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RARB REVIEW

School: University of North Carolina
Group: Clef Hangers
Album: Crackin' Up

Total time: 58:39, 20 songs
Tracks 2-5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 20 recorded by the 1993-94 Clef Hangers.
Tracks 1, 6, 8, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18 recorded by the 1994-95 Clef Hangers.


Track Listing

  1. Basket Case (5.2)
  2. Help! (6.0)
  3. Under The Bridge (5.8)
  4. Hey Jealousy (5.4)
  5. Ring of Fire (4.6)
  6. Veronica (4.8)
  7. Love, Me (6.8)
  8. All My Lovin' (4.6)
  9. Rawhide (6.6)
  10. Paper Moon (5.2)
  11. Copperline (4.0)
  12. Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard (4.0)
  13. Ladies Night (3.2)
  14. Little Rock (6.4)
  15. I Know You're Out There Somewhere (5.0)
  16. When I Fall In Love (4.2)
  17. I Believe In You (5.4)
  18. The Devil Went Down To Georgia (4.6)
  19. Good Lovin' (4.0)
  20. Livin' On the Edge (4.4)

Reviews

Overall

John Magruder

The University of North Carolina is a school that has produced a number of remarkable things. It's athletics department is known world-wide. Michael Jordan came from North Carolina.

That being said, it's a cappella has not reached such heights. The Clef Hangers are a friendly looking bunch of guys who love to sing. I'm guessing, but I would have to imagine that they are a fun group to see perform live. They sound like they are earnest about what they do, but their recording does not measure up. It is a 20 song trip through Mediocre-Land.

So you know, it's not just the recording quality which is poor. The blend, the intonation, the pitch is just not there. Every song has signs of sloppiness. The arrangements are typical college fare: a little sloppy and uninspiring. They just sound like a young, messy, college guys group. I think we all know what that sounds like, so I won't bother going into it any longer.

There are a few interesting song choices like the disco anthem "Ladies Night", or how about "The Devil Went Down To Georgia". Nothing really sounds very good, though.

I can't recommend this album for much of anything. You probably have bad bootleg recordings of your favorite college group performing that are better than this.
Rating: 5 (5.4)

Randi Sherman

The biggest problem with this album is that all of the good songs are the first 6 or 7, and it all goes downhill from there. It's like they were on top of a mountain for a while, and then the quality of the album just drops off. They need to spread out the good songs in between the not-so-good ones. They don't have much dynamic variation (I'm noticing that not a lot of groups do!) and the recording quality is muted, sometimes cloudy, and fuzzy. Some of the soloists are great on this album, but the arrangements don't really help them out. Their better songs are usually ballads, where simple arrangements work much better than complicated ones for them. Overall, I definitely like some of the songs here, but nothing is stand-out fantastic, and there isn't one song on the CD that sounds completely polished and thoroughly rehearsed.
Rating: 6 (5.8)

Shawn Pearce

The Clefs would be a very good ivy league group..and when the arrangements are in that ivy league vein is when they're at their best. However, their rock chops leave something to be desired. Their best songs on this album, however, were the country songs....it may be the locale, I dunno. But I was left flat by a lot of the album. The best word I can come up with is "uneven" — good solid tracks mixed with not-so-good ones with one or two winners on the album. All in all, though, if I had paid $10 for the tape, it would probably sit on my shelf 95% of the time.
Rating: 6 (6.3)

Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

this album is simply not very good. technically speaking, pitch is off all over the place, solos are sung in a style completely inappropriate for the song in question, arrangements are simple and unimaginative, studio mixing is uneven, vibrato is found on most of the rockers, percussion is weak. when the clef hangers delve into modern rock, they do so with the attitude of a glee club, not that of a rock band. when they go for the old standards, their performance is just not up to snuff. where they succeed a little better is on tunes like "little rock" and "love, me", simple little story songs with a sweet message and an easy feel; these are easily the best tunes on the album, with rawhide a close third. but the songs that might get an audience or a listener excited are performed with little to no balls and absolutely no musical vision. the tragedy is that there's 20 SONGS ON THIS ALBUM. why? if you're lookin' for the best that collegiate a cappella has to offer, well, keep lookin'.
Rating: 1 (2.3)

Ben Tritle

Except for three tracks, this is an excellent CD. The harmonies tend toward tight and balanced. I really liked the arrangements of Greg Bowman and Ron Mourad. Brad King's solos also deserve special mention as they either carried the tune or enhanced an already good track. My one major disappointment is with the tracks that didn't quite have the right blend between solo and support. Had those tracks been better mixed, I would have been willing to give plenty of 9's and maybe even a 10. I also applaud the diversity of music offered: a little country, a little disco, a little rock, a little classic, a little pop, and a standard or two. Keep up the country aspect, it's fairly neglected and it shouldn't be so. I know when the song average comes down, it'll say a 5.5 or something like that, but don't let 2 or 3 tracks spoil it.
Rating: 7 (5.3)


