I just recently reviewed the Clef Hangers album Crackin' Up and had been rather disappointed by what I heard. When I received this new album from the group to review, I was not sure what to think. Half of the album was recorded by last year's group. Would that make a difference? Would it be an improvement, or would it be more of the same kind of stuff?
Turns out, it was both. This album has some improvements over the previous attempt. Though they could have made things better by having a more creative mic setup, it has a decent recording quality, and the group seems to be more expressive than before. Yet the group has not changed a great deal in the grand scheme of things. The blend is not very consistent, and the pitch follows suit. The Hangers' tempo problems have not gone away, either. That contributed to the feeling that this album went on forever... which it did. A full hour. The songs with the previous year's group sound just like last year's group... go figure. All their problems came with them in this recording.
The things that bother me most are their arrangements and the fact that they have a tendency to perform most of the songs too slowly. The slow going on this album makes itself noticed when you hear vocal support problems, which makes the pitch suffer. The arrangements... oy. They have not changed much at all! Not very inspiring arrangements filled with odd choices (rhythm, vowels, etc.) here and there. The ending of songs are the worst thing for me. So many songs have endings that just do not fit.
Once again, the Clef Hangers managed to produce an average album. I
would not rush right out to buy it if I were you.
Rating: 5 (5.8)
There are two things this group does very well: close harmony jazz, and
ballads. This is a much better album than their last one because they
focused more on these strengths. What they need now is to find
some good vocal percussion, pay more attention to the flow of songs,
and make certain they have the soloists to make a song work. But
overall a MUCH better job.
Rating: 7 (6.6)
The Clefs are a good, solid men's group doing their bit and holding the line. They like their country music; they're willing to leave genre and go modern for a bit, but mostly you're gonna get a buncha guys with good voices singing songs.
Their old-style roots come through in a couple of ways, and have their ups and downs. The Clefs have a beautiful true-choral number in Vaughn Williams' arrangement of Loch Lomond, and they sound good doing Ivy songs and other glee-clubby bits. They have a nice lighter side, as explored in Little Red Riding Hood. They also come across as very heavy-handed, particularly on some of the ballads, which need a more delicate touch. And they suffer from the energy problem on some songs — i.e., if there just was some, it might be a real nice listen. One odd thing is their inability to tune the held chords with which they end most of their songs. They have this hard, legato choral arrangement down pat, but they can't hold a major chord for a couple seconds at the end of a song. Weird.
The song order is awfully schizoid — I'm generally a supporter of eclectic orders, but some flow is called for. The album opens with an Ivy standard, moves to a slow country ballad and then into this whacked percussion thing — all are decent listens to one extent or another, but there had to have been a smoother way to line them up. I dunno.
The Clef Hangers are not gonna bust any barriers or blow away any
preconceptions. They are gonna give you your money's worth, and, like
many things in the South, they have a certain charm that comes with
being a little behind the times.
Rating: 7 (6.7)
This album gets off to a great start, but unfortunately it can't live up to its own standard as the album wears on. The arrangements are generally well done, but a lot of songs lack the drive that they ought to have.
On the whole, the Clef Hangers have an impressive range of lead
singers. With rare exception, they are all very solid; they really
throw themselves at the material, and they bring a lot of their own
personality to the songs. Nothing about their performances sounds
forced. Impressive stuff. It is unfortunate that they are sometimes
let down by an unexciting song choice or half hearted backing vocals.
Rating: 6 (6.8)
The Clef Hangers have churned out another decent CD with a similar
formula to the last: a couple country, a Bobs cover, a couple
a cappella standards, and a couple Paul Simon covers... yet it all seems
to work again. For the most part, they keep from being stale save for
a couple of tracks. For the most part, they still do a repertoire that
is refreshingly different from those of other groups. They also were
able to get away from the studio problems they had last time, namely
poor mixing between solo and group. Once or twice it sounded
disjointed, but those were rare occasions. All in all, a
recommendable CD, worthy of the rating I'm giving it.
