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RARB REVIEW

School: Stanford University
Group: Talisman
Album: Anthem

Total time: 45:48, 12 songs
Released 1996


Track Listing

  1. Glory, Glory (6.6)
  2. The Lion Sleeps Tonight (6.0)
  3. One by One (7.4)
  4. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize (6.4)
  5. Wanting Memories (6.4)
  6. Denko (7.4)
  7. Summertime (6.8)
  8. Sechaba (6.8)
  9. Zombie Jamboree (4.4)
  10. Babethandaza (7.4)
  11. Something Within Me (5.8)
  12. The Rainmaker (8.2)

Reviews

Overall

Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

i delve with greater detail in the individual song reviews, but my main problem with this album is the lack of consistency. some of the soloists are wonderful and some are clearly not. some of the songs are very authentic sounding "folksongs," and some are out of place jazz/gospel tunes. this group seems best when mimicking arrangements done by professional a cappella groups, as in "denko", "the lion sleeps tonight", "something within me", and "the rainmaker" (i'm sure there's others that i don't know of). if you're going to be a cover band you have to do something new with the material. that doesn't happen here. i have another problem with this album, which is the lack of an insert. this may sound trivial, but i find it inappropriate that a group would release an album and not give any credit to the original writer of the song nor the original artist, especially if the arrangement is lifted note for note. they don't even give themselves any credit for arranging anything. maybe they didn't arrange anything, maybe it's all transcription, maybe the soloist on that last song was a man maybe it was a woman, maybe they in fact wrote the lion sleeps tonight, i don't know, and you'd never know because they don't tell you anything! i just wanted some information about the songs! not too much to ask, i don't think. it's worth the extra hundred bucks to print on the other side of the front tray card. anyway, besides all that bitching, this group succeeds on the traditional african folksongs relatively well, but i've heard it all before, and i've heard it all better.
Rating: 4 (4.8)

Joe Oliva

This is a magnificent vocal group with some interesting arrangements, which are well produced and engineered.

The a cappella standards such as "Zombie Jamboree" or "Something Within Me" sound a little uninspiring, but it seems when the group is allowed some breathing room, the energy and creative juices really flow.

The arranger understands group dynamics as well as the differences between arranging vocals with or without percussion.

The back insert of Anthem states that this album will "enliven the spirit and stir the mind". I'm not sure if I have been enlivened or stirred, but I am quite sure that this album is a fabulous example of great voices that any collegiate group would want!
Rating: 8 (7.8)

Brookes McKenzie

This album sets rather high expectations for itself with the blurb on the back cover listing Talisman's many accomplishments, and while the album is certainly good — for the most part far more professional-sounding than most collegiate a cappella albums — I think I would have been a lot more impressed if they had let the quality of the music speak for itself. Two songs ("Summertime" and "The Rainmaker") really do live up to their reputation, and the others are nothing to be ashamed of. One thing I _really_ miss, though, is the attributions, especially since at least three songs on the album were taken from a cappella versions, and at least a listing of group members — it's kind of weird to not even have an idea of the group's size, let alone who sings what. The jazzy/gospel songs are well-done, but they could use more real basses and less faking it with processing. The traditional songs are also good, but would be much improved by a little dynamic range. The drumming is sort of whatever — I mean, I don't think it really hurts or helps anything all that much, although I can see that if they were to use vocal percussion instead on the traditional tracks, it might make them a little less traditional, which would defeat the purpose of doing them in the first place — so I have no problem with it. In general, this album is an interesting and worthwhile purchase for someone looking for a departure the college a-cap world of alternahits and nostalgia rock.
Rating: 7 (6.8)

Mike Connelly

A mixed bag of an album, Anthem alternates between covers of widely done (heck, they're overdone) a cappella standards and more obscure "folksongs," some of which are in languages other than English. The "standards" are for the most part very weak, especially considering that the (much better) originals are easily available (no less than three of the songs are taken from Do It A Cappella).