Individual Tracks

  1. Basket Case (5.2)
    John Magruder

    The title song from Green Day. This is a fairly energetic tune... but then again, it had better be for Green Day! It has a few blending problems, and it gets a bit sloppy, but nothing too bad. One of the better tunes on the album. And no, that does not bode well for the rest of the album.
    Rating: 7

    Randi Sherman

    Great opening tune, since lots of people know it. I like the minimal use of percussion — not too overbearing. The soloist's voice is a little too clean for this song, and he makes it sound a little too "choral". The riff in the middle of the song with the "ba ba ba's" is a little out of tune, and the song sounds rushed towards the end. Overall a strong start with nothing too flashy, but the arrangement is pretty good.
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    Musically, very well, very clearly sung...which I think may be part of the problem given the source material. Soloist makes a game attempt but ends up being annoying...although the fact I find the song annoying probably doesn't help that. Basic case of a well-executed average arrangement with very little "quirkiness" that made the original work.
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    gotta have some balls to try this one. it's guitar rock at it's best. this version, however, is contemporary a cappella at its worst. i found myself cringing at numerous things: the solo is horribly obnoxious and broadway, and cracks everywhere; the arrangement is dah and bah and bop and dit and doo, and adds absolutely nothing to the song other than displaced energy; the percussion is fine, albeit really high-pitched, except at the end when a couple of ridiculous fills pollute the sound canvas. i found this to be a truly bad version. rock and roll by a group that is essentially a small glee club just ain't happenin'.
    Rating: 1

    Ben Tritle

    Interesting choice as it doesn't seem to be a song that lends well to an a cappella arrangement. The Clef Hangers do a nice job though. Tim Fiscus seemed to have fun with the solo, which was fun. If anything bothered me about it, it was the mixing; the solo drowns out a well-blended background.
    Rating: 6

  2. Help! (6.0)
    John Magruder

    Da' Beatles! That's what this song needs: the Beatles. It could have used some dynamics, too. This is not bad, but it leaves me feeling on edge. I'm not sure why. A bit abrupt sounding.
    Rating: 6

    Randi Sherman

    Amazing how they can take a simple song and be consistent with it without getting boring. The "help" chords are a little out of tune from time to time. The "do do do" by the tenors really keep the song moving without any need of percussion. I think the basses were a little heavy, and if a group's going to snap, they need to make sure it's together. The solo is a great range for the guy who is singing. He takes great control of the group.
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    The song sounds a bit too glee-clubbish for me...a LOT of block chords, and while this is early Beatles, this is also the first acknowledged "growth point" of the Paul's and John's songwriting...I expected more depth. The soloist was pretty good until that nasal "ooooh" at the ending. The verses were well-written though, even though I found the chorus' "bop bop bop bop" to be fairly pedestrian arranging.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    with this track the clef hangers seem to return to more familiar ground. bops and doos and dahs and dots sound much better on the older beatles tunes, and a plain white voice can get away with this solo much easier. i found this arrangement standard in every way and original in none. i also found the ending (you know the one, where it goes to the minor vi at the very end kind of all of a sudden) very poorly done.
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    Wow! Greg Bowman did a great job with this arrangement. I saw a Beatles song there and nearly fast forwarded, as I'm not on the Beatles bandwagon. Bowman made this song fun, and Michael Lemon handled the solo with skill. Of great note here is the way every part has a hand in moving the song forward. This was a real toe tapper for me and made the rest of the CD worth listening.
    Rating: 8

  3. Under The Bridge (5.8)
    John Magruder

    I like the soloist's voice on this song. It has a rich quality to it. This had all the dynamics that the previous song lacked. A good arrangement and some interesting sounds elevate this song above the others. Except for the ending. That just did not fit with the rest of the song... almost as though they lost all inspiration and just tossed this chord on the end because they were tired. Fix that and a few minor tuning problems, and you have something pretty good.
    Rating: 7

    Randi Sherman

    I'm glad they didn't try to imitate this Red Hot Chili Peppers song exactly, because it probably wouldn't have worked. They actually make it a really pretty ballad with arpeggio chords. I think the background chords could have been a little bit louder during the verses. Again the group uses minimal percussion that works great. It's really pleasant to listen to, even if you hate the Chili Peppers. The ending "under the bridge downtown" repetition could be a little more solid like the rest of the song, but it's a hard harmonic transition.
    Rating: 8

    Shawn Pearce

    The soloist sounds a lot like a cross between Anthony Kiedis' throaty buzziness and Jon Secada's vocal emoting. The arrangement is credible, and they do some good musical things...dynamics and such. No drive on the choruses, though, and there was a lot more that I felt could be done with the arrangement.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i actually like the beginning of this track, the little intro that jon frusciante plays at the top of the original (theirs is not true to the original, but is kinda cool nonetheless). however, i was sorely disappointed by another broadway soloist and more doos than i ever could've imagined on an a cappella version of a song by the red hot chili peppers. basses in the chorus have a really strange non-pitched part that doesn't seem to match the rest of the arrangement. percussion is pretty good, pitch gets worse as direct harmonies arrive to "help" the solo. then the soloist says "honey", which is a. not in the original and b. totally inappropriate. the arrangement ends on the word "stay", which is also a. not in the song and b. unsettling as an ending to the song.
    Rating: 1