Rating: 7 (6.5)
A fun standard from Van Morrison that people love to hear, and groups
love to sing. Sounds pretty good. There are a few relatively small
tuning problems within the group, but the song has a boisterous, brassy
sound. The soloist has a bit of a rough time with it, straining on the
highest notes. Overall it is a good, loud song that is not too offensive
to hear... until the ending. All the voices join in unison for a big
ending... and then sing this HOKEY 'doo-whah' chord! It is totally
unrelated to the rest of the song! It is kind of like going up to the
podium to accept an award and out of the blue you get a meringue pie
right in the face! Actually it is more like getting blindsided by a
mugger while on a picnic. Ouch.
Very tightly and well sung. Even though I'm QUITE tired of
this song in the a cappella circles, I can appreciate a well-sung
interpretation, and the jazz overtones used in the originals are
realized here. And one of the things these guys do well is Jazz.
Nice big sound opens the album, with a traditional and very high-syllable
background goin' on. (Ooh-dat-bop-bow!) I feel disorientingly like I took
a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at Princeton. Except the solo sounds
like he sings country music in his spare time, especially in the way he
produces his high notes. I like country music, so it doesn't bother me
and really I like his energy and personality. The overall sound is not as
locked as it should be, which really shows on the held chord at the end,
but overall the song works.
I keep hearing that this is the most overdone song of all time, but
this is actually the only a cappella cover I have in my perversely
large collection. And it's a damn fine cover at that. They don't make
any dramatic changes, but the performance still takes on a life of
its own: It SWINGS! Swinging leads, swinging arrangement.
The only thing wrong with this song is that the ending is very clip.
The "Doooo waaaaaa!" that closes it out doesn't help. But still a
great opening track.
My first reaction was "Oh, no, not ANOTHER version", but
after listening to it, it really grew on me. The Clefs didn't show
this jazzy side last time, and it was a nice start to the album. The
arrangement was well done, keeping the group's interest up, thereby
keeping my interest up. Well sung.
Look out! It's a sappy "my life sucks" song! I have no idea who wrote
it, because the Clefs never give credit to the original artist, which I
think is wrong — but that is another issue altogether. It does not
sound that bad, but there are some things that stand out for me: the
soloist's voice is nice, but sometimes gets rather piercing; the basses
sometimes stick out and blat their notes... in fact, most of the group
does a lot of blatting of notes. This is actually a pretty typical sound
from the Clefs throughout the album — just not taking time to refine
their sound and how they blend with one another. Then they have to end
the song with this "whoosh"... this wind sound effect. They did it a
number of times on the last album, and I see tradition continues. Guys,
don't do that unless it adds something to the song, then let it fade
out. Don't cut off. It sounds bad.
Again, I don't know the source material, but this sounds like the
OTHER thing the Clefs do well — country. The arrangement is
very basic bell-tone based sound, decently sung with only minor tuning
problems throughout. The soloist does a decent job of selling the
song...but this isn't exactly back-breaking material.
Solo here has a very pretty voice that doesn't have any trouble coping
with the extremely high range of this song. It grows on me as the song
progresses. He seems a little out of place with the country thing —
since I know the song, I find myself reaching for qualities he doesn't
have or doesn't have enough of. The background is *very*
straight, like the guy who wrote the arrangement only felt comfortable
drawing quarter notes. I think the song could use a light guitarish
background rather than block chords. Percussion is basic, but at a
nice level and is fine with what they're trying to do. The whole
thing reminds me of the James Taylor songs of Clefs gone by. The
first tenors have a very heavy falsetto sound that I'm not used to
hearing so much anymore. It's in tune, but sounds a little strange on
its "doo-doo-doo" melodies. End chord again loses tuning.
