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RARB REVIEW

School: Stanford
Group: Harmonics
Album: Escalator Music

Total time: 59:14, 17 songs
Recorded 1997

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Down Under (6.0)
  2. Kiss From a Rose (6.0)
  3. Just a Girl (8.0)
  4. Mack the Knife (6.2)
  5. Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word (8.8)
  6. A Little Respect (5.8)
  7. Got to Get You Into My Life (7.0)
  8. Winter (7.6)
  9. Four Brothers (7.8)
  10. December (4.6)
  11. Still the One (6.0)
  12. Walking on Broken Glass (6.4)
  13. Always a Woman to Me (6.2)
  14. Sixty Minute Man (5.2)
  15. King of Pain (5.8)
  16. Rhythm of Love (9.0)
  17. Gone (7.6)

Reviews

Overall

Sarah Andrews Cook

The tracks on this album run the gamut from '50s to '90s pop, with some vocal jazz thrown in for good measure. I say "for good measure" because the jazziest tracks are the ones on which the Harmonics seem to be most comfortable and have the most fun, and are thus most successful. Most of the rest of the tracks have various recurring problems. The two biggest are having the sopranos sing near the top of their range on far too many songs, and arrangements that are overambitiously busy and detract from the songs themselves. I'm not saying that the sopranos couldn't make the notes — they could (the A's, the B's...). But there are few times where it belongs in the song instead of being distracting and sticking out. Same thing with the arrangements — once you cross the line of being too busy, the song just loses effect. The percussion, with a couple of exceptions, is weak. As far as the soloists go, the women shone out over the men, but even then, it often seemed that the soloists were not always the right ones for the job. Then I looked a little closer at the credits and I realized that, miraculously, each of the group members had at least one solo. That's very egalitarian of them, and maybe it saves hurt feelings or something, but I have to guess it hurt the overall quality of this album. It might have almost worked for the women (but even then I'm sure there were better choices to be made), but it certainly doesn't work in the case of the men. This album could easily be improved with the elimination of 3-5 songs (there are 17 tracks), a rethinking of who should have the solos, and toning down the sopranos and the arrangements.
Rating: 6 (6.1)

Karl Schroeder

Escalator Music has been nominated for a CARA, and I'd say they've got a pretty good chance — this is one good album. The Harmonics (and the recording tech) have done a fantastic job in the recording process — EQ, dynamics, and overall levels are just about perfect (hence my lack of comment on them in the track listings). The group has a great clean sound and has obviously worked hard hard hard in the last year (Compare this year's tracks to those recorded in '96!). I think it speaks well for the group that they've made progress by leaps and bounds from '96 to '97 and that most of the singers are relatively young voices. Hey Harmonics — send me next year's CD — I have got to hear that one! There are no bad tracks on this CD, but the group's overall standard is a high one, so that some tracks get left in the dust when you look relatively at the whole project. My all-around favorites are without question the two rockers Just a Girl and Rhythm of Love, plus the surprise fave Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word. Most of the arrangements are impressive, putting the 15 voices to good use. It's an hour long, though — skip last year's tracks so you don't get tired by the end of the disc.
Rating: 7 (7.1)

Shawn Pearce

This is a surprisingly good album. This is the best album I have heard that is as eclectic as it is... from '90s alternative to vocal jazz in six seconds. And they do it all well. The sign of a great a cappella performance is when they can take songs I hate and make me love what they do with them. The Harmonics did that in spades. This is an album I highly recommend.
Rating: 8 (7.7)

Matt Cohen

There are too many unexcited tracks, and even the occasional clunker, for Escalator Music to be a good album. But there sure are a bunch of damn fine songs if you skip over the other stuff. Just a Girl could rock more, but it's full to the brim with energy and harmony. Got to Get You Into My Life boasts an engaging solo by Cynthia Shih over a chirpy jazz arrangement. Thaila Sundaresan will wow you with en effective Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.

Looking at the album as a whole, I'd have to say that the best thing and the worst thing about this album are both bass Ben Lipson. He's the worst thing on the disc because he stiffly takes the lead on Still the One and the painfully overdone Sixty Minute Man. He's the best thing on this album because he happens to be a really good bass. The bass section is often a standout on this disc. Whether it's under the full, fun harmonies of Rhythm of Love or laying the bedrock of a song like Winter, the bass section is noteworthy.

The tight Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross number Four Brothers made it to this years BOCA installment, but it easily could have been any number of cuts from this disc, which while uneven, has a handful of great songs.