    Ben Tritle

    First, despite the fact that I'm not a great fan of this song or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brad King's solo made me appreciate the song a little more. The opening felt sluggish before the background kicked in for the tenors under King's solo.
    Rating: 6

  4. Hey Jealousy (5.4)
    John Magruder

    Here is another fairly decent arrangement that is marred by a bad ending. Had some nice, decently balanced backgrounds that worked well with the song. Then this whacked-out, abrupt ending. It's kind of like a waiter who glides up to your table and serves you with style. Then when he turns to go, he drops the tray on your head.
    Rating: 7

    Randi Sherman

    This background sounds a little like "Basket Case". Obviously, the chords are different, but I found this to be a boring, repetitive arrangement. The background vocalists (who sing "Hey Jealousy") are not together. The actual recording of this song sounds really metallic, and the percussion was fuzzy.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    The thing that hooked me was the REALLY good soloist they got for this... a lot of emotions in the song (although the Gin Blossoms tend to write the happiest-sounding "life sucks" songs I've ever seen. The only problem is, yet again, a pedestrian, homophonic arrangement that keeps it in the forefront of my mind that it's a cappella.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    there's too many great bands and great songs in the world for any college a cappella group to be covering the fucking gin blossoms. ok, let's move on. another solo with a ton of vibrato, which actually works a little better for the gin losers than for others. the arrangement is solid dit and doo and bah (with a couple echoes of lead lyrics), which i suppose is nothing new for this disc. bad pitch problems. the percussion track seems to be accenting the wrong beats, the song ends with an abrupt "ba da da bow". never use "bow". kills it every time.
    Rating: 1

    Ben Tritle

    Nice job by the soloist, Dave Sperandio. I was only slightly bothered by a nagging that there may be an intonation problem (you be the judge). The interplay that was prevalent in track 2 can be heard here in the chorus, which also was well done.
    Rating: 7

  5. Ring of Fire (4.6)
    John Magruder

    Ah, gotta love those old a cappella standards. This is an uninspiring arrangement marked by a bad trumpet solo. The bass has a good, rattling bass voice for those low notes, but the rest of the group is not that great. Passable, but not great.
    Rating: 6

    Randi Sherman

    The percussion intro to this song is too long. Doesn't matter if it's that long in the original recording: they should have cut it, especially since it continues during most of the song. It's a really cool arrangement; different sections for each voice part, and the soloist is great. I can't believe how low he can sing and stay in tune. The trumpet bridge is great; good demonstration of human voices imitating instruments. Guess the point of a cappella.
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    "Ring of Fire" — Lettermen style! Problem 1 — The bass doesn't have the low chops to make this particular arrangement work.. is consistently sharp on the low notes. What would have been wrong with taking this up a step or two so that the bass could hit the notes? Plus it's my own belief that if you can't come near the original artists version or if you can't add something new to the arrangement, you shouldn't record it. I know the Bobs, and this wasn't the Bobs. And there was nothing new done with the arrangement to make it something more than a second-rate Bobs knock-off
    Rating: 4

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    bad pitch throughout. soloist has a great bass range, but when he goes up into baritone/tenor territory, his ain't all that. OH NO OH NO OH NO! trumpet solo! SHIT SHIT SHIT. the song ends with a really long low d by the lead. impressive, but doesn't sound too great, kinda froggy. a very light song, i suppose it was done with the lead in mind, but otherwise i can't imagine the rationale behind doing it. unmemorable, unmentionable. at least it's not the gin blossoms.
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    In an effort to not be harsh, I'll comment in general on 2 levels: first, this arrangement didn't offer anything new. The fact that this song has been covered by the BOBS, and therefore several other groups, I was hoping for more. Second, despite the impressive depth of Bowman's bass solo, I just didn't feel like there was anything to be excited about on this track.
    Rating: 3

  6. Veronica (4.8)
    John Magruder

    I never liked this song by Elvis Costello. You know, I don't like this a cappella version either. Tuning problems, and some stilted-sounding backgrounds don't do much for me. The second soloist who sings in the chorus is flat most of the time. Once again, nothing to write home about.
    Rating: 5

    Randi Sherman

    I remember hating this song when it came out because it's so boring. I don't know why anyone would want to do it a cappella. The transitions sound a little sloppy, and some of the background vocals are so quiet that by the time you hear them, they're gone. When the notes got too high for the soloist on "Ve-ro-ni-CA" he should have cut the note short. I might have liked this song if it were one verse shorter, because a rather simplistic arrangement during the A and B section drags.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    Pleasant surprise. Very quirky song, and a very good arrangement. The soloists sell the song very well. (Good idea having two soloists handling different sections of the song.) All in all, very pretty song...they do this style of song very well...relaxed, story songs.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    another bad soloist opens this one, and the lead switches to an equally bad soloist when the line goes up high for the chorus. at one point the harmony is just wrong, and in general the arrangement is boring and adds little. even the little vocal echoes seem forced. the mix is not too good either, with the middle parts eliminating the bass line. bland.
    Rating: 2

