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RARB REVIEW

School: University of Colorado
Group: In The Buff
Album: No Shame

Total time: 61:42, 16 songs
Recorded 1996

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Sweet Dreams (6.8)
  2. Vagabond Blues (7.4)
  3. Paperback Writer (5.4)
  4. Dark Eyes (6.6)
  5. Southern Cross (5.8)
  6. December 1963 (4.8)
  7. Boys of Summer (5.2)
  8. Everything Possible (5.4)
  9. Greased Lightning (5.2)
  10. Kiss From a Rose (6.2)
  11. As One (7.0)
  12. A Parting Blessing (5.2)
  13. Master Pete's Theater (7.0)
  14. Jack and Diane, Live (3.6)
  15. Superstition/Sledgehammer/Play That Funky Music, Live (5.0)
  16. Sweet Dreams, Live (4.8)

Reviews

Overall

Brookes McKenzie

For such a young group, In The Buff is certainly ambitious, with two originals and some serious attempts at reinterpretation ('Dark Eyes'), and they accomplish more of their aims than many groups on their first album. That said, this album is not stellar. It's interesting at times, but more for what it shows they could do in the future than for the actual quality of the performances. They make some nice stabs at arrangements, but unfortunately they seem to have one or more people who go seriously off every time the arrangement gets interesting. They're also handicapped by basses that are sporadic at best. A lot of their soloists sound like they come from Colorado (i.e., crunchy), which is fine, but they should just go with that instead of trying to deny it — like actually do a Dead song or something. Also I knew that 13 songs was too short (read: too good) to be true, but this is silly — if you're going to have 3 or more secret hidden tracks comprising basically half a live set tacked on at the end of your album, then you can at least _acknowledge_ it in your booklet.
Rating: 4 (4.0)

Ben Tritle

So, there I am, in my office, thinking "You know, I have this incredible craving for Icelandic folk music". Not having any immediately on hand I blindly grabbed the nearest CD available. I popped it in and started reading the liner notes. A three year old group and their first CD?!?! Good Grief, save me from the horror, it'll be out of tune, the direction will be complete crap, I'll have heard every song at least by ten groups before, there will be NO ORIGINALITY!!!!@^#*(@^&#!

Then my co-worker gave me a swift kick upside the head and after listening for a while, I realized, hey this isn't bad. In fact, how can this group only be around for three years when the song quality is this good, even for the couple songs that have been overdone.

Here's another shocker: two original songs, by Mule, a.k.a. Curt Siffert, with liner notes to keep score at home. From beginning to end, I was floored by their tight harmonies and their boldness in adding dynamics and making their interpretations. For a group that is so young, they definitely are making a claim for a place at the table.

OK, if there is anything wrong with the CD, it probably falls in the following two categories: 1) The one-a-part lines are easy to detect and do not blend easily, or 2) in the case of the last track, not only is it a humorous schtick, but there are three live performances that really should have been included in the notes; this tends to be annoying, especially when people are likely to hit the stop button at the end and not realize there was even more great music.

In the end both of these problems are very small pieces of the picture. You would expect a group fresh out of the blocks to be scared, these guys weren't, I look forward to more strong efforts: BUY THIS CD!!!
Rating: 8 (7.3)

John Magruder

This first outing by In The Buff, a group of men from Colorado is a fun, yet frustrating album. It is a spotty affair that covers quite a few bases. There are moments of lively, energetic musicality that occasionally borders on greatness. But those moments are counter-balanced by instances of shoddy pitch and cacophonous arranging. These guys take their singing seriously — seriously fun. Their enjoyment for what they are doing together really shows in the music, and in the album liner notes. These guys are friends through and through. This is what really brings the 'fun' element into the whole experience.

Like I said, their musicality is not always up to snuff. They don't shy away from anything though. Their arrangements are bold, and usually quite rich. It is in the execution that things suffer. Sometimes the soloist is not up to the task, sometimes it is the backgrounds that are just to sloppy. In cases like "Boys of Summer", it is both of these things.

You get a interesting mix of songs on this album, from The Eurythmics, Bob Dylan, and The Beatles, to the musical 'Grease'. There are also two (2!) original songs from one of the founding members, Curt Siffert. This is rare in collegiate a cappella, and these are noteworthy in how good they are.

When you think it is all over, they show you how much they love singing and performing with an unmentioned track of live material from their home crowd concert. It's all fun.