One side note: I loved the production notes! Not only do they list the songs' authors, but they also list the artist whose version they're covering! And they're smart enough to distinguish between the original performer and a fellow cover band ("as performed by the Manhattan Transfer" for example). It's the little things that make me happy...
Rating: 6 (6.3)

Ben Tritle

The CD was quite original in its repertoire, save for the peppering of tired overdone standard a cappella tunes. Still, there's a couple of tracks worthy of CARA glory. What concerned me was a consistent deficiency in the male soloists. They just seemed thin or weak. The female soloists were quite strong and purposeful. Another problem I found was the lack of dynamics as a driving force for many of the tracks. I wasn't looking for sudden in-your-face forte, but something louder at the end than at the beginning would've been nice. The tracks that did seem driven were more a result of a well-written arrangement instead of any type of direction or production. On the whole though, this is an enjoyable CD that, while I wouldn't recommend you run out and get it this moment...if you have the opportunity to buy when they're in town, it's definitely worth the money.
Rating: 7 (6.4)


Individual Tracks

  1. Down Under (6.0)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The first thing you hear on this track are the sopranos' choral sound bopping around in their upper range. The tone of the song is almost plodding, and too serious for the goofiness of the song. A plus for the arrangement is that it isn't boring, a big minus is that it's very busy, and sometimes (most times) I can't catch what the background parts are saying when there are real words. The soloist is uninteresting.
    Rating: 5

    Karl Schroeder

    I disagree with the choice to open the disc with this tune. (Mental note: use "shuffle play" when listening to the CD next time.) Shannon's harmony on the chorus is great, but for the morhythms and sounds. I think this is a heckuva CD, but I'm still fighting the mistaken impression this opener left me with, especially that "shika digga digga doom" percussion intro.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    The arrangement sounds very well-thought through...and the execution ain't half-bad either. The arrangement moves very well, the vocal percussion is tasteful, and there's a lot of neat things going on. The one minor weak point of this is that the tuning of the soloist was suspect at points. What he did bring out, though, was the feeling of the original...he had a solid understanding of Colin Hay and his vocal style, and that helps a lot.
    Rating: 8

    Matt Cohen

    It's a little sluggish for an opening track, but taken out of context, this song works. I've heard a couple of versions of this song, most of which fall flat on their ass because they forget that the lead singer is supposed to sing, not just talk his way through the number. This time around, the lead vocalist actually finds the melody. Imagine that. He could be throwing even more energy at the song to give the whole thing a boost, but what he does is on target. That's pretty much true of the whole arrangement. Nothing is wrong with it, there just needs to be more of it.
    Rating: 6

    Ben Tritle

    The CD starts off with this Men at Work classic (I don't know any other Men At Work classics, do you?). I really liked the arrangement of sopranos as the flutes, they didn't come off as blaring. Unfortunately there was a bit of hole left when they weren't fluting (or is it flouting?). The soloist spent about half his time speaking, and half singing...not a good combo. In the end, an OK start to the CD.
    Rating: 6

  2. Kiss From a Rose (6.0)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    This arrangement is actually pretty nice, but it loses a lot in the way it's sung. Long "ah"s drown out the more interesting moving parts. The Harmonics sing it very straight, and don't inject much life into it at all. It's like, "look — we can sing these notes proficiently!" Which they do. They use a female soloist, who is far enough removed from Seal that I didn't long for his version of the song as much as I otherwise would have. There's a powerful build right toward the end that I would have liked to see throughout the song.
    Rating: 6

    Karl Schroeder

    One of last year's leftover arrangements, it doesn't stack up to Jon and Matthew's from this year. Fez does a nice job on the solo, but the arrangement gives us uninventive sounds, a soprano descant and lots of unisons and octave doubling; not as good a use of all these singers as we hear on the rest of the CD.
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    AGAIN? But that trick never works (tm Jay Ward). Well, actually, the arrangment is good, albeit a bit heavy handed, and the execution is good.....still, this isn't the best version of this I've heard. What saves this is a KILLER lead by Leslie 'Fez' Abramson (BTW, I just love the fact that she got her own nickname. =) She's got the low range to nail this song from top to bottom...and her low range and fullness of sound really got my attention on this one.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    Half of what makes Seal so damn good (if you're with me on that point) is his detailed arrangements and deft production. Because of this, it's always struck me as a bit odd that the most of the Seal covers that work (and there aren't many of them) use simple, back-to-basics arrangements. This track is one of those arrangements. Unfortunately, it doesn't get any energy, emotion, or drive until the end of the song when the harmonies start to get good and thick. On a side note, the percussion, as simple as it is, clashes with the arrangement and should have been cut. Besides, it fails to add anything.
    Rating: 5

    Ben Tritle

    I don't know when they recorded it, but at this point to hear another version is not original, and unfortunately, neither is the solo. I rather liked the soloists performance, and the use of the group's range, but the track suffers from an overall sense of overkill. One track that might have been better done away with, though it's not detrimental to the CD.
    Rating: 6