    Ben Tritle

    This track almost continued the mediocrity in its first measures. The solos were very pleasant, they were what kept the track moving forward. This song could've used some of that interplay that they showed in the first few tracks.
    Rating: 4

  7. Love, Me (6.8)
    John Magruder

    I like this song a lot. The story it tells is poignant and makes you get all wistful and weepy. Kind of how 'Leader of the Band' always does, but this song is not as well known. The performance of it does not do it justice. Backgrounds with tuning problems and a trio that is hit or miss bring this down. The soloist to me does not convey the feeling that the song requires. A little lackluster, overall.
    Rating: 6

    Randi Sherman

    This is another beautiful ballad that the group does, and the arrangement of rolling chords is excellent. No voice part sticks out, and I would've liked to hear the high tenors a little more. Except for a little rushing from time to time and that the group goes a little flat (common of many a cappella groups), this song is great.
    Rating: 9

    Shawn Pearce

    I don't know the source material for the song, but it sounds very country-ish. Basically, another story-song. And it's good. I don't know what it is, but the soloists, when given the chance, tell the story behind the song when singing...and I could feel the poignance there. Very sweet song... and the arrangement quality is a little stronger here
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this is a nice little song about a girl and a guy and grandpa and grandma and dying and good stuff like that, and it's pulled off much better by the clefs. the lead is pleasant, as is the arrangement (bahs and doohs and oohs and wahs work much better in this sort of classic tune). pitch suffers in many places, but somehow the clefs score with this one. the mood is set well and the lead sits nicely atop the smooth arrangement.
    Rating: 5

    Ben Tritle

    What? A straight interpretation of a country song without being hokey? GOOD! The Clef Hangers dip into a very deep well that they tap into later with heart. The arrangement was nicely done, though it's hidden by some unbalanced mixing in favor of Brian Beasley's heartfelt solo.
    Rating: 6

  8. All My Lovin' (4.6)
    John Magruder

    Da' Beatles! Not too great, hate to say. There is nothing really worth talking about here. You have heard better, you have probably heard worse.
    Rating: 5

    Randi Sherman

    Another Beatles song? I probably wouldn't have done two on an album that are such repetitious songs. They take this song, as simple as it is, and keep it that way. A more challenging arrangement would've made this song better, because with 4/4 time, you need more syncopation and (pardon the phrase) cool rhythms.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    The Beatles AGAIN!?!?! Shrug The arrangement fits the song, they seem to be having fun, but the song seems to be a bit disjointed...clashing chords and the like..and the basses aren't really together in the spots that they are exposed. Soloist is OK.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    look out. another broadway soloist trying to sing the beatles. sounds like they're joking. actually, that'd be a great way for this song to succeed: make it a comedy thing... there's kind of a neat little jazzy breakdown in the middle of the arrangement when the lead cuts for a second... otherwise, another typical track, a little better than the travesty they committed against elvis costello.
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    Average selection to begin with, it does recover a little from Pete Caggia's solo. It's just not exciting, though; even the bridge, which is executed pretty well, is still fairly average.
    Rating: 4

  9. Rawhide (6.6)
    John Magruder

    This was not too bad. Things were a bit sloppy throughout, but the bass soloist had a good sound. I laughed at how they added the whiny guitar melody of Chris Isaaks' "I Don't Want To Fall In Love" to the arrangement. I laughed because it worked! It is one of those medleys that makes you realize that that song doesn't belong, yet it does. You recognize it from somewhere else, yet it sounds good right where it is. That was the real high point of this kitchy song.
    Rating: 6

    Randi Sherman

    What a great soloist. I can just see him sitting upon a horse riding off to the coral during this song. The key change is so clear and sharp that it gave me the chills. The "chum-chum" background sounds like a horse just prancing along. It took me a while to realize the breakdown in the middle was to the Chris Isaak song "Wicked Game" and the creative element of this rocked! This song sounds like great background music for a commercial!
    Rating: 9

    Shawn Pearce

    Cute rendition of the classic television theme...it sounds very much like the "Underdog" theme at points... at least until the "Wicked Game" juxtaposition. (Very cute touch.) Soloist is a bit operatic, but the arrangement fits the soloist (one of the hardest things to do). All in all, nicely done.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    bad pitch. i actually kinda liked this solo, sweet on the higher notes, thick on the low stuff. actually, this arrangement was surprisingly full and relatively interesting, with a little break into that chris isaak song and a couple syllables other than bah! the only thing which kinda surprised me was the lack of energy on this one, which hadn't seemed to be a problem on other tracks.
    Rating: 5

