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RARB REVIEW

School: Duke University
Group: Pitchforks
Album: Tonal Eclipse

Recorded 1992
Total time: 56:55, 16 songs

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Something I Should Know (6.8)
  2. Too darn Hot (6.6)
  3. Alison (6.6)
  4. Bad Connection (6.0)
  5. Life in a Northern Town (6.8)
  6. Every Little Thing (6.0)
  7. Sister Moon (6.0)
  8. And She Was (5.6)
  9. In Your Eyes (6.4)
  10. One Thing Leads to Another (5.8)
  11. Stuck on You (6.4)
  12. Take the Long Way Home (6.4)
  13. Jacob's Ladder (5.2)
  14. Particle Man (6.0)
  15. More Than words (5.4)
  16. Bungle in the jungle (6.6)

Reviews

This album was reviewed by five members of RARB. In this compilation, their comments are always listed in a consistent order. Thus, for each song (and in the "overall" section), all comments numbered "1" are from the same reviewer, as are those numbered "2", etc.

Overall

Scores in parentheses are the reviewers' average song ratings for this album.
  1. I know these guys are good. I just didn't think the ALBUM was. To me, it seems like a case of a good group, but just not enough work put into the album. It seemed most of the time that they were holding back, perhaps trying to get a better blend, but it ended up they sounded insipid in some places. The choices of repertoire are somewhat original, but in many cases questionable.
    Rating: 6 (5.4)

  2. The Pitchforks have great energy and some creative arrangements. The voices are generally strong, and they have a full group sound. They could use some more vocal percussion, but overall, they are a solid group and an enjoyable listen.
    Rating: 7 (7.0)

  3. There is one thing that this album needs more of: energy. The Pitchforks sing in a controlled manner (like when you sing for alumni) and never seem to let their hair down and cut loose. Intonation is good in most songs, soloists are fine but not fabulous, arrangements are also ok, but don't expect to hear any vocal or musical acrobatics here. If you don't mind this subdued sound (possibly King's Singers fans?), you will probably enjoy this album more than I do.
    Rating: 5 (5.5)

  4. The Pitchforks are clearly in control of their music. Pitch, ensemble, blend and dynamics are all outstanding throughout, although the leads do have a tendency to be a bit reserved, sometimes to the detriment of the performance. Musicianship is uniformly high. (The Pitchforks apparently have benefited greatly from the influence and advice of a faculty advisor, who also provided some of the better arrangements on the album.) This album deserves serious attention from the CARA board — I only hope the timing is right.

    I was also impressed by the album packaging. The Pitchforks look like a class act. Not only do they credit the arranger and the soloists and principal vocal lines, they also credit the inspiring artist. In all cases but one ("Alison", by Elvis Costello, but inspired by the Tufts Beelzebubs) this is the original artist.
    Rating: 8 (8.1)

  5. They sound more like a women's group than a men's group really, with both the commonly seen strengths and weaknesses thereof - they blend really well, and have good voices for ensemble singing, but they lack strong basses and consistent soloists for the type of music they're doing. If they either arranged differently or sang more choral songs they would be much better off. Also the recording/mixing quality is not very good, and a lot of these songs would be much improved by mixing. The best songs on this album are the slow songs, and they pretty much sound the same due to extremely similar arrangements.
    Rating: 5 (4.6)


Individual Tracks

  1. Something I Should Know (6.8)
    1. Good, still lacking energy
      Rating: 7

    2. Nice solo, good arrangement and vocal rhythms. A solid track with good energy.
      Rating: 8

    3. Intonation good for the most part, airy soloist is ok. Interesting pattern for the verse, overall energy is a little low but ok.
      Rating: 6

    4. Ensemble in the often quick background is excellent. So is pitch in the upper range entrances. Lead projects well.
      Rating: 7

    5. This song almost works, solo too raspy and straining at top pitches, there's a nice perkiness to the little harmony bits that are interspersed throughout the song, the choral parts are quite nice. Arrangement is not stellar but decent.
      Rating: 6

  2. Too darn Hot (6.6)
    1. Tuning problems, uninteresting.
      Rating: 5

    2. Smooth solo. Effective use of dynamics. Tight harmonies with nice blend in the background. Good bass line.
      Rating: 8

    3. Light jazz arrangement a la Whiffs. Balanced, most of the notes are there on some difficult chords, but lacks the bite it needs.
      Rating: 6

    4. Excellent jazzy arrangement. Background blend and balance are impeccable. The lead is a little too restrained. Outstanding dynamics.
      Rating: 9

    5. Not bad, solo is appropriately antique-sounding although it would be better if it were just a little less tremulous. I think their style is well suited for this kind of song. They blend quite well on this, even though the song is not my favorite.
      Rating: 5

  3. Alison (6.6)
    1. Minor tuning problems, but pretty
      Rating: 6

    2. Very nice, if simple, arrangement. A nice choice of ballad. Good blend, but the overall sound is a little flat (dimensionally, not musically).
      Rating: 7

    3. A la Bubs. This light love song lacks the emotion it needs. Again notes are there, solo ok, but not heart-melting.
      Rating: 5