  3. Just a Girl (8.0)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    Even though the genuine ska-ness of No Doubt remains an issue, the Harmonics manage to take most of the ska out of this song. The only thing hinting at a ska beat is the thin percussion, while the background of the choruses are syllables on the on-beats and sung harmonies. No ska there. The verses are actually much perkier, and have much more of an appropriate lilt to them. And I actually enjoy the soloist, who is much less annoying than Gwen Stefani.
    Rating: 6

    Karl Schroeder

    This song absolutely rocks! Jon Pilat '99 gives a great arrangement that's not afraid to let the basses lay out here and there, which makes it striking every time they return. There's a nice "Don't Speak" reference sandwiched in the middle, and the percussion is subtle but way cool throughout. Kristin Strohmeier '99 carries the whole thing with a killer solo. Gwen Stefani, eat your heart out!
    Rating: 9

    Shawn Pearce

    FUN arrangement....the syncopated tradeoffs in the beginning are tight as hell, and from personal experience I know how rough that is. Good soloists, weird vocal percussion, but it fits here rather nicely. Nice use of the other ND song in the middle. All in all, a lot of fun.
    Rating: 9

    Matt Cohen

    It could rock more. That's the sum of the bad things I can say about this song. Everything else is pretty damn cool. It's a good song choice. The arrangement boasts big, coed harmonies and a clever riff on "Don't Speak" (and that's a harder thing to pull off than you'd think). The percussion is fun and effective, with lots of woodblocks to really spice up the chorus. This is the song the album should have started with.
    Rating: 8

    Ben Tritle

    I was impressed at how well this came off. I thought it would be schlocky. Instead the group handled an arrangement that was well-constructed with deftness. It doesn't necessarily rock, but the soloist was a definite plus to the mood. I also thought the use of "Don't Speak" by the men in the bridge was clever, but I'm not sure I liked it.
    Rating: 8

  4. Mack the Knife (6.2)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The basses start out right away with some note problems, but get into a groove soon enough. The background parts build throughout the song, and while they don't really break any new ground, it seems the whole group is getting into the feel of this song. The only real complaint I have is that the soloist is too mild for the song — by the buildup of the background parts toward the end, he just sounds a bit too thin.
    Rating: 7

    Karl Schroeder

    The Harmonics display a nice variety of styles on this album, and this is a well-arranged tune — nicely mixed, excellent dynamics. Jon Pilat '99 does a nice mellow job with the solo. It's a good one for him and fits his voice nicely. Nice treatment all around, from the walking bass to the snazzy solo to the "horn line" background.
    Rating: 8

    Shawn Pearce

    From Alternative to '50s jazz...my neck hurts from the whiplash. Seriously, good build throughout the song, the soloist has the prerequisite smarm factor...although he doesn't have the power to bring the song home. Still, decently executed, if a bit on the pedestrian side in terms of arrangements...except for the end. =)
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    Wow, it's almost like being at a Bar Mitzvah! Are they going to do "New York, New York" or "Celebration" as an encore? Okay, so you're thinking of doing the Bobby Darin version of this song. Maybe you should ask yourself the following question before you do:

    • Did you know that there are other ways of singing the song?
    • Do you know who any of the people in the song are?
    • Do you get the "Miss Lotte Lenya" joke?

    If you said "no" all three times, maybe you should reconsider. (Heck, even if you said "yes" you should think twice! OVERDONE!) If you are going to try to do it, you should at least rock more than, well the average Bar Mitzvah band. The lead here is sort of jazzy, in a pretty-tenor way. He doesn't punch any of the notes. He doesn't put a nasty edge on it. He doesn't swing. He doesn't rock. And, surprise surprise, it doesn't work.

    (In case you were wondering, you can hear a darker interpretation of this song on any one of the number of soundtracks to "Three Penny Opera" (try the Raul Julia production). Many of the names, "Lucy Brown" for example, are characters in the show. Lotte Lenya was the wife of Kurt Weill, who wrote the music. She played "Jenny", a prostitute with a dark vision of the fall of London, in the original production. That's what makes singing about her like she's "Miss Mollie" so funny. Get it?)
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    I had a hard time trying to decide whether to complement the arrangement and the group background for not being overstated as groups often can be when they throw dynamic out the window, or whether to criticize the group for not even using dynamic and staying at one level throughout. The soloists mediocre performance didn't help me decide much either. In the end a listenable track that is strengthened by the evenness of the arrangement.
    Rating: 6