    Ben Tritle

    It could've been an average interpretation, it turned out very well done. The mixing and balance was excellent. The bass line was definitely NOT overly heavy, which scored major points for me. I also liked the Chris Isaak tease for the bridge, though I'm not sure why it was there. Overall, though, well done.
    Rating: 6

  10. Paper Moon (5.2)
    John Magruder

    Cute swing song, but not when you mess up the opening chords like they did! Things pick up a bit after that, but their tuning is always suspect on the more interesting chords through the rest of the song. And you know, those jazz chords are not hard ones.
    Rating: 5

    Randi Sherman

    Great close harmonies in this song. But, I started to get tired of the snapping during the song, because it sounded messy and uneven. The walking bass line could have come out more, because the chords on top of it were unbalanced from time to time. But, a good, short song.
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    Solid arrangement, solid soloist, good singing...basses are still a little laser-tonish in their bassline where a softer, fuller string bass sound would have probably served better. All in all, decent jazz.
    Rating: 6 (8 if you're a jazz fan)

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    terrible pitch opens this standard. the rest of the arrangement is peppered with typical and poorly performed jazz techniques. appropriately bland solo; i was not at all surprised by the truly pitiful attempt at scat. again i feel like the basses were left out of the mix. bad.
    Rating: 1

    Ben Tritle

    First suggestion: swallow through the first three chords, because the rest of song is excellent, made so by Brad King's great solo and also it's placement on the album behind "Rawhide". It could've been just another old standard, but instead is lively and worth a listen.
    Rating: 7

  11. Copperline (4.0)
    John Magruder

    Silly wind effect at the beginning always bugs me. Sounds like one of the guys failed at whistling, rather than the wind. I have never heard this song before. Something about having grown up in a little mining town, with all the little details of town you are supposed to remember from your childhood there. Just kind of seems like a jumble of unrelated memories. Maybe that is what it's supposed to be. It sounded like the soloist was just reading from a scrapbook, but with no passion. Boring song.
    Rating: 5

    Randi Sherman

    Some of the really fast notes in this song were rushed. The people saying "copperline" in the background need to learn to all pronounce the same word the same way, otherwise the diction gets lost between chords. It starts to sound like "Cup of lie" after a while by some of the higher voices. The soloist sings well, but it's a little boring and he doesn't change the dynamics at all, and he's hard to understand. He doesn't seem to be paying attention to what he's saying. What the basses sing starts to sound very "oom-pah-pah" about a minute into the song.
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    I really dislike this arrangement. The original song was very smooth, very flowing, and the "Copperline, Copperline" was very staccato and it made the arrangement jerk around like a wooden roller coaster. It was sung pretty well, but I really feel the song was given a disservice by the arrangement
    Rating: 4

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    not terrible. the arrangement of this recent james taylor tune leaves some chord changes out, i found that kinda strange. having the backups sing "copperline" at every opportunity wound up annoying, although i'm sure it was intended with interest in mind. in general, a weak arrangement which is much more obvious than interesting. soloist is fine.
    Rating: 1

    Ben Tritle

    Unfortunately, it was another song where the heart of the song didn't come through on the recording. The bass line felt very repetitive to me and just made it seem long. It's not a bad recording, but it definitely needed more color.
    Rating: 4

  12. Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard (4.0)
    John Magruder

    Practically every college group I have ever heard has done this song. This is not a very good attempt from the boys from UNC. Sloppy tuning and a chunky arrangement made worse by a medley with "In The Middle Of The Night" by Billy Joel followed by a (thankfully) short little African drum riff a la Lionel Richie's "All Night Long". The arrangement does not even end the song with MAJDBTS. Rather, they end with a chintzy little reprieve of the Billy Joel song and a hiss. Weird.
    Rating: 4

    Randi Sherman

    This song sounds like the 50's song "Lollipop" in the beginning. Again, they're using the rhythms from "Basket Case" of long-short-long. For a song by Paul Simon that has such great percussion, they're really lacking. The segue into "In the Middle of the Night" is really cheesy, and it's obvious they used it because the rest of the song is dull.
    Rating: 4

    Shawn Pearce

    Minor rhythmic problems in the beginning, and the crescendos aren't even, making for a distraction in the arrangement. Unlike the last arrangement, the song isn't staccato enough. And the addition of the other song was kinda cute....the other annoying thing was the percussion, which was phasing rhythmically with the rest of the group.
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this seems like it'd be a good choice for this group, with their fondness for doos and dahs and bops, let's see... well, there's the doos, there's the mimicking of lyrics from the lead, there's the beat changing and ruining the feel during the chorus... what else. actually, there's a nice reference to billy joel's river of dreams, and it works quite well. this is the best part of the arrangement for me. the solo, again, is fine. the overall effect, again, is not.
    Rating: 2