I guess I must be wishing on someone else's star
It seems like someone else keeps getting what I'm wishing for
I can not be as lucky as those other people are
I guess I must be wishing on someone else's star
Now, those lyrics ought to sound damn cheesy to you. Yet, somehow it
doesn't come off that way. The melody is charming and the leads are
sung so sincerely that you buy into it. The emotions ring true.
Until another group catches a clue, this may be the only outlet for
a cappella country. A rich solo just pours in over a nicely built
background. The arrangement suffers slightly from over-dooing it, but
it doesn't detract from a beautiful track.
The Paul Simon percussion-fest, a cappella. Pretty fun to hear, and it
must be a blast doing this live. Some tuning problems, some tempo
problems, some typical problems. The percussion is done in an
interesting fashion: they vocalize it. I mean, they do it on actual
syllables, like "stri-ick-e-licky-chicky-chick, doom-doom". Interesting,
but I don't like it much. It makes things sound kind of silly. The ending
is not as bad as the endings usually are, except for the fact that the
last chord is sharp.
Good percussion, especially given the lack of it in the last album they
did. Soloist does a good job of capturing Paul's essence. The problem
is that the arrangement (or the arrangement execution) is very stiff, very
unwavering...whereas the point behind the original was the improvisational
aspects of African music when blended with western ideals. The slower, less
drum-heavy sections were very nice, though.
This is cool because of its radical departure from Clefdom. We started out in the solid rear-guard of the a cappella envelope, and quite nicely. We went into a traditional ballad, and out of nowhere they start a song which is completely dependent on drums. The whole group does drums for about four measures and it's actually pretty good and makes up for the fact that the opening guy didn't have the rhythm quite right. Solo needs to relax a little bit, not be quite so earnest. He infects the rest of the group on the "had a lot of fun, had a lot of money" bit. This song has got to be laid back to work, and I think the background has that some of the time, they just can't keep it; they get heavy handed. The quiet verse does quite well, with a nice lower harmony line, and then wrecks it with the "ooh-wah-oohs" in the middle. In general the background does really well with the verses, it's just the bridges where they get heavy — add words and it gets out of control.
Now, back to the percussion. What's good about it is the way they
layer rhythms and sounds. There are about three that back the whole
song. And they've got the right idea. Where they come up a little short
is choosing syllables — they are of the "words" rather than "sounds" type
of drum educators. The "lead drummer" is the biggest problem, and he is
real fond of "chicky chig", and during the breakdown part comes up with
"Stigitta-licky-chicky-chick" which ventures out of the realm of good
taste. Oh, and is there any reason the tenors took the falsetto melody at
the end and turned it from laid back to a bugle call? Why rewrite it? And
why, oh why, did they choose to have the whole group come back in with a
big chord on "child" after smoothing themselves out of the song.
Well, they grabbed a good singer to cover a contemporary Paul Simon
song. It's hard to sing tunes that were written in his patented,
almost spoken yet strangely musical style. The lead here pulls it off
well. But it wasn't the best idea for a cover. The song gets a lot
of its power out of its exotic army of drummers. It doesn't have
much impact with the vocal percussion. Also, you don't truly believe
the lead singer in the role he has to play. This song is from an
older and more worldly perspective than a college student should be
expected to have.
FUN!! The percussion opening was great, though the bridge
was a little kitschy (Dickleickity chicky chick?) The arrangement was
brilliant, though...chair dancing type song.
What a silly sounding song this has become! The tenors singing the
harmonica part in falsetto sounds so silly going "wah-wah-wah-wah".
Probably gets the people in an audience rolling with laughter. I could
not help but grin. The balance is a bit out of whack, with parts
sounding more like they are intruding rather than blending (ah, the
curse of blatting your note). The soloist sounds good, and the solo
harmony in the chorus is done well, with the right balance and a tight
sound. The rest is just a bit too sloppy. Nothing new there. And as
usual, I did not like the ending much, though this one was not nearly as
offensive to my ears as some of the others.