This album is never going to be an award winner, but I am not embarrassed to say that I like it. You probably will too.
Rating: 7 (6.9)

Matt Cohen

I'll be honest with you — the first time I popped this disc into my CD player for a quick sampling of tracks, I thought it sucked. I never got a chance to give the whole thing any intensive listening since I ended up sending it to a new reviewer. Then, when some reviewers left RARB, a different copy came back my way. It just wouldn't go away. I popped it in again, expecting a load of flaming crap from this debut CD. And I was totally surprised by what I heard: Damn solid men's a cappella. I experienced a bit of the joy I had when I first heard "Foster Street". I was treated to strong arrangements and high energy performances. And it never sounded obnoxious, as a lot of men's groups have recently (the general attitude for too many groups is that all you need to do to be good is to be cute and sing loudly). What was wrong with me the first time I listened? My stereo. I have this crappy little "boom box". It just can't handle very bass-intensive CDs. It tends to flatten out the sound. When I listened to it the next time, I had it in my computer with my good pair of headphones on. Boom! Bass city! This album just keep throwing the bass voices at you. And most of them are good soloists too. The main problem with the album is that they arrange some tenor bits in the backing vox that stick out in a rather unpleasant fashion. But ignore that and check out the boys take on Sweet Dreams and their killer cover of Boys of Summer (if this doesn't end up on BOCA, well, something ain't right.) An impressive debut recording. And it's dedicated to my mom. Thanks guys.
Rating: 7 (5.8)

Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

this is a regular a cappella album which has a couple original tunes (the best stuff on the album are these, in my opinion). they're a young young group which does a bunch of contemporary pop mixed in with some older sounding glee club type stuff. from the few live tracks at the end of the album, i gather that the live show is very much a part of the group's attraction, but the cd does not do much to improve upon in the buff's live sound. the real key to a better album here would have been more serious rehearsal, in terms of getting the individual voice parts to sound more like a unit, in terms of pitch, all that kind of rudimentary stuff. this album makes me think that the group is in a little bit over their heads, like they've gone for the fun and the babes and the cash prizes and the audience participation and the tour and the beer and the parties and the late night trips to the doughnut shop and the whole enchilada and then realized that they had to really get their music together before the went and recorded a disc but didn't have time...
Rating: 4 (4.5)


Individual Tracks

  1. Sweet Dreams (6.8)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Bassline seems overly abrupt and enunciated for this song, and the huffing, thumping percussion intro (which sounds like they had to climb a mountain to get to the studio) doesn't help. The bass part also gets old really quickly, but the rest of the arrangement tries to be interesting. Someone is off on one of the middle parts, which spoils what could otherwise be a good section. Tenors in general are spotty on this song. The main synth riffs sound very jokey, as if they might be secretly parodying someone, and the whole thing is too fast. The sliding background bits are nice, though.
    Rating: 5

    Ben Tritle

    First thought: How many OTHER groups did this? Second thought: How many other groups did it like THIS? Opening part by part from percussion to bass and into the upper background parts, it comes off as almost a dance version. If I read the notes right, credit goes to Daniel Granof's solo between verses. There is a lot of energy here in an arrangement that does not rely on "Doo-Doo" singing. Granof also arranged this. If he arranged the warning sirens, then I'm thoroughly impressed. Good start.
    Rating: 7

    John Magruder

    One usually considers this song typical women's a cappella fare. The Buff-Boys show that this song can have quite a bit of 'umph' and power, over what you usually hear. Starting out with a strong bass drum beat, they launch into a dramatic, energetic, loud arrangement. It is pretty damn good. It also shows that they like to have fun with a quirky little synth line done with a nasal tone. Makes you grin. Good opener.
    Rating: 8

    Matt Cohen

    Wow. This disc gets off the starting block with a massive blast of bass. The sound is consistently huge throughout. The percussion is top notch, particularly a recurring gentle drum roll that gives this song it's striking atmosphere. I have to subtract points for the lone voice that comes in on a twangy synth line in the beginning. Very distracting. Ditto on the falsetto "Hold your head up" line. That aside, this is a great performance of a great arrangement.
    Rating: 9

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    percussion the likes of which we've all heard before, very "vocal" sounding, not too drum-like. the studio effects do much to aid this arrangement, as do nice choral sections (reproduced as they are on the original), but the "synthy" vocal parts are relatively obnoxious to my ear, as is the falsetto at the end. the soloist, chris krueger, is quite solid, and daniel granof's arrangement as a whole fills out nicely.
    Rating: 5

  2. Vagabond Blues (7.4)
    Brookes McKenzie

    The solo is good on this one, but the background is really muddy. I don't know if it needs better engineering or just _organizing_ — they sound like they're not disciplined enough to sing their parts in time with everyone else. This is an impressive song for an original — it just needs to be sung by a better group. Did I mention that the solo is really good on this one? His tone could be a little better, but he nails the song (which is not easy).
    Rating: 6

    Ben Tritle

    The first original from Curt Siffert. A definite big jazz band feel to it. Peter Wright must have been in conference with Siffert, as he told the woven story with incredible passion. I listened as hard as I could, with nary a wrong note, nary a flutter. In fact the aforementioned co-worker said he liked the song, I said it's an original, he said "Wow, Play it Again!" (Absolutely true, I'll supply the references if asked.)
    Rating: 10

