Total time: 45:01, 12 songs
the jabberwocks, i'm quite sure, are loved on the stage. people probably
love seeing them and love hearing them, and for good reason. they do a ton
of songs that people love from the pop world of the last few decades,
including a bunch of beatles tunes and some dance stuff and some marvin
gaye sex stuff and some alternative stuff. people love that shit. i love
that shit. but often on this album, aside from rhythm problems and pitch
problems and those kinds of common mistakes, i felt that the jabberwocks
were trying to translate a great show on stage to a cd, and this just
doesn't work unless your SOLE FOCUS in the group is the music. or at least
the primary focus. and i could be wrong, but i felt that the focus of this
group was the stage performance, which probably ruled. still, there are
some great tracks on this album, some fun stuff, and a couple great
soloists as well. i like their basses overall, too.
Rating: 5 (5.3)
Interesting repertoire choices. These are the types songs that I could sit though for during a one hour concert without checking my watch.
Almost every lead vocalist has strong character to his voice. Quite a few background vocals are untuneful, repetitive and sloppy, however they do exhibit nice examples of dynamics.
Some tempos tend to drag and even slow down midstride. Almost every song on this album could have been done a slightly quicker tempo to liven things up a bit. Perhaps future recordings should be done with a conductor using a headset with a click track.
This is an interesting group, with eclectic tastes and good (dare
I say great?) vocals, which just need a little tempo and tuning
work in the background. I'm already curious to hear future
Rating: 6 (5.8)
While I don't like Woonsocket, it is a step in the right direction for the Jabberwocks. Their last album to come RARB's way struck me as rather self-important male a cappella. It was as if they thought that if they screamed it loud enough they'd impress you. This album is a much more controlled affair. Even the songs that fall flat come off as being carefully arranged, rehearsed, and recorded. The overall sound is tastefully sparse and boasts strong baselines throughout.
Having said that, most of the songs on Woonsocket are performed too
slowly, too stiffly, or too unenergeticly. The notable exceptions are
a surprisingly well executed "Don't Dream It's Over" and,
unfortunately, a "Sexual Healing" that would be a real winner if they
didn't RUIN it with a pointless masturbation reference.
Rating: 5 (5.3)
If the Jabberwocks have one outstanding feature, it must be their ability to take a wide variety of songs and make them all sound the same. Specifically, many of the songs on this album end up with a vaguely doo-wop sort of sound. Lack of variety in the arranging doesn't help much, either. Repetition runs rampant. There are an awful lot of sustained notes (heck, there are times when the group is all holding a chord, with nothing going on rhythmically — even on some of the fast tunes). Similarly, there are many spots when the whole group takes a breath at the same time, leaving a big gap in the sound, and losing the pulse. However, the group does come up with some original ideas — the songs aren't all clones of the originals.
Unfortunately, the group's performance is generally sloppy — there are
plenty of pitch problems, and grooves don't all lock in (they're also very
square stylistically). Soloists are average at best.
Rating: 5 (5.2)
Man, I wish Frank Zappa were hidden in one of _my_ album covers. I tell you, the miracles of photo shop are many — where else could you have Tina Turner, Pinky and the Brain and the entirety of the Brown Jabberwocks pretending to be Beatles? And they put it on the inside too, so you have to buy the CD for the picture. Window shoppers just get a wrinkly dog and some inexplicable puppies.
Ahem, down to business. The Jabberwocks have earned a reputation for being one of the more creative groups of recent times, with a Beatles-only concept concert and a fabulously staged Madonna cover that won best song at a 1996 NCCA semi-final. Musicality has not been their noted strong point lately, however, and this is more than born up in Woonsocket, their latest album. The new album lacks the listenability of their previous effort, Liz' Slingback Boots, as well as the occasional standout solo (Black Dog, anyone) and successful interpretation. Woonsocket tries to take all three of its Beatles covers in new directions and bombs big time with all of them. There's something to be said for at least trying, granted, but a good tribute band doesn't mess around, it just delivers the goods.
Tuning is absent throughout the album, as is energy — there's not a
single song that goes off and lets it all hang out. Instead it all hangs
out anyway, for lack of anything to cover it up and take the heat off.