HATED the sung "harmonica" at the beginning...if you can't
make the sound work, don't try the sound. The background is stiff
again, and I don't buy the soloist or his harmonist...it sounds like
glee-club doing Blues Traveler. There are many things this group does
well, but this song just really doesn't work for them.
Okay, back to familiar territory. A nice, upbeat doo-wop song. Oh,
wait. It's the Blues Traveler song. Oh. Well, I hate to break it to
the soloist, who is going along really just fine, but the background
thinks it's doo-wop, and is doing a decent job with that too. The
falsetto guys just sound '50s — don't even think the word "harmonica"
and you'll be fine. The solo split actually works pretty well — they
have one guy doing the verses, and another guy coming in to do the
higher chorus. This is particularly evident as a good idea, because
the last verselet is too high for the verse guy and he loses his
style. They cut out huge chunks of the song, but that keeps it short
and sweet in doo-wop fashion.
I could do without the "waaaaaaaaaa waaaa waaaaaaaaaaaaa"s in the
background vocals. Other than that, this is sharp arrangement. The
lead singer is good, but he's not as good as John Popper. You gotta
give him credit for making the song his own though. The guy is having
fun singing every note. I particularly like the "Hey Baby, let's keep
in touch," line — he really plays up the insincere agent quality of the
Repetitive, especially in the basses where the "Bow"s get to be
annoying. The solo and trio carry the song, as it just didn't offer
anything to grab attention. Nice to listen to though.
Hey, I love this song... when the Bobs sing it. This time around, it
does not thrill me. It is sung a bit too slow, which seems to emphasize
the problems the soloist has. He hits the low notes just fine. But he
does not stay there. His voice wavers all over on sustained notes that
are longer than a quarter note. Nine times out of ten he's flat.
Just not great breath support, I think. It is especially painful on the
last note, which is of course the longest note of the song. The rest of
the group tends to follow his lead and has tuning problems too.
The Bobs with sound effects. I'm glad that they didn't try to be as
obnoxious about the sounds as the Bobs did...here things are more
jazzy. The basses are a LITTLE too brassy at times, but this
is meant as a bass feature. A solid performance.
This song proves that these guys have the middle school circuit (and all
those nice private school fees) absolutely cornered. I see them in coats,
ties, and hastily donned sunglasses. It's smooth, tuned, got a little
percussion goin', and a bass solo and a good strong solo tenor intro. The
style is not for all of us, but this is great at what it's trying to do.
I don't think I'll ever say this again, but the Bobs' version is
better. I thought this fifties novelty song was supposed to be
FUN. Here, it's sung too slowly to have any life. It's
neither sexy nor spooky nor funny.
The Bobs again??? NOOOO! Well, ok, maybe the arrangement is pretty
good, enjoyable even. And even when the soloist scrapes bottom, he does
so while still putting some intensity into it. Tuning is excellent, as
this song relies on harmony quite heavily.
Just another typically average song. Blending of the parts is not really
there. Things get too loud all the time. The soloist has an earnest
voice, but works too hard to have a vibrato and a dark, serious sound.
Thus he goes flat way too often. Occasional tuning problems. Another
wind effect at the ending of the song that should not have been there.
(Side note: A pet peeve of mine is groups that don't list original artists
with each of the songs....there are people who would like to know original
source material.) Anyways, the song....very nice. Is this another country
song? I don't know...they don't list the original artist. The soloist
strains a lot, but it seems to work well with this arrangement.
This one is about as light and airy as a bag of wet cement. Which is too
bad, because otherwise most everything about this song is fine. If the
background could have sung at about half voice, the solo could get by as is
and then we'd have a light, pretty ballad. As it is, I feel like I'm
already dragging a ball and chain instead of being implored to fall in
love. (Funny, in a couple of spots the whole pitch snags, like they
caught their ball&chain on something for a sec.)
Cover of a Colin Raye song that the Clefs stand out on well again. In
this case, lack of commentary is very good, as the only flaw is a
too-strong solo in some spots. MORE!!