I had a tough time judging the world music tracks (I'm making the assumption that they are African, but for all I know, some of them could be South American or even eastern European) — for the most part, I enjoyed them, but I'm not really familiar enough with the style to know if the way they are performed is appropriate. Generally, they are done with a fairly classical "choral" sound, with only the soloists putting in some "ethnic" style and embellishment.

I would probably tend to give the group the benefit of the doubt, except for the fact that almost all of the songs I am familiar with on the album are direct lifts of arrangements done by other (and generally better) a cappella groups. I would suspect that many of the other songs also have been previously recorded, and that a listener might be better off finding the originals and listening to those instead. Unfortunately, there is no information on who the composers or original performers were for any of the songs. Even worse, there are no translations for the songs that aren't in English, or even any explanations of what the songs are about.
Rating: 5 (5.3)

Rebecca Christie

Talisman is quite possibly the best African-influenced choir I've heard. They have a great sound, a good link to the words they are singing and a fullness and freshness that's hard to find. That being said, although I enjoyed this album, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it to the a cappella community.

You see, of Anthem's 12 songs, fully half are more or less exact transcriptions of a cappella songs by some of the genre's best and most prominent groups. Some are good, some are better, but none are as good as the example set for them. As individual selections, most would be a credit to any set. But taken en masse, my instinct is to reach for the originals.

The other half of the album is a joy to listen to, from their classical rendition of "Summertime" to the inspiring "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize."

African songs take the spotlight in more than the Sweet Honey covers with "One By One" and "Sechaba." And of course there is "The Rainmaker." Talisman did this with essentially a pickup group — an assembly of past and present members and a Stanford percussion ensemble. I am awed that a non-fulltime group would even attempt such a thing, and can only imagine what it would be like to be part of such a magnificent undertaking.

Note to purists and drumphiles: "Percussion" in this review means real, resonant drums, played with skill throughout. It is quite tasteful and quite in keeping with the music they perform, so settle down and enjoy it.
Rating: 8 (8.4)


Individual Tracks

  1. Glory, Glory (6.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    in an arrangement that lacks complexity, each part must be extremely precise. the basses in this tune are anything but; their high notes are consistently flat, although they do get a little better as the song progresses. the women sound wonderful, with very nice blue notes all over the place. this song just lacks a lot of excitement, and the arrangement seems somewhat disjunct; different chunks just laid back to back kinda haphazardly, with no real direction or forward movement.
    Rating: 4

    Joe Oliva

    A fairly interesting arrangement, well produced and engineered. Nice inspirational track to start the album with. There are some very slight tuning problems, especially when the basses sing notes at the top of their ranges, but nonetheless a great cut.
    Rating: 9

    Brookes McKenzie

    A rather standard-sounding song, which is only notable for the fact that the men are so high that they might as well be women — _I_ can sing most of their part (and I'm not even an alto)! It is well executed, however — the women in particular have some nice bits. The high-hat part doesn't really work all that well, but it passes quickly. Also the snapping is a little thin. Overall it's not bad at all, but I think the reason I find it a little bit boring is that I don't get the sense that they're really all that excited about it either.
    Rating: 7

    Mike Connelly

    An extremely square bass line gets the song (and album) off to a clunky start. The opening sounded like it was going to be a cheesy swing tune, but when the female voices come in, I realized that they were going for the gospel thing. The sound of the group is fairly muddled; in addition to some general inaccuracy in the singing (it sounds like there are just some wrong notes here and there, particularly in the bass line), it sounds like there are too many people on each part.
    Rating: 4

    Rebecca Christie

    I really like this song. It's a spiritual done in a jazz-classical style, and one of those numbers that you find yourself humming in all sorts of places. Fun to jam with, too. :)
    Rating: 9

  2. The Lion Sleeps Tonight (6.0)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    uh oh. i just hate to see this song on any a cappella album's tracklist. HOWEVER, i must say that the woman singing the melody in this song and the women in general in the foreground sound wonderful, and this rendition is at once peaceful, and maintains a quiet, lolling rhythm throughout. the men's backups are great as well. what this song suffers from is similar to track 1, which is just a lack of direction. there's a vamp, there's the melody, and that's what you get, over and over and over, with minor changes with each passing chorus/verse/whatever-they-all-seem-to-meld-together. maybe it's just my own personal bias, my own view of what a song should have in order to keep the listener's interest, but i like a. dynamics b. dramatic changes and c. an overall direction, a point to which the song builds, climaxes, and from whence we experience a denouement. oh well. not in this one. my friend just informed me that this arrangement is from a performance by ladysmith black mambazo and the mint juleps singing on the spike lee do it a cappella video. so much for originality.
    Rating: 4

