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RARB REVIEW

School: UC Berkeley
Group: Artists in Resonance
Album: Banned in Fresno

Total time: 44:10, 16 songs
Tracks 7, 9, 11, 12, 15 recorded May 1995
Tracks 1, 4, 5, 13, 14 recorded Dec 1995
Tracks 2, 3, 8, 10 recorded May 1996

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Theme From Flood (3.8)
  2. Money Can't Buy It (6.0)
  3. Synchronicity II (5.0)
  4. Scum (4.6)
  5. Jimmy Olsen's Blues (5.0)
  6. Preamble (6.0)
  7. Kiss That Frog (5.6)
  8. Keep Me Movin' (6.8)
  9. I Will Survive (6.6)
  10. The Man With The Child In His Eyes (6.4)
  11. Andy's Song (5.4)
  12. Thunder (4.6)
  13. Here I Am (4.2)
  14. Fish Heads (6.8)
  15. Just Like You (7.6)
  16. Prince Charming (4.0)

Reviews

Overall

Matt Cohen

I raved about the last two CDs from Artists in Resonance, but their newest effort left me kind of cold. They cut down on the number of tracks and somehow increased the number of substandard songs. More importantly, there isn't much on the CD to really take your breath away. Their version of "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" is dependable and their cover of Kate Bush's "The Man With The Child In His Eyes" is well conceived and well performed.

There's too much novelty material that doesn't warrant a second listen: a rip off of "The Theme From Flood", an irritating "Fish Heads", the unfunny original tune "Andy's Song", and an inexplicably grating secret hidden bonus track. The notable exception is a very funny (and extremely collegiate) analysis/deconstruction of Peter Gabriel's "Kiss that Frog".
Rating: 6 (5.9)

Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

there's something about artists in resonance that's truly genuine, and there're other things that are truly derivative and typical of a coed collegiate group. they're at their best doing real alternative stuff like dada, and barnes & barnes, but at their worst they succumb to the underworld of pop (spin doctors, gloria gaynor). the stuff in between is in between (peter gabriel, k.d. lang, police, annie lennox). conceptually it does all flow together quite well, and the sound of the group is certainly consistent; half of the arrangements being done by derick peterson helps maintain this consistency, for sure, and he's certainly got a nice sound to his stuff for the most part. air seems undecided about vocal percussion: sometimes it would appear halfway through a song, sometimes only in verses, sometimes only at the start; this confused and frustrated me, especially when i was waiting for the groove to really lock in, something which happens rarely on this album. songs like fish heads and the adam ant cover at the end are where the group shines in my opinion, and i hope they continue to have a couple gems like this on future discs. overall quite a solid album, with competent soloists and arrangements, but with some required typical college loser tracks.
Rating: 5 (5.1)

Shawn Pearce

This is very disappointing based on some of their past work. Either they just didn't have the talent they had on the past couple of albums (doubtful, based on the fact that what they had was very well tuned), or they tried to get alternative on all levels of their music, including the arrangements of the song. Some very good tracks are teased here, but never realized to their full potential. The upper voices seem over-balanced throughout the album, and they're almost afraid to rock out on rock songs and to groove on some of the groove songs. They have the vocal power, they have capable percussionists, and they have a good idea of what they want to do...they didn't push themselves. There are several groups that focus on alternative music (U Penn's Off the Beat springs quickly to mind) that have all that. These guys can too, but they seemed to be happy with what they had. That's a shame, 'cause they could be so much more. My rating is based on a well-musically-sung album that I feel could use more passion and fire.
Rating: 6 (5.4)

Randi Sherman

Inside the album cover it says that this group is "alternative" a cappella, which I've never heard of. I wanted to make sure I just wasn't completely clueless, so I checked out their web page. They simply do a lot of more comical music. The only problem is that most of the time on this album, with very few exceptions, they're just not funny. Some of the tracks (such as #1 and #6) were totally not needed and one wouldn't want to listen to more than once. They may be OK for a concert, but a CD is something that people want to listen to again. This album has some good soloists, but very little dynamics, and the song selection isn't strong. Maybe they're funnier in performance. I hope so, because after listening to their songs, I think many of their jokes are more "inside" jokes that mostly they think is funny. There are some great tracks on this album, but not enough. The one thing that bothered me the most is that there are three different "groups" of this a cappella group on the album. There's May 1995, December 1995, and May 1996, which have as many as 7 different people from one time to the next. Therefore, it's tough to say what I think about the sound of this group as a whole, because it's in so many parts!
Rating: 5 (5.6)

Rebecca Christie

If you end up with a copy of this recording, do not listen to the first 6 tracks. You will be happier and come away with much nicer things to say about this group. Artists in Resonance is not a great group, but they are an okay group except for the first 6 tracks, on which they are a bad group. Painful. I don't want to talk about it.