The Cars. I have always liked this song. The Clefs sound good on this
one. The blend is better, and the pitch stays more consistent than
usual. This is a good thing. It tries to get worse, and occasionally
manages to do so, with the backgrounds getting sloppy in the choruses
when they sing anything that is not a sustained note. But thankfully the
song is mostly sustained notes, so this does not happen enough to wreck
things. Until you get to the... can you guess? Yes, you're right! The
ending! The percussionist puts on one of those damn wind effects right
at the end. Sounds just like a leaking tire. Why do you guys insist on
doing that? Probably the best song on the album, despite the hiss.
Something I've noticed is that the Clefs seem to have this thing about
breathing every four bars. I think this may be the problem with a lot
of their arrangements not having the flow that others do. This is
apparent at times here....the arrangement itself is good...and the
soloist is good...the execution of the arrangement was a little
lacking, specifically due to the breathing mentioned here. However,
this is a good song that, again, could have been great.
What a pretty '80s ballad. Not too complicated, but the background is
solid and the upper parts have a lovely light sound with some nice
rhythmic accents over well-tuned sustained parts. The basses are right
there, but I think would do better to sing less vowel and more sound -
needs more resonance, less "sing", if that makes any sense. Complexity
drops out just before the second chorus for a measure or two — poor
arranging choice/cop-out. The "who's gonna drive you" echoes and ensuing
bridge are too heavy and take away from the rest of what the song's
doing. Cause when it sticks with its point, which is most of the time,
it's doing quite well.
Well, it looks like this once mocked Cars song is finally getting
justly recognized, at least by college groups. This version isn't as
good as the one on BOCA, but it still works. The soloist gives a
dramatic performance, but he seems a little thin on the high parts,
particularly on his entrance. The backing arrangement doesn't have
enough tension to be emotionally effective.
Unfortunately, the song isn't...driven. The arrangement doesn't allow
for a smooth flow of chords and harmonies. Too many ba-da's make it
noticeable. I'm not sure I liked the choice of how the ending was
arranged. If you don't pay too close attention, it is nice, but it is
Gospel time. Once again, the guys manage not to surprise me. Pretty
typically sloppy. Pitch problems, little tempo problems, little
problems. The soloist breakout in the middle of the song was not
recorded right. The soloist should have stepped up to the mic a bit to
get a cleaner sound. Oh well. I never liked this song much anyhow.
Very cool spiritual. You either love this kind of music or you don't.
I happen to love this music. And the group is very well suited to this
Rating: 8 (6 if you're not a gospel fan)
Glee-Club gospel. If those words strike you with terror move right along
now. Within that framework, however, this is actually not bad. The solo
voice accents are sweetly done and the li'l southern accent of the whole
group is a nice touch. Bass is strong, and it's a all-the-voices-on-one
part, old-style quartet arrangement. The true-gospel breakdown starts out
like it's gonna be scary, but shapes up real nice-like and gets back to the
old style nicely too. And for once their big chord ending kind of fits.
This is the time where I would normally have to say how much religious
music leaves this Jew cold. But this spirited (no pun intended) song
gets off to such a bouncy start that I liked it from note one, no
disclaimers attached. The one thing that bugs me is when the soloist
leaves the group behind to improv. The group rejoins him after an
awkward pause. The timing is just . . . off.
A gospel tune that relies on tuning and blend, and does it very well.
The only major problem falls in the bridge during Lusk's solo, and the
group's subsequent re-entry. It just felt awkward, like "should we be
coming in here?" awkward; a nice recovery smoothed out any leftover
The other best song on the album, I think. Sung with sensitivity by the
soloist — in fact, the entire group. Dave and Jake do a good job on
their duet with a good blend and balance. There are only a couple of
times where the tenor background goes a bit flat. Finished off with a
decent (but not great) ending, and you are left with a good feeling off
of this one.