    Joe Oliva

    This is not my favorite version of this song (and I would hate to find out which is). I like the idea of doing a more "African" take on the song, however, this one sounds like the arranger was inspired by the Eddie Murphy movie "Coming to America". In the second verse, the volume slowly drops which I don't like. I think they were trying to make the verse sound more dynamic, but the result sounds more like the beginning of a fade out.
    Rating: 8

    Brookes McKenzie

    A more or less straight rendering of the Ladysmith Black Mambazo/Mint Juleps version of the song, as seen (or heard) on Spike Lee's "Do It A Cappella", plus sort of half-hearted percussion and minus the strong bass sound that is the underpinning of that version. They pull off most of it, but are practically inaudible on their lowest note. Again, nice work by the women (despite some overly heavy vibrato) goes a long way towards making up for it. All said, not many collegiate groups could pull this song off and sound as much like the original, but I would be a lot more impressed if they had tried to make it their own.
    Rating: 7

    Mike Connelly

    A lift of the Ladysmith Black Mambazo/Mint Juleps version from Do It A Cappella. I suppose it's pretty enough, but why listen to this when you can hear the real thing? And at this point, a comment on this tune being overdone would be almost as cliché as the song itself.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    Even mellower than the original groups to do this arrangement. It's a note-for-note copy of the "Do It A Cappella" arrangement for Ladysmith and the Mint Juleps, and almost as good.
    Rating: 8

  3. One by One (7.4)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this song made me wish there was an insert for the cd that had some information regarding the arrangements, the origin of the songs, the singers, SOMETHING. i just wanted to know where this song came from. it sounds like a traditional african song to me (i profess to be no expert on this music, but i think i will be safe calling it african in origin). the soloists are great, the backups suffer from some pitch problems, especially in the lower male voices. but this song moves, thank god. exciting, cool changes, a nice breakdown, authentic rolled r's a la ladysmith black mambazo, they succeed here.
    Rating: 6

    Joe Oliva

    Interesting arrangement, a lot middle and high range voices resulting in very tight harmony. Amazing tuning. I even heard the coveted overtones at one point in this song!
    Rating: 9

    Brookes McKenzie

    A strong traditional song which is marred by a lack of balance among voice parts — only the middle ones can be heard, and they're blaring, whereas the low and high parts are more or less nonexistent. This gets wearying over time, as the song doesn't really have much of a melodic range. Also one female soloist towards the end has a rather pinched and unpleasant voice. The men sound exceedingly processed, which is a little jarring.
    Rating: 6

    Mike Connelly

    A repeated vocal riff provides the base of the arrangement, with multiple soloists singing different figures over the top of it. I particularly liked the higher female soloist, although some notes seemed to be on the verge of getting away from her. A cadenza-like section in the middle provides some nice variety, as do the occasional percussive accents.
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    Classical African music. Inspiration makes the language barrier nonexistent, particularly if you listen to it loud. I like the powerful contrast between the chest voice of the altos and the strong head voice of the sopranos. The Talisman basses once again sound nice too.
    Rating: 9

  4. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize (6.4)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i'm sure this soloist has had much praise in the past, but i was not a huge fan. all the overly emotional stuff was lost on me, the grunting in the high range, i didn't go for it. i was much more interested in the background, which was, well, pretty boring. so i guess i didn't like this song, since it was simply a showcase of the soloist.
    Rating: 2

    Joe Oliva

    A very soulful soloist is highlighted here, but perhaps he should worry a little more about those untuneful notes. Background harmonies are very tight and incredibly tuneful as well.
    Rating: 8