The rest of the album is actually a decent listen, and if you are someone who appreciates performance art it might really be worth checking out. It's the sort of art that isn't polished or appealing in a lot of cases, but has a certain power to it that transcends what's going on. These guys are experimenting, not musically but theatrically, and that's cool. The preamble to "Kiss That Frog" does nice things with an old gimmick, the arrangements are sprinkled with bits of found art and the original "Andy's Song" is a contemporary gem. The music on this disc is almost a prop, not the focus. It's not very complicated, tuning ranges from okay to horrible and they have a '70s fetish.

Now, you might think this is not the best thing for an a cappella group, which is foremost a bunch of singers. But I think you have to appreciate things for what they are, and if you judge this disc on music alone, you'd be missing a lot of things which deserve better than that.
Rating: 5 (5.7)


Individual Tracks

  1. Theme From Flood (3.8)
    Matt Cohen

    I know 99.9% of college a cappella is cover tunes, but when you cover a quirky little bit like this intro from Flood by They Might Be Giants it seems like a total rip-off of the original artist. What can you possibly add to it? It's more of a concept than a piece of music to begin with. Pointless.
    Rating: 1

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this is the opening track from they might be giants' third album, flood, basically an overture. kind of a cool idea to stick this on there, but i'm neither here nor there on the subject. could've done without it, didn't mind it, performed pretty well, no problems there, arrangement is nice & simple, short & sweet.
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    Short snippet with reworked lyrics to fit the group singing it. Kinda cute, and I think the tuning was there, but you really couldn't tell with the soprano being as over-balanced to the rest of the group as she was. Nothing special, but at least it was a song, as opposed to a lot of "opening tracks" on collegiate albums.
    Rating: 5

    Randi Sherman

    I can just picture them doing a cheesy little dance on the stage for this song. It's a cute idea to introduce their CD, but I think it's totally redundant. Nice harmony, but it sounds nothing like the rest of the album. The lyrics say "It's a brand new album for '96, Artists in Resonance." We know that already. Also, since it's a 27-second song, it's a weak opener, and after listening to it once to introduce the CD, there's no reason to listen to it again.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    I realize that a certain amount of earnestness is in order for this song. The tenors and altos just don't seem right in tune and the whole thing fails to synchronize. So okay thought, poor execution.
    Rating: 3

  2. Money Can't Buy It (6.0)
    Matt Cohen

    The backing vocals are all well sung, but the lead is a little off-putting. Her lower register voice is a top notch alto, but when the arrangement calls on her to hit the high stuff, it sounds like a tenor's falsetto. She does all right on the brief rapped section: a little stilted, but still forceful.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i was struggling to hear the soloist throughout the choruses of this tune. i did like this arrangement, with its little "money money" things, that was kinda cool, it's got the groove. but i couldn't help feeling like this was contemporary a cappella that needed drums groovin throughout. as it is they come in for the little rap section (which is really strange, the solo does some uncomfortable things here), and turn into hihats for the remainder, which is fine, but they could've been there the whole time and the arrangement would've floated along nicely atop the bed of percussion. performance is nice and mellow when it needs to be and intense as we get to the end after the rap break, good pitch, good rhythm, solid. but the soloist had a kind of broadway attitude compared to ms. lennox's original, that is, when you could hear her, and her performance was not rock solid in general. i did feel that she'd've been more appreciated live than reflected by the way she was captured on this album.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    Thank god, an Annie Lennox song that's not "Walking on Broken Glass" or "No More I Love You's". Good solid harmonics, with an interesting background. Soloist sounds closer to Sade than Annie Lennox, but that's not a bad thing. It gets a little shout-heavy at the end, but overall, really funky...and somewhat enjoyable...too bad the rest of the album doesn't measure up to this...
    Rating: 7

    Randi Sherman

    This song sounds really metallic, but I'm not sure if that's due to the recording or the singing. Their diction isn't clear enough, and the use of so many syllables makes it sound messy. The soloist slurs her words so badly that it sounds like she was given a shot of novocaine before singing. (sorry- but that's the best way to describe it) The rap in the middle, even if it's in the original song, is out of place because the color of the song totally changes. The song does have a good groove to it which is addicting to the listener.
    Rating: 6

    Rebecca Christie

    Soloist is at her best when she goes into chest voice for the low chorus. The rest of the time, she clearly has vocal power and a smooth tone, but she has this frog thing that gets in the way of ever enjoying her tone. Chest voice has depth without sounding swallowed — I don't know if it's misapplied classical training or just an odd freak of nature, but I've never heard a voice so free and easy yet hard to listen to. Strains at the highest notes, but that's an after effect. Like her or not, she dominates a straight and unremarkable background. They're very, uh, contemporary jazz, or whatever the preferred euphemism is these days. Percussion comes in only once, and it's very fizzy, for lack of a better word. The "rich white bitch" rap line is pretty funny, but it brings to mind Kathy Bates, not glamour. I picture this woman dressed like Divine with campy sunglasses, brandishing a poodle on a string to make her point.
    Rating: 5