    John Magruder

    What is this? It is an original tune! Mr. Siffert tackles the blues with this one. It is a bluesy, jazzy, verbose kind of song that I think is pretty good. It helps that there is a very expressive soloist who can sell the song the way he does. Peter Wright has got the buzz and edge to get you listening to his every word. Decent backgrounds that keep things busy but not overbearing. Only minor tuning problems that are quickly forgotten. Good song. A bit untraditional for typical college a cappella, but who cares.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    What's this? An original a cappella tune? On a college disc? And it's not a novelty song? And the lyrics aren't trite? Or about singing a cappella? Yes, yes, yes, most definitely yes, and yes again. It's jazz of the "Route 66" school. Sung with much more conviction and gusto than most of what I'm used to hearing from jazz groups. Do you like jazz? Well, then you'll like this — mostly because of the great soloist. Most pro group groups could learn a lot about writing original lyrics from this song.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    another strong solo, this time by peter wright, graces an original tune! fuck! an original tune! amazing. what's the world coming to? words and music by curt siffert, founding music director of this very young group. the arrangement is, however, relatively typical, bops, doo bows, doots, bowms, dows, etc. what keeps this alive is the song itself, and the soloist. continually changing, the melody and lyrics are of quite high quality. the group backups are not as good, with much pitchiness throughout. soloist wails at the end, really high stuff, very nice. kudos to the songwriter.
    Rating: 6

  3. Paperback Writer (5.4)
    Brookes McKenzie

    How did they manage to surgically remove all the rock from this song? The trio on the lead would sound fine (except that they sound like choir boys) if it weren't for the exceedingly lame background — it sounds like they have half as many people as on the rest of tracks. The bass riff that dominates the song is sung on a nasal and half-hearted "ba-na-na-na". It's really too bad, because (bass line aside) there are some good _ideas_ going on here, but again the performance doesn't do them justice. I suspect that even fabulous engineering wouldn't have saved this one, but it certainly would have helped.
    Rating: 4

    Ben Tritle

    The Beatles classic brought to life here. It doesn't get off to a strong opening when the basses are not quite together themselves. Every now and again there is a minor tuning problem, again mostly within parts. Strong unison solo by Turbeau, Nightmare, and Fireball drives this song which though it seems to be a straight arrangement, is sung well.
    Rating: 7

    John Magruder

    Da' Beatles. This is fun. The arrangement is plain, and gets a bit weak when the basses carry the tune themselves though. Just sounds a bit empty. Tuning struggles a couple of times with the high tenor parts, but still enjoyable.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    Briskly sung. The solo is taken by a trio and sung much higher than the bass heavy opening tracks. It's often full of bright harmonies, but it's also often kinda thin. The high instrumental stuff on the bridge detracts from the rest of the arrangement.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    really bad basses in this tune, all over the place as a voice part in terms of pitch. which i find a little surprising, since the bass line is not terribly low, and since in other songs i think the basses sound quite good. whatever, this seems like just another track, the arrangement is not terribly noteworthy, the solo is competent, ...
    Rating: 4

  4. Dark Eyes (6.6)
    Brookes McKenzie

    I question their arrangement decisions on this track, but they perform it tolerably well (e.g. choral Dylan?! — I barely recognize the song). The blend could be better though, especially between the trio and the background. I must confess that I have an almost unconquerable prejudice against any arrangement that prominently figures the syllable "loo". The solo would be fine if he could just get the rhythm right, although he sounds a little ridiculous — like Bob Seger (or that guy from the Beck's beer commercials) singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
    Rating: 5

    Ben Tritle

    Coming from the Beatles to this was a bit drastic in tempo change. This song didn't capture my attention immediately. What sold it for me initially was James Macknick's solo and the great four-part harmony interspersed with the solo. There's also syncopation that is handled very deftly. Direction here was very evident (to me) as dynamics were used to extremes to handle the mood of the song.
    Rating: 8

    John Magruder

    Wow. I have never heard this song before. Bob Dylan. I really like it. It is a melodramatic ballad that has a rather beautiful fell to it. The arrangement sounds like the way the King's Singers would do this. Rich chords and transitions. A good soloist who fights a little bit for the highest notes, but sounds good nonetheless.
    Rating: 8

    Matt Cohen

    The first verse is very choral. The basses have to hold everything. On the whole, it sounds unnecessarily similar to a church choir (this is a Dylan song they're singing here). But then a real soloist steps up to the plate and the song gets some real personality. It has a pregnant pause that makes the song seem to go on too...
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    a bob dylan tune which i must confess to not recognizing. this arrangement was taken from someone named p. smith, who's not in the group. traditional sounding choral stuff. the solo, by james macknick, is very nice. again, i find much fault with the basses. on the low notes there is simply no unity, no sense of a single bass note taking control, but more of a mass of lowness that muddies things up. the trio is very nice, but overall this tune smacks of that old school ivy league glee club a cappella stuff that, well, i don't know, doesn't really seem to fit with the rest of the album, at least.
    Rating: 5