    Ben Tritle

    What I liked about this song was at the beginning at the point where the percussion came in; seemed to me that throughout the song it was a lesson in how to cleverly use it to help paint the picture. Again, another tease at the bridge, "River of Dreams", and again, I ask "Why?" It was executed nicely, but seemed unnecessary. Outside of that, the track did seem just a bit methodical.
    Rating: 5

  13. Ladies Night (3.2)
    John Magruder

    I hate disco. This makes me hate it even more. The tuning is not great. But its the tempo/timing problems that will make you cringe initially. You get to listen to the guys try and make 2 or 3 different tempos work together. Sort of like chocolate and vinegar, or maybe like milk and lemon juice. Needless to say they are unsuccessful in their attempts. Then they go to the tempo change that is supposed to be there, and it sounds like they get sick or something. You get to hear the cracking voice of one of our intrepid disco ducks here, followed by the gross ending. Man, you thought the other songs had been marred by bad endings. This song gets mauled by one. You kind of wish they would start singing again just to give some sense of closure to this bad chapter of your listening experience.
    Rating: 2

    Randi Sherman

    The sounds they use in this song have a good 70's feel to it, and when they sing in octaves, it's really reminiscent of the bell-bottom days. The arrangement is really simple; not everyone sounds like they are singing. There's a really rough transition in the middle that sounds like they cut and pasted two different songs together.
    Rating: 3

    Shawn Pearce

    Soloist is strong enough, and the bass use was really funny...but the rest of the arrangement was missing the verve and the power that is necessary to make disco work a cappella. The block chords really do not work here, and there was also tempo problems in the breakdown sections that were distracting.
    Rating: 4

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    TERRIBLE pitch. however, the arrangement at least is slightly interesting, with more than 2 parts. i couldn't find the arranger's name on the insert, maybe he's not in the group. hard to go wrong with disco, except for maybe the solo... oh yeah, there he is, not too good. well, the clefs managed to suck out all the soul that disco might have had at one point. oh well.
    Rating: 2

    Ben Tritle

    "Clefs Got Soul" so the liner notes say...truth in advertising or premature proclamation? I tend toward the truth aspect. There's every hint that it's there. This track seemed to be a challenge; the arrangement spread the focus among the parts. The bridge proved to be the only challenge to the slogan.
    Rating: 5

  14. Little Rock (6.4)
    John Magruder

    Now this is a cool song. I like the story, which is about a man on his way back from a number of problems in his life who is lamenting on his mistakes with the woman he loves. Pretty good backgrounds in this arrangement, but I would have liked to hear something more inventive than just 'doo'. These guys do a decent job on the ballads, don't you think?
    Rating: 7

    Randi Sherman

    Good example of how a soloist can make a song really pleasant to listen to. The percussion of "dum-kuh" on the down and up beat is exhausted after the first few bars. The trio on the chorus has a good balance. The actual tone quality of the song isn't really clear.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    I apologize if this isn't a country song, but I admire the Clefs for wanting to try more country...it's an untapped area for different kinds of arrangements and songs...say what you will about twang, but for my money no one tells a story in a song like country artists. And I felt a lot of emotion behind this song. And the thing is, I HATE country music, but this worked.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    don't know this song, but i always love hearing the word "christ" in my music. actually, this song succeeds on the same level as "love, me" earlier on this disc. mellow, ballady kind of thing, light music, tells a nice little story, folk music i guess ya call it. dave sperandio (music director '94-'95) succeeds on this tune as soloist (he never had a chance on hey jealousy) with a nice folk tone and a sweet little arrangement behind him. best track on the disc?
    Rating: 6

    Ben Tritle

    Another wonderful country arrangement. Unfortunately, another track hampered by mixing the solo to loud against the background. Sperandio seems to be pretty adaptable to whatever he sings (see track #4). The only true nick I have is a slight intonation problem with the trio.
    Rating: 6

  15. I Know You're Out There Somewhere (5.0)
    John Magruder

    Another short, bad wind effect starts this song like 'Copperline' did. The arrangement leaves something to be desired in the choruses. It gets a bit empty feeling then. I noticed that the percussionist kept getting too close to the mic, because you hear how he overpowered the mic. It gets turned down so it's not really bad, but when I was listening on headphones, I kept thinking that someone was pounding on the wall next to me. You know, kind of a muffled 'thump'. Abrupt ending again. You know, every song that I have a big problem with the ending was arranged by the same guy. Coincidence? I think not.
    Rating: 5

    Randi Sherman

    This sounds like it belongs on a Kodak commercial. The echoing of "somewhere" is clean, but the dynamics sound like the ends of the words are dropped off. Some of the chords are basically just flat in the piece. The chorus takes a huge turn dynamically, and they need to smooth over that transition a little better. The continual bass line and percussion keeps a very steady tempo. There's not much else to say about this song; it's dry.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    The soloist works. To a certain extent, so does the arrangement. But again, the OOMPH is missing from an OOMPH heavy song. Maybe it's the percussion...I get the feeling no one in this group has really strong vocal percussion skills, and it hurts a few of the arrangements. This is OK, but it could have been so much more.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    REALLY REALLY BAD PITCH. can't deal anymore. does this album ever end? i have no idea to what category this song belongs. weird 80's motivational love song? maybe. i just don't understand it, so it's kinda difficult to rate. let's see, the arrangement is ok, the soloist kinda fits the randomness of the song itself, the basses are again mixed too low, the trio sounds nice, the percussion is lame, whatever whatever whatever whatever.
    Rating: 2

