the lyrics seems to have been "straightened", but I admit it's pretty hard to keep up with Simon in that department. Quite good on the whole, and it has a fine sparse ending to boot.
    Rating: 7

    Mike Connelly

    OK, Paul Simon is pretty cool, but two of his songs on the same album? Normally I'd complain about an arrangement this conventional, but I guess I'll take conventional over problematic. On many groups' albums, this would be filler, but on this one, it has more energy and less problems than most of the other songs.
    Rating: 5

    Rebecca Christie

    Very laid back, almost calypso-rhythmed version, although not sung calypsoey. Nice arrangement, decent solos and acceptable tuning, very light presentation, sound seems to float almost. I like. I do wish the two solos had taken some risks with the bridge in the middle — there's so much going on there in the original and they sing it _so_ straight. This is ironic given Uptown Vocal's pattern of rhythmically interesting arrangements, and given the fact that their background does a great job of working with a repetitive guitar hook from the original.
    Rating: 8

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is really a great song, and here it is arranged really well. The background is light and energetic, and the song keeps moving. It got me dancing along. Great working together as a group on this one.
    Rating: 8

    Brookes McKenzie

    Even more badly recorded than the rest of the album, it sounds like the song hasn't even really started yet, even in the middle. Arrangement also lacking, sounding very choppy and all over the place, particularly on the chorus which needs to rock a little, whereas here it just sounds slightly louder and less in control. Completely wrecks the point of the entire song which is the beautiful harmony in the verses, by changing the top line much for the worse and singing it too much in chest voice.
    Rating: 3

  13. Take A Chance On Me (6.0)
    Steve Bogart

    Oh, dear. Abba. I still don't understand the need of groups to go for really cheesy Bee Gees or Abba pop, but you know, they actually do this rather well! The lead women are really strong on this. My main nitpick is that the background must be having a hell of a time saying 'take a chance take a chance take a chance' at this speed. While I understand the urge to keep relevant words as the accompaniment figure, I think the background would have sounded less frantic/strained if they'd had some other syllable or if the song were slower.
    Rating: 7

    Mike Connelly

    I don't have any big complaints about this one, I just think the original is a really stupid song. This arrangement reminded me of the Lone Ranger theme (I guess that's kind of inherent in the song, but it's accentuated here). The spoken lines are ridiculous; they're SO corny. At least the group finally has a little energy.
    Rating: 4

    Rebecca Christie

    I like this song. Even when performed with some pitch problems, it still puts me in a good mood. That weird alternative-yet-choral sound does quite well on the chorus. And I really like the solo, particularly when she backs off and digs in to this rich smooth sound. Very nice job with ending "a cappella" last chorus — quite tight, good voices, great blend, everything you could want from this song. Too bad they only snapped into that for the end, but the rest was ok and they deserve a good rating.
    Rating: 8

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This song moves. Good tempo, and kept up well, without rushing through it. This is a fun song, and the group obviously has fun with it. Nice solos.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    Completely static and boring arrangement, the women soloists almost rescue it but in the end fail to muster enough chutzpah to pull it off. Low soloist is particularly nice but we can hardly hear her. Their rhythm also gets off in several places.
    Rating: 4

  14. Life's Gonna Suck (6.4)
    Steve Bogart

    Who cares how this song stacks up musically? It's live comedy! Am I going to look for musical problems? No way. Hilarious. 'Nuff said.
    Rating: 8

    Mike Connelly

    This one's actually kinda funny (although I didn't find it nearly as funny as the audience they performed for. I don't know, maybe the group was dancing around or something). Basically, all of the payoff is in the lyrics — the music is just a simple melody over some oom-pah backgrounds.
    Rating: 5

    Rebecca Christie

    This is pretty amusing, and musically good except for the ending chord, where enthusiasm and laid-backness has undone the tuning. Quite understandable in a live number like this.
    Rating: 7

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Great bassline, great oompa rhythm This song is light and funny. Very entertaining, and recorded live, which really adds to this particular song.
    Rating: 8

    Brookes McKenzie

    Actually pretty funny. The singing is only tolerable, but I'm sure it's better than Denis Leary's. They get the timing right for the most part, though, and it works better than most comedy bits on collegiate a cappella CDs.
    Rating: 4

  15. How High the Moon (6.4)
    Steve Bogart

    Not quite perfect; some chords aren't quite locked at the beginning and the very end, but that's about the only problem. Very nice lively scat section in the middle based on Charlie Parker's "Ornithology". Nice arrangement overall, well executed, with a strong soloist.
    Rating: 8

    Mike Connelly

    Starts out sounding like a ballad, then a "high-hat" part comes in...and it sounds like a ballad with a high-hat behind it. The lack of a walking bass line or other rhythmic action places this arrangement closer to Easy Listening than to Jazz. The tune finally picks up when they go into Bird's "Ornithology" at the end, although the soloists don't seem to have much of a grasp of what syllables to use for scat singing.
    Rating: 4

    Rebecca Christie

    Ooh, this is nice — the women are full but not vibratoey, and the group sounds more linked, less breathy, and overall stronger. Even that soprano who so annoyed me in A-Train and Night & Day turns in a good performance; it all comes together for this song. I don't get it, but I'm sure as hell not complaining. Very nice job, guys.
    Rating: 9

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Yet another old song. Beautiful harmony and very effective percussion in the first half. Scat section is good, but could use a little more variety in syllable used. A nice showcase of the group's choral work.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    Pretty standard arrangement of the first half, relatively well sung though, the women have a nice blend. Some microphone noise is obtrusive. The second half is pretty good although the soloist rushes a little, and leans a little on her vibrato when she doesn't need to. Not bad, however.
    Rating: 4

  16. Take the "A" Train (2.0)
    Steve Bogart

    See track one.
    Rating: none

    Mike Connelly

    I guess we never get to hear the rest of the head on this one. It's just a verbatim repeat of track one (you can tell from the out-of-tune opening note). Not a strong ending for the album (or a strong beginning, for that matter).
    Rating: 2

    Rebecca Christie

    See track one.
    Rating: none

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Not reviewed.
    Rating: none

    Brookes McKenzie

    Not reviewed.
    Rating: none

How To Get Your Work Reviewed

To have your album (2 or more tracks) reviewed by RARB, please email us with your name, group name and album title. You will receive a response with information on how to register your album in our system.

To have your digital single reviewed by RARB, please fill out our online singles registration form.

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