Rating: 4 (5.1)
pretty good solo by gregg schaufeld, i'm sure the women loved it. he does
this kind of gavin of bush thing every once in a while. relatively weak
percussion. arrangement is ok, rhythm problems however, bother me between
the intro and the verse. it's funny, i have a unique insight into that
particular section of the song, because off the beat had the EXACT same
problem for some reason when we did this tune in 1992. oh well.
An interesting song selection. The soloist does a reasonable
good job, however the solo is extremely close to the Simple
Minds' version and he doesn't really seem to put much of his own
style into it. Background vocals are a little sloppy and
untuneful and the song's tempo lags.
The right arrangement. The right voices. The wrong tempo. It's
refreshingly simple, but too slow. It doesn't even get close to being
up to speed until the coda.
The opening notes almost startled me
- the group is singing open fifths with a fairly classical sound. I
thought for a second they were going to open up with some Gregorian chant.
Intonation gets quite iffy at times. The opening soloist's Whoah-oh parts
end up with him singing "a hah hey hah." I don't know, just seemed a bit
peculiar (take my word for it).
Ooh baby, pull out the shades and start snapping. This song actually drops
tempo after the intro (which has the grace to improv slightly) and pulls
out some sweet little falsettos for the second verse. Arrangement is quite
sparse, in terms of parts and rhythms and generally played straight. It's
a little lyric, but still not a bad way to start an album. One picky
question — why is there a percussion guy listed when the song has none?
The next song has an uncredited percussion intro, so maybe that's it.
nice arrangement by p. welch (not in the group) with little licks all over
for sex value, nice solo by gordon wright. he shows enough grit and sex to
make this difficult marvin gaye solo totally believable, and adds plenty of
his own style. really good. one of the best tracks on the album.
Lead vocal is soulfully sung, with impressive falsetto flips,
however the singer should try to flow a little better and watch
pitch integrity after breaths. Tempo once again tends to drag.
The intro, with it's sparse vocal percussion and whispered vocals, is
damn near perfect. After that, the arrangement gets a little too
redundant until they let the lead get soulful on a bridge. And then,
dear lord, they do the unforgivable and send this song strait to WOCA
(Worst Of College A Cappella): The last line of the song in their
version is "Please don't procrastinate/It's not good to masturbate."
Why ruin a good song like that?
I imagine there are a number of approaches you
could take for this tune, but I wouldn't have pictured the almost angelic
sound the Jabberwocks use. I don't know, it's like hearing a church choir
singing Marvin Gaye.
Not bad for a white guy. The background is very
smooth — too much so. Again, very simple chords form
the backbone of the arrangement. The solo tries hard,
but can't quite break out of the tranquilizer zone and
give the song the energy it needs to succeed. Every now
and again he sounds like he connects to the words, but
for the most part he's just singing, not emoting the way
the song deserves. Song is hurt by the fact that most
of the rhythm accents (doo trios, syncopation etc.) are
out of tune. Percussion intro (why does the rhythm
disappear once the song starts?) nicely imagined, but
the "k" sounds are to guttural so instead of thinking
"neat rhythm bit" you're likely to think "I hope that
microphone had a phlegm guard".
this soloist, mark manning, is the real thing. the whole thang is in
falsetto, and his licks and and melismas are great. doesn't back off.
this arrangement backs him up competently, doesn't add a lot, but when you
listen to mark rock you, you don't really give a shit.
A nice melodic bass vocal that comfortably hits a low C# opens
this cut. The lead singer tends to underenunciate his very
soulful and difficult vocals.
This is Prince? Whatever. Slow doo wop with a nice deep voice on
lead. Unfortunately, much of the song is sung in a scruffy falsetto.
I like the "Breaking up is hard to doo wop, sha ba . . ." in the
This has to be one of the most
annoying soloists I've heard in a long time. He uses a ton of really fast
vibrato, has an abrasive not-quite-falsetto sound, and is constantly doing
hideous scoops up to high notes. Some spoken "ad lib" lines are especially
painful. The chord progression is incredibly repetitive, and little is
done in the arrangement to break up the monotony — there are occasionally
ninth chords thrown in (and a dominant seventh chord at the very end), but
they don't really match the style of the piece.