One of Sting's latest a cappella flavors du jour. Again, the group
breathing really makes arrangements that would otherwise flow very
disjointed. This arrangement would be solid if not for the effect
that that leaves. Other than that, nothing horrible, nothing
remarkable..although the call and response of the second verse came
off as cheesy.
They open this like a ballad — no rhythm. I find that problematic. A few
pitch problems (esp. in the instrumental part) but mainly just nothing to
move. Percussion comes in for the rest of the song, and it helps, but it
just doesn't do enough. Dave Sperandio has a great voice, and his duet is
good too, but this song needs rhythm, needs to move, and they don't do
enough to make that happen. And it can be done a cappella —
AudioRadiance's CARA-nominated version kicks some really serious butt. On
a good note: Basses have a really nice presence throughout the song.
Something about the vocal percussion makes the whole verses seem
out of sync. I like the echoing of the lead vocals. The arrangement
has some nice subtle touches, but in the end it isn't very engaging.
But stick round anyway for the tight harmonies on the choruses.
A song without drive. The solo and duet drive a song that was arranged
rather mediocrely. The "doo"s were far too prolific throughout the
song. Also, the group lost much of the intensity it needed in trying to
keep to a low dynamic.
I really did not need to hear this again. I really did not need to hear
this from the Clefs. Their usual problems just get magnified by this
song, which is not as easy to sing as many may think. I know. I have
sung it. Hard work. Their generally sloppy sound just gets really sloppy
this time around. This time, the duet is not that great. No sir, I
didn't like it.
The arrangement seems very somber and empty, lacking the ethereal exuberance
of the original. Also, the breathing finds its way in here again...
two words: stagger breathing. All in all, very flat arrangement.
I seem to be the only person in a cappellaland who doesn't like this
song. Just in general. And in general, this version of it is Just Fine.
Not as polished as Seal, pretty solo, some real nice moments from the
basses again, background sounds fine to me, they do nice with the rests,
Very interesting. A Seal cover that doesn't try to imitate the
original, lush production. There's no vocal percussion. All the
vocal lines are boldly sung. The arrangement is relatively simple.
By getting to the heart of the song, it works much better than the
standard Seal cover. (The solid lead singer doesn't hurt, either.)
If only it was a little more energetic, or if it just had some more
drive, it would be something to write home about.
TECHNICALLY: It's well done. All the notes are hit well.
EMOTIONALLY: It's phoned-in. It felt like a track that was used as
filler to connect two sides.
This song is a tribute. The Clefs lost one of their own... Brad King, Class of '96. I remember his voice distinctly. It was simply the best voice on the album. It is truly a shame that such a voice will never be heard again, and I am sure that his passing is felt by many.
As for the song, it is just not very good. It is not bad, just not good.
The soloist gets too loud in the mix on the choruses. Pitch problems
This album was dedicated to a former member that had died in 1996. I can
tell the emotion evident in this arrangement when they sing...and it
comes through....I think this is a Vince Gill song...if so, this is another
country song that they really bring out. (I guess they really like country
down there.) All in all, nicely done.
Very pretty solo. Chorus is a little high for him, but I like it better than the guy who got the CARA nod for this song from Emory. Background again is very straight, and very heavy. Maybe if they mixed them lighter, or added some extra parts so they didn't have so many people singing.
By the way, I knew Brad King. Not well, but I knew him. He always
remembered my name, even when I forgot his, and I always wished I'd
gotten to know him better, even before I heard that he had been killed
in a car crash. He is missed.
A sad song made sadder still by it's dedication to one of the groups
late members. Nice blend on the chorus. A solid version that's on
par with the BOCA version.
Once again, this Vince Gill track felt phoned in. The arrangement
seemed to be the biggest barrier to its flow. It just felt like an
A-B-A-B-B song. You knew what part they were on, and could expect the
next part coming.