    Brookes McKenzie

    Talisman achieve an interesting old-time gospel sound here, and combined with a soloist who sounds a _lot_ like Sweet Honey in the Rock's Bernice Johnson Reagan, this song works pretty well. However, the recording quality is odd — the solo slips in and out of focus in a distracting manner, while the background is a little too far away. Overall, though, this track almost lives up to the hype.
    Rating: 8

    Mike Connelly

    The soloist has way too many mannerisms for my taste — it seems like he's trying really hard to fake being "emotional." On the other hand, the backgrounds are too stilted and precise to match what the soloist is doing — they should have met halfway. There is also a lack of pulse — with so little going on rhythmically, the tempo is often completely lost.
    Rating: 4

    Rebecca Christie

    Lovely soulful tenor solo. Truly an uplifting song. Gets a perfect rating for more reasons than just musicality. (A jazz chord or two might even have missed here and there.) But like most of the music that came out of the American civil rights movement, it conveys true faith in an incontestably right cause and a hopeful certainty in the struggle, a sense that justice will prevail. A sense that is very much in need in today's world.
    Rating: 10

  5. Wanting Memories (6.4)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    ahh. very pretty, nice percussion (not vocal, but actual shakers, just for your info). this song emphasizes to me how much this group owes to its women. they carry the group, and while the men serve their function relatively well, when you listen to these songs, it's the women that make the real music. (this might not be true! it could be that all the arrangements were done by men! but you'd never know 'cause there's no fucking liner notes!) this song has a gentle rise and fall between subsequent verses/choruses, and the lyrics help maintain interest as well. i was entranced by this one. at least for the first 4 and a half minutes, until the lyrics stopped and there was some vocal improv that was flat as my tire the other day on the 405. but mostly very nice.
    Rating: 6

    Joe Oliva

    A simple arrangement. The background consists of first year bass and descant arrangements. The rest of the arrangement is almost all simple choral harmony, nonetheless, simplicity works in the song. Unfortunately, the song also drifts sharp about a quarter tone.
    Rating: 5

    Brookes McKenzie

    Speaking of Sweet Honey in the Rock, this cover is pretty similar to the original except in two respects — the cool percussion (which is more or less central) is buried in the mix, and it's _way_ too slow. This would be less of a problem if the original weren't also four minutes plus — they stretch it out to 5:48, which is a little ridiculous. They also flatten out much of the interesting rhythmic variations in the lyrics. It's pretty, but compared to the original it comes up lacking.
    Rating: 6

    Mike Connelly

    This simple tune has a very relaxed, almost floating feel, a nice match for the nostalgic lyrics. I liked it for the first couple minutes, but it just goes on forever — almost six minutes!
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    This is a lovely rendition but it suffers from being a replicated approximation. The song was written for the tight, rich voices of Sweet Honey in the Rock and, like the other Sweet Honey covers on Anthem, suffers most because a larger, younger choir cannot capture the emotional clarity of one of the most inspiring groups of all time. The original is not as slow and is more hopeful — Talisman sounds more poignant. The only thing that could have lifted the song up would have been a truly inspiring solo — the group melody is fine, but nothing memorable.

    As I said earlier, if this were just the one song I might well be raving, or close to it. But their extended attempts at duplicating what has already been done so well — even the track number is the same — cannot quite match an original that holds such a dear place in my heart. The art critic and the activist in me are sparring a bit — I _am_ glad that this music is getting such talented and widespread exposure. It is undeniably music to be shared. The women of Sweet Honey in the Rock must be proud.
    Rating: 8

  6. Denko (7.4)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    more real percussion instruments, played well, very appropriate. this tune was probably done by zap mama. it sure SOUNDS like them, but i don't know for sure because there's no liner notes! AAAGGGH@*&%! oh well. the low low alto woman sounds great. love her. this song grooves, and the small ensemble of women are nice and tight. sounds like, well, zap mama.
    Rating: 8

    Joe Oliva

    The lead singer's vibrato sounds forced and untuneful when approaching phrase endings. The group tuning is good. The voices are arranged well relative to the percussion.
    Rating: 6