  5. Southern Cross (5.8)
    Brookes McKenzie

    The arrangement doesn't even begin to compare to the Bandersnatchers' (which In The Buff, to their credit, admits to cribbing from) the bass line is particularly pedantic, and they break up the rhythm in a mildly annoying fashion. The solo, despite the fact that he sounds like a third-rate try-out for a Dead cover band, would be so much more tolerable on a song that was less a setting for a soloist with gorgeous tone. He tries to get into it, though, which is admirable. There's some kind of weird, overly fast percussion on the verses that doesn't really work and becomes distracting.
    Rating: 4

    Ben Tritle

    A song that I tapped my toe to especially during the refrains, again harmonized beautifully. However, I had a hard time getting past the one-a-part lines. They tended to draw attention away from the melody or the harmony.
    Rating: 6

    John Magruder

    This CSN song is a great one. It lends itself to a cappella rather well. The Buff-Boys take advantage of this and take it to logical conclusions. It is not the greatest arrangement, but I like how it has such a simple sound until the forthright choruses and big chords. Then it grabs you by the earlobes and the Boys give you an ear-full. I think that the key word for this album is 'fun'. That is just what this is. And the nearly gospel chorus towards the end is great. The soloist puts on some great embellishments.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    The intro is unenergetic, but the light percussion helps pick up the pace. That doesn't change the fact the fact that the whole thing, particularly the verses, is sung slightly undertempo. The lead does his best to add some passion to mix. He throws in some high blue notes, and for once their tenor range stuff is up to strength.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    csn, with a very cool solo by tom metz, complete with a little southern thang in his throat. this time the percussion is laid back and mixed low, providing a steady rhythm for this choral tune. the arrangement, however, is quite boring, and features "bah" as its overriding syllable, with requisite choruses where the group sings the lyrics. oh wait, there was an ooh. sorry. oh no... there's a little whisper thing that comes in the last verse that's really frightening.
    Rating: 5

  6. December 1963 (4.8)
    Brookes McKenzie

    I don't understand why all-male groups feel compelled to cover this song when their tenors are _always_ scraping the ceiling trying to hit the notes. Not that Frankie Vallie has an attractive voice, God knows, but going flat on the rest of the notes out of exhaustion is even less pleasant to listen to (which is saying something). Half-hearted percussion throughout, obviously inspired by the dance remix of this song, does little to push the rest of the group along. Only after the predictable (and predictably lame) percussion break does the background gain any energy.
    Rating: 2

    Ben Tritle

    Well, unfortunately there would be one that didn't quite live up to the others. Not that this is bad, but I spent the first half of the song wondering how long it would float, and the second half wondering why it wasn't the first half. The lack of bass at the beginning was frustrating, especially hearing how well it blended in later on. As usual, the blend and harmony was great, but as a whole, it just felt rather piecemeal instead of one song drawn from end to end (Ok, now we're done with that part; Ok, now we're done with THAT part). In the end, only average.
    Rating: 5

    John Magruder

    A pretty straightforward arrangement of a pretty straightforward song. Everybody knows this Frankie Vallie classic. Actually, let me take that back a bit. This arrangement makes the song sound as though it is a disco song. Buff throws in a wack wacka-wacka guitar bit that makes you smile, and then they grab you by the 'lobes again when it is time for the ending chorus. Men's groups (especially BIG ones) LOVE to show you how loud and powerfully they can hit big, easy chords. I know, I was in a big men's group that loved that kind of stuff. I think it's a requirement. Sure gets the energy flowing!
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    AKA "Oh What a Night". The tenor pushes his range but never gets out of it. Too bad the falsetto harmonies are distracting and the percussion-heavy bridge is totally out of place. After that the arrangement builds to a big finish that makes you forget the tracks prior sins. Until it hits a strangely abrupt finish.
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    more cheesy collegiate a cappella percussion opens this tune (the fill, that is — the groove that takes us through the rest of the song actually sounds pretty good). pitch is TERRIBLE in this tune, especially on a really strange breakdown thing after the first "oh what a night" on the wah wah guitar part. kills me. bayard dodge rea's (founding president) solo is amazingly high and GOOD, and the arrangement starts to really fill up and get rocking about 17 seconds before it ends. oh well.
    Rating: 5