  5. Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word (8.8)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    I like the arrangement of this one, and the way the group sings it as well. Lots of swells and dips, giving a real shape to the song. Lots of interesting things in it, but it doesn't come off as too busy this time. The soloist comes in and I think I'm really going to like her a lot, but then she slips into a nasal sound periodically. Still not too bad. Then near the end a tenor harmony comes in and totally breaks the mood — who decided that he would be a good thing?
    Rating: 7

    Karl Schroeder

    Holy cow — what a voice! I'm melting, I'm melting!... This may be the sleeper favorite of the CD. It's not a rocker, it's not a goofy collegiate standard. It's a great arrangement (Cynthia — do more arrangements next year!) that reminds me of the King's Singers pop stuff — lots of criss-crossed rising and falling lines in the background, a nice mix of flowing chords and poppy accents thrown in here and there. Thaila Sundaresan '00 blows me away with her solo... Smooth, sexy, poignant. Wow.
    Rating: 9

    Shawn Pearce

    BEAUTIFUL arrangement....very flowing, very moving. The soloist isn't what I would have expected...but her delivery works...I can't place who she reminds me of, but it's very well done. What really grabs me about this song is the dynamic contrast. Too many groups are either all quiet or all force, and it's great to hear a group that can go back and forth in that as effortlessly as they make it sound here.
    Rating: 9

    Matt Cohen

    Good news: Thaila Sundaresan won't graduate until the year 2000! Not only does she put in a top-flight solo, but she does it on a song that could easily sound corny, even with a good soloist. But this is a GREAT solo that really sells the songs. It isn't the sort of song that will blow you away, but it's pretty damn solid. The rich tones from the bass lend this track a very professional sound.
    Rating: 10

    Ben Tritle

    I haven't heard this done a cappella before. The soloist opens with "What have I got to do to make you love me? What have I got to do to make you care?" Pretty much keep singing to me like that and I'll attempt to cook you dinner for a week. This track just flowed beautifully from start to finish.
    Rating: 9

  6. A Little Respect (5.8)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    Oh, and here he is again — a little more appropriate for the Erasure sound, but still pretty annoying. I think the guy singing the echo part only serves to indicate that it might be better if he was the soloist instead. The background is terribly repetitive, and leads to the occasional tuning problem.
    Rating: 5

    Karl Schroeder

    Not a song I'm familiar with — I have no Erasure in my collection. Greg does a pretty good job with the solo, though a few times his flip from chest voice to falsetto is more obvious than others. A straight-ahead driving rhythm with not too many remarkable spots.
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    Well-executed arrangement if a trifle repetitive. The soloist is a bit on the weak side here...and coming from an Erasure song, that's saying something. There are moments of brilliance here, but otherwise it's pretty straightforward synth pop. Not one of my favorites...but the arrangement execution is solid.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    RARB reviewers have no idea what the other reviewers think until all the reviews are posted. This often puts us in the position of saying that a certain song is the best thing we've ever heard, only to read that one of our fellow reviewers think that the same song suck shit. (I like to think it's one of the things that makes RARB fun to read.) Anyway, I predict at least one of the other five reviewers are going to pick on this song for being so damn '80s. Well, I'd like to defend it. For all of it's flaws, a lot of '80s music really worked. Like this song. It's a good choice for co-ed a cappella groups. But, to the issue at hand: This arrangement should have been taken down a notch for the sake of the soloist. There's way too much falsetto. This would have worked better lower where he could have just sung this song on his own terms instead of having to try to be Erasure.
    Rating: 5

    Ben Tritle

    Basses start out a bit high, but they get DOWN quickly later on. The soloist just doesn't convince me, especially when he's not all that successful at the falsetto. The percussion was what sold me on the track. It made it listenable, though I don't really know why.
    Rating: 7

  7. Got to Get You Into My Life (7.0)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    Aside from the terribly high soprano notes (two women are even credited with singing "way up high"), which stay pretty close to in tune considering how hard it is to consistently sing up to a high B on such short syllables, the Harmonics seem to really be in their element on this jazzy arrangement, based on a Swingle Singers version of the Beatles tune. The scat interlude may be the most comfortable solo so far on this album.
    Rating: 8

    Karl Schroeder

    A re-work of the Swingle Singers' arrangement. Hm. I think I prefer the arrangements that Jon did from scratch than this one he altered. Fine solo, but this song now has those trademark Swingle stratosphere soprano lines we all know and love (or not).
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    Jazz Beatles? Interesting. These guys do jazz pretty well. Good tuning, good build on this one. Good breakdown section here.....again, very well done.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    There's two very nice things going on here. First, there's smooth, strong, and confident solo by Cynthia Shih. Then, there's a breezy, brisk, and jazzy arrangement that chipperly glides along under Cynthia's solo. The backing vocals could have really sucked. The arrangement is full of "bah"s and VERY high trilly sections. But they nail it, and dang, if works like a charm. There's a scat solo that ought to fit into the rest of the arrangement, but it's more of a distraction. But don't be distracted, right after the scat section the toss in some very sweet little fills from one of the guys in the backing vocals (nice mixing, folks) that's worth checking out.
    Rating: 8

    Ben Tritle

    Sopranos do get quite high, and are even credited as "Way Up High" in the liner notes. What most annoyed me on this track was the periodic loss of a tempo, like a half beat crept in and threw the ship off course...a cappella rule #18, unless it's in the arrangement, pick a tempo and stick with it.
    Rating: 6

  8. Winter (7.6)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    It always seems like a good idea to do a Tori Amos tune, but it's a hard challenge for a cappella groups to rise to. This effort is not without its flaws, but does a decent job of it. The arrangement works but overuses the syllables "ba da." Women can't help but sound choral when they're singing high A's, and the sound is really top-heavy until the basses come in. The verses seem a little strained on the high end, but the choruses have a much nicer balance to them. The richest parts are when the sopranos stay down out of the stratosphere.
    Rating: 6

    Karl Schroeder

    Nicely worked version of a Tori Amos tune. Tough arpeggios are tuned well, overlapping background lines rise and fall quite nicely. Good solo and a nice rendition. I find little to say about this one.
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    Damn...Katy Hyde has Tori down. This song had me in tears....that's how good this song is. VERY impressive job all around....there is so much that can go wrong with a song like this...poor tuning.....wooden expressiveness...but they transcend all of this. One of the five best college tracks I've heard this year.
    Rating: 10

    Matt Cohen

    You should know I really love this song, so I think I'm giving it a ridiculously close listening. If aren't familiar with it, ignore any criticism. When you hear the Harmonics' version, you will love it and play it to death, and put it on mix tapes for your boyfriend, and all that good stuff. Okay, moving on: I think the solo, which is good, don't get me wrong, could be a little more emotionally involved in the song. It's a convincing performance from that perspective, but it could be really chilling. That's something that's hard to put your finger on. But I can say fairly certainly that she does need to bring the energy up to the next level on the bridge. The backing arrangement really swells up (again, there's some great work from the bass section) her voice isn't exactly lost in the mix, but it is overwhelmed by the arrangement. But at the end of the day, it's still a very good track.
    Rating: 9

    Ben Tritle

    I'm not that familiar with the original by Tori Amos, but the soloist lacked any kind of raw intensity that Tori Amos has in her performances, she almost comes off as too pretty. The arrangement, while nice, I'll credit more to the original than to any flair.
    Rating: 6

  9. Four Brothers (7.8)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    This Manhattan Transfer tune shows the Harmonics more in their element than they have been so far on this album. They just have so much more of a feel for the jazzy side of things. The quartet singing is really on, and crisp. The male solos don't hold up alone as well as the female ones, but overall it makes for a nice listen. And the usually too-weak percussion fits just right here.
    Rating: 9

    Karl Schroeder

    Goodness! Matthew brings us another jazz tune, impressively performed. Great tuning and diction in this, a pretty complex diddy for a collegiate group to tackle. Good solos, smooth harmonies, very tight all around. I'm finding a lack of things to criticize this CD for... How about that. A fine tune, and the Harmonics conquer another genre.
    Rating: 8

    Shawn Pearce

    Fun song...the four-way harmony was very tight. This is not easy jazz to do...but again, they comet through very well on this. Background is tasteful. Not many groups do jazz...or even do jazz well. Chalk this one up again a s a very solid effort.
    Rating: 8

    Matt Cohen

    It's Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross via the Manhattan Transfer, but the overall sound has a real "Andrews Sisters" feel to it. This rendition is also crisper and snazzier than anything I've ever heard from the Manhattan Transfer. The song isn't exactly my cup of tea, but the singing is so tight, the energy is so non-stop, and the spirits are so bright that it's kind of hard not to like it. Much better than any of the stuff I've heard from the typical Ivy-League jazz groups (which, admittedly, I try to avoid).
    Rating: 9

    Ben Tritle

    At the opening, I was listening and thought the record was stuck as it repeated the same beats over and over again...then I realized I was listening to a CD. The major problems with this track are its length (it could've been a good minute shorter) and the weak male solos (the ladies come out strong again). Quick question: did the group mean to say "hi-hat" in the liner notes, instead of "hi-ho"?
    Rating: 5