    Brookes McKenzie

    Traditional song plus drumming, which sounds like it was recorded in a different room from the singing. If it were a little bit closer to the rest of the mix, though, it would sound fine. Too much vibrato on the part of the soloists, some of which seems a little forced. Nice harmonies, although it sounds like they need to complete a chord or something.
    Rating: 7

    Mike Connelly

    A feature for the women, this one starts off with a nice call and response section (the soloist is particularly strong), then adds percussion and builds nicely into an energetic groove. The recording has that sort of lo-fi "field recording" kind of sound, which adds to the character (not sure that was intentional, but it's pretty cool).
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    See above for philosophy — suffice to say this is excellently done. I miss the incomparable Dr. Reagon, but I understand they couldn't just arrange her in.
    Rating: 9

  7. Summertime (6.8)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i don't like this soloist either. i realize i'm kind of a jerk for being so biased, but i can't help it. so i'm not gonna focus on her. (let me just say that she sounded very broadway, and out of place on an album that is filled with music that is far removed from that scene.) ok. wait a second. this whole tune is out of place on this album! what? why is this jazz tune on an album filled with traditional sounding african music? this tune sounds ok, but i don't understand why it's here! oh well. i do believe, honestly though, that it does not belong, and therefore cannot rate it too high.
    Rating: 3

    Joe Oliva

    Incredible voice on the lead singer. Such control over her vibrato! Well done! Simple background arrangement, not always perfectly tuneful, but nothing too serious sticks out. Nice group dynamics.
    Rating: 9

    Brookes McKenzie

    *Ravishing* soloist — perfect tone and amazing control.She's all over this song without even breaking a sweat. A professional-caliber performance on her part. The only complaint I have is that I'd like to hear her more forward in the mix. The background is also quite good, however — they mysteriously find something approximating a real bass for this track. In one part it become obvious that the soloist is the only high soprano in the group, and I could have done without the excessive reverb on the background, but the whole thing sounds so good, I'm not really complaining.
    Rating: 9

    Mike Connelly

    A very classical rendition of the Gershwin classic. With the exception of a tutti section in the middle, it's all just a female soloist over sustained (and fairly repetitive) backgrounds. It's also kind of odd to hear Gershwin's "colloquial" lyrics done in such an over-enunciated manner.
    Rating: 5

    Rebecca Christie

    The beginning of this reminds me strangely of the beginning of the old Eagle's song "I Can't Tell You Why" before the solo comes in. That aside, this is a beautiful classical rendition of a jazz standard. More like Jessye Norman than Ella Fitzgerald, but the quality is there.
    Rating: 8

  8. Sechaba (6.8)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    the percussion in this tune gets off occasionally. this arrangement is very tight otherwise, though, with nice rhythmic changes and variety in vocal range. the men on this tune are featured a little more than in other tunes, and they do an admirable job.
    Rating: 5

    Joe Oliva

    Tight vocal harmony. Well mixed and arranged relative to the percussion. Certain notes are out of reach for some of the vocalists. The background doesn't really blend, but it appears that was the effect the group was going for. Group dynamics are well done.
    Rating: 8

    Brookes McKenzie

    Breaks the mood somewhat by being just a little too loud and brassy. The drumming sounds nice and crisp, though the singing is a little fuzzy/processed in comparison — it sounds like they're singing in a vacuum. The whole song is also blasted out at the same volume. I think they boosted the basses artificially. I like this song, though.
    Rating: 6

    Mike Connelly

    Another fairly simple, rhythmic tune. I liked the interruptive soprano solos in the middle — they are almost abrasive and squawky in their tone (and intonation — they seem intentionally slightly out of tune), but they work as a good contrast to the rest of the piece.
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    A lovely song with skilled light percussion and overprocessed vocals. The sopranos do a wonderful job with a difficult part and make this entirely African-language choral number a joy to listen to.
    Rating: 8

  9. Zombie Jamboree (4.4)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    basses are all over the place, and they're given pitches they can't hit in their lower range. the soloist is nice. the women are cool. i don't know. what the hell? i don't know. this song has been done a thousand times by a thousand groups and i don't find much original here to get excited about.
    Rating: 3