    4. Beautiful, understated arrangement. I particularly like the bass line, which is solid without being overbearing.
      Rating: 9

    5. Also not bad, solo pretty good, very sensitive, albeit falters once in a really obvious spot, and they blend pretty well, I like the song okay. The arrangement is a little drab, but often pretty in a very subdued way. I think it deserves to be better mixed, though.
      Rating: 6

  4. Bad Connection (6.0)
    1. Good song, lackluster arrangement
      Rating: 6

    2. Great energy! Tight background, but the solo sounds a bit stiff. Good arrangement with movement in the background.
      Rating: 6

    3. Mediocre solo, lively background (standard "doot doot doot doo" that you'd expect).
      Rating: 6

    4. High energy arrangement with a tight, nervous background. The arrangement doesn't seem to evolve, though I kept expecting it to.
      Rating: 8

    5. They don't have enough pop sensibility to carry this song off, solo inappropriate — too trained-sounding and over-enunciated. Arrangement a little warbly and choral, although there are some mildly interesting parts.
      Rating: 4

  5. Life in a Northern Town (6.8)
    1. Lackluster and weak
      Rating: 3

    2. Great arrangement — the fullness ascends through the verses, building to the chorus. Very well done. The whole thing works.
      Rating: 9

    3. Great song choice, good arrangement during the verses, setting a good mood, but not enough activity and bite in the chorus. Pleasing solo.
      Rating: 7

    4. The changing textures of the original are well represented here. The ending is uncomfortable abrupt.
      Rating: 8

    5. This is a great song to do a cappella! I am shocked at how much more I like this song a cappella than normal. This arrangement is also nice, solo not bad, one of their better songs. Their choral arranging style is better suited to this song than most of the others on this album.
      Rating: 7

  6. Every Little Thing (6.0)
    1. No comments
      Rating: 6

    2. The solo has real personality and feeling — an added dimension. Nice full sound on chorus. The bass line is great. This one got my attention every time I listened to the tape.
      Rating: 9

    3. With none of the energy of the original (which is the worst song on Jeff Lynne's solo album), this song falls flat on its face, though the group's intonation is fine.
      Rating: 3

    4. Well done imitative arrangement, but otherwise unremarkable.
      Rating: 7

    5. I like this song but their rendition of it is more-or-less mediocre — the solo is okay but not poppy enough, the background is strangely empty, arrangement again overly choral although parts of it work.
      Rating: 5

  7. Sister Moon (6.0)
    1. Nice feel, but tuning problems
      Rating: 4

    2. Good bluesy sound, with a rich, solid solo. Background really supports the solo well.
      Rating: 8

    3. I find myself really tired of this song after 10 seconds, and it doesn't get better. Intonation problems on top of that make me reach for "track skip" even before it starts.
      Rating: 2

    4. An imitative arrangement, but an extremely difficult one! Outstanding intonation on the jazz chords; balance and blend are once again perfect. Only one fault: the sax line interpretation ignores the ironic interplay between sax and voice of the original, which was one of my favorite things about the piece.
      Rating: 9

    5. This song works surprisingly well a cappella, solo pretty nice but could use a little more emotion, background smooth and for the most part quite good.
      Rating: 7

  8. And She Was (5.6)
    1. A little slow, but a cool song
      Rating: 6

    2. Good, full arrangement. The choir stuff works well. Tight cutoffs. Overall, well done.
      Rating: 7

    3. Again, low energy, good intonation, ok arrangement, forgettable soloist.
      Rating: 6

    4. A typical arrangement for this piece. Technically good, it lacks fire.
      Rating: 7

    5. I like this song too much not to be insulted by the ridiculously choral treatment they give it, especial the solo which is hollow and drawn-out. If they were singing a different song it might work. The arrangement isn't even that bad — it's just utterly appropriate. The end practically turns into a Christmas song for a choir — it sounds like a joke.
      Rating: 2

  9. In Your Eyes (6.4)
    1. Very nice lead, the arrangement is a little spotty and just doesn't flow right.
      Rating: 6

    2. Solo is strong, but really reaches for some of those high notes. In general, a good interpretation of the original. Good song choice.
      Rating: 6

    3. Good solo (kinda like Gabriel) but a little flat in places. Tempo seems a little slow, which takes out a lot of the life.
      Rating: 6

    4. A very good, imitative arrangement. Once again, it seems to lack bite, but the recording studio is a pretty sterile environment.
      Rating: 8

    5. This is one of the better renditions of the song I've heard — mostly due to the soloist, who (although he stretches it a little) manages to approximate the original. The weird hoarse quality to his voice suits the song well. He pushes too hard though on parts that are supposed to be delicate, as well as having definite pitch problems, which get progressively more irritating with repeated listenings. Arrangement is also not bad, although the ending is ridiculous.
      Rating: 6

  10. One Thing Leads to Another (5.8)
    1. Some very cool effects in the middle
      Rating: 6

    2. A difficult song to pull off. Nice to see some percussion in it, though.
      Rating: 5

    3. Good solo, ok arrangement, interesting to listen to.
      Rating: 6

    4. Outstanding lead and a good, high-energy background. I like the changes in texture through this arrangement, and the occasional fragmented background figures which incorporate lyrics rather than using the usual syllables.
      Rating: 9

