Your browser does not support our new site design, so some things might not display or function properly.
We suggest upgrading to Google Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer 9+ for the optimal experience.
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.
Strong bass lines, creative syllables and good use of pitched
rhythm are the keystones of the Jabberwock's latest effort. A number
of songs also have vocal percussion, that while impressive in
complexity and variety of sounds, is lacking a strong bass drum sound
to anchor it all. Scatting is everywhere; for the most part it's
quite good, though sometimes their enthusiasm gets ahead of them.
Energy is at times lacking [big surprise]; they do a good job for the
studio. I really think they should have played up the camp factor
more. Black Dog is successful because they sound like they don't care
what you think, they're just out to strain some speakers. I Will
Survive and Get Into the Groove needed to flame and get a little
closer to the edge. Hell, even women's groups have to kick back and
flame on I Will Survive; working down an octave the energy is that
much more important. Since they were gutsy enough to do the songs in
the first place, some chutzpah and queen energy would not have been
out of place. Still, a solid effort by the Jabberwocks, with some
neat stuff in there.
Rating: 7 (6.6)
This album is kinda like a bad action movie. If you play it
loud and sit really close to the speakers, all the pretty explosions
will entertain you, but when you look at it closely, Stallone just
can't act. The Jabberwocks, except on a few of their simpler
arrangements, suffer from the delusion that if they have enough voices
singing loudly enough with enough percussion, then they are a force to
be reckoned with. Although it is nice to hear an album where the
levels are all high enough and the energy is there... the
arrangements lack a certain deftness. Too often "loud" is a
substitute for harmony. What sets the Jabberwocks ahead of the pack
is their use of a vocal trumpet (what are they going to do when he
graduates?) and lots of "scat" solos. The trumpet solos are
consistently imaginative, sparse, unexpected, and in all the right
places. Would someone please tell me why EVERY GROUP IN NORTH AMERICA
is covering "Why Should I Cry for You" and "I Will Survive"?
Rating: 8 (6.5)
This album is pretty good. The Jabberwocks have good energy compared to
many other groups, but they could improve some aspects of their singing and
recording. Solos are generally good but not knockout. Basses should try to go
for more than one type of sound — perhaps straight tones on one song, a more
"plucked" sound on another. They sound the same everywhere. The mix on these
songs could often be improved to bring out various parts to balance the
song better. Another problem is that the "instrumental" and scat solos often
seem to have little musical relation to the song going on around them
aside from what key they are in. Tones or riffs or tempos are chosen that
just don't work with the song. One nit-pick: no credit is given to the original
artists of these songs — this is something that people usually want to know.
Overall, however, a reasonably strong album.
Rating: 6 (6.2)
Overall a good cd by an above average group. My favorite
thing about them is their arrangements are very melodic and _musical_,
in that they do not so much try to imitate the sound of the original
instruments as _represent_ them melodically with voices, an approach
that I like very much even though I thought it sounded silly at first.
They also use great syllables, although sometimes on inappropriate
songs for that kind of treatment. They have very solid basses and
sweet-sounding tenors, which balance out nicely. They do not have
a very good blend, however, which becomes apparent on the few
traditional songs. Also the percussion is consistently good, although
I wish that it had been a little more forward in the mix, so as
to avoid sounding muddy. Sound quality in general is ok, but if it
were better mixed they could sound amazing rather than merely good on
many songs. On some songs they use unnecessary studio effects.
Soloists range from decent to fairly good, but many of them sound
somewhat precarious or off. As in their arrangements, they sometimes
(and this is the other thing I give them a lot of credit for, as it is
so rare among collegiate a cappella) depart significantly from
the original. They have an appropriate number of songs, although
there are still a few I would trim, in the interests of quality. On
the whole I find this album an interesting and worthwhile effort.
Rating: 7 (4.4)
This album is full of great ideas for all aspiring arrangers:
appropriate use of vocal percussion; different vowel colors producing
different textures and effects; and special effects like instrumental
sounds. Their arrangers are also good at developing a tune, rather
than just setting every verse the same way. As far as performing
goes, their blend, ensemble and tuning are excellent. This is also a
very well-engineered album and definitely has a "studio" sound.
Rating: 9 (8.1)
Points for being short and innovative and not featuring
any studio outtakes.
If I spoke Japanese, this would probably be rather funny. Since I
don't, and since there isn't any actual singing here, I don't really
think I qualify to give it a score.
This is just the opening theme music to a Korean TV show and the
introduction of the Jabberwocks (who sing track 2 live on their show.)
It's quick and clever and pleasantly surreal. It shows that they're
thinking of this disc as a coherent album, not just as a collection of
the groups latest songs. Nice touch.
Perhaps an intro from the Korean TV show mentioned in the liner notes? The
Jabberwocks don't sing on this, it is not an a cappella song, thus no score.
Cute. Does not go on too long, which is decidedly a blessing.
Will probably get annoying after repeated listenings, but is currently
bearable and even slightly amusing.
Cheesy electronic music with a non-English voice-over. Any
message was completely lost to me.
Nice guy's group song. I like the high falsetto trumpet parts and the
scatting. I do wish, however, that four-part harmony and rhythmic
background were not mutually exclusive. As a result, the full-part
stuff sounds a little empty. The soloists are all pretty good, especially
the tenor at the end.
This is, if I'm not mistaken, a Nylon's original. It doesn't
really do anything for me and, as it is performed live, the
First soloist sounds slightly bored, and the first two solos have a tone that
is too dark for this tune. The backgrounds are fairly energetic, but the tune
doesn't quite get the drive it seems that it should have.
They have no blend at all on this song. Background very
harsh-sounding, although energetic. Goes on too long, an effect of
the repetitiveness of the arrangement, but not helped by the fact that
the soloists don't hold one's attention. The only one I like at all
is the last one. I can't decide if I like or hate the percussion. It
_is_ overly sporadic though. Sound quality is noticeably worse on
this song than the others, because it's live. I'm not sure that the
trade-off is worth it.
High-energy number; nice full harmony in the background; an
excellent vocal percussion part in the intro was not continued
through the song, which is kind of a shame. Two problems: the
range was about a third too low for the lower lead; and some
talking in the background is very distracting during the opening.
This one could use more funk. The background parts
have a mellow, almost slow reggae sort of feel that really works, with
good syllabification. For the words in the background though, this
translates into a lack of energy — needs more fizz. Pitch problems
are for the most part kept to a minimum. The improvised final chorus
loses accuracy, but picks up the intensity so is forgivable.
Here's where the album really starts. This is the track
that landed on the
BOCA (Best of College
A Cappella) collection, and listening to it you can see why. It hits
you right from the start with some powerful vocals, and features some
great riffs at the end. The only sour note comes right after the
in-sync introduction. The backing vocals start too dainty and high
given the belting that proceeded them. They should have started with
the bass, then added the tenors, but this is a small point...
The unison intro doesn't match the original's, but it is
fairly good. The arrangement is good, full yet simple. I don't like
the switching solos on this song. The improvisational solo section at
the end sounds out of control rather then inspired. A good tune,
nevertheless. Basses nice.
I like this arrangement a lot, but it is not suited to the song at
all. Predictable in parts, it differs mainly in the verses, when it is pretty
and melodic, with nice choice of syllables, and very nice tenor and bass
lines. This song sounds foolish with a pretty arrangement however. They
keep up a good tempo, without either speeding up or lagging, and a very
even sound throughout. Does not feel like it goes on too long, which is the
mark of an interesting arrangement. However I have to take off points for
not matching the arrangement to the song.
Excellent arrangement, very tight ensemble. I like the way this
tune is developed. The ending solos are great.
Solo is flat a lot. The instrumental soloists during
the bridge are also off. The basses do a good job, and the
syllabification makes the choruses more interesting. One thing about
the Jabberwocks: they sure have that piano bar feel down.
Impressively high trumpet at the end.
The verses (at least at the start) are too high and too
muddy.The choruses, on the other hand, are dead on. After the second
chorus, there are two "instrumental" solos. The first one is nice and
smooth. The second, which is more aggressively scatty, is lost under
the backing vocals, but is followed by the introduction of a tasteful
vocal percussion section (lots of brushes on snares) which carries
through the vest of the song and helps flesh out the third and final
verse. As the Chorus repeats to a fade out, a very convincing and
well performed vocal trumpet comes in. It didn't get off to a
promising start, but as it fades away, you'll wish it wasn't over yet.
The arrangement is slightly boring, and backgrounds are not tight; the chords
sound slidey rather than locked in pitch. The second scat solo should be mixed
higher, it is buried. The solo is nice, but also should be louder (not just
mixed louder, I think he should have sang louder if he could do it and retain
his nice, slightly breathy voice quality).
This rendition _almost_ works, but it has something
essential missing, and I can't quite figure out what it is. Maybe it is the
amount they lowered the song, which is something I find every bit as wimpy
in a male group as raising songs is in a female group, especially since men
supposedly have such a greater range than women. The arrangement isn't
bad, although occasionally crowded.
Good lead. This arrangement is thankfully less boring than the
Is anybody else thinking RuPaul? This one flames a little too much
to be taken quite seriously, but not enough for the full effect. The duet
is in places rather flat; energy would help. Good bass line, and nice
beginning and ending. I like the scat a lot. The percussion is very
good rhythmically, but the bass drum needs to be deeper with more
Well you gotta hand it to them — They can keep up a
complex danceable rhythm AND have a scat section. The almost totally
percussive ending is interesting, but there's a slight mistake in the
performance. For what it's worth, they don't change the lyrics to
accommodate the fact that they're an all male group. This gives the
song a homoerotic feel. You have to respect them for that. Or, the
other option is that they didn't realize that a guy singing "Boy you
got to prove your love to me" sounds gay, in which case, you have to
Excellent vocal percussion for a college group. The energy of the group
is slightly belied by the soloist who, while fine, doesn't belt it out
with energy true to the original or the rest of this cover. He doesn't
sound bored, but he doesn't sound "into it" either.
Not a successful arrangement, as the bass line
sticks out in an annoying way, and for once their "wap-wah" syllables don't
work for me. Again, if you're going to cover a song originally sung by a
woman, it sounds foolish to sing the solo an octave lower. The mellow quality
of the lead's middle voice is nice (although not suited to the song), but low
and (relatively) high notes are not consistently there.
High-energy dance tune, so everything is, of course, dominated
by bass and percussion. What is audible of the backgrounds is
up to the usual high standards. Listen to it while doing
Strange song. Doesn't sound in the best tune, and the solo doesn't
do well when he has to cross his break. For the most part, he has a
clear tine that is fun to listen to.
After the complex arrangement of Get into the Groove it is nice
to have a simpler song like this. It is driven on the verses by
the pronounced bass line and during the choruses by a lush
Admirable energy for a studio recording. The tenors had a few spots where they
needed to tighten up relative to each other. The solo was nice, though. I
didn't like the arrangement particularly, it felt "thin" — perhaps mixing for
a fuller sound would have this.
I love this arrangement. It is extremely catchy and
sweet (no pun intended), with a good bass line and nice capture of the
syncopated rhythm of the original. It does not, however, rock like
the original P they left out the percussion break, among other things.
I particularly like the way they carry the top lines over the break in
the bass line in the later verses. The only thing I don't like so
much about this version is the solo, which is too thin and warbly for
my tastes, plus he is mixed too far back in the mix. The background
though is really quite good, however, which makes up for it.
I think this might actually be a pretty decent
arrangement, but the only thing I could hear was a 2-bar bassline that
was neat as an intro, but boring as hell by the time the song ended.
Jazzy little song — nothing too extraordinary. The
background stuff has a tendency to get out of tune, especially behind
the unexceptional solo. The scatter here sounds overenthused; maybe
mixing him down would have helped. Nice chorus effect on the trumpet.
This bouncy, number is going along just fine until the
sudden, unnecessary entrance of a percussion solo. I think they're
trying for a gentle brush/snare effect, but it sounds like light rap.
And you can practically feel the guy spitting on you. Nice scat and
trumpet solos though...
A vocalese version of the famous jazz tune. The backgrounds have good energy.
Some problems: the soloist has too dark a tone on the lower notes and/or is
mixed too low. He
needs to be brought out more, the backgrounds bury him a bit and it is
sometimes hard to understand the lyrics. The first scat solo is way out of
control for this tune — it is geared to a generic very uptempo song, not a
restrained tune like "Take Five". The solo doesn't relate properly to the rest
of the song, musically. The extensive reverb also make it stick out in a poor
way. The reverb helps the "trumpet" solo, however. Points for trying something
like this, but it just doesn't work that well in the end. Lastly: the end
seems totally wrong for this tune.
Awkward, and somewhat annoying. Solo sounds uneven and
pinched, and doesn't hit the low and high notes consistently. They are a
little too strident to carry off this kind of song. The "My Favorite Things"
interpolation doesn't do anything for me.
Fairly standard arrangment, with solo breaks — including one for
the vocal percussionist, which is a pretty gutsy move with this
song; and a guest appearance or two by other jazz standards.
Close your eyes. Imagine a cute blond freshman
sitting in the front row. Imagine her being pulled up by the soloist,
blushing, friends screaming, and the group making faces at her while
the soloist tries to gaze soulfully into her eyes, and tries to dance
with her during the instrumental bridge. It doesn't really matter
what the song sounds like; it has a ritual place in the repertoire of
any cheesy guys group. (No, there is no other kind.) Let's all give
her a big hand.
The bass is in the foreground, the lead is in the background.
The arrangement is fairly good, but voices are not made distinct, nor do they
quite blend to form a solid base for the good solo. There are audible gasps at
the end of the "zum-zum-zum" lines. Scat solo — too screechy. Basses
occasionally fail to hit notes solidly; this is particularly unfortunate
on the bass solo parts.
So-so. Background is much too loud in the
beginning and at other key parts, as well as being rather busy. The bassline
sticks out, and not in a good way. Blend is terrible on this song, especially
the part when the basses take turns, sounding like frogs. The scat is
horrifying, sounding like a song being eaten by a tape player. If they could
tone down some people, and mix the solo forward, it would be decent. He (the
lead) is perfectly competent, but has no emotion.
I particularly like the use of different sounds in the
background to get different textures in this song.
Unfortunately, it is regularly marred by a rare tuning problem
in the worst of all possible places — an exposed bass chord.
I like this one. Soloist sounds great, and the
effects are very tasteful. Good treatment of the guitar licks; voices
aren't really designed for stuff like this, but it works. The "ahs"
are lots of fun — kudos for bringing Zeppelin to a cappella;
this one rocks.
Black Dog? By Led Zeppelin? Yep. It rocks too, mostly
because of the lead vocals (with just enough of an echo effect. Play
it LOUD. Hey hey momma say the way you move, wanna make you sweat
wanna make you groove...
Solo totally pulls off the high power solo sections, but the instrumental
parts that are interspersed with the lyric sections are given a different
studio treatment. Solo has huge echo, the group doesn't. This juxtaposition
robs the group of drive and makes them seem slightly lackluster. This
song needs the group to comes in *powerfully* between lyric phrases.
Arrangement fairly good.
An (unintentionally) hilarious rendition of the song,
due to the fact that the soloist _is_ Robert Plant, with a lot of
unnecessary reverb on just him, and the background is so a
cappella that it is ridiculous-sounding
("ba-doo-ba-doo-ba-zwee-dow", to represent the bass line). This is
one song where I would not advocate the melodic approach — this arr.
is more-or-less insane. The only things that kick are Robert and the
Very neat imitative-style arrangement. Excellent lead.
Pitch is pretty good, all things considered; the wawas give plenty of
opportunity to slide around. The high obbligato is okay, but sounds a
little stilted. The soloist is best at the end when he can stylize the song
and make it his own; when he sings it straight it tries more to be like
the original and of course fails to approach the suaveness of Gordon
Sumner. The duet sounds off.
Lush. Surreal. Just the way it should be. Nice idea
to use the trumpet solos. (They really like the trumpet effect).
However, the performance of the trumpet part is at its weakest here in
terms of getting the impersonation right. But musically, it's still
on solid ground.
The soloist puts a lot of blue notes into the melody. I like this, but don't
always like his tone, perhaps because it's an octave down from the original.
The "trumpet" solo would be better left behind — didn't seem to fit the song.
The bridge in the original is a more uptempo, bouncier section. This is all
lost in this interpretation. This version is blusier/"balladier" than the
original. Bold choice to try something different than a straight copy.
This song could have been amazing, if there
weren't so much reverb on it that I can't tell what's going on, and if the solo
weren't sometimes completely off. I really like the way they've experimented
with the song, particularly the solo, which goes off on completely different
melody lines, as if he's improvising. He's unfortunately sometimes _really_
flat, and the uptempo section is completely chaotic. The arrangement is cool
and (intentionally) dissonant, but marred by way too many studio effects. I
give them a lot of points for doing something original, though.
A great CD piece — not sure this would ever work in concert.
Well, maybe if you were performing in an empty cathedral.
Nice job; it's got a good beat and you can dance to it. Good pitch,
soloist has some soul. This arr. does a really good job of layering
smooth chords on top of rhythm and words, and is well executed.
They say "Hee Haw." Several times. During a Michael
Jackson cover. Whatever. There's a lot going on in this track and
none of it is very interesting. Except for the "Mamma se mamma sa"
section at the end, this track doesn't have much going for it.
The opening "wow"s sounded a little whiny — they should
be a little less prominent. The solo is energetic, and vocal
percussion helps. Backgrounds could be tightened, however.
Kicking arrangement of this song, with
nice percussion and synthesizer-like chords in the background. Sometimes
though the background sounds a little off. The solo really carries the song
though; he has a really nice resonant sound, and even though the song has
(again) been lowered, he pulls it off. Nice merengue-like line in the middle.
The percussion has for once been well-mixed.
Outstanding lead. (You know, hearing every word of this tune
doesn't really help it any.) This is a good one to do sit-ups
to. I *am* really impressed by how these guys manage to keep
their energy level so high on these repetitive background
Piano bar intro; ha ha. The song itself needs some serious camp,
and the soloist sounds like he's on valium. Some of the background
singers sound like they might groove a little, and the scat guy is really
cool, if more jazzy than disco, The end layering is cool, but in the
same way, more like Us3 than Gloria Gaynor.
I hate I Will Survive as a song. I did a lip sync to it in
college, and ever since then I can't listen to it objectively. I
will say the following though: They went out on a limb on the
intro, and failed. They have this jazzy improv stuff under the
lead vocals that doesn't work. The first half of the song is
kinda dull. After the breakdown section, it does get rather
interesting musically and the fade out is good enough to make you
sort of miss the 70's.
No offense, but if I never hear this song done again
a cappella again it will be too soon. I have never heard a
version that came close to the original, and certainly not by a men's
group. Handclaps don't help this version get anywhere close to the
amount of energy needed to pull off this song. You would have to be
an incredible soloist to pull this off as a lowish tenor, and this
soloist is fine but not nearly where he would need to be. Arrangement
is standard. It is sung all right, one good thing is the guy doing
the "Rocky" line.
Downright _bizarre_ arrangement of the song, with
a jazzy improv. in the beginning, and then fairly basic "bop-dip-bow" lines.
Aside from not understanding _why_ they wanted to do this song in the first
place (it's so much a woman's song, for one thing), I find it ok but
somewhat mechanical. Strangely Latin-sounding scat.
I should state up-front that I would rather hear "The
Lion Sleeps Tonight" TEN TIMES IN A ROW than listen to yet another
version of this musical excrescence. Notwithstanding, this is still
the best rendition I've heard yet.
Good background for the most part, especially at the
beginning. The soloist unfortunately is not at all right for the
song. I know it's high, but the song needs to be light and mellow,
not strained, loud, and often significantly flat. The arrangement
gets a little too raucous at time; mellow, guys, mellow.
At first I was thrown by the lead vocals. While I
wasn't expecting a Sting imitation, I sort of thought that a tenor
would take the lead. Nope. A Baritone. The credits list him as a
tenor, but if that's a tenor, then so was Burl Ives! Anyway, at
first, I didn't like it, but the more I listened, the more this pushed
the original out of my head. It works. And the lead singer has a
distinctive and refreshing sound.
Solo takes a while to get his tone in gear, and his pitch is unsure, especially
on held notes. Arrangement is pretty good, and song builds intensity over time,
which is good but beginning lacks energy and tightness (on pitch especially).
Nice arrangement, unfortunately spoiled
for me by the solo, which is strained and often glaringly flat. Parts of arr.
are excellent, although in others it is slightly awkward. I particularly like
the held notes during the verses, and the "ooh-ooh" in the very end.
Percussion also is excellent. The basses get out of synch at times. One song
which they didn't lower.
What great blending in the background of this tune! Lots of
interesting development in the arrangement.
Solo gives a good effort, singing impossibly high, but it doesn't
quite work, cause a lot of time, he can't quite keep it up there. Guitar
gets an A for effort; he does a good job. The background sounds okay
for the most part — you don't really notice it.
Ah...Journey! This is the best track on the album. They kick out
all the stops here. The lead singer has this nice trick. Whenever
he slides up the scale and reaches the peak of his range, he
avoids hitting a falsetto by slipping into a "ya ya ya ya " free
form/rock n' roll yell. What a great ending to an album.
The soloist is good (has trouble with a few of the high notes, but who
wouldn't?). His pitch sometimes misses or wavers, however. When the song kicks
in proper after the first verse it should have
more drive. Some of the guitar parts aren't pulled off — the solo before the
first chorus has a very strange quality; it's quite soft with huge sustain.
Solo's voice sounds ridiculous and unattractive,
not because it sounds exactly like a woman but because it simultaneously
screeches and wavers. High notes are on, but who'd want to listen to them?
Arrangement becomes chaotic early on and never really recovers. Basses
can't hit lowest notes. Not helped by the muddy sound quality. I really hate
Really annoying tuning problems in the bass line of the verses
mar the entire song. Might have been ignorable if the bass
hadn't been mixed in so loudly. A definite injustice to the
lead and the guitar soloist
Why are alma maters always sung with that relentless march beat?
This is a particularly nice one to work with; the words and tune are
very pretty, I wish it could have been sung more like a song than an
alma mater. Oh well, tradition is tradition.
Unfortunately, Don't Stop Believin' ISN'T the last cut. Why do
schools keep singing these slow, boring, school alma matters from
the 1940's??? I guess they want to get gigs singing at alumni
association functions. If you can force yourself to sit through
this track just once, there is a cute little joke at the end.
Quite different from their other tunes — it is a college song type song.
It is performed fairly well, but this clearly isn't their forte. Blend
needs to be improved.
This song is painful to listen to, not only because it
is yet another school song, but because their blend is so negligible. The
basses stand out as being particularly gravelly, and it sounds as if someone
is off. They're all blaring with no perceptible emotion.
Traditional choral-style arrangement, once again adversely
affected by dicey tuning among the basses, who are apparently
about a quarter tone short of the bottom pitch.