  3. Synchronicity II (5.0)
    Matt Cohen

    It starts off with the right amount of drive in the backing vocals, but if you don't wail like a madman on the lead vocals, they sound damn silly. "All her suicides are faked." "Something crawls up from the slime." Say that out loud. See what I mean. I don't think a lead needs to impersonate the original artist to be good, but in this case you have to scream like Sting to make the lyrics not sound goofy. The lead vocalist is just too polite, too controlled, and too practiced.
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    bad pitch at the very start, but settles in quickly. this female soloist is bored, and i have a feeling this has much to do with the differences in ranges between any woman and sting. sting can sing in a woman's range, but sounds much more intense up there. again, i tend to like the arrangement, relatively simple and imitative. however, all i could hear were the sopranos mixed way higher than the rest of the group throughout. ending chords are poor, percussion is not extremely powerful but does help out.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    No verve. The notes are there, and it's really pretty...but I don't remember this song ever being pretty. The original was a gale force, and they didn't do enough with the arrangement for the song to warrant not being the same gale force. Soloist diphthongs often drive her sharp or flat. No payoff at the end. In a word...bland.
    Rating: 4

    Randi Sherman

    Great song to do a cappella, because it's executed well. The percussion of "bshzzz" sounds sharp and keeps the piece moving along well. I would have liked to hear the soloist a little more, yet again, this probably could have been fixed in the recording session. Some of the transitions are rough on the edges, and it takes a while to settle into the new sections. Overall, the arrangement keeps the listener very interested, and that in itself makes a good song.
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    Intro to this song has the background kinda trying to get energized, but they are thwarted by an impossibly white and wimpy "oh, oh, oh." That part screams for energy, raw sound, and there ain't none of that nowhere. Percussion sounds like a fly-wheel gone amok — I don't get the bzzzh sound at all. Arrangement sounds sort of empty, peppy like those moving Christmas displays in the mall. Tenors are tuning impaired, which is particularly noticeable because their part is so basic. Only one departure from the doo-dit continuum. "doo ba daben ditch" — crevass maybe. Between them and their audience, or maybe their tuning or ... I really should stop now.
    Rating: 4

  4. Scum (4.6)
    Matt Cohen

    It's off to a great start. Lovely music, fine singing all around, an interesting lead vocalist. That's on the verses. When they hit the first chorus, the sweat harmonies are replaced by a nasal guitar riff sung in harmony by most of the group. Very jarring. (Note to AIR: Since you seem to like Dada, have you considered covering "Disneyland"? It seems like your cup of tea.)
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    wavery men and an uneven mix at the beginning don't promise much, but when jared young's solo arrives we forget about that. after the tag line, "to deal with all the scum," THE ENTIRE GROUP SINGS "NNNNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER," and i must say, it's one of the least attractive sounds a group of 11 people can make. then the second verse comes around and we're back into nice land. AAAGGGGH! NEEEERR!! there's a certain broadway feeling to this song, intensified by the basses' syllables (often they sing lyrics). also, the basses are muffled in the recording. i commend air for doing a truly alternative song (by dada), but there're too many pitchy moments and obnoxious syllables to make me really love it. p.s. here's a tune that really didn't need vocal percussion, works quite well without it....
    Rating: 4

    Shawn Pearce

    Very serene and kinda pretty, but again, bland. I didn't have any major objections to the song, but it didn't get me excited either. And it also had, IMHO, too choral of an ending for the kind of song it was.
    Rating: 4

    Randi Sherman

    I was initially very disappointed with this song, because I have no idea how they put this on the CD with the very first chord being noticeably out of tune. The "doo doo doo" that people sing during the verse also needs an intonation check. They do a good job changing the style of the song with picking new syllables, but the "neeeew" break during each verse sounds irritating after one hears it the first time. The dynamics are too much one extreme or another. Either too loud or too soft, but the ending takes care of this as voices are added every few measures. But, the ending is just like the beginning: out of tune.
    Rating: 4

    Rebecca Christie

    Solo is a refreshing change. He's pleasant, he has energy and I get a sense of voice from him that seems to be missing in the group ambiance. He's a tenor-type, too — wonder where they've been hiding him. The background is okay. They go abrasive for the "nearrr, nearrr" bit; well it works. Too well — even though the rest of the song is pretty okay, that section repeats twice and runs it out of my listenability range. Having the background sing "The Scum" on a pair of held notes was a poor arranging choice too. When the background stays light pretty, it actually gets downright pleasant — a few pitch problems, but the soprano (maybe the woman from track two?) sounds nice and the solo is good. Even some of the funky chords come off. If it weren't for the chorus arranging this could have been a really nice song.
    Rating: 5