  7. Boys of Summer (5.2)
    Brookes McKenzie

    An attempt at atmospherics in the beginning is almost ruined by being too fast, but there are some nice synth tones. A mildly interesting arrangement _is_ ruined by serious tuning problems. Also the bass(es) keeps dropping in and out. Solo sounds pinched, unpleasant and flat on every part of the song, although slightly less so on the verses. Percussion is decent in the beginning, but it gets weird towards the end.
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    The solo is well done, James Macknik does another excellent solo effort; the only problem was its mixing with the background (mix or blend, not sure). My main problem is the arrangement: why the transition in the bridge was arranged as it was (kind of like ping-pong); why the bass line was as staccato as it was. I do have to compliment the basses on getting as low as they do. The final chord also left a little to be desired. In the end though, it, too, is worth a listen.
    Rating: 6

    John Magruder

    I love this song... when it is done by Don Henley. Rarely does a group manage to pull this song off. It's a lot harder that you think. There is all kinds of drama and atmosphere that the arrangement has to be able to impart to the listener. Then, the singers have to be able to actually sing it all. The arrangement comes closer to doing this than the singers. The group just does not sound like they have gotten to the level they need to in this one. The soloist, while expressive, just cannot hit all of the notes required of him. That is one of the ways that the arrangement does not achieve the polish it needs. Not right for a soloist who can't sustain a note that is obviously out of his range. Not right for the backgrounds which get just a bit too clumsy, and sound like they are colliding instead of blending. It is an admirable attempt for singers and arranger, but there is lots of room for polish and adjustment. This is one of those songs that you wish you had another semester to practice before recording. A for Effort. C- for Execution.
    Rating: 5

    Matt Cohen

    I love the whispered vocals that shadow the lead here and there. I love the lead (when he belts, he's a force to be reckoned with). I love the overall atmosphere. Remember the high seagully sound on the bridge of the original? They attempt to cover that part here. It's the sort of high part that sticks out like a sore thumb everywhere else on the album. On this song it's actually okay (but still a little gratuitous). After the bridge In The Buff jacks up everything a notch. Up until the last 30 seconds or so, the song was an 8. Really good, you know. But then, wow. Let me see if I can describe this: Sing the last "After the boys of summer have gone" in your head. Well, the backing vocals follow the original melody, but the lead suddenly shifts to a new syncopation. He hold each note for the same length. And then, towards the end of the line, his voices launches up above the original notes, as if he were harmonizing with were the original; melody line used to be. And then the whole group explodes into an orgasmic harmony. To steal a line from the Primarily a cappella catalogue (in reference to Man in the Mirror), it's a jaw dropping arrangement. Transcendent. This is one of the things that makes for great a cappella covers. They don't have to reinvent the whole song (a Chili Peppers song sung as a madrigal or a grunge Joni Mitchell, for example). You just have to find space in a song to build great harmonies around and add a twist to give the song a new, and hopefully better, life.
    Rating: 10

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    REALLY white, off pitch "melismatic solo" opens this tune, you know, the guitar thing that goes over the drums before the verse begins. not good. another thing that's kinda weird is the bass line, which never seems to lock in to the groove of don henley's original. (the percussion, while sounding pretty good, also never seems to groove, unfortunately.) the octave effect on the basses is also relatively obvious, not that that's necessarily a bad thing, other than from a mixing standpoint. i really did not enjoy the "bird" thing in the bridge, nor the "guitar" ba da's coming out of this bridge and leading into the last verse. just really obvious and compartmentalized, not integrated whatsoever into the rest of the arrangement. terribly pitchy on the last chord as well.
    Rating: 2

  8. Everything Possible (5.4)
    Brookes McKenzie

    I find it really rather cute (if slightly reminiscent of _Free to Be You and Me_) that they covered this song. That said, it's not so fabulously done. The solo is only so-so, and considering the song is almost all him, that's a slight problem. The ensemble work is alright, but unbalanced — the basses are almost inaudible. In typical In The Buff fashion, the most interesting part of the arrangement is the only one that's noticeably out of tune.
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    I've never heard the original by The Flirtations. [Actually, The Flirtations got it from Fred Small. -ed] Dan Kifer handles the lone voice solo with increasing confidence. Towards the end, I just wished he had blended more with the background instead of drawing attention from the melody. The background, too, was initially off, but that was a brief moment of faulty tuning. Again, this does not taint the song grossly. The ending was as chilling as the beginning was beautiful.
    Rating: 7

    John Magruder

    Here is a tender lullaby for the modern family. It is all about understanding who you are, and who you can be. It is about tolerance and love. It is simple and beautiful. In The Buff does it with the expression and care that really makes you remember it. You may even find yourself wishing that it had been sung to you when you were young.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    So close . . . This track has a great soloist who starts off this song totally in the buff. That is to say, there aren't any other voices covering him up. When he's solo, it's stunning stuff. But then the groups suddenly jumps in. In addition to ruining the potentially great effect of having the song sung by just one voice, the group entrances are too abrupt. They eventually figure out how to ease into the full group sections, but the song already lost it's magic when they came in the first time.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    a tune done by the flirtations. ok solo, totally naked (pardon the pun) at the beginning of the tune (no effect, no backups, kinda cool in that way). the whole tune just has that old college glee club feel again, though, which i don't understand. perhaps i'm living in my own ridiculous world of new school a cappella, but i don't like glee clubs, never have, never will. pretty good pitch on this one, though.
    Rating: 4

  9. Greased Lightning (5.2)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Too slow and lacks energy, which makes it sound rather silly. Some of the parts are notably precise, though, and the clapping is well done. This song might suffer from bad engineering, though, because some people sound so much farther back in the mix than others. If it were twice as full-sounding it might approach something other than lameness. Solo isn't bad, but this is the kind of song that you don't _want_ to be able to hear all the words to. They get the last chord right, though, as well as the (not inconsiderable) clapping part.
    Rating: 4

    Ben Tritle

    The only questionable choice for repertoire, but it shows guts to include it. This is the version from the movie as opposed to the original stage musical (or so I recognized). Jim "Danny Zucco" Beauprez definitely had fun with the solo. The major problem with this song is that it is (to me) a highly visual song, especially at the bridge. This would have been more appropriate as a video, but it's well done enough that those who like the song itself will definitely appreciate it.
    Rating: 6

    John Magruder

    This was the song that was sung to you instead. Everybody loved 'Grease' at one time or another. Even your parents. But you know, most of them did not know the real lyrics to this song. Even if you understood all the words when you were seven, you would not have known what the heck it meant to say "the chicks will cream". Greased Lightning is a testosterone-laden 50's style rebel song. Perfect for the subject matter. But I know I did not hear these blatant lyrics on the recording with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Sure as hell was not in the movie. "You know that ain't no shit, We'll be gettin' lots of tit" is not what you used to think they were saying. But when you've grown up you wonder why you did not get it sooner. The Buff-Boys sing it with all the power you would expect from a big group of men. The instrumental section is weak, in my opinion, but otherwise, this song is tight and musical. I guess when I learned that the lyrics were really "... shocks, I can get off my rocks, You know that I ain't braggin', she's a real pussy wagon".... well, lets say my childhood is not what it used to be.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    It actually isn't a bad idea. And, with all their bass, these guys are just the ones to do a song written to be sung by the testosterone-heavy Burger Place Boys. But the execution doesn't live up to it's potential. Some of the arrangement is clumsy and overdone. Ironically, the other problem is that they need to be a little looser and cruder in their performance. It needs to sound like a buncha teens singing in a parking lot. For example, it would be nice to hear them joking taunting with each other on the "instrumental" section. A good idea, perhaps worthy of a second try.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    what? where? why? not sure, exactly. strange moments of pitchiness, but otherwise this tune is fine. if i saw an a cappella version of grease i wouldn't cringe at this one, but it wouldn't leave me screaming for more. it seems to lack the required energy to pull off this kind of tune, especially with the really really really really long instrumental section in the middle that's filled with way way way way too much bah.
    Rating: 4

  10. Kiss From a Rose (6.2)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Parts of this song are very nicely done, but others are weak, and some are marred by tuning problems. The solo is decent to good at times, and the arrangement is only slightly more choral than the original on the soft parts, but it never kicks in. The verses sound alright, but the chorus sounds silly because the arrangement doesn't change at all, even when the solo is trying to jack up the emotion. Again, though, the engineering is seriously lacking — the background sounds terribly muddy.
    Rating: 5

    Ben Tritle

    Again I ask, how low can the basses go? They almost scrape bottom. Opening is fluid and transitions into a haunting background. Again, nary a wrong note, nary a bad arrangement or direction decision. Daniel Granof does an admirable solo. What can I say? I liked it all. I'm dreading hearing a lot of other versions, this may be one that other groups piggyback on.
    Rating: 9

    John Magruder

    Damn you Seal for making a song that every men's group in the world would want to sing. I know, my group sang it too! I think it is another requirement for having been in a men's group in the past 2 years. In The Buff is not immune. This arrangement takes the dark road. Deep bass lines anchor this one with a monastic kind of drone that really lends a dramatic, almost evil waltz feel to the song. Not far from the original, I guess. But this one leaves me more unsettled than other versions I have heard. It being in a lower key than the original helped that. Musically, it does not always seem to gel the way it should. Soloist sounded like he was struggling a bit with many of the highest notes. I think a bit more polish to smooth out the transitions from one part of the song to another would really help make this shine.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    Just in case you didn't own a gazillion other versions of this song, here's another one. (Don't get me wrong, I love the song, but still . . . ) This one has some original touches, but it's nothing memorable.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    pitch is off from the start, and that's a fatal flaw when trying to do seal, who's a fantastic singer and never would leave anything with bad pitch anywhere near his recordings. what i do like about the arrangement is the low parallel fifths all through the verses and choruses. always a winner in my book. i must say i've heard worse solos by a long shot, but this one is not fantastic, a little broadway-ey for my taste. also, the arrangement certainly relies on the ingenuity of seal's version for its exciting parts, and doesn't seem to add much to these moments, except for the very last 20 seconds or so of the tune where some interesting backup stuff happens.
    Rating: 3

  11. As One (7.0)
    Brookes McKenzie

    What would be a cute enough (albeit cheesy) original is made unattractive by sour chords and a nasally unappealing solo. Parts of it are decent, though. Sort of a strange-sounding song — I can't really tell what genre it's supposed to be. But whatever it is, it would be ten times better with a solo that didn't sound like he just got run over by a cement truck. It also goes on way too long. Again, points given for originality but taken away for lack of competent performing.
    Rating: 4

    Ben Tritle

    The 2nd original by Curt Siffert, with a more contemporary feel. Tension is nicely kept throughout, building up to the chorus. It's either when the basses are high, or if they're in 2 or 3 part harmony that it feels like it's missing a foot or hand. I must compliment Curt on the lyrics. Between Vagabond Blues and this, it seems like he's spent a lot of time crafting these songs. There's a delicate intricacy between the words and the musical path these songs take. MORE!!!
    Rating: 9

    John Magruder

    Another original song from Curt Siffert. I really like this one. It is a thoughtful, quick moving song that has a forthright solo, with the person stating that "no matter what, I will survive". A great, dramatic building of voices at the ending blending together in an energetic, almost ethereal sound as they sing these powerful lyrics. I really like this. It hits a chord in your mind (no pun intended) that makes you really listen to the words... words that actually mean something.
    Rating: 8

    Matt Cohen

    Another original! And it's good! It's written by the same guy who wrote "Vagabond Blues," but this time he's wrapping his lyrics around a pop tune.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    another original by curt siffert, this time sung by dan kifer, who's mixed a little low such that the listener has to struggle a bit to hear him. otherwise, i find myself liking this track, mostly because it's a pretty cool song, with its own personality and groove. and it's performed pretty well by the group. definitely my favorite track on the disc so far. more kudos to the songwriter.
    Rating: 7

  12. A Parting Blessing (5.2)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Traditional-sounding number that In The Buff pulls off better than I would have thought considering their frequent ensemble problems. No one goes seriously off tune, although the end is a bit rough-sounding. Blend is a little iffy — I can pick out three people, but the others are alright.
    Rating: 5

    Ben Tritle

    A too-traditional end, which doesn't actually end the CD (???). Technically (someone wanted a technical review), it's well done: blend, pitch, recording. Maybe it's the mechanical delivery. I just wasn't moved. The delivery was well-executed, but stale.
    Rating: 5

    John Magruder

    Traditional Irish Blessing. Simple arrangement. Nothing special. Blend is ok.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    You know the one: May the sun always shine on your back and may the wind always blow in your direction and may lots of other forces of nature do nice things for you too.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    more glee club stuff. heard it before.
    Rating: 4

  13. Master Pete's Theater (7.0)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Comedy skit that apparently worked well enough for them in concert but which has only about two funny lines, and even though it's performed well enough, the concept is rather old - I've seen it done quite a few times before — and it goes on far too long for a comedy segment on cd.
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    A live-recording of a schtick that not only deserves to be on the BOCA-Humor CD, but if it isn't, I will personally fly to California and burn down Smokin' Fish Records. A delivery of various song lyrics joined together in some semblance of order. What is best about this and the following ghost tracks is the recording quality and the fact that the audience does not overpower the action. I was in stitches the first time I heard this, and still crack up every time I listen to it.
    Rating: 9

    John Magruder

    This is a live comedy track from one of their shows. If you lived in the 80's, you will love this. The title tells you that it is a spoof of Masterpiece Theatre. I don't want to tell you any more about it. It's funny. It is recorded a bit poorly, though. Things are pretty quiet on many parts, then painfully loud when the audience starts screaming. If you are prepared for it though, you won't mind.
    Rating: 8

    Matt Cohen

    This live track is a comic monologue by, you guessed it, Pete. Apparently it's a running gag. The basic idea is that Pete strings together quotes out of context. Part of the fun is following the free associations that get him from one quote to the next. It's a refreshing and original bit, but it doesn't blow you over with it's cleverness like it ought to.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    (not a song, but a great performance nonetheless.) very very funny, i must say. this dude doc, peter wright, was a total riot, and had me totally enthralled and cracking up. very much a saving grace...
    Rating: 9

  14. Jack and Diane, Live (3.6)
    Brookes McKenzie

    One would think that this song would be easy enough to do, since it only has about three parts (including the clapping), but I have yet to hear it done really successfully. In The Buff get the clapping right but fall apart on the other two crucial parts — the bass bit and the blasting feel-good chorus part. The arrangement on the main part of the song is rather choral for John (Cougar) Mellancamp. You can barely hear the solo, but that's to be expected.
    Rating: 2

    Ben Tritle

    These guys have fun on stage...it's evident on the recording. If anything, the performance lacks due to a weak duet in the bass/baritone lines; if it hasn't changed: Hey guys, ADD MORE TO THOSE PARTS!!!. There just needed to be more. Another impressive factor that is easy to lose control is synchronized snaps/claps...it worked here (the little things impress me). Another toe-tapper for me. GREAT PERCUSSION!!! Curiosity factor: most of the one-a-part lines blended better here than in the studio recordings.
    Rating: 7

    John Magruder

    This really shows how much the Buff-Boys love to perform. They have put a nice long chunk of their concert on the last track of the album. This includes a rockin' version of Jack and Diane, followed by an ambitious (and a bit sloppy) arrangement of Superstition by Stevie Wonder. Ambitious because it blends in 'Sledgehammer' by Peter Gabriel, AND 'Play that Funky Music White Boy' by... gawd! I can't remember the name of the group! Well, you know the song. Sounds like a weird combo, don't it? It is, and it gets sloppy, but lots of parts actually work! Needs some polishing, but it's fun. Then they end the whole thing with a warp speed version of Sweet Dreams to bring a sense of closure to the whole thing. It shows how hard the guys work. Fun Fun Fun!
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    I like hidden bonus tracks, but only when they're done right. Most of the time, they have no reason to be on the album. Either the contents of the track aren't worth listening to, or there is no reason for not labeling the song as a regular track. Or both. Well, the content here is okay at times, but it's about 20 minutes long with no track breaks!. If you want to hear one of the songs, you have to hear them ALL! Very irritating. Maybe they didn't label it because it's all live and not as good as the rest of the disc. But couldn't they have put on a series of unlabeled tracks instead of one mega-track?
    Rating: 1

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    hard to hear the solo terribly clearly, but he sounds fine. the arrangement, however, bores significantly and is performed relatively weakly. really bad percussion. weak gospel section which seems to leave out the melody, or at least hides it in the midst of all the other harmonies. no bass.
    Rating: 1

  15. Superstition/Sledgehammer/Play That Funky Music, Live (5.0)
    Brookes McKenzie

    This song would have been _so_ much better if you could really hear the solo, because it sounds like he's actually doing a decent job on the song . He's a little too classical/tenory for the style of it (too much vibrato), but he gives it a really good shot, nonetheless. The background, while good at times, is uneven — the "Sledgehammer" interlude is not very convincing, but (surprisingly enough) "Play That Funky Music" is, especially considering the fact that it's a live track. I have to give them credit for even attempting to pull this off, even though they don't really succeed.
    Rating: 4

    Ben Tritle

    First the bad, then the good: BAD — One-a-part strikes again. The blend is difficult to achieve here, ESPECIALLY with so many different musical signatures at the same time. The ending with the three melodies seemed jumbled. GOOD — A funky arrangement that puts the problems in the back seat while it drives. How long did it take to seemlessly move from one to the next to the other? Percussion kept up and kept rhythmic, nice job. Pitch maintained throughout, fun maintained for longer than that. Keep on dancing and singing and moving to the grooving!
    Rating: 8

    John Magruder

    See track 14.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    See track 14.
    Rating: 1

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    pretty good solo, pretty good arrangement. makes me wonder why it's a hidden track, maybe 'cause it's live, but i must say, it's better than many of the numbered tracks. this track has a bunch of fun tunes that sort of ebb and flow in terms of energy and pitchiness and overall togetherness. the song choices are excellent, however, and the three tunes fit very well as a medley.
    Rating: 5

  16. Sweet Dreams, Live (4.8)
    Brookes McKenzie

    Parts of this version are better than the version that starts off the album, but some of the studio song's flaws remain, and other parts are worse. It now becomes apparent that the synth riffs are supposed to sound that way (although we still don't know why and it doesn't really fit in with the rest of the song), and the fast tempo sounds actually appropriate in a live setting. The solo, while nowhere near stellar, is serviceable enough. The percussion also sounds much better live, oddly enough. But the overall background is thinner, which is normal for a live track. Weird abruptly tapered ending.
    Rating: 5

    Ben Tritle

    A faster version of the studio track that could have seemed rushed, but maintains it tempo well. The bridges between verses seemed to slow slightly, but it did not detract from the overall dance groove. The arrangement holds up well on stage as well. I liked this better than the studio version.
    Rating: 8

    John Magruder

    See track 14.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    See track 14.
    Rating: 1

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    bad pitch. a faster, live version of the first track on the album, the crowd reaction shows that the group probably has a significant number of females after their respective booties. but the performance here is not too great and cranks through the tune as fast as physically possible. not sure why it's here, other than to fill up the rest of the digital space on the disc...
    Rating: 3

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