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RARB REVIEW

School: Stanford
Group: Everyday People
Album: Wail

Total time: 66:23, 21 songs
Recorded 1996

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Always (6.8)
  2. Chain of Fools (5.4)
  3. Early in the Morning (6.0)
  4. Man in the Mirror (6.6)
  5. I Wanna Be Down/Baby (7.4)
  6. Future Love Paradise (7.0)
  7. The Tracks of My Tears (4.2)
  8. You Don't Know Nothin' (5.2)
  9. God Bless The Child (6.0)
  10. With Every Breath I Take (5.8)
  11. Baby I Love You (7.6)
  12. Occapella (5.8)
  13. Killing Me Softly (5.0)
  14. Water Runs Dry (5.6)
  15. Sign Your Name (4.8)
  16. A Natural Woman (6.0)
  17. I Can See Clearly Now (5.4)
  18. I Wish It Would Rain (5.0)
  19. Ooh Child (5.4)
  20. You Gotta Be (7.2)
  21. Multimedia (6.0)

Reviews

Overall

Alison Berube Sullivan

This group has really got it together. They have lots of things going for them in terms of achieving a full and balanced sound, including the fact that they are co-ed, and have a large membership. The vocal talent is clear from the first track. They have a solid command of the use of powerful musical elements such as dynamics, and the songs on this album have good energy throughout, leading me to believe that they must put on a great live show.

Each soloist infuses his/her song with lots of personal style. The women's voices are especially strong, but the male vocalists are not as aggressive as the women, and therefore tend to get overshadowed at times. There are some weak links on this album, but the good songs make it worth buying, in my opinion. When they are on, they are really there, no question, and it is nothing but a pleasure to listen to. The cd also has the extra feature of cd-plus video, but as I was unable to view it, I am unable to review it.
Rating: 8 (6.9)

Brookes McKenzie

A slightly above average coed group, the Stanford Everyday People seem to pride themselves on having a lot of soul. While some of it is evident on this album, for the most part it seems to consist of their song choice, which is all R&B and urban contemporary, which in my mind gets equally boring as when a group does nothing but alternative Top 40 and selected 80's favorites. They do three Aretha Franklin songs, only one of which really kicks. Enough said. They do the exact same percussion on every song that could possibly use it, which gets old fast, especially since it all sounds muffled and overly bass-heavy. A lot of the soloists have vaguely androgynous voices, which they could have capitalized on more. For the most part, though, their female soloists in particular are a cut above the norm. For all their vaunted soul, this group has a really choral sound a lot of the time. They could also blend better, especially between the men and the women. The album is way too long, and sequencing, while good in the beginning, soon begins to suffer. A lot of the songs would have garnered greater attention had they not been buried between songs of a similar time period or genre. The songs that work are the ones where they sound like they're enjoying themselves.
Rating: 6 (4.9)

Matt Cohen

A quick look at the packaging will tell you that a lot of thought and hard work went into this album. Unfortunately, that work doesn't show so clearly in the music itself, although you can see (or rather, hear) that their heart is in the right place. They generally aim for arrangements that put the vocal percussion back in the background and focus their efforts into creating large harmonies in the backing vocals (something other groups entirely forget to do). This is all undermined by too many blunders to ignore. They make a lot of attempts to mix in snippets of other songs into an arrangement. While I respect the attempts to mix melodies, most of the time they end up creating a musical mud puddle. (The one notable exception to this is "How I Wish it Would Rain," which teaches an old Lou Reed riffs some new tricks.) Part of the reason this album always seems to be only hinting at what the group can really do is the engineering problems. The sound levels are low and the tones are muted. When you turn up the volume to compensate, the levels peak (creating some rather unpleasant sounds). What makes this album noteworthy, in the end, is that it's the first enhanced CD (music and multimedia on the same disc) that I've seen from a college group. While the multimedia section is far from a masterwork, they get points for being brave enough to try it.
Rating: 6 (5.7)

John Magruder

Why is this album called Wail? Because I wailed every time I heard it. I wailed for a more interesting album. I wailed for a more energetic album. I think it was more painful than others because it was close, but not quite. There is nothing wrong with the album musically. You have to look to find minor tempo and pitch problems. It just did not keep my interest. It is becoming rather popular to perform Motown and pop R&B a cappella these days, especially with groups I have heard from the West Coast lately. I don't really know why though. Especially when the performances don't have anywhere near the soul, the energy, or the groove that the original tune has. Another disturbing trend to me is for college groups to put as many songs on an album as they possibly can, despite the quality of a number of their selections. Was 20 songs really necessary? I had to wonder if this group ever looked back at their repertoire and noticed how similar most of the songs were. Mostly slow to mid-tempo songs. Very few songs got the blood pumping or stirred the soul. Only 'Future Love Paradise' _really_ grabbed me and showcased what a group of this size (18!) can do. Lose the fat. The more I heard this album, the less I wanted to hear this album. It ended up boring me in the end. It was like driving 30mph on a straight road in the middle of Iowa: no excitement. The multimedia portion of this album did not work on _any_ of the PC's I tried it on. I had to kill the tasks on each one of the 3 machines that tried reading the disk because it hung the machine. So that was a bust too.
Rating: 6 (5.3)

Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

everyday people has a disproportionate number of outstanding soloists. if every struggling a cappella group in the country could steal one of the soloists from ep, well, uh, they'd be like, much better. however, there are too many tracks on this album: the only thing i would've done differently if i had produced it would be to spend more time on fewer tunes. too many clunkers. i know this group's capabilities too well, and i know that given an 8 song set they'll blow you out of your seat with their sheer groove potential and solo superpowers. but ask any group to come up with 20 amazing tracks for their album and it's just not gonna happen. so "wail" suffers from inconsistency in this regard. here's something that outweighs the weaker tracks for me: this group has style, when you watch them, when you hear them, you know it's them and not any of the other 1 billion collegiate groups in this country. this cannot be overstated, nor can it be imitated. somebody somewhere along the line gave this group a direction, and they went in that direction with few if any distractions. i don't want to sound all parental 'cause i realize i'm nothing but a pitiful fucking child but if i had any advice for any group anywhere it would be find something you like and do that thing really well, 'cause otherwise you'll just be like everyone else. everyday people found what they love, and they love what they do, and so do i.
Rating: 8 (6.7)


Individual Tracks

  1. Always (6.8)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    With a steady, solid beat, this is a great opener. The group is really in the groove. Good vocal percussion, and a smooth key change in the middle.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    Percussion, while good, is too heavily mixed. The women on the main riff are too choral. Soloist has a nice voice — a little too much vibrato especially up top, and the heaviness with which she comes down on the low notes sounds out of place (even though it's a nice change from Mariah). The main gimmick of this song is the way that Mariah blends into the background while she's singing in the same range, and this version does the opposite. Basses sound a little bit lame.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    Not the most engaging song to start an album with, but not a bad cut at all. On the plus side, this Mariah Carey cover is built around the harmony on the back-up vocals, which is nice to hear for a change (when so many groups forget to throw in any harmony at all). The downside to this is that the harmony never engulfs you. The overall sound of the group is too small (which I suspect is a fault with the recording, not the singing). Fortunately, the tasteful vocal percussion and the easygoing spirit keep this song on track.
    Rating: 6

    John Magruder

    Have to admit I am not a big Mariah Carey fan, but this is a promising start for the album. This song has a good, solid sound, with pretty good harmonies. It has a steady groove, and the soloist is interesting.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this is great. until the bridge, when there are slight pitch problems. but seriously, i like the soloist (osi imeokparia) better than i like mariah (who, i must confess, i don't really like). this is a very simple arrangement of a simple song, and it shows off an excellent singer. one thing i might have asked for was a little more originality from the arrangement (which seems to be a very straightforward imitation of the original vocals from carey's version), but otherwise, a very nice opener to this album, tight & unobtrusive vocal percussion, great.
    Rating: 8

  2. Chain of Fools (5.4)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This one is not bad, but the arrangement has gaps where almost nobody is singing. These holes make the song sound empty and disjointed. But when they are all singing, this group has a strong, full sound.
    Rating: 5

    Brookes McKenzie

    Basses sound too straight and rest of the background is slightly out of rhythm. The chorus is nice, though. The whole thing starts to sound too slow in the middle, as if they either ran out of energy or started too slow to begin with. Bridge is far too naked (only one backing voice for the pivotal "hoo-hoo" part) and soloist is off-rhythm.
    Rating: 5

    Matt Cohen

    Again, there's a lot of choral harmony here. The arrangement is basically a lead vocal, most of the group in harmony behind her, and a small simple bass line with a little snapping thrown in. Nothing against simple arrangements, but this particular performance doesn't have enough rock or soul.
    Rating: 5

    John Magruder

    A pretty simple arrangement. Except when everybody sang 'chain, chain, chain', it had an empty sound. It left me wanting something more from the song, but then it is hard to emulate Aretha Franklin.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    uh, another great soloist, jane lee. again, however, i could've stood more originality and variety in the arrangement, as it is very straight, and doesn't really build as the song progresses. for some reason these songs seem to be succeeding on the merits of the soloists, and the fact that the backups just sound natural and unforced. all this needed was a little spark from the arrangement to make me fall in love...
    Rating: 6