This a cappella classic gets nothing special this time around by the
Clefs. The arrangement gets these moments of emptiness that weaken the
whole thing. Some tempo problems mar the song. Just typical. It has a
powerful sound, but that is not hard to get when you have lots of men
singing the same notes.
I had the pleasure of reviewing the last Clefs album that had this arrangement
on it. The arrangement is as good as ever. The soloists, however, are totally
wrong for this song. They sing well enough, it just doesn't fit this song
well. Also, this song needs strong percussion to work well, and this
group just doesn't have that.
Just when you thought the Clefs couldn't do mellow, they come out with a
very laid-back version of Brannon Wiles' great arrangement. This one is, I
think, in better musical control, or at least produced better, than the
one that made it onto Safari. But it feels different — less energy, and
a revamped percussion line that I don't connect nearly as much as with
the old three-part foundation for the song.
Could my quest for a really good recording of Africa finally be over?
No. It's nice to hear a bass on the lead, but he's a little too smooth
to rock out on the verses. And giving the first line of the chorus to
a tenor doesn't work. It gets lost in the mix. When the tenor and
the lead harmonize on the rest of the chorus, it all comes together,
but it isn't enough to make this work. Especially when so much of the
song seems under tempo. Great drum fill, though.
Originally a CARA winner for best arrangement maybe?
Certainly helped in driving the song through. Jason Allbert's solo is
definitely worth mention here, as is the background blend.
This song is fun and boisterous. No question. Tuning suffers from going
so hard at the whole thing. Dynamics are not needed here. What is needed
is a better arrangement. The thing I noticed the most was when the song
really needs to have the driving beat, it slows down. When it can slow
down, it speeds up. Odd ending... not bad, just odd. I did not feel it
Fun solo....this was somewhat of an imaginative arrangement...kind of a
big band/country mesh. I can imagine this was a hoot live. The tuning
suffers sometimes, and it doesn't seem that they had full control of the
tempo, but it was a fun arrangement to listen to.
Oh, this is very them. A neat li'l country solo, some glee-clubby energy,
heaviness works okay (surprising, given the original, but hey) and the
arrangement has pickup. I like it.
A fun cover that merrily bounces along. There's a strange tempo
change where the track suddenly seems to drag. For the best idea of
what this track sounds like, pop in the Blenders (if you got 'em) and
listen to their country and western send up of "Don't Worry, Be
Happy." The same kind of harmonies, the same general tone.
Felt like a country version of a Paul Simon classic. Sperandio's
arrangement deserves award consideration. A chair-dancing delight.
There were a couple intonation problems, but who cares? Easily the best
song on the album
The classic Scottish tune with a classic arrangement by Vaughn Williams.
That is worth mentioning, because the sound of the song is just
noticeably different. The overall sound suffers a bit though, due to the
usual problems with the Clefs.
Very pretty....again, you like it or you don't.
Rating: 8 (5 if you don't like traditional choral songs)
It takes balls for a college amateur group to tackle a serious choral
arrangement. This isn't quite at
Fleet Street's Ave Maria level, but it's quite pretty and
has a classy soloist in Dave Sperandio. The wordless background is
smooth and well-tuned, and comes together pretty well on the choruses.
Arrangement is by Ralph Vaughn Williams, and it's beautiful.
I never knew where "You'll take the high road, and I'll take the low
road . . . " came from before. Anyway, the lead has a hearty brogue.
It gives the song character without ever being overdone, so it never
sounds like someone doing a bad accent. Not the most stirring song in
the world, but you can't beat the blend. If you like traditional
melodies, then you'll like this. Otherwise, it isn't going to turn
you into a convert.
A choral piece that puts Sperandio well into the soloist's seat
instead. Unfortunately it is a technical masterpiece devoid of
This song sounds good. The soloist has a strong voice, that only
occasionally sounds like it can't handle the highest notes. The
arrangement makes the whole song sound somber and a bit atmospheric,
rather than the thoughtful, hopeful, then triumphant sound that the
original has. Not bad though.