    5. The solo is kind of annoying and spastic, arrangement tries to be innovative and sometimes succeeds, but again it's not well suited to the song.
      Rating: 3

  11. Stuck on You (6.4)
    1. Why choose such a lame song???
      Rating: 4

    2. Very smooth. Nice background blend. An unexpected song choice which is a pretty, soothing ballad.
      Rating: 7

    3. Nice solo. The light-sounding background sounds ok on mellow songs like this.
      Rating: 7

    4. Pretty, quiet arrangement. One of the few places on the album where you can find a pitch problem (in the high background voice — but you've got to be quick).
      Rating: 8

    5. This is actually not a bad song, one of their most sensitive ones, I like the soloist's voice even though the lowest notes are out of his range. The arrangement is more-or-less what one would expect, a pleasant enough song but not exactly a knockout.
      Rating: 6

  12. Take the Long Way Home (6.4)
    1. No comments
      Rating: 6

    2. Great energy and a good arrangement, but a few nagging pitch problems in the solo.
      Rating: 6

    3. An excellent imitative arrangement (with all of the feel and sound of the original) is unfortunately hurt by a soul-less mediocre solo. With the soloist, this is one of the album's best.
      Rating: 7

    4. The background ensemble demonstrated excellent dynamics and articulation here, which is especially noticeable in the exposed opening. The arrangement, while generally imitative, includes some nice transitions more appropriate to voices than what was in the original (at least the way I remember it).
      Rating: 8

    5. This song is decent until the soloist comes in, his voice is too slight for the song, the arrangement/version isn't bad, this song works surprisingly well a cappella.
      Rating: 5

  13. Jacob's Ladder (5.2)
    1. Again, why do this song?
      Rating: 5

    2. Yea for percussion! The clapping isn't always together, but is effective and is there. This song got me moving.
      Rating: 5

    3. Huey Lewis seems to work well a cappella. Unfortunately, this song is again plagued by a weak chorus because the group doesn't cut loose.
      Rating: 6

    4. Good arrangement with the (by now) usual, outstanding accompaniment. The lead, however, is too restrained for the lyric.
      Rating: 7

    5. Another detracting soloist. I also just don't like this song all that much, and their arrangement doesn't make me like it any more. The bass line sticks out and is annoying, as does the clapping, although if those two things were remedied, it wouldn't be all that bad.
      Rating: 3

  14. Particle Man (6.0)
    1. A refreshing change
      Rating: 7

    2. Great song choice — fun, and well done! Good arrangement and percussion. A refreshing change in sound and style from the rest of the album.
      Rating: 9

    3. As unimaginative as the Bobs' version. It's sung ok, with solos switching off and with funny voices for some of them, but it just doesn't do it for me.
      Rating: 4

    4. A great, quirky little number which presents an excellent change of feel. The character voices leading the verses are outstanding.
      Rating: 9

    5. Boring arrangement, clapping out of synch at points, background is consistently flat on top notes, two out of the four soloists can't hit the low notes. The effects on "Universe Man"'s voice and the frying pan noise are cute but overall not a particularly exciting rendition of this song.
      Rating: 1

  15. More Than words (5.4)
    1. Very good soloists — but again WHY CHOOSE THIS SONG???
      Rating: 5

    2. A disappointing song choice immediately following "Particle Man", but of the many a cappella versions of this song that I have heard, this is the best. Credit should go to the arranger for adding to the empty-sounding original. Nice solo, and I like the ending which incorporates another Extreme song.
      Rating: 6

    3. OK solo, not real exciting overall (imagine that!). Clever ending.
      Rating: 4

    4. The arrangement preserves the feel of the original while being a bit better suited to voices than a straight transcription. The lead demonstrates excellent character, here. The ending tag is a nice finish.
      Rating: 8

    5. Arrangement extremely basic, the soloist's huskiness is not at all suited to this song, the other solo is somewhat better although his pitch is sometimes questionable, and the two don't blend very well. Percussion fades in and out and is not very effective. The end is the only remotely innovative part of the arrangement, with "Hole-Hearted" mixed in.
      Rating: 4

  16. Bungle in the jungle (6.6)
    1. No comments
      Rating: 5

    2. Strong and confident. The soloist has real presence. Good movement in the background. And although "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" is overdone, it works in this song.
      Rating: 7

    3. Great solo, ok arrangement, and again not much group energy but background otherwise sung ok. Funny "Lion" bit is taken too far.
      Rating: 7

    4. An excellent lead. Once again, control of dynamics and articulation really make the background accompaniment come alive without fighting the lead for attention. And the sudden guest appearance of an a cappella standard (I won't spoil the surprise) in the middle is neat.
      Rating: 9

    5. Not bad, although I thought it was better before I heard the original again. Manages to take all the rock out of the song, and the rendering of "Wimoweh (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)" is entirely derivative. Solo is decent except for occasional pitch problems and excessive vibrato.
      Rating: 5

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