  3. Early in the Morning (6.0)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This song starts out quiet and a bit sedated, but the energy picks up. The soloist really gets into it. The "muted trumpet" is good, but the constant "doo-doo" in the background detracts a little from the bluesy sound.
    Rating: 6

    Brookes McKenzie

    Soloist has a cool, androgynous voice, but he's not completely there throughout the song. The background lacks oomph, and it's a little too slow. Just when you think it's gone on too long, it starts getting better, though, with a spot-on trumpet imitation, and the background gets into it a little more. This could have been a really neat, interesting song, but it doesn't quite make it in its current incarnation.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    This starts out small and simple, but with the promise of a grand, bluesy crescendo to come. When that crescendo comes, it is unfortunately muddled. The ambitious arrangement doesn't hold together; none of the vocal lines seem to quite fit. Each bit is just a little bit off, but when you put it all together it sounds musically incoherent.
    Rating: 4

    John Magruder

    A relatively slow blues tune by Louis Jordan. What an odd tune sung this way. It did not sit well with me. Didn't like it.
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i've seen everyday people live. you need to see everyday people live to get this song, i think, not that this recording is bad, just that you have to see adrian khactu sing this louis jordan tune to believe it. he's a fantastic soloist, a fantastic performer, and his arrangement is interesting and progressive and a great complement to his wailing. if this song had stayed a little deeper in the pocket rhythmically, it would've been perfect (ooh, except that trumpet, which i confess to not loving). it's just great to hear somebody sing who's really just letting out their personality into a microphone. fuckin' rock me.
    Rating: 9

  4. Man in the Mirror (6.6)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    I must start out by saying that I like this version of this song much better than the original. The soloist is great, singing with strength and feeling. On top of that, good percussion and nice background blend.
    Rating: 8

    Brookes McKenzie

    Soloist sounds like she's flat, but I can't tell if that's just because they've lowered the song to accommodate her. She's an alto with a nice low range, and her voice is fine (albeit slightly adenoidal-sounding), but she shouldn't be singing this song — Michael Jackson is not exactly known for his bass solos. Arrangement is rather boring, even irritating in that they leave out the highest and most prominent part on the chorus. The key change adds energy, but the soloist still drags where she should be the one driving the song ahead. Yet another group ignores the irony of having a woman sing "I'm looking at a man in the mirror."
    Rating: 4

    Matt Cohen

    First off, this track can't come close to touching the Tuft's Amalgamates version. That aside, this is a turning point for Wail. Soloist Denise Shepherd has strong alto pipes from the very start. Although things get a bit shaky part way through the arrangement, the group finally clicks on the big finish — the harmony finally strikes a chord (no pun intended) and truly perks up your ears.
    Rating: 7

    John Magruder

    An interesting choice of an alto for soloist... but it worked. Don't know why I noticed, but the style she sang with chopped off the ends of words, like "I been a victim uh, a selfish kind of luh...". Oh well. The number of voices made for good choruses at the end, but overall the song seemed to lack some kind of energy... some kind of drive.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    ooh, denise. denise shepherd arranged and sang this track, and i loved nearly every second of her... the harmony at the end of the chorus were kinda weird, & there were some rhythmic inaccuracies in the solo & backgrounds of the chorus, although others would certainly take issue with me on this point. but denise is a great thick low alto, and when she and the rest of the group start jamming towards the end of the track, she wails and they wail and basically the title of this album is appropriate. i dug the arrangement (although i could've stood less "doo"), nice mellow percussion, nice reference to other jackson songs. you can mess michael jackson up, you can cheesify him, you can ruin his songs a cappella, but everyday people brings something new to this song and takes nothing away from the original.
    Rating: 8

  5. I Wanna Be Down/Baby (7.4)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a great arrangement — full and well balanced. Soloist, percussion, and the bassline are notable. When the soloist sings, I believe her. Yeah, this one works. Period.
    Rating: 9

    Brookes McKenzie

    Soloist is good on this one. The same percussion as in the last 4 songs. Mildly boring arrangement seems appropriately simple here, and also we're being distracted by the soloist. The chorus is nice and full, and I like the nice clear way the sopranos go "baby" at the end of it. The only part that sounds weak is the ending, when the lead overpowers the mike a little, and the background ends in an odd way that makes it sound like the song's not finished. Good for the most part, though.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    A great showcase for the women. This song may seem to be stuck in a groove musically, but it's a good groove, a groovy groove. And it's got just enough clever little tricks up it's sleeve to keep it sounding fresh.
    Rating: 7

    John Magruder

    I don't like this style of music much, but they captured the feel. The backgrounds were not very compelling (especially the men).
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this is great. great backup vocals, again true to the original, fantastic solo by crystal mccreary, groovalicious. it just grooves, & that's what r&b is all about. great solo over a simple groovin' arrangement by geraldine "g" chung. love the last note, too.
    Rating: 8

  6. Future Love Paradise (7.0)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    The sound of this track is faithful to Seal's music. There is intricate movement in the background parts, which always adds interest to a song. Once again, the percussion is excellent.
    Rating: 9

    Brookes McKenzie

    This song does not start out well, blared out by an unsubtle soloist with a choral background, and doesn't get much better. Messy where it tries to rock, muddled where it's trying to be complicated, only the second verse where the background thins out temporarily can you even understand the soloist (who actually does better on the fast verses than on the chorus). This song in general has a tendency to get out of control fast, because there's so much going on, and it's really hard to make it intelligible to the listener, but I've heard it done better than this.
    Rating: 5

    Matt Cohen

    There's lots of brief quotes from other Seal songs in this cover. It's a bit crowded, but it's still clever and effective. At it's worst, this track has too much going on — all the vocal percussion slurs together into a large mega drum drone. The flip side is that this is the first track on the CD that starts to get past some recording problems — the group has a less muted sound than they had previously. This is largely because of some slick use of shadow vocals — the lead vocalist is occasionally joined by other singers whispering the lyrics.
    Rating: 7

    John Magruder

    Best song on the album and the only song I ever really care to hear again. Good arrangement with a great drive. It was exciting to hear. Do more of this! Please!
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    seal. not a great solo, backups fall flat relatively often on this track. the arrangement is extremely thick, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's a little much a little early until the break that comes about midway, which i really like. i like the references to other seal tunes during the last chorus, it works well and pulls the listener into the ending as opposed to boring them away. it seems to me there was way too much reverb used all over this track, it kind of muddied the parts up. basses do a good job in general on this tune.
    Rating: 6

  7. The Tracks of My Tears (4.2)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Everyday People takes it down a notch with this mellow track, especially since it follows the intensity of the previous song. No major problems here, but the song is repetitive.
    Rating: 5

    Brookes McKenzie

    Something of a choral nightmare. An stiff and unattractive soloist, who sounds like he's asleep at the wheel on the verses and on some other planet during the chorus, and THEN he gets into falsetto. The background is thin and unconvincing on the verses and suddenly composed entirely of piercing sopranos and unintentional dissonance on the chorus. I have yet to hear this song performed even adequately, let alone as well as it deserves.
    Rating: 2

    Matt Cohen

    The leads are sung by a solid tenor, but he doesn't quite wail enough for my tastes. The arrangement is tasteful and engaging. It holds off on using any percussion until the very end when it throws in some fresh syncopated rhythms.
    Rating: 6

    John Magruder

    Hey, more R&B/Motown! This was insipid. Sounded like some guy went to a karaoke bar, sang this, and recorded it for drunken posterity. About as far from Smokey Robinson as you can get.
    Rating: 3

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    mmm, i don't know. i guess i'd have to say i didn't particularly enjoy this one. not in love with the solo, not in love with the arrangement which was kinda jumpy & stilted, i just think that ep is capable of doing a lot more with this song. halfway through the bridge there's a huge increase in overall volume, like the track wasn't compressed as a whole as much as it should have been. a relatively weak link...
    Rating: 5

  8. You Don't Know Nothin' (5.2)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Again, this is a very repetitive arrangement. The harmonies are parallel for the most part, and some of the chords dissonant. The bridge and key change are a little rough. I like the use of multiple soloists.
    Rating: 3

    Brookes McKenzie

    A shriekfest for the women, who can't quite stay in tune, this song starts out rather chorally, although the first soloist is good, the second is adequate. Parts of it are tolerable, but the key change is somewhat agonizing, and the higher they get the worse it is. Either one person is really off, or they all have trouble staying on their notes. In the end they sound as if they're in three separate keys.
    Rating: 4

    Matt Cohen

    Step aside boys — It's time for the women to sing! And when they sing it never sounds like half a group. If anything, it's a little better held together than a lot of the stuff I've heard from female groups of late. The whole song is accompanied by steady stream of snaps. (How long has it been since you've heard plain old snapping on a college disc?! Too long, I'd guess.)
    Rating: 6

    John Magruder

    This song was a chance for the women in the group to show off, and they made the most of it. This was a good song. Solid harmonies and a groovin' background helped make this one of the best on the album.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    all women, which was kinda cool i must say. i couldn't tell whether the strange pitches at the beginning of this tune were bad pitch or just strange pitches sung well, but definitely after this the pitches are a little weaker than on other tracks. there're also some odd rhythmic areas in the breakdown. nice solo work, though, and a nice arrangement in general by g. not one of my faves, though.
    Rating: 5

  9. God Bless The Child (6.0)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This soulful gospel track is a change of pace. It is nice to listen to, but at times the lyrics are hard to understand.
    Rating: 6

    Brookes McKenzie

    Mr. Androgyne from track 3 is back, but he doesn't sound as good on this song, because he alternates between blending into the background and powering it out without much feeling. He still has a beautiful voice, but it's somewhat lost on this song. The background doesn't really help, by blaring unexpectedly half the time. Ends suddenly.
    Rating: 5

    Matt Cohen

    They don't embarrass themselves, but they don't convince you that they should be doing vocal jazz on a regular basis, either.
    Rating: 5

    John Magruder

    This soloist managed to get some soul — which is good, because overall the men are duds. Not a really good song, but not a bad song either. There was just not enough to keep me interested. Another slow song...
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    adrian saves the day again. i was worried we'd descended into bad pitch and mediocre collegiate a cappella land there for a second, but it was not to be. there's definitely some rhythm problems in the background here, however slight, but adrian did a nice pseudo-jazz arrangement of this standard and soloed the living shit out of it. short, sweet, great.
    Rating: 8

  10. With Every Breath I Take (5.8)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    The solo is light and breathy, and somehow she makes it work for this song. The scat section is well done. Effective use of dynamics, and a decent arrangement of a difficult song.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    This song starts out alright, although it sounds a little too much like the last one, and it shares with that song a severe tendency to get loud and unattractive, this time in the choruses. The solo is okay, a little bit blah, but the scat is quite nice. Ending is way too abrupt.
    Rating: 5

    Matt Cohen

    Or, on second thought, maybe they should. But only if they use the same soloist they do here. She's convincing from the start. Nice slow scat solo. FYI-This song comes from a musical. Interesting choice.
    Rating: 6

    John Magruder

    A slow, jazzy piece. Or at least I thought it was supposed to be jazzy. It did not sound focused enough to thrill me.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this is from "city of angels." seems kind of an unusual choice for ep, who i feel are better suited for and are better at r&b stuff, be it new or old. anyway, this show tune left me kinda wondering why they chose it. not that it's bad or anything, just that it seems a. outta place and b. average. nice solo, nice arrangement, ok scat by denise, i just am sitting here waiting for the next groover, waiting for the city of angels soundtrack to end...
    Rating: 5

  11. Baby I Love You (7.6)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This song is really groovy. Great soloist. And since the whole group is into the song, I got into it. The energy is high and the harmony is tight.
    Rating: 9

    Brookes McKenzie

    This song works because they keep the energy going, and the arrangement has a nice feel — the women on the main riff manage to not get annoying, and the solo keeps our attention by being right on. Halfway through the song she seems to change position in regards to the microphone, but this is overcome. The background is a little too buried in the mix on the verses. The snapping part is cute and well done. Again, though, the ending spoils it by being chopped off. A good song nevertheless - they make a lot of the right choices here.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    A nice blend of soul with a simple, pre-percussive arrangement. More snaps!
    Rating: 7

    John Magruder

    A fun bouncy tune with a good soloist. It got my head bobbin' to the rhythm. Loved that ending!
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    ahh, yes. here it is. soulful, powerful solo by osi again. baby got balls. nice, movin' arrangement by ethan rikleen builds throughout. how good is this? very good. this is what this group does well. start to finish, this song doesn't let you down. a groover. that's what i was waiting for.
    Rating: 8

  12. Occapella (5.8)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a pretty standard Manhattan Transfer song. It has its moments but overall is very repetitive. This version has some good elements, however. They keep the song light and the percussive beginning is good..
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    Soloist fits here (unlike in track 4), and while the background occasionally gets a little heavy, for the most part it sounds good. The soprano figure that dominates the verses works for me. I like this song, but they shouldn't have put it after "Baby I Love You" as it's similar in feel, but not as good as the previous effort.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    It's got a slow drive to it, but it still seams a little under tempo. A bigger, deeper sound than I would ever expect from the Manhattan Transfer. There's a nice swelling effect towards the end of the arrangement.
    Rating: 6

    John Magruder

    A moderately interesting Manhattan Transfer tune. However, I think that the size of the group was a detriment to this song. It just was not crisp. Mid-tempo jazz. Eh.
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    godDAMN, denise can sing. so low, so thick, she's great. i don't love the percussion on this track, and there are some rhythm problems. the arrangement did not thrill me after the first minute or so, and i didn't love the sans-solo ending (maybe this song succeeds on any level because of the soloist...).
    Rating: 5

  13. Killing Me Softly (5.0)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    I love this song. This is a good arrangement and a nice combination of voices singing together. The percussion is, as usual, solid and essential to the great overall sound. Well done.
    Rating: 9

    Brookes McKenzie

    It seems a little bit silly to do a cover of a cover, especially since they only do half of the song, without the dance-y and guitar bits that make the Fugees version interesting. Soloist sounds like she's trying to parody Lauren Hill, and in the process going flat. Not really worth the effort, it seems to me.
    Rating: 3

    Matt Cohen

    I like the idea of doing this sparsely, but this sounds a little anemic. Instead of being haunting, the overall tone is depresses. The beat fails to groove.
    Rating: 3

    John Magruder

    BORING. It was gutsy of them to try it with a laid back house-beat-thing... and not much else. Did not work for me at all. Not a very interesting song. Enough with the mellow stuff already! Thank goodness it was short.
    Rating: 4

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    bad pitch on the bass is noticeable immediately in this fugees cover (that's kinda funny, covering a cover band), and his pitch is just plain bad throughout. competent percussion, great solo by g, and a small, quality backup choir of 4 or 5. this is extremely short, which i wasn't expecting, and the tune might have benefited by exploding into a full-on version by the whole group. as it stands it makes a nice intro.
    Rating: 6

  14. Water Runs Dry (5.6)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a soft and gentle song, sung easily and without pressure. The background is a little loose in places. Nice personal style from the soloist.
    Rating: 6

    Brookes McKenzie

    Choral background, starting out sort of twiddly and disconnected, with another woman who sounds like a man on the lead. Blend suffers on this song. Parts of it are nice, though, but no better than it would be if Boyz II Men were really _a cappella_. You could argue that the solo is marginally more interesting, but she sounds a lot like Aaliyah, so it's sort of a toss-up.
    Rating: 5

    Matt Cohen

    Slow and unassuming, but it has all the gentle groove that was missing from track 13. The sample from Motownphilly, however, is a little too slow and lifeless.
    Rating: 7

    John Magruder

    Hmmm. Slow, mellow R&B pop again. Boys II Men slow, mellow R&B pop nonetheless. Start with a lackluster background, throw in a slow rendition of their famous 'In The Still Of The Night' intro, and you have a song meant for the fast forward button. At least the soloist had a nice voice.
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i like boyz II men better on this. andy cann does a good job on the solo, but the arrangement leaves something to be desired in its excessive use of homophony, and i found the overt reference to the big boyz II men hit "motownphilly" (the "dm dm dm da da" hook) contrived and unnecessary. there are several rhythmic problems and even some harmonies that are just wrong, and overall this is one r&b tune where ep just didn't quite cut it.
    Rating: 5

  15. Sign Your Name (4.8)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Once again, I am impressed with the percussion. This is not the strongest track on the album, and probably the longest, but not bad. After a slow start, the group really comes alive at the bridge.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    Solo sounds like he's in a different key than the background, and he also has a very weird quality on the chorus, sounding like a cross between Benjamin Britten and Erasure. Then the bridge happens, which is really unfortunate — the solo is off, out of his range _and_ warbling, and the background goes choral with a vengeance. For the rest of the time the arrangement is fine, although it gets a little wacky towards the end — obviously they were bored the rest of the song. The heartbeat-like percussion they use 9/10ths of the time sounds good here. Goes on too long.
    Rating: 4

    Matt Cohen

    The lead vocalist has a thin voice. This isn't so bad in and of itself, but he also sounds strained and nervous. He's a bit better when the song crescendos on the bridge, but it still sounds like he's pushing himself. The soloist also arranged this cut and he's considerably more successful at that task. The tail end of the arrangement is sprinkled with nice little blue notes. A good song choice for this group, but the execution doesn't cut it. Is it just me, or does the sound level really jump up a notch on the bridge?
    Rating: 4

    John Magruder

    A slow R&B song. An empty, soulless song. Blech. Boring soloist. Boring arrangement. Pissy sophomoric ending. Anemic clap track as well. Take two Geritol and call me next semester.
    Rating: 3

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    nice groove, bud (andrew beers) does an admirable job on both solo and arrangement, with one exception: there's a strange chord at the beginning of every verse; i think it's supposed to be a minor V going to a major V, but it sounds like both at the same time. kinda weird. looking back on the last couple of songs, i guess this is what you'd call a lull in the album. none of these recent tunes have really thrilled as i know ep is capable of thrilling.
    Rating: 6

  16. A Natural Woman (6.0)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Good song choice, especially for this soloist. Group entrances could be tighter, but nice crescendo on choruses, and smooth blend.
    Rating: 7

    Brookes McKenzie

    Solo is good — she does interesting things with the melody, and has an attractive voice — but sounds a little unsure of herself. I can't stand parts of this arrangement, basses are going "doo" and random people are coming in and not blending, but some of the soprano parts on the chorus are nice and subtle. But three Aretha songs on the same album is a little much.
    Rating: 5