This group seems to love doing these sappy love ballads (I gather they're
popular with the ladies...). Good arrangement. Vocalist is trying a little
too hard to be the overblown 80's power pop singer, but it's kinda cute
in a way.
If memory serves me, this is a Journey song. I like this country version
of it much better. Solo strains in good country fashion and I don't mean
that in a bad way. The duet/trio are very pretty.
This group has really great leads. Lots of 'em. This song is another
fine example. He doesn't hold anything back — he takes the material
head on. And he never sounds strained. And his voice has real
character, so he doesn't sound like every other male soloist out
there. This track will leave you wanting more.
Greg Poarch had a definite vision with this song. He sings it
beautifully. Shame the group didn't share in that vision; even the
percussion was less than intense.
This old jazz tune just does not sound that great. The arrangement is
just too halting for the tuning that this group has. The group is not
that expressive, and their balance is spotty. Honestly, the brightest
moments are when the soloists sing their tiny snippets. The late Brad
King had such a rich, smooth voice, and Dave Sperandio really matched
him in expressiveness. These guys stand out as little vocal gems. And
the song has the best ending of any of the songs on the album.
Very nice,slow,close harmony jazz. Not remarkable, but solidly done.
The Clefs give this a good effort, but they don't have the clarity to
pull off true vocal jazz. These sorts of chords don't leave room for
fuzz, and the guys can't pull it together enough to gel. But it's a
pretty song. Solos are nice — Brad turns in some sweet little accents,
and it's always a pleasure to hear Sperandio sing.
This is very well sung, but the music itself isn't bound to be
interesting to you. There are moments when the song shifts from a
choral arrangement to having a real soloist. When the lead is singing
over the rest of the group, the song picks up some life, but there
isn't enough of that in the arrangement and it comes too late into the
song to keep you listening.
What didn't I like? Tuning errors within single parts, misplaced
dynamics, one-line solos that didn't showcase individual talent or move
the song forward. All in all a plodding song.
Who was it who did this? DeBarge? I am not sure, and since I can't check
in the liner notes, I will have to wait until someone tells me. This
song is fun, but plagued with the usual. Tuning suffers (especially in
the tenors), and the balance is not quite there. but still not a bad
song. A pretty typical collegiate arrangement, with lots of things going
on in the background to add lots of texture. A good arrangement, really.
A decent ending, too.
This group seems to be fascinated with Paul Simon, James Taylor, and Kool
and the Gang...how about "Jungle Boogie", guys. The arrangement is really
cool, the soloist really works, and they gather enough percussion to make
it work....again, it could really blow the doors off of a place, but
this is pretty solid.
This needs just a little extra snap to come together. It moves along,
solo is nice to listen to, but there's no crispness, like they couldn't
quite get the energy together. The "fresh, fresh" accents by the group
are the best example of this — they need more dynamic. Misc. notes: The
baritones have a lovely little "da-da-da-da" smooth bit before one of the
choruses that comes together well, the first tenors get raspy on their
highest notes, and the bass line at the end bounces quite oddly through
sides of headphones.
Another steady arrangement with rock solid leads. A great song
choice. There's a nice breakdown section that builds back up to a
fuller arrangement. It isn't predictable and keeps the song, well,
The Clefs break their own mold with this Kool and the Gang number that
really rescued the last third of this CD. Fiscus arrangement could've
done more dynamically, but from song choice to soloist, it was loads of
fun, and does expand on their desire to be a little more soulful.
The balance and the group's tendency to blat their notes make this tender
song suffer more than it had to. The guys were trying to sing so quietly
and sensitively, that their support was weakened when it was really
needed. A shame too. What could have been a very tender, subtle ending
to the album, to me just missed the target.
The Kings Singers version. VERY well done.
And so we come full circle, back to the glee-clubby a cappella standard.
Of course, James Taylor is a Chapel Hