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The Euphorics

Standing Up For Love (1998)

3.8

June 1, 1999

Tuning / Blend 4.2
Energy / Intensity 4.2
Innovation / Creativity 4.0
Soloists 4.2
Sound / Production 4.0
Repeat Listenability 3.4
Tracks
1 Beauty Is A Beautiful Thing 4.2
2 One More Day On Earth 3.8
3 Suite Judy Blue Eyes 3.6
4 Tell Them Before It's Too Late 4.0
5 Bohemian Rhapsody 2.6
6 Standing Up For Love 4.2
7 Only Silence Says It All 3.8
8 To A God Unknown 3.8
9 Message In A Bottle 4.2
10 You Can't Hold On 4.0
11 Hallelujah 4.4

Recorded 1998
Total time: 41:06, 11 songs


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Beauty Is A Beautiful Thing 4
2 One More Day On Earth 4
3 Suite Judy Blue Eyes 3
4 Tell Them Before It's Too Late 4
5 Bohemian Rhapsody 2
6 Standing Up For Love 4
7 Only Silence Says It All 4
8 To A God Unknown 4
9 Message In A Bottle 4
10 You Can't Hold On 4
11 Hallelujah 4

The Euphorics are a mixed a cappella quartet from Canada, and the positive message that their name implies comes through on their CD, Standing up for Love. The tracks on the album, the majority of which are originals, range from familiar classic rock to the vaguely inspirational to full-out gospel call-and-response.

The Euphorics do a commendable job of putting together four singers, who (as their web page points out) "are all lead singers in their own right," and creating a full group sound with good tuning and decent blend. The originals are consistently pretty good — while the positive-thinking themes of the lyrics can get somewhat repetitive after a while, they didn't keep me from singing along with several of the catchier choruses by the second or third listen. I think that's why the Euphorics' originals come off successfully — they're accessible. Though each member of the group had some hand in the song writing, much of the credit goes to bass Bing Jensen, who wrote or co-wrote every original track. I don't know if it's Bing's song writing or not, but even with feel-good sound of the originals, the Euphorics put in just enough sassyness to keep it interesting.

Unfortunately, the covers on the album do less for me. The final track, Hallelujah, fits in fine with the flow of the originals, but the three classic rock (for want of a better term) tracks — Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Message in a Bottle — stick out from the rest of the album. Originally I was going to say they should all have just been left off the CD, but I've reconsidered and softened up (as if I had any say in the matter!). Message in a Bottle has a markedly different sound than most of the rest of the album, but it's a nice take on the song and adds variety to the more upbeat tracks on the album. It can stay. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes stays true to the original by going on forever; my main complaint about this song is sure, the harmonies are lovely, but in a four-voice group, that leaves the bass as the only component of the rhythm section, until they add some much-needed hand-claps toward the end. There's not enough there, and it doesn't add to the original, but I'll keep it because it, too, adds variety to the track list. But Bohemian Rhapsody has to go. I'll give them credit for cutting out huge chunks and shortening it down (it's actually the shortest track on the CD), but what there is of it is surprisingly painful to listen to.

This album has a lot to recommend it. If your thing veers toward cutting edge alternative rock, you might want to steer clear, but if you derive pleasure from doo-wop, gospel, adult contemporary, and/or vocal jazz, you'll probably find something here to like.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Beauty Is A Beautiful Thing 5
2 One More Day On Earth 4
3 Suite Judy Blue Eyes 4
4 Tell Them Before It's Too Late 4
5 Bohemian Rhapsody 3
6 Standing Up For Love 4
7 Only Silence Says It All 4
8 To A God Unknown 3
9 Message In A Bottle 4
10 You Can't Hold On 4
11 Hallelujah 5

Here is a pretty good album from a Canadian quartet called the Euphorics. Standing Up for Love is a solid and fun album full of stuff that lots of people will like. The Euphorics sing in a style that makes you think gospel — no, jazz — no, pop — ah, whatever. It's fun. They tackle such faves as Suite Judy Blue Eyes (CSN) and a pared down Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen). But they also have a bunch of originals, and they even try a cover of Message In A Bottle by The Police that is quite fun.

I can only imagine that this group is fun to watch perform. They have that good old wholesome mixed quartet sound. There is something about it that makes you listen — I think it has something to do with going back to your a cappella roots.

Anyways, like I said before, there is stuff to like on this album. A couple of the things I like most are the opening track and the last track. Now I liked the Bohemian Rhapsody, and they get kudos for paring the song down that does not really make it feel like swiss cheese. But the overall feeling of the song is kind of homogenized (and a little goofy). I'm sure it is a hit though in performances.

Back to what I was talking about: the first and last track. The first one (Beauty is a Beautiful Thing) just really captures the energy and fun that this group has. A cappella should always be this fun. The last song (Hallelujah) is notable for the soloist. I am pretty sure it is the soprano Helen Davis (forgive me if I was wrong, but it was not listed). Anyhow, she really whips out a nice gospel/jazz solo that gets you moving. Then right near the end of the song she does something that made me go "DAMN!" She sings two notes at once. Her voice has this roughly-hewn overtone that just gave me goosebumps. You really should hear that.

It is not the best album in the world, and not all of the songs are that memorable, but it has enough energy and fun to make it worth hearing. It has "stickability". You may not listen to this album a whole bunch, but when you see it there in your collection, you will give a little grin and listen to a couple of tracks before putting it back on the shelf until next time.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 1
Tracks
1 Beauty Is A Beautiful Thing 2
2 One More Day On Earth 3
3 Suite Judy Blue Eyes 3
4 Tell Them Before It's Too Late 3
5 Bohemian Rhapsody 2
6 Standing Up For Love 3
7 Only Silence Says It All 2
8 To A God Unknown 3
9 Message In A Bottle 4
10 You Can't Hold On 3
11 Hallelujah 3

There's something downright campy about the Euphorics and yet ... not campy enough to actually be funny. It's cutesy. It's show choir-y. Their sound evokes images of glitter and choreography. If you like that style, Standing up for Love will not disappoint. You can turn it up and sing along with all the swingin-y, catchy melodies. I won't be singin' along with you, though.

This is just not my kind of album. I found the performances completely unbelieveable. The album's opening "guitar" sounds like an escaped chicken. The lyrics are about as believeable as a commercial. They range from cliche to cliche. The studio chorus effects are overdone for my tastes, especially in light of the Euphoric's liberal use of vibrato. And considering the heavily effected upper voices, I was disappointed with the lack of studio punch and depth on the relatively solid singing of bass Bing Jensen and guest bass Steve Maddock.

Only during Message In a Bottle, did I make it through an entire song without rolling my eyes. In fact, I enjoyed the track largely due to the straightforward delivery of tenor lead Nathan Aswell. He isn't the only strong lead in the Euphorics, but he is the only one whose performance I enjoyed.

But if singing accurately, blending, good use of dynamics, being "into it" -if these alone could do it ... I'd probably like this album. But that isn't enough for me. Standing Up for Love is just too sappy, and worse, it pretends to be something deeper. This more than anything accounts for my low ratings.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Beauty Is A Beautiful Thing 5
2 One More Day On Earth 3
3 Suite Judy Blue Eyes 3
4 Tell Them Before It's Too Late 4
5 Bohemian Rhapsody 2
6 Standing Up For Love 5
7 Only Silence Says It All 4
8 To A God Unknown 4
9 Message In A Bottle 4
10 You Can't Hold On 4
11 Hallelujah 5

I hear through the grapevine that The Euphorics fared rather well at the Harmony Sweepstakes, and they've apparently been singing together for many years. They're an experienced group with reliable arrangements, good voices, and only a few tuning issues.

Beauty is a cool opener with a sound reminiscent of The Bobs — not so much in lyrics but in the general sound — a strong bass, stomping/clapping percussion, and bright-voiced backup voices. It sets a nice tone for the album, but its impact is lessened by One More Day which follows — the lack of control over vibrato in the backup voices works against tuning in both the arpeggiated chords in the opening and more sustained sections later on. (Too bad, because the tuning is right on throughout the album when vibrato doesn't obscure things.) The soloist has the same vibrato issues, plus a voice that gets a bit shrill for my tastes, especially in the chorus.

The title track, a gospel-ish tune, is sung with intensity and great feeling. Only Silence starts off interestingly with spoken bass verses and a bluesy sort of groove, but there's an exceptionally cornball bridge — which I suspect was one of those ideas that seemed great at the time... but it certainly fades with repeat listening and is more irritating than cute after a couple times through.

For the most part, though, I like the original tunes on this CD. The group seems comfortable with a style of writing that works for them, and each member had a hand in penning originals, which is good to see. I find the cover tunes to be weaker, especially Bohemian Rhapsody (which should rock and simply doesn't) and Judy Blue Eyes (which comes off a little squarely).

All in all this is a fine album. There are only a few weak moments. But also only a few really gripping excellent moments. It's good, a relatively safe purchase but nothing extraordinary. You decide.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Beauty Is A Beautiful Thing 5
2 One More Day On Earth 5
3 Suite Judy Blue Eyes 5
4 Tell Them Before It's Too Late 5
5 Bohemian Rhapsody 4
6 Standing Up For Love 5
7 Only Silence Says It All 5
8 To A God Unknown 5
9 Message In A Bottle 5
10 You Can't Hold On 5
11 Hallelujah 5

It's been quite some time since I've heard a four-voice a cappella group. The only other one I recall reviewing one is Four Shadow. This is quite different though, as it is SATB. And at that, it is an excellent SATB recording. A Canadian quartet with a solid history of recordings, this is their first CD, and what a CD it is. A solid set of originals with a sprinkle of covers thrown in for good measure, the arrangements are well-crafted, the direction is solid, the production is crisp, and I found myself pleasantly surprised by this group which I had never heard of, but want to hear more of in the future.

I do kind of wonder about the stripe in Nathan Aswell's hair. (You have to see the photo to understand.) Then again, I'm not Blackwell, so that means nothing. Those who are quite used to collegiate groups or pro groups that can double up on parts may be disappointed, if only because the Euphorics are a model of efficiency on how their arrangements are created. Therefore, it may sound like their are open spots within tracks. Get over it. The tracks are well driven and what may sound open does not drag any of the tracks, as often is the case with less capable groups.

All four members have excellent voices that can carry a solo, yet no one stands out so much to be too good to blend in as background on other tracks. This is a mark of experience. There's not a "diva" among them. Bing Jensen's original tracks are outstanding, with a great hint of R&B, but broad enough that not one of his songs sounds like another. I found myself quite interested in each track.

If you've never heard of this group before, buy this CD and introduce yourself to a group that deserves to have a pedestal beside The Nylons, not to be compared to them. If you have heard of this group, and don't have this CD, why?

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