Pitch problems and heavy background falsetto plague a simple snappy
arrangement that could have been amusing. The arrangement is very simple,
and the solo a falsetto gimmick — to succeed it needed to lighten
everything by half, except for the solo who could probably stand to scream
some and give some edge to his falsetto. The spoken word gags fail because
the deliverers know they're in the studio and can't get close to the
needed zing. But in the end its tuning that sinks this one — since there's
only the one riff, the many unintentional variations on it stand out.
really bad rhythm problems throughout. something strange: there's a really
cool hiphop drum groove over the verses, but it sounds totally forced over
the background, and the transition between this and the total lack of
percussion in the choruses is kinda jolting. overly ambitious: lotsa
interesting ideas which don't seem to mesh too well.
Interesting choral introduction, like nothing I've ever heard
before. Rhythm problems between the vocal percussion and the
background vocals. Lead vocalist has some pitch problems but
does sings a fairly melodic solo.
This is the first of three songs from Sgt. Peppers (apparently they
had a concert where they sang the whole album). Trippy, aquatic sound
effects on the opening, but when they resurface later in the song,
it's distracting. The choice to accompany the verses with a deep,
techno-esque drum beat is strange but it keeps you listening for more.
This one starts out with a lot of
promise — great idea of taking the tune and changing it to a rhythmic 4/4
groove. But unfortunately there are some jarring tempo changes that break
up the flow of the tune. Also, the bass line and vocal percussion don't
lock in rhythmically.
Well, at least it ain't William Shatner. The verses
come across as more Tony Rich project than psychedelic -
I always got a very waltzy feel from them in the
original, and these are in a slowed-down 4-4. The
choruses are a little too fast and happy, with a
nunna-nunna undercurrent underneath that pushes them on.
Pitch problems are manifest too. It may seem a little
silly to get into a thorough discussion of the musical
intricacies of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", but
heck, it is a song, and this version doesn't have enough
personality to escape scrutiny.
don't love the solo. this arrangement is nice (by
peter ermey, music director) but fails a little in the
performance, which sounds kinda dirgey and has many
rhythm problems. i REALLY strongly disagree with the
choice to do a trumpet solo and jazz scat in the middle
of this BEAUTIFUL beatles song. that ruined it for me.
Lead vocalist tends to overenunciate his consonants and is a
little on the pedantic. Background is quite boring and
repetitive. The saving grace for this tune was a little "vocal
saxophone" bridge followed by a duet scat.
A grabbing and underplayed Beatles' song that works great a cappella.
Pretty much what you'd expect until they throw in a jazz section with
"trumpet" and scat. Works like a charm. Rather theatrically, they
try to suggest that the parents are singing the chorus by splitting it
into a duet for bass and falsetto. A good idea, but not as tight as
the rest of the vocals. Overall a great track.
I liked the feel on this one — a relaxed jazz
waltz. It would have worked better if the backgrounds weren't rushing so
incredibly much. A fake trumpet solo is bad, followed by a scat solo
Jazz chords audibly snap in to tune as the solo
sings "day begins", which is really, really noticeable
because the preceding chords are so off. The rest of
the verse doesn't stray so much, but the 'Wocks just
don't have the talent, focus and clarity required to
pull off an arrangement based on extended jazzy chords.
There are some neat ideas in the intro and periodically,
but overall the thing wavers between being a dead cover
of one of the prettier Beatles songs and a murky,
out-of-tune jazz ballad. Example: the first bridge (the
"we gave her most of her lives" part) seems to be
well-arranged, with nice accents, then goes into some
chords that sound like they would be wrong even if they
were in tune. On the second rep, the first of those
chords sounds better, but the second is still off.
fun, nice little cover of a fun beatles tune. i like the arrangement, too,
by tom jackoboice, i feel like it really does capture the essence of the
groove of this song. bouncy, great bass line movement. some problems
going into the high harmonies, but otherwise a good track.
Another good tune that could have been taken just a few beats per
minute faster. Some real tuning problems with the harmony line,
no Lennon and McCartney here.
This ought to be a great a cappella anthem, but it just doesn't hold
Personally, I think the Beatles are
the best band in the history of the world, but covering three of their
tunes in a row? The intro is kind of nice...actually the whole thing is
fairly nice...which is fine, if you happen to like nice. The swing feel is
squared off in spots (I caught the basses singing some straight eighths).
No, I probably wouldn't. Stand up and walk out on
these guys if they sang out of tune, but only because I
have a long history of surrounding myself with a
cappella of questionable quality. ("What would you
think if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk
out on me," for the three of you who have escaped the
Beatles in your musical career.) This Beatles cover
actually moves and picks up some happy-go-lucky
sentiments a bit, and one of the falsetto harmony lines
sounds good. This is good because the rest of the song
is as musically iffy as its preceding Beatles
colleagues. Most of it is just tuning, monovolume
delivery etc, but there's also this drum solo from
nowhere in the first verse, the only percussion anywhere
in the song and generally mystifying. It'd actually be
a great gag if they were performing this and some guy
walks to one side and starts going off in a rest, but
even if that were the case it wouldn't translate to the
crowded house. decent. you need a really good soloist to pull this song
off... we often discussed doing this song in my ex-group, and in fact it
was probably even voted in one year, then overruled by yours truly. this
performance by the jabberwocks confirms what i had supposed about the sheer
boredom factor of this song. somehow everyone loves this song for the
first minute, but what they don't realize is that it never ever changes
after that. boredom factor high. i do like the exit from the bridge into
the next verse...
Interesting arrangement, especially the bridge. The lead
vocalist has a nice voice, but lacks flow and at times tries to
vary his version from the original and sings notes which don't
quite fit the chords.
There's a strange tempo change that throws a cog in the wheel in an
arrangement that otherwise moves along gracefully. Please note:
Despite what you might imagine, the lead singer actually has some
testosterone in him! NO wussy tenors or shrill falsettos to worry
The soloist is generally on the flat side,
and overenunciates some of the lyrics. Otherwise fairly bland and
This one rushes, but I think that helps it by making the thing keep pace.
Soloist Gordon Wright does a pretty good job, taking a whiny 80s solo and
keeping it in check for most of the song, which goes on quite a while. The
arrangement has some movement yet doesn't get complex enough to throw them
too far off. And it gets you out of Beatles hell.
more rhythm problems here in the backgrounds, they seem to speed up at
unusual spots. this is another tune that could've benefited from some
amazing soloists. i was..... bored?
Almost identical background arrangement to The Nylons less the
percussion. The lead vocals are split four ways on this track.
The first soloist should try sticking to the original melody, the
second needs to keep in time with the background, the third is
very well sung, the fourth is well sung as well and the vocalist
even tries some different rhythms which work quite nicely.
Better than the last version they did of this Nylons autobiographical
ditty. I respect that they sing this very carefully and crisply, but
it comes off as being too slow and a bit boring. I think I've just
never liked the song — It's no "Looking for an Echo."
Your typical a cappella tune about...you guessed
it, singing a cappella tunes with the guys. Far too long and repetitive,
and ironically, the group shows absolutely no sign that they are having any
This one opens like a breath of fresh air, having on the whole clean,
un-bogged down sound in its simplicity after the preceding leanings
toward cacophony. Second soloist has lovely tone. Nice way to break up the
set — nothing remarkable, but generally listenable in that way of generic
guys music, even when rough.
cool! i liked this one. the solos here are appropriate sounding for early
r.e.m., and the arrangement by jackoboice & s. saini (not in the group) is
very nice. a good performance with some good dynamics make this a good
track for me.
An interesting arrangement which kept me wondering what was going
to happen next! The best background and bass vocals on the album
in terms of rhythm and pitch integrity. The soloist were mixed a
little too quietly. The soloists start out a little weak
(overannunciating) but pick up after the first verse and close
the song in fine fashion. My favorite track on the album hands
CLOSE harmony, just like you'd hope for in this R.E.M. cover. It's a
new sound for the group that up until now has specialized in laying
down a clean and solid bass. Unfortunately, they don't really have
any momentum to carry them through the song. Also, the "Hey! Hey!"
that comes in at the end is too clip.
I found the cornball intro kind of amusing. The solo
and harmonization (I guess you call that a duet) are pretty solid, but once
again the arrangement is bogged down by too much repetition.
Comparative groove is in the house with this one, an REM cover which comes
off as a real uptempo rock song after the slow stuff we've had so far.
Could still use a little more zing — it's a bit earnest — but it's clear
that they like to sing this one. And no wonder.
i'm POSITIVE the group did funny dance moves or something to make this song
work live, and i can imagine a bunch of college dudes dancing across the
stage doing this tune would be a fucking riot. the choruses to this song
benefit from some pretty sweet vocal percussion & a kickin' bass line, but
every other part is just not that good. they sound like a bunch of white
dudes doing dance music, it doesn't have the integrity of real dance music,
which is obviously because it was a comic thing on stage. BUT THAT DOESN'T
TRANSLATE too well to an album. then they go into groove is in the heart
and it's a college dance party thing, but again, you probably had to see
A difficult song for any group, a cappella or otherwise to
attempt successfully. This recording is reasonable well done,
and contains some really authentic sounding vocal percussion
(toms) on this track, but this still isn't something I would want
to listen to more than once. Some really neat vocal percussion
on this track.
The "Strike a Pose" lines in the intro sound like they're being read
off of a cue card by someone's mom. The lead really kicks in on the
choruses, but the group has trouble staying in time with the complex
dance rhythms of the song.
I expected the worst from this one, and I was actually
fairly pleasantly surprised. Some nice harmonies, and the groove locks in
better than most of the other songs on the album. I couldn't really tell
if the group was trying to be campy or not (and the idea that they'd take
this song seriously scared me a bit). The spoken parts annoyed me,
although I'd probably say the same for the original. The Dee-Lite segment
at the end would have worked better if I wasn't so ready for the tune to be
over (this one clocks in at almost six minutes — an eternity for a
cappella. Or Madonna).
You'd be crazy to buy this album if you hadn't seen the group live for a
lot of reasons, but this song is the key reason. It's got a decent
bassline and spoken accents, and, you know, I could care less how many
keys the oohs are in because I saw them do this and it was incredible. The
whole damn group was voguing, really really well, and playing it like
straight guys who are really cool instead of a bunch of wannabe flaming
college kids. So when the drums kick in on the chorus and the song picks
up I find myself moving in pleasant reverie. Rock on, guys. You get the
great score for my memory.
irving berlin was one of the greatest jewish songwriters of all time. did
you know he wrote white christmas? his biggest hit. anyway, this is
completely different from the rest of the album, performed competently.
i'm not sure WHY, since this album is a collection of pop songs from
throughout the last few decades, they chose to do this, but it's ok.
Sounds like a live recording, but might not be. Well sung and
recorded. I don't think this Irving Berlin tune quite fits in
with the other repertoire on the album.
I love this song and was expecting a simple, jazzy
rendition from this group (given their taste for scat
and the less-is-more approach of this album).
Unfortunately, they just decided to do their best
impersonation of your dad's glee club.
On this almost barbershop-style arrangement, the top
tenors have a very King's Singers kind of classical falsetto sound. It's
cheese, but intentionally so — kind of funny that the group seems more
comfortable on something like this than the contemporary pop stuff that
makes up most of the album. Nice ninth chord at the end.
Oh yeah, Brown's in the Ivy League. If you've been distracted by the
school's differences from its stodgier neighbors, the 'Wocks have included
a song to remind you. It's short, it's snappy, it's in generic-male-tune
(rough but listenable) and it could have come from any of the second-tier
Princeton groups. Nice job for a group breaking ranks with its repertoire.
another group does their school thing on the album, fine.
A live recording of a "Brown University traditional" piece. Nice
choral background achieves excellent dynamics, but falls grossly
out of tune.
It's another damn school song.
A collegiate alma mater-type tune — if you went to
college, you probably heard a pile of this kind of stuff (they even repeat
the tune with "oohs" the second time around). The arrangement sounds like
it's been passed on for years. I'd imagine it's much more interesting if
you went to "dear old Brown."
In the same vein, a lovely little number a la an alma mater.
The Jabberwocks had no particularly compelling reason to
do a hidden bonus track, so they didn't do one! There's
no sophomoric humor! No 20 minutes of silence after the
last track followed by a lame inside joke. The album
simply stops after the last song! A brilliant concept!
Just another example of the good taste that went into
this album (with the exception of the school song and
the stray masturbation joke).