  10. December (4.6)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The insert indicates that this was recorded earlier, with a slightly different incarnation of the Harmonics. My question is, why put this track on at all? The album is already too long, the song has no verve, the arrangement is boring, the syllables split between "ba da"s and "doo"s, the soloist is at best unexceptional. Then they have the basses briefly singing "disco disco." What?
    Rating: 3

    Karl Schroeder

    You know this song ("oh what a night"). This is another one from the early "bop shoo-wah" days of the Harmonics (see #12). Good solo by a former tenor (as in "a tenor no longer with the group", not "became a bass the next summer"), nice percussion by Matthew, extra credit for using the word "disco" in the backup parts. The intervals between verses were rather weak, but what a goofy song. You gotta smile.
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    This is from an earlier incarnation of the group. And as much as I hate to say it, you can tell. Musically, it's well executed, but it doesn't show the depth that a lot of the more recent arrangements show. Loren has a decent falsetto, and he does very well with the solo, but the rest of it is very basic, and while it's good, it's not on a par with the rest of the album. Still, it is well executed
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    This classic opens with some really sweet percussion. Unfortunately, the solo is too damn high! It's a very gentle, sweet, performance. But this song doesn't want gentle, sweet singers. It wants commanding, soulful singers. So they either picked the wrong soloist, or the wrong song. Either way, it doesn't work.
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    A tune dredged up for another straight interpretation arrangement. This should really be allowed to rest for a good 30 years until all that know it have forgotten it in a cappella format. There was absolutely no build or climax to it, which made the whole track a yawner.
    Rating: 4

  11. Still the One (6.0)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The female soloist was ok, but when the male came in on his verse...I don't even want to talk about it. This is sort of a descendant of Dec. 1963, except with more busyness. It just comes off as really bland. The most interesting part are the "guitar" solos, sung on "na," which are actually closer to, say, scat than your typical a cappella guitar-mimicking. There are a few moving female parts near the end that betray the singers' yearning for more jazziness than what they're really giving you.
    Rating: 5

    Karl Schroeder

    Christine Nguyen '98 is a great match to this solo! She does a great job and makes it a really fun song. Ben Lipson '99 does an admirable job as well, and there are some nice call/response moments from the two of them. It's a peppy little toe-tappin' arrangement by Matthew. Fine work all around; I refuse to nitpick on this one, just 'cause it's fun!
    Rating: 8

    Shawn Pearce

    This would have been a really good track...if they had stayed with the first vocalist. Ben Lipson has a good voice, but it doesn't fit with this song. Cynthia Shih works a lot better with this song, and personally I wish they would have given her the entire song...but the low voice takes away from the song. Otherwise, the arrangement is pretty good...there's not much that can be done with this song.
    Rating: 6

    Matt Cohen

    Oh my. It's a duet between a soprano and a bass. She's okay, but he's a real problem. First off, duets generally sound cheesy. They try to get around that using a suitably cheery arrangement. But that doesn't hide this guy's voice. I'm all for giving basses solos. But here, he sounds like he's singing phonetically. Everything is sung in these big, round, over-enunciated syllables. It's also extremely flat (not in the off-key sense of the word) and lifeless. I firmly believe if the arrangement just let him sing midrange instead of trying to show off how low he can go, then he would give a much more natural performance. Add an unengaging bridge where the wordless solo line never stands out from the basic backing vocals and you've got big problems.
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    I don't know what it is with this group, but the male solo comes off as less than strong again. Thankfully, due to an interesting arrangement choice, the solo alters between male and female. As crazy as it sounds for an arrangement of this particular song, I think it deserves consideration for an arrangement CARA. The performance isn't up to the arrangement standard, but I enjoyed listening to the detail that was put into it.
    Rating: 8

  12. Walking on Broken Glass (6.4)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The soloist on this one is a little more soulful than most on this album, so I can see why they held this one over from the earlier recording session. The tenor part during the chorus ("walking on broken glass") always sounds a little flat, and there are some weird pitches going into the bridge, but the soloist and the bulk of the background arrangement carry this one nicely.
    Rating: 6

    Karl Schroeder

    Not a bad rendition, but it's obvious that the group has really been working hard between May '96 when this track was recorded and early '97 when the majority of other tracks were done. Pretty good solo by someone who doesn't seem to be in the group any longer, although as it gets higher in her range she seems to be reaching. I'm not sure that "bop shoo-wop bop" would be the first choice Annie Lennox would make were she inclined to arrange her song for collegiate a cappella (it could happen). It's OK, but not up to the standard that the group has set for themselves.
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    Can I tell you just how tired I am of hearing this song? That having been said...Natalie Harris does a really good job with this song, and the percussion is the best, most realistic on the album. As seems to be the case most of the time, execution is really tight.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    The intro is thin, no doubt about it, but once the strong alto soloist comes in (with the bass section and some extra harmonies on the side) the number really picks up. The only major setback is the bridge section. The soloist is forced to try to cross the line into soprano territory, and it's a little too high for comfort. Otherwise, this is the right bunch of singers for this song.
    Rating: 7