    Ben Tritle

    I had the chance to hear the Clef Hangers live, and this was my favorite of their set. While the track doesn't do their live version justice, it does have a definite feel good factor for me. For those who tire of the covers of the Moody Blues "Wildest Dreams", this is definitely a nice change of pace, especially the arrangement of the trio, as it does not appear in the original. I especially liked the trio when the background dropped out toward the end. Credit to Ron Mourad's arrangement.
    Rating: 7

  16. When I Fall In Love (4.2)
    John Magruder

    Everyone knows this song. This arrangement is just like those high school jazz arrangements you used to sing in chorus because your director was on crack and thought that they were cool. Well this is not good. The only redeeming thing about it is the little solo that Brad King sings (the same guy who sang 'Under The Bridge'). He has a nice warm-sounding voice. I'm glad they turned him way up. Helped me forget the rest of the poorly-sung song.
    Rating: 3

    Randi Sherman

    This is a really good song to do with simple, close harmonies. Because the tempo isn't steady during the whole piece, they do a great job of staying together. (It was definitely conducted well.) For such a beautiful ballad, they could have used dynamics as the main focus of the piece. When everyone sings the same, basic rhythms and words, a group needs lots of attention paid to dynamics; otherwise it becomes boring. But, because their chords are tight, they get away with it. The soloist's vibrato pulls his pitch down a lot, but he has a good, dark sound for this.
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    This is where this group excels — stiff, vocally sound close-harmony jazz. It sounds very pretty, but it doesn't require them to have outgoing personality, groovin' rhythms, etc. I'm not saying they suck at that... I'm saying they excel in this. I wish I was more of a fan of this kind of music. One thing I do know is the song could be cleaner harmonically.. several clunky chords.
    Rating: 7 (9 if you like Jazz)

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    jazzy homophony with bad pitch. not a great recipe. this probably gets them additional funding from the general alumni association. they love this shit, i'm sure. ok, you've heard it before, it's the glee club special, hit your t's "in a momen T". solo fits quite well, of course, this is what these guys should probably be singing most of the time, unfortunately for the rest of the world.
    Rating: 2

    Ben Tritle

    I don't think it was the choral arrangement that suffered as much as the execution of it. This is the only song that I truly cringed on. Brad King once again showed great heart on the solo; I wish the rest of the performance had been as solid as during his solo.
    Rating: 2

  17. I Believe In You (5.4)
    John Magruder

    An original! It is a pretty good ballad. The lyrics seem a bit odd here and then, but maybe that's just me. I do love the line "I never had a dog, a cat, or a bird. I had a gerbil once but it didn't say a word.". Cute. This song would have been even better if they had brushed up on their tuning a bit more. This song has a lot of promise. You will probably like it quite a bit.
    Rating: 7

    Randi Sherman

    Considering the guy who wrote this song is singing the solo, one would think the lyrics would've sounded clearer. They need more dynamics in this song, because the parts that need to stand out at certain times don't. Some of the transitions don't settle until a few seconds after the group is into the new section. Unfortunately, I got bored with the soloist's interpretation. He didn't sound like he liked singing this, even though he wrote it!
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    Pretty song...definite points for an original song (which is sad that more college groups don't try this). The arrangement is a bit too busy in the background for the song material for my tastes, but the song really worked very well. Good song
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i suppose bad pitch is a given by now. THIS IS AN ORIGINAL SONG. kudos for that stuff. but the bad pitch is so intrusive i'm fucking DYING. soloist, writer, couldn't be more bland (as a soloist, that is); NO, NO MORE bad pitch! stop! if you've gotten this far in reading this review you probably realize where i'm going with all this, so i'll save us all some time and move on.
    Rating: 1

    Ben Tritle

    An original song that was nicely arranged for a group that handles intricate backgrounds well. The greatest problem I had with this song were the lyrics. Individually, they were pleasant, but they just didn't seem to add up. I do hope, though, that Michael Lemon is still writing music, there's a lot of talent in the song that would be a shame to waste, including in the solo.
    Rating: 6