  5. Jimmy Olsen's Blues (5.0)
    Matt Cohen

    A clever little Spin Doctor's song that has everything that I loved from the prior albums by the Artists: strong harmony, fun music, solid leads. A quote from Two Princes (the "Just go ahead now!" part) keeps the track moving along.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this was another of the spin doctors' attempts to destroy pop music as we know it, you know, "i got a pocket full of kryptonite." soloist is terribly bland, arrangement is jagged, recording leaves random studio noise naked at the beginning. there's a couple attempts at bringing two princes, another of spin doctors' pop disasters, into this arrangement, and the first one actually gets kinda funky with the women's shouts, but the soloist seems to ruin 'em for me by timidly trying to recreate the freaky-dude-with-the-beard's unusual vocal antics. vocal percussion would've smoothed over some of the jaggedness of the arrangement.
    Rating: 3

    Shawn Pearce

    Weak arrangement....the entire point behind the early Spin Doctor's song is percussion driven groove and energy, neither of which this song has. And the kicker is that what they DO do is very well in tune and very musically sound, but it doesn't fit sound. Nice addition of "Two Princes" in the middle of the song, but it's not enough to save the song.
    Rating: 5

    Randi Sherman

    The "doo-bop-do-ba-do-ba-da" during the verse moves the music well, but it tends to sit on each note. The group doesn't seem to get into this song very well. It sounds like they're just singing some notes, and the soloist is trying to pull them along, because he knows what he's doing. What saves this song is the creativity between verses: the variation in the end that takes part from the Spin Doctor's song "Two Princes" and the part taken from the theme from Superman.
    Rating: 5

    Rebecca Christie

    This sounds like it's being played at least 10 rpm too slow. Solo here is a little schmaltzy, but makes it through, never quite going too flat. Background is pretty basic and the song has the same enthusiasm level as an 8 a.m. freshman english class. There's this weird, over "doo"ed treble bridge between verses that is musically there but *where* does it come from? Sound effects on verse two are weird too, like a big "ooowwwweeeee" after the word making love. The only spark comes in a weird place — the disco break down, with the women going "ha" over campy chords behind a solo vamp from "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" is kind of neat, flywheel guy notwithstanding. The key change at end hurts. Scat is no help.

    You know, now that I think about it, the background feels like they lifted it not from the original Spin Doctor's song, but from the 30 seconds that made it into Chris Tess' Supermedley from an old Wash. U. Pikers skitsong. This would explain its cursory nature — it was never intended to carry a whole song. AIR's version lasts less than three minutes, but it feels much longer.
    Rating: 4

  6. Preamble (6.0)
    Matt Cohen

    A novelty introduction to track 7. If it had been tacked onto the same track as "Kiss that Frog," it would have sucked — you would have to hear the comedy bit EVERY TIME you wanted to hear the serious song. But as it stands this is a great bit of very COLLEGIATE comedy. Joel Slotkin deconstructs the '"poem" Kiss that Frog with the precision of a veteran English professor. My favorite line: "Of course, in it's original context, the poem itself would have been sung."
    Rating: 10

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    some dude talkin. lotsa lip noise and some reverb. neato.
    Rating: none

    Shawn Pearce

    Brief discussion of the deeper meaning of "Kiss That Frog" Very informative, but no redeeming musical value whatsoever.
    Rating: none

    Randi Sherman

    Here the soloist of the upcoming song "Kiss That Frog" talks about the "literary qualities" of the song lyrics. He uses a bunch of words we all studied for the SATs to describe it. I think the group thought this would've been funny on the CD. Once again: totally unnecessary and no one would ever listen to it again. I hope they don't do this in concert, because they would get a lot of blank stares. The worst part is that this talking goes on for a minute and a half.
    Rating: 1

    Rebecca Christie

    No singing in this one, I like it already. The narrator has a pleasant bass voice, like Carl Haas (the classical music radio guy) might have sounded in high school. And he mentions Pindar. I'm there. (By the way, this is not sarcastic. I actually thought this was really funny. But then I was a classics major.)
    Rating: 7

  7. Kiss That Frog (5.6)
    Matt Cohen

    A kinda goofy version of this kick ass Peter Gabriel song, but still pretty good. The goofy quality comes from the woman singing little side lyrics after the lead vocals: The Lead: He's gonna be just like your best friend The Woman: (You're gonna get it in the end, you're gonna want it in the end). It doesn't quite work. But the track really picks up when they get to the "Jump in the water/Come on baby get we with me" section and the lead vocalist stops trying to be the quintessential bass and just cuts lose. It even starts to kick ass again. . .
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    they give a bass the solo on this one (sings it an octave lower than peter gabriel). there's some woman doing these wailing answers to the soloist throughout the tune, and it's terribly annoying (she puts on a forced grunting sound towards the ends of her phrases) and unnecessary. bad pitch occasionally. not having percussion doesn't help. one thing that's kinda weird is when the basses start pumping towards the "jump in the water part" at the end of the tune, it conflicts directly with the solo for several bars until he jumps up the octave (finally). the arrangement is actually nice and bouncy, and reflects the natural bounciness of the original in that way.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    This is more like it....good moving background....nice bass lead...I still think a little tasteful percussion could have added much to the song...... but I had fun listening to this. My only major complaint is that they could have done more with the slow sections...the transition between the rhythmic 2sections and the "ooh" sections feels too jarring. Overall, though, one of the 2-3 best songs on the album, despite the cheesy ending.
    Rating: 7