    Joe Oliva

    Unoriginal arrangement. The group's energy sounds a little down in this rendition and it also could have been taken at a slightly faster tempo.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    A direct transcription of the Rockapella version, but minus the energy of the background and the limberness of the solo. The whole thing sounds a little bit _lame_, actually. The soloist in particular, even though he has a nice voice, simply can't pull off the interesting bits of the song. He also is too slow throughout the entire song, even more so than the background, who are a little slow but would sound fine with more spunk. The background also sounds stilted and stiff. Basses can't hit their lowest note. The women on the top parts are enunciating too much. All together not as successful as the other songs.
    Rating: 5

    Mike Connelly

    Ouch. This had to be one of the longest continuous cringes I've had in a long time. The soloist is dismal — the fake accent is just bad, he doesn't go for any of the high notes (even though they've dropped the key by a half step), and generally, his voice just annoyed me. The worst thing about this rendition is the total lack of energy from the group — they sound like they recorded this five minutes after they were all suddenly woken up. I can just see them all huddled around a mic in their bathrobes and bunny slippers.
    Rating: 1

    Rebecca Christie

    Remember the King's Singers covering the Beatles and the Beach Boys? Good arrangements, good singing and the occasional missed point. In this song Talisman isn't quite as much fun as the British icons, but there is the same juxtaposition of misapplied chutzpah. Here we have a perfectly lovely choir, reasonably with it, singing what was originally the grandaddy of a cappella pop songs. The catch is that they're singing essentially Rockapella's arrangement, and in the unavoidable comparison inevitably come up short.
    Rating: 6

  10. Babethandaza (7.4)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this song starts off extremely cool. the percussion groove is steady, the first female vocal is sweet and stylish. i love the voices in the background just kinda hanging out having a little party. more percussion is added after the short breakdown. this is what i wish some of the other tunes would have done in terms of "direction:" it really moves, pulls you in all the way to the end of the tune. cool.
    Rating: 7

    Joe Oliva

    The percussion and voices on this cut are arranged similarly in that they both start simple, moving to more complex and full arrangements. Good group dynamics. The energy in this song just keeps building.
    Rating: 9

    Brookes McKenzie

    The shortest song on the album, this song is refreshing as the energy that was missing from "Zombie Jamboree" is plentiful here. However the pinched woman from track 3 dominates the entire song, which is unfortunate. If it weren't for her, this track would be quite a bit better.
    Rating: 6

    Mike Connelly

    More chant-like vocals over a percussive groove. The energy and dynamics are nice, and the repetitiveness doesn't get old simply because the song is over before you have a chance to get tired of it. The "party atmosphere" sounds throughout were a bit overdone, and a little distracting.
    Rating: 6

    Rebecca Christie

    I like the way they built off their numbers to give the song a very "village" feel to it, as if a community were singing it even as their life went about its daily business, which I suspect is the point of the song. Talisman can't replicate the richness that Sweet Honey in the Rock brings to this arrangement, but their more youthful rendition is lots of fun. Great percussion.
    Rating: 9

  11. Something Within Me (5.8)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this is a gospel tune by take 6. to do this kind of song, the soloist has got to be beyond belief, which this one is not. (the whole point of a gospel solo is the improvisation, and this soloist sings EXACTLY, note for note, what the soloist in take 6 sings on their album.) the main problem i have with this song is not the soloist, however, nor the performance, which is fine. but it's another song on a self-proclaimed album of "folksongs" that just doesn't seem to be in the spirit of the rest of the album. we're immersed in an african village singing the monophonic stuff that babethandaza is made of, and all of a sudden we're in a southern baptist gospel church singing about jesus. the only notes that give a hint as to what this album is about are on the back tray of the cd, where we're told that the album is a collection of folksongs, and where we see a "tribal symbol depicting the unity between different groups of people, afuntun mmireku — denkyem mmireko." so the listener expects a certain sound, which is found all over the cd, but then stuff like "something within me" and "summertime" and you're like what? this is not in keeping with the theme of the album, and it's just kinda outta place. whatever.
    Rating: 3