    Ben Tritle

    ANOTHER arrangement of the Annie Lennox tune. There's no tension built up in this song that would make it interesting on its own. What drove it for me was the strong percussion. Otherwise, it just comes up average.
    Rating: 6

  13. Always a Woman to Me (6.2)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    This arrangement gets really busy and completely eradicates any sense of serenity or tenderness that you would expect this song to have. That's ok, because the solo sounds pretty lifeless anyway. And by the way, just because sopranos can sing high, doesn't mean they always have to. Sometimes it's in the original song and you have to deal with it. Here it's superfluous.
    Rating: 5

    Karl Schroeder

    Damn that Billy Joel for writing songs that stick in your head for hours after you hear them, and damn the Harmonics for recording it so I sing the damn thing all day. Grrrr. A nice solo for senior Pat Hurley. OK, I take my first exception with Jon's arranging: the sopranos are way too high. Mellow, smooth, but nothing exceptional here.
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    BEAUTIFUL solo.....very emotionally sung. This is another example of how the Harmonics make their slow songs interesting and moving. Not much I can say about this one other than good job.
    Rating: 8

    Matt Cohen

    It's a very tender solo, but he's also very comfortable with the material. His voice has a nice low tone (for a tenor) that gives the song a nice rich tone. Pay special attention to his humming solo. Very nice. The arrangement seems fairly unassuming at first, but it's got a lot of nice use of words instead of syllables that sort of comment on the lyrics in the solo line.
    Rating: 7

    Ben Tritle

    From mediocre to more mediocre. While it's performed correctly (or so I felt), it seemed rushed throughout. The soprano harmony comes off a bit stronger than on other tracks and overshadows a blah male solo.
    Rating: 5

  14. Sixty Minute Man (5.2)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    This is, as you might expect, an all guys affair. Standard men's a cappella stuff. I don't really know why it's on here either. The soloist from track 11 is back, and is still pretty stiff, but tolerable. I'm not getting much from it overall. If I were cutting the album down, this one would go.
    Rating: 5

    Karl Schroeder

    OK, I admit it, I haven't heard Rockapella's version (which the Harmonics credit) of this one, just the Persuasions'. That being said, Ben has a lot of fun with the solo. It's simple and straightforward and good clean fun (well, good fun anyway).
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    Ben sounds MUCH better here. =) Very credible cover of a Rockapella classic.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    It's official — I can't think of a more overdone song than Sixty Minute Man. Why, groups pick this tired novelty tune to show off their basses, lord only knows. Anyway, the Harmonics use the same bass who was so comically stiff on Still the One. He's a lot better here. It doesn't sound like he's singing phonetically any more, but his performance is still totally ignorant of any real, well, SEX. It doesn't leer, it doesn't brag, it doesn't imply, it just hits the notes. And even if it was well done, why do it in the first place. This is a sad waste of this guys time and talent. I know, I trashed him for his work here and on Still the One, but if you pay attention to what he's doing in the backing vocals on the rest of the album, he's actually one of the stand-outs in this group. He doesn't graduate until '99, so I'll come right out and beg the Harmonics: PLEASE give him more solos, but please pick BETTER SONGS!
    Rating: 2

    Ben Tritle

    I got the feeling that the arrangement and recording of it was resting on the laurels of this songs past greatness. There wasn't any added here. I was hoping for a little soloist investiture into it, but instead of "Come up and see your Ben" which would've been great since that was the soloist's name (though I would've been proud of that too...it's a good name, gosh darn it), it was the standard "Come up and see your Dan". The pitch didn't help matters as it phased in and out throughout the track.
    Rating: 5

  15. King of Pain (5.8)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The arrangement is...interesting. They start out at a pace that seems a bit slower than the original, then they break into a faster, heavily percussed interpretation. During the first section, the basses uncomfortably scrape the bottom of their range. The credits have three different people doing the percussion — I hope that doesn't mean all at once, because the resulting sound isn't big enough to merit it. This arrangement is once again busy and full of really fast syllables like "jiggity jiggity."
    Rating: 5

    Karl Schroeder

    I really liked the slow beginning. When it kicked up the tempo, I wasn't quite convinced by the sopranos. Maybe it's not quite in tune, though I suspect it's just that the vowels aren't quite matched up. Nice guitar solo by Will — not too processed and pretty rockin'. He did an excellent job with the arrangement too, always changing things up and keeping it interesting. Good percussion!
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    Hmmm.....the arrangement seems very treble heavy throughout......but the choruses REALLY work when they get hummin'. Soloist sounds good, but isn't getting through the "spook" factor Sting does so well in this song. Overall, though...it's a good arrangement...very difficult arrangement..and they do it justice.
    Rating: 7