    Randi Sherman

    When this song starts out, the chord is rather quiet and grows, but instead of growing out, the chord is pressed and flat. They, actually, do this during the whole song, and it sounds like they are forcing themselves to be louder. the basses syllables do a great job of sounding like a frog. The soloist has a great, deep quality to his voice for this song, but the rest of the group (other than the basses) singing on "bum-ba-ba" doesn't match this. It sounds too jumpy (no pun intended about a frog). During the bridge when a soprano sings a "descant" line over the melody, it draws too much attention away from the soloist, and it's basically boring. In the end of the song when another member of the group repeats "Jump in the water" it's the first time I really heard "soul" in this piece. This wasn't polished enough for the CD.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    Now we get to hear the bassguy sing, and he's got a 'tude. I like his style. He practically forces the group to groove; as the song progresses they get more into it, and the rhythm gels a bit. Laid-back solo an octave down is just fine by me; it's not gonna sound like Peter Gabriel anyway so I'm glad they made it their own. Even the eerie low section resonates just fine with me, and the sopranos squeak through their trip to the stratosphere at the end (pun not really intended). Frog lady (from track two) brings a certain unplanned (I assume) irony to the song with her background accents. In general, the pluses on this one outweighed its minuses, and we've been overdue for a listenable track.
    Rating: 6

  8. Keep Me Movin' (6.8)
    Matt Cohen

    This is the first song on the album where I've liked the women on lead. The solo is actually almost always followed by some other women in tight harmony for the swelling melody lines of this K.D. Lang song.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    bad pitch at the beginning. ooh, women! sex me. really nice. nice unison lines are performed well by the women of air, but again the soloist is mixed a little too low. the arrangement again is nice and bouncy, moves quite well without percussion in this case during the verses, and it comes in for choice moments that work well. i like the groove goin' here. the mix is good overall, and allows us to hear certain parts sneaking in here and there for interest. OH YEAH! sexy, smooth, score.
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    This wasn't bad either. Very jazzy, and it cooks nicely...nice harmony. It annoys me personally that they only seem to use vocal percussion for 30 seconds of any given song, then they let it go....why not use it through a song if you're going to use it at all? Otherwise, don't use it. There are times cutting to and from VP is effective, but it's not effective in the places that they do it...it's almost as if they forgot to drum in places.
    Rating: 6

    Randi Sherman

    Again, the first chord is out of tune and I can't believe no one in the group caught that before sending it to the CD! The soloist (or the one singing the top of the duet during most of the song) has a great voice, and she definitely worked hard on this song to make it sound sharp. I don't think there was anything that really stood about this song, but I really liked listening to it. It has a nice, funky groove to it, even though the background is pretty repetitive. Sometimes repetition can be a good thing, if it's consistent like this song.
    Rating: 8

    Rebecca Christie

    This is definitely a '70s-inspired group. At first this song sounds like another blah, empty arrangement, but then I realized that they were trippin', in the style of Steely Dan imitators, or maybe Weather Report. I picture a vinyl record jacket dominated blue, gold and crimson, with liberal applications of paisleys and other prints. The liner notes say this was originally a k.d. lang song, but I don't believe them. Female solo does pretty well, except with the oohs, which don't stylize quite right. This would have made great soundtrack music for a "time passing" scene (waiting room, cab ride) in a movie like "Airplane" or your pick of '70s sitcoms.
    Rating: 6

  9. I Will Survive (6.6)
    Matt Cohen

    This is the second song on the album where I've liked the women on lead. (I guess the Artists are back on track . . . ) A steady bass and high energy keep this TOTALLY OVERDONE song interesting. They throw in a clever (but pointless) mock Russian choir section. It's well arranged and very well sung, but what the hell is it doing there? The first time it's funny, but after that, it just distracts from the song (which, although IT'S OVERDONE, has some actually emotion behind it).
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    a pretty soloist over a pitchy backup at the beginning. the percussion is playing the wrong beat it seems to me, does little to avoid the jaggedness of the arrangement; in fact, it merely intensifies it. another thing i never understand is when percussion is rocking along and then it's taken out totally for no reason. this makes no sense. interesting russian waltz section for the repeat of the chorus is really, well, um, interesting. at least it's not the same old same old. i appreciated the fact that the melodic hook was passed around amongst a couple different people (or maybe it was just panned in different places). soloist was fine, but again, seemed to force out some grunty things for no particular reason.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    Good, solid arrangement of what is one of the more over-arranged songs of 1996. VERY nice trio work...it doesn't seem as if the background can keep up with the soloists..and again, WHERE'S THE PERCUSSION!??!?!?!!?!? The one thing that saves this song is that HILARIOUS "Cabaret" takeoff in the middle. But when the percussion is there, this song is fantastic...without it, it's limp.
    Rating: 7