    Joe Oliva

    Unoriginal arrangement. The lead vocalist sings on closed sounds such as consonants, which is not conducive to the melodic flow in this case. The snaps and handclaps sound too artificial. The overall tuning is excellent.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    Background too slow, and the solo is nice but at times she sounds like she's in a different key than the background. Snapping and clapping are nice on this song, both well-performed and well-recorded — many groups would do well to take note of how Talisman make them sound at once natural and on-rhythm without being robotic. Overall this is a good attempt at a difficult song.
    Rating: 7

    Mike Connelly

    Yet another verbatim lift of a well known a cappella tune. This one was actually better than I expected - they come pretty close to the Take 6 arrangement, but what's the point? The group can't even approach the tight sound that T6 gets, and the solo isn't nearly as exciting performed by a woman.
    Rating: 5

    Rebecca Christie

    Really the only thing you can say about this is that Talisman ain't no Take 6. Which is _not_ a fair thing to say about anybody — this is a good song. The background translates well to a larger choir. The solo does quite a job trying to duplicate the vocal gymnastics. Part of the time she is a bit overwhelmed by the technique and loses sight of what she is singing — without emotion the acrobatics go hollow, and if one had to suffer I think she picked the wrong one.
    Rating: 7

  12. The Rainmaker (8.2)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this is from the power of one (although you wouldn't know it from the lack of liner notes...), a movie with tons of african folksongs performed exceedingly well on the soundtrack to the film. this is a highly successful remake, featuring the men of the group more than in previous tracks on this album, and tons of percussion instruments, notably a great cymbal swell (one of my favorite orchestral effects). the overall pitch of this track falls noticeably flat, and the choral section just past the middle has major pitch problems, but when the groove kicks back in at about 6 minutes we're back in it. this is one of the few songs on this album that i assume must sound tons better on the album than it ever could have live. the reverb on the voices overall (especially the basses) and percussion effects could not have been too successful live. not that that really matters. i'm all for studio a cappella, and this is wonderful. the changes are great, as far as i can remember that's the responsibility of lebo m., who directed the singers on the power of one soundtrack. anyway. nice track to end the album. must have taken forever to learn...
    Rating: 7

    Joe Oliva

    Parts of this eight minute (plus) tune sound so diverse that it is more like a medley. Sure, pretty long tune, but still an interesting arrangement which takes the listener through a range of musical styles and emotions.
    Rating: 8

    Brookes McKenzie

    They used quite a lot of effects on this song, which don't sound misplaced for the most part, but one does notice them. It also sounds like they used another instrument other than drums. I sort of hate the choral part in the middle, but some of the others are quite nice. In one part a strange pop sound creeps in, then segues to a strangely commercial-sounding section, which I don't quite know what to make of. I'm certainly _impressed_ by this long and complex song, and for the most part it sounds really good. I do think that some parts could have been handled differently, but it's more or less a matter of taste.
    Rating: 8

    Mike Connelly

    Seeming more like a medley than like one song, this one alternates between slow, sustained sections and rhythmic, percussive ones. The overall effect is very majestic and powerful, building from a haunting opening to a triumphant end. In spots, it almost sounds like a world music version of Carmina Burana. The opening soloist has a great sound, very raw. There is a surprising amount of percussion for an a cappella record (some spots are all percussion with no voices), but it works well.
    Rating: 8

    Rebecca Christie

    Pretty damn cool. I adore the solo at the beginning — amazing stuff. The more choral sections work too, and the percussion has some wonderful rhythms to it. Never fear, you a cappella purists — the drums are by no means the center of the song and when present add far more than a basic beat.

    I'm not familiar with the original from the "Power Of One" soundtrack, so I can't speak with any certainty on the influences and origins of the piece. Heck, I haven't even seen the movie. But when I listen, I hear a merging of African themes (I'm guessing South African from the lyrics, but the percussion and opening solo sound like stuff I've heard coming out of Senegal) with classical and even new age music — and some lines that sound to my under-educated ear to be of more East African/Arabic influence — not unlike what Peter Gabriel did with his "Passion" soundtrack.
    Rating: 10

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