    Matt Cohen

    Normally I would advise anyone against covering an Aretha Franklin song, not because I worship her with a Murphy Brown-esque loyalty (which I don't), but because as a vocalist she leaves her stamp on a song. It's hard to top the audience's memory of Aretha. Keeping that in mind — I like the lead vocalist on this cover. She's got strong pipes and is worth giving a listen to.
    Rating: 7

    John Magruder

    These People sure like Aretha Franklin. But even Aretha would not like this rendition of her classic. The normally tight women's harmonies were _gone_. I was actually wincing when they sang in the choruses. What happened? A simple arrangement of another slow song.
    Rating: 3

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    mmm. aah. crystal mccreary sounds mellow and soothing and beautiful and natural and ethan rikleen's arrangement is a perfectly simple support for her. aahs and oohs and great pitch and choral and soulful and just great. ooh yeah.
    Rating: 8

  17. I Can See Clearly Now (5.4)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a funky arrangement and performance of a good song. The lead vocal is strong and clear, and the soloist really takes ownership of the song.
    Rating: 9

    Brookes McKenzie

    This song seems a little overdone — the soloist leans so hard on her low notes that she sounds like she's about to fall over, and the background is just waiting for the "Joy and Pain" bit, which they do so enthusiastically that it sounds a little bit silly. Also having most of them do percussion on that part is a bad idea — it makes them sound amateurish. Perhaps it could have been mixed better. The background does have twice as much energy after that, though, so maybe it was worth it.
    Rating: 4

    Matt Cohen

    Ever since I first heard the Tuft's Beelzebubs segue from "Space Oddity" into "Major Tom" I've loved hearing quotes from other songs in an arrangement. But not here. They cut into this classic tune with a rocking section from "Joy and Pain." Although the group is actually at their best during this intrusion, it still shouldn't be in the middle of this song where, as a rule, simplicity is king. It's a musical non-sequitur of the highest order. Until that point they where trying to put their own stamp on the song with some vocals that swooped and swooned through the arrangement. Is it effective? Who can tell with the damn interlude breaking up the track and totally taking the listener out of the song! Anyway, I'd be interested to hear "Joy and Pain" in it's entirety.
    Rating: 2

    John Magruder

    A slow to mid-tempo song that was slow to find the energy needed to keep things going. But with a little energetic piece of 'Joy & Pain/Sunshine & Rain' it got a reprieve. But it finished too quickly, and with an uninspiring ending. They tried, but did not quite make it.
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i was being lulled into another pretty, soothing, mellow tune, successfully rendered by g on the solo and adrian doin' harmonies. all of a sudden there was an attack of "joy, pain, sunshine, & rain" i don't know what the hell song that is but it was a total riot. injected this track with the energy it needed to continue, and the percussion that began in this breakdown continued on through the rest of the tune. very cool.
    Rating: 7

  18. I Wish It Would Rain (5.0)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Unfortunately, this track suffers because of the track it follows. In comparison, it comes out sounding weaker than it should. The arrangement is thin but they make the most of it.
    Rating: 4

    Brookes McKenzie

    You would never guess that this song was originally done by the Temptations — it sounds so white-bread. This is not entirely the fault of the soloist (who is obviously an escapee from a musical), as the background also contributes by singing as if they're in straightjackets. Generally not a compelling song.
    Rating: 3

    Matt Cohen

    Here's is a fine example of what you can do if you just go back to the basics. This carefully layered arrangement never seems too busy, nor does it ever seem to be missing anything. The group makes nice use of quotes from other songs: when they use the famous backing vocal line from "Walk on the Wild Side" it isn't jarring or out of place at all — they perform it in the same style and spirit as the rest of the song and, once it seems natural, they start weaving it into the mix. Nicely done.
    Rating: 8

    John Magruder

    The women had their own song, so the men boys deserve one too. Right? Wrong. Yucky and slow with spotty pitch. I was bored again. They should have chosen a different song. The guys sounded like none of them wanted to sing any part other than baritone. No spark. No energy. No life.
    Rating: 3

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    not a great solo, i think that's the first time i'm saying that on this album full of immensely talented soloists. also, there are many pitch problems within the first minute of this tune and towards the very end. on the other hand, this arrangement is great. exactly at the breaking point, where either boredom can set in or talented and innovative arranging can take off, adrian rocks you with flowing and moving and bouncing and grooving backup parts. overlapping references to other temptations tunes and other tunes in general, the arrangement is what makes this song succeed.
    Rating: 7

  19. Ooh Child (5.4)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Good song choice, but the soloist sounds disinterested. Energy and emotion are better on the choruses than the verses. The song as a whole is a little disjointed with all the samples, but the samples themselves are very good.
    Rating: 6