    Matt Cohen

    This song has some rather dull bits: The intro is a write-off, not because it's slow, but because it's lifelessly performed. When the pace picks up, it still doesn't rock your socks off. But when the chorus comes around the second time, suddenly the whole thing seems like a good idea. The harmonies suddenly don't seem out of place in this song. It wasn't worth doing the rest of the song just for the chorus (and the breakdown/outro), but it's still nice stuff.
    Rating: 5

    Ben Tritle

    I liked the arrangement of the Police track, but the female soloist didn't convince me that it was her destiny to be the King of Pain. A little more oomph, and I would've believed it.
    Rating: 5

  16. Rhythm of Love (9.0)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    This has to be the Harmonics' hardest rocking song on this album. If I hadn't heard their jazzier stuff already, they could convince me that this is what they're meant to do. Plus, Yes does lend itself to some cool jazzy chords. They play with studio effects just enough to add to the hard-edged quality of the song. The percussion (done by one guy this time) is actually pretty good here. The soloist has good attitude for this one.
    Rating: 8

    Karl Schroeder

    Go, Will! Rock that percussion! Look out, Andrew Chaikin, this guy's hot on your tail... Nice hard-driving solo by Jossie Medina '00, who's still got two more years to kick butt in this group. Have I mentioned that Jon does great arrangements? He seems to know the voices in the group really well and uses all the sounds at his disposal admirably. The basses, percussion, soloist, and harmonies all combine to make this one rockin' tune.
    Rating: 9

    Shawn Pearce

    Ballsy choice for a song...Yes sounds so intricate most of the time....but they come through in spades. Jocelyn Medina does evoke Jon Anderson very nicely. EXCELLENT arrangement..builds and falls very nicely. Good work here.
    Rating: 9

    Matt Cohen

    It grooves! It's got big old Yes harmonies! It's off the beaten track! It's got energy! The percussion for the big finish has some deadly high hat work! There's even some cool mixing of a distant voice in the backing vox! Yahoo! This is what co-ed a cappella is all about, folks. What a great find . . .
    Rating: 9

    Ben Tritle

    WOW!!! All I have to say is, this track deserves a CARA for the solo, the arrangement, the track, or some combination there of. I was in shivers from start to finish.
    Rating: 10

  17. Gone (7.6)
    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The two soloists work well together on this one, but again the female soloist stands out a bit more, personality-wise. This has a nice, traditional sound, with nothing gimmicky added. The background achieves a nice, full sound, and I think a lot of it stems from the sopranos not being off in some other world. If you've made it this far through the album in one sitting, you get a little bit of a treat at the end.
    Rating: 8

    Karl Schroeder

    A nice tribute to Deke and da House Jack boyz. Pat's got nothin' on Tristan Bishop, though, and his smooth cheery treatment of this heartbreaker doesn't quite hit the mark. Fez does a better job with the other solo line, though, and gives it quite a go. I've already compared vocal percussionist Will Budreau '99 to Andrew Chaikin, and here he gets to try on the shoes. Fine work, sir. A good closer to a darn good CD. CARA bound? We'll see...
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    Dang it, this group made me cry again! VERY good cover of one of my favorite songs. Can I tell you again how much I love Fez's voice? Makes me wanna start a fan club. The only reason this doesn't get the 10 is cause the Jacks still do it better. =)
    Rating: 9

    Matt Cohen

    I'll skip my usual rant about covering songs that were a cappella on the first go round. You know the drill. That said (or unsaid), this is a very solid performance of a full sounding arrangement. The lead vocals are handed off to two soloists, and the co-ed treatment works (you'll never think of it as a duet between the two singers, by the way). It's not flawless, however. I would have liked to have heard even more done with the echoed lines in the backing vocals. Also the choruses seem a little too rigid — the harmonies are good and the energy is all there, but it seems like they're sticking too close to the beat. It needs to loosen up, just a bit. It's slightly march-like. Forget that — it's a very, very, very subtle thing. The only REAL flaw is a certain lack of originality. But if you can get past that, it's a good cover.
    Rating: 8

    Ben Tritle

    If you've ever seen Sister Act 2, it felt like the one high school choir sings "In the Still of the Night": it felt too beated, rushed, and uninspired overall. I did think the female soloist (it's split between men and women again) was quite good, but it didn't raise the overall track above an emotionless copy.
    Rating: 6

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