    Randi Sherman

    I had high expectations for this song before I heard it, because so many a cappella groups choose it for their repertoire. The soloist is way too operatic during the slow introduction to this song. Yes, they are free to interpret it however they want, but she sings the rest of the song differently. This is a strong arrangement; they blended the 70's version that Gloria Gaynor did, but the syllables and percussion also give it the 90's "dance feel" that brought it back this decade. I'm glad that they didn't use the same arrangement that many groups seem to use on this song. The little "German" waltz version of the chorus at the end is funny and totally unexpected, but I could see that some listeners might think otherwise.
    Rating: 8

    Rebecca Christie

    And now we are into the '70s for real. And some very nice, churchy oohs are topped with a very white, earnest intro. To paraphrase Gabe Rutman: uh, whatever. But hey, the solo actually gets pretty good for a white girl on the rest of the song. By herself and with the harmony line, she does pretty damn good, and is a welcome change from the usual interpretation of this song. For which I was deathly afraid she was heading at the beginning; good thing the group's true nature kicked in for the main song. The "Boris and Natasha" chorus was probably pretty funny in person, and I gotta admit the waltz thing had me giggling. It's odd, but hey. And tuning on this was nice — they felt very in control, and that made their multiple-personalitied arrangement much easier to swallow.
    Rating: 7

  10. The Man With The Child In His Eyes (6.4)
    Matt Cohen

    The artists reach back to Kate Bush's first album for this song, and they unearthed a great song for a cappella treatment. The only problems are that the lead is occasionally not prominent enough in the mix and that the syllable choice (la la la) on the backing vocals (directly after the title lyric) is a little distracting. Everything else is on target.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    again, soloist is overpowered by the background in many spots. the backups perform a very nice arrangement quite well. whoa! i actually heard a punch-in on the bass part (careless mixing...), which was quite distracting. i did not feel the emotion of the soloist at any point, nor did the song overall have any real emotional power or intensity. just some nice chords and mendelssohn's hebrides-esque women's parts.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    Pretty, but I've heard better arrangements, better soloists, and better overall execution. Still, it's OK....
    Rating: 6

    Randi Sherman

    Recording problems: the soloist was singing too close to the mic, because her tone quality sounds fuzzy. I'm positive it's not her fault, but the way it was recorded. However, someone should have caught that, because it does some ‘damage' to the song. I was waiting for a melodic ballad on this CD, because I think it was needed. This is a simple arrangement with some beautiful chords. They could have done more with dynamics (like let the soloist lead!) , and the tempo runs away a little bit towards the last 40 seconds or so.
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    I think the solo would do better to sing it straight and concentrate on a pure, pretty tone instead of trying to stylize. I think she's got the right idea, but she's trying a little too hard to be Kate. The more of a Kate Bush fan you are, I think the tougher time you will have with this version. I'm not too familiar with her myself, so for me this was a nice, effective mood change with some nice moments from the basses and generally good tuning for a challenging, slow arrangement. I get the feeling they worked a lot on this one, and it shows. Solid and sweet.
    Rating: 6

  11. Andy's Song (5.4)
    Matt Cohen

    An original novelty song written by Andy and sung by Andy. Who's Andy and, in his own words, "How does a grubby guy like me score such success with ladies?" His secret is his home made spaghetti sauce, which sends the women of the group into orgasmic bliss every time. Is it funny in performance? Probably. Will you listen to the CD version twice? Probably not.
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    andy has an unusual voice with some sort of frightening sibilance thing happening. the subject of the song (cooking and attracting women basically having success with the ladies) does little to ease my unease. it's a freaky little sex-jazz-doowop song complete with orgasms by air's women. it makes me feel funny. but it's original!
    Rating: 3

    Shawn Pearce

    Original pseudo-jazz number written by two members of the groups about the title subject's culinary skills...with not-so thinly veiled sexual references. It's a cute, sweet novelty number, well sung, and sounds like they had a lot of fun doing it. Unfortunately, the rest of the album overall doesn't have the oomph to make a simple novelty number like this work.
    Rating: 6

    Randi Sherman

    It's tough to make comments about a song someone in the group wrote, because it's much more personal. This is a cute song that sounds like it's out of the 40's, which doesn't match with the rest of the album, but it's a refreshing change. It's a good arrangement and well in-tune, but there's nothing amazing about this song. Definite kudos to the writers, though. The song is about an awkward guy who invites woman over for spaghetti, and his sauce makes them go crazy. The mini-"orgasm" sequence in the middle of the song goes on a little too long, and it's not something I'd want my family to hear, and the song would've been better with a LOT less of it.
    Rating: 6

    Rebecca Christie

    The lisping solo is the perfect touch. Familiar little jazz arrangement that they got from somewhere I can't quite place — you know, walking bass line, Manhattan Transferish backup bits. The spoken word bit is Ernst Toch after a couple of whippet tanks. And it's an original. Y'all go.
    Rating: 7