    Brookes McKenzie

    An interesting song choice, it also starts out well with a sort of 'false soloist' effect, but the dynamics are too abrupt and the soloists blast whenever they get a chance. Nice subtle high soprano line in the chorus. I don't like the shouty bridge part where they all sing in near-unison, but after that it gets sort of interesting with lots of different parts. The parts of this song I like, I like a lot, but the others take it down a notch or two.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    This track also relies on a the same sort of back to basics arrangement that worked so well on the last song, but it doesn't come off. Whereas they sounded low key and sincere on "How I Wish it Would Rain", here they just sound kind of tired. The quote from "Let the Sun Shine In" doesn't fit in at all (and it's rather lifeless to boot).
    Rating: 4

    John Magruder

    A slow to mid-tempo R&B tune again. Is it over yet? An ill-advised medley with a _minor_ version of that 60's hippie anthem 'Let The Sun Shine In'. Why did they do that? It made no sense to my ears. They sounded like a bored choir in their choir robes. Where was the energy?
    Rating: 4

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    what makes this? the little solo offshoots all over the place. little improvisatory licks and shouts and stuff like that, which adrian likes to stick all over the place in his arrangements. this song has an overt reference to "let the sunshine in" from "hair," which kinda caught me by surprise, and then another to something i recognized but can't place. the second i thought fit much more naturally than the "hair" reference, and was performed much better as well. the main "ooh child" solos were very appropriate, and overall i pretty much grooved to this track, especially after the second reference kicked in towards the ending.
    Rating: 7

  20. You Gotta Be (7.2)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    I really enjoyed this song. The arrangement is full and interesting. Great choice of soloist for this song. Outstanding percussion.
    Rating: 9

    Brookes McKenzie

    Soloist has a nice breathy sound (though a little nasal in parts where she tries to imitate Des'ree), but she rushes the entire song, so that it ends up running away from them when it should be laid back. She also is uncomfortable on the high parts, such as the bridge. The ending is nice though — I like the way the arrangement takes off, even though the woman who sings the high solo echo should have sung that part of the solo too. Again, the very end is way too abrupt, especially since it's the last song on the album — they should have faded out or something.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    The group is back into standard contemporary material here. On the plus-side, they never go to far with the vocal percussion. In general, there's no glitches in the performance. On the other hand, the low levels that have been plaguing the whole album keep this track from taking off.
    Rating: 7

    John Magruder

    It's that interesting dance song from Des'ree that everybody seemed to like in the recent past. It sounded pretty good and had a good beat. At least they ended the album on an upswing.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    nice solo by davonna wadlington, nice arrangement (bud) with little flourishes here and there keeps the listener interested throughout. toward the end all kinds of parts get added for the insanity effect i'm so fond of; the only thing i'd've asked of the arrangement which doesn't seem to be present are bridges of some sort between the sections of the song, like some kind of vocal bridge between verse and chorus or chorus and bridge or something... but in general, kickin' percussion, great solo, sweet arrangement, good tune.
    Rating: 7

  21. Multimedia (6.0)
    Alison Berube Sullivan

    [not reviewed]
    Rating: none

    Brookes McKenzie

    [not reviewed]
    Rating: none

    Matt Cohen

    I got to hand it to them for their pioneering effort on this, despite the fact that a lot of the material is poorly designed. After a promising slide show intro, the main menu comes off as shockingly ugly. It's a bold psychedelic mix of textures that don't mix. A good menu should add coherence to a multimedia design and unite the different sections. This menu only illustrates the lack of focus that plagues this program. There's a movie thrown in (under the menu heading "video") that doesn't have a clearly defined purpose. It's a lot of different material edited together: Concert footage, rehearsals, hanging out, road trips, etc. The sound quality ranges from good to inaudible and there's nothing holding it together conceptually. Maybe just showing one song live, or else putting a narration over the montage, would have given the video a real reason for being. There's a few other sections: a slide show, a list of past albums, and a cute match-the-faces puzzle that's tricky enough to be interesting (although it never gives the user feedback that tells them that they've finished!). The most interesting as well as the best designed part is the "People" section. It's a good group photo tinted purple. When you roll the mouse over someone's head, their name appears. Click on their head and you can get a new photo and a bio of that member. The other nice part about the program is that you can play audio tracks from the CD while it's in your computer. However, they could have made better use of this section: When you play a song the screen graphics only tells you information that you could get in the regular liner notes. Why not have a lyric sheet or a little blurb by the soloist about why they do the song? And if you're going to put a picture of a stereo with a remote control, the user ought to be able to use the remote control to change tracks. Yes, it's flawed, but I was still impressed that they pulled it off at all.
    Rating: 6

    John Magruder

    [not reviewed]
    Rating: none

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    [not reviewed]
    Rating: none




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