  18. The Devil Went Down To Georgia (4.6)
    John Magruder

    Wow. The Charlie Daniels Band! I really looked forward to hearing what the Clefs would manage to do with this fiddler's dream song. The soloist had a good voice that helped carry you to the epic confrontation between Johnny and the Devil. Then when you hear the respective competitors duke it out on their fiddles... you laugh. The sound is wimpy and totally missing the energy that this requires. Oh the fun they could have had trying to make those sounds! Oh how silly it sounded what they did! Johnny's solo was just not in the vein that Mr. Daniels meant it to be. "whoooooo!" It sounded like a anemic imitation of a square dance the way they moved from his moment of glory to the main melody with: "Wrraauw, Wrraauw, Wrraauw, hey!" After my fiancee heard this song with me the first time, we laughed...! We still joke about it every now and then: looking at each other and going "Wrraauw, Wrraauw, Wrraauw, hey!". Points for making me laugh.
    Rating: 5

    Randi Sherman

    Sloppy intro, and the volume of some parts is way too quiet. This song doesn't fit with the rest of their album at all, and for them to overlook that is a problem. Not that the rest of the songs are under one type of music, but this one sticks out like a sore thumb. The "rew-rew-rew" introduction and segue between verses is terribly out of tune. I can only hope they did that on purpose.
    Rating: 2

    Shawn Pearce

    FUN SONG! The background could have allowed the fiddle lines to string together a little more fluently, but this song has the verve and the oomph I was talking about earlier.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    pitch? good idea for a tune to do, but, well... kinda painful. lead's ok. backups aren't. bow chika bow chk bow bow bow. ooh baby. rock me. this lacks anything resembling the concept of passion. enough already.
    Rating: 2

    Ben Tritle

    OK, so there's one country song that's a bit kitschy, but that's how it's supposed to be. Jake Spencer had fun telling the fiddler's tale. It's a hard cover to do successfully though, since a violin played so prominently in the original. The arrangement was good despite this. Too many spots where it could have easily fallen apart. The way the track moves kept it from falling apart anywhere.
    Rating: 6

  19. Good Lovin' (4.0)
    John Magruder

    Wow. Sloppy beginning. Sloppy song. Full of energy, but poorly executed. Tempo problems, and the occasional tuning glitch made me get over laughing from the previous song. The tenor seemed to strain at the end of the song.
    Rating: 4

    Randi Sherman

    Ouch. The first chord that we heard is supposed to be a major chord. Everyone knows this song, and you know what key it is from the first sound- except in this recording. Because this song falls under the repetition category of the Beatles (even though it's the Beach Boys) songs, it was another song that just did the same thing again and again. You can't have 3 songs out of 20 like that. Also, to be picky- they're saying "Good Love" instead of "good lovin". Change the title or the lyrics, please.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    Thank you for using the original song to do an original arrangment rather than copping either McFerrin or the Bobs. VERY nice bridge section...this is the kind of arranging I wish there was more of here. And the soloist has a good sell to it as well.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    bad. decent solo. bow bow bow bow bow bow bow bow bow bow bow. weak voices, basses again mixed too low. the backups singing "good love" over and over are just super weak.
    Rating: 1

    Ben Tritle

    The tempo changes (or at least the ones I heard) didn't help me. Will Sturgill's solo deserves some credit, but like "Ring of Fire", I was just disappointed by the lack of anything new on a song that has been well-covered.
    Rating: 3

  20. Livin' On the Edge (4.4)
    John Magruder

    Dramatic, high energy song to try and finish the album on an up note. I guess it works... sort of. The energy that gets built up through the verses gets creamed when the chorus totally has the bottom drop out and the energy goes way down. It sounds empty then, and there are tuning problems that makes the whole thing teeter on the edge (no pun intended). A pretty good arrangement, but look out! It's that same arranger with the habit of making bad endings! But wait... this is a good ending. It is a totally appropriate ending! Ron Mourad, you redeemed yourself with that one.
    Rating: 6

    Randi Sherman

    Again, another song that could never be replicated, so I'm glad they didn't try to. The tempo of the song drags, and it doesn't leave the listener with a powerful closing. During the verses, the held "ah's" sag in pitch, tempo, and color. The chords in the bridge just sound like they were learned wrong. Maybe that's the fault of the arrangement. They're not living on the edge, they're living on the fringe of a rough ending to an album.
    Rating: 4

    Shawn Pearce

    Points for the source material..but again, this could have been SO MUCH MORE. In contrast to the other arrangements, this is well arranged but poorly executed. Maybe if all the sections blended together better and flowed together, it would have worked better. And the soloist is nowhere near where it needs to be....it doesn't have to be Steven Tyler, but at least have a rock style voice. I really wish they would have switched this and "Georgia"
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this is AEROSMITH! aerosmith doesn't use vibrato! but of course, the clef hangers do, it wouldn't be right without it. this is actually one of the more interesting arrangements on the album. percussion is really weak. did they just pull the faders for the basses all the way down? the harmony is also just wrong in many places. the original version of this tune is HUGE, phat, fills the sound spectrum from wall to wall. this doesn't.
    Rating: 1

    Ben Tritle

    Kudos for originality in song choice. The blend isn't as razor sharp as it is in the other tracks. There are parts in this track that because of the arrangement to a cappella, it loses its original edge. Not really anybody's fault for that though.
    Rating: 6

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