  12. Thunder (4.6)
    Matt Cohen

    When they sing in sync, it works. When the bare bones arrangement gets a little more complex, it tends to sound like a Slovak tango. The clip of When Doves Cry FITS in musically, but it doesn't really BELONG. Plus, the lead vocal on the Doves Cry bit is swallowed up by an amplified bass gulping sound.
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    the whitest prince i've ever heard. can't stand it. when the funkiest funkman our time can claim is destroyed by white people, regardless of whether they're white or not. pitch is fine. mix is bad. we get an annoying orgasmic bass in the middle of the tune during the requisite "when doves cry" breakdown. when it "kicks back in" to thunder, it still sounds like a breakdown. in fact, the entire song sounds like one big breakdown. it lacks groove entirely, there's no beat (something for which prince is famous and always will be is laying down the groove), there's no passion, there's no soul, there's plenty of egg white.
    Rating: 2

    Shawn Pearce

    Excellent opening...but if a number EVER needed something to drive it, it's this song. There's too many holes in the arrangement, especially in the choruses. Excellent leads, though. The intercession of "When Doves Cry" would have been cooler if they hadn't just pulled that trick in "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" 7 tracks ago. A very disappointing song considering what I hear this arrangement possibly being.
    Rating: 3

    Randi Sherman

    Here's what could've opened the album. Very cool arrangement with lots of good diction, and the basses move the song along well. The tenors (and altos, I think) sing these arpeggios which are for the most part very well in tune. Great breakdown in the middle of the song with "When Doves Cry," and the chorus where everyone sings is clear and tight.
    Rating: 9

    Rebecca Christie

    I think I'm becoming dangerously acclimatized. This tango almost had me fooled into thinking it had some energy. But I stepped back and thought about it, and realized they were looking for the sort of energy that comes in songs like "Fame", and this is, well, not that. It's actually really choral, in arrangement and delivery — they sound like a classical chorus trying to lighten their repertoire. "When Doves Cry Segue" is basic but clean and moves a lot more than the rest of the song. Which is in no way, shape or form recognizable as Prince, or whatever his name is(n't) now.
    Rating: 4

  13. Here I Am (4.2)
    Matt Cohen

    The lead male sounds a lot like Lyle Lovett on the frequent spoken word sections (which makes sense: it's a Lyle Lovett song.) Given the blues inspired structure of the song (spoken commentaries followed by the chorus), I don't think this was a good choice for an a cappella treatment. There isn't enough contrast between the spoken word sections and the rest of the song.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this song starts with KZH! KZH! KZH! KZH! from some random resonant artist. it's unnecessary and does not sound good. AAAGGGH! it's there every time the group comes back from a little narrative break by the soloist! lyle (lovett, the original artist) help us all. the soloist simply does not deliver the power of the solo, nor the humor, with any effectiveness. the end is the best part, with some woman wailing up top. pretty cool.
    Rating: 3

    Shawn Pearce

    Annoying song...given the source material, I can understand a little weirdness. But this was bizarre....and not very well done musically. Maybe I just don't "get it"...you know this crazy alternative music scene and what it does to old fogies like me. stops to wipe the sarcasm from his chin
    Rating: 3

    Randi Sherman

    This is a strange song. Maybe it's just me, but I've never heard of it, and I'd rather not again. (There are plenty of songs on this album I haven't heard before, but that doesn't mean I won't like them!) The song is a man speaking to someone, someone does percussion, and then they sing a repetitive chorus "Here I am, yes it's me…." etc. Yes, it's sung in tune and has a nice swing, but it doesn't do justice to the rest of the song. This bored me.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    Hey, more spoken word as an intro. These guys have a nice touch with odd little weird bits. I know that sounds odd, but so many groups try to write cool-weird stuff and just come off as lame — these guys seem to fall into it naturally and it's most entertaining. On to the music. This is definitely an atmosphere piece — it's got a little Elvisy thing going on (though not with the solo). The guy doing the solo is playing a Yankee-version of mild-mannered, freak-haired Lyle Lovett, and sings fine, and he's got a great touch with the spoken bits. The "Kuj! Kuj! Kuj! Kuj!" drummish thing after those great spoken stuff had me bursting into incredulous laughter, though it sounds a little too deadpan for my piece of mind. Overall, the background is basic, not really in tune, but such an incidental part of the song that it doesn't matter. They go away entirely for the conversation, which reads almost like a radio poem in the studio stillness.
    Rating: 6

  14. Fish Heads (6.8)
    Matt Cohen

    If you're like me, you grew up on Dr. Demento and there's no need for me to try to describe this truly bizarre cult classic. You could probably name the artist without thinking twice (Barnes and Barnes, if you were wondering). This version mostly imitates the nasal, chirpy voices featured in the original recording. They also try adding some blend and harmony to the mix. And, naturally, a jokey choral section. As I confessed before, I'm a big fan of novelty songs, but even if you're a Spike-Jones-loving-fool like me, I can't imagine why you'd want to give this a second spin. A bad song choice.
    Rating: 4

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    excellent. women sound perfect on this, as do the soloists, exactly weird enough for the weirdness of the song. the contrapuntal section leaves a little to be desired in terms of accuracy by the performers, but the arrangement is nice. i'm loving this one. pitch suffers the further along we go, but, i don't really care....
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    Dead-on rendition of the old Dr. Demento staple. I find the original incredibly cloying, but at least the arrangement of the original song was good, and covered all the bases.
    Rating: 6

    Randi Sherman

    OK, OK. I know this song, and I always thought it was funny. Come on, they're singing about what fish heads do and don't do. This is a great, simple arrangement. I love how the people who sing "Fish heads" over and over sound like they sucked helium! It made me laugh out loud. The basses are particularly strong in this song, and the canon in the end is great, except that the sopranos were too loud.
    Rating: 9

    Rebecca Christie

    This would be the perfect soundtrack to a slow muppet ballet. Theme has similar tuning as in the intro, but this time it works better, it's in character. Rest of the background is very choral and smoothed out. Lotsa rehearsal here too, I guess — not that it's that complex, but given the complete lack of precision on many of the other songs here, it seems to deserve some note. I guess wacky is really the key.
    Rating: 8

  15. Just Like You (7.6)
    Matt Cohen

    But if you're bored and want to go check out the RARB review of the last Artist's album, you'll notice that they did this same song on that CD, too. Let's call this song "Just Like You Version 2.0". The only big differences between the two versions are the soloists and the tempo. The soloists in both versions do a fine job. The important change is the tempo. Speeding it up gives the track more drive and help put what used to be a muddled, aimless bridge back on track. (no pun intended. Honest.) Version 1.0 was a 7. This new take is an 8.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this song jumps off the starting line. the soloist is wonderful, with that total 80's female soloist attitude. she's tight on the rhythm and all over the part. the arrangement again is nice and bouncy, another of derick peterson's classics. he's the master of bopping women's parts.
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    They close well here...lot of groove, lot of energy, good solo. Kinda has that go-go feel of the early 60's...probably fitting coming from a group called Voice of the Beehive. Overall, very fun.
    Rating: 7

    Randi Sherman

    I'm glad they picked a fairly strong song to end their album. The basses control this song and are very powerful. The song filled it's most important role; to leave the listener with a great impression. The strange thing is that this song doesn't sound much like the rest of the album- vocally, stylistically, and regarding quality. I really liked it. The transitions are smooth, the soloist has great diction and doesn't overpower the group, and other than lack of significant dynamic changes, the song ends the album very strongly.
    Rating: 9

    Rebecca Christie

    This would have been a great choice to open the CD. It's upbeat, it's solid, gets things going. I suspect they didn't because it was on their last CD too, and the version there was better. It was a bit slower and had a better soloist. Amy Winton has a helluva voice and brought just the right mix of rasp and smooth to the song; she also took the halftime section way down and turned its jarringness to advantage. (It's faster and smoother this time, and better from a purely musical perspective.) Tracey Grogen, of the current album, actually does quite a nice job and if I hadn't heard Amy I'd have even more compliments for her. The current version (same arrangement) is more connected, but to my ear has more energy with less point. But comparing it to the last disc is counterproductive. This is one of the nicer songs on the disc and leaves you feeling decent after making it through the disc.
    Rating: 7

  16. Prince Charming (4.0)
    Matt Cohen

    Ouch! This can actually be painful to listen to. Just when you want to like the song, they throw in some intentionally dissonant sounds, most of which sound like braying donkeys. I wish I knew some other way to describe it, but it just does. . .
    Rating: 1

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    whaddya know, a hidden track! neat. really cool chord changes. kick ass women's parts. this rules. a group solo kind of thing, travels through the parts. the women are insane. i know i've heard this before, i think it's zap mama or something. [Adam Ant -ed] why didn't they stick this at the beginning of the album. it's fucking cool as shit, i really like it. the arrangement is filled with totally random coolness, like a little operatic voice that enters singing relatively unrelated music. i really really really liked this one.
    Rating: 8

    Shawn Pearce

    [Not reviewed.]
    Rating: none

    Randi Sherman

    I've never heard this "bonus track" song. The chords aren't in tune and don't settle at all. I just don't get it.
    Rating: 1

    Rebecca Christie

    Eerie wacky trio doing a Snow-whitish "Someday My Prince Will Come" followed by something strange and British. This is like the music from those carousel scenes in horror movies — you know, where the camera zeroes in on the jack in the box and the revolving toys just before it stops abruptly and the heavy breathing cues in. This is way weird, but in the context of this group it works for them. I wouldn't copy it onto my mix tapes, but this well conceived, well sung and definitely art. Not great art, but art, and worth hearing/seeing, to make you think. I think it deserved a track number.
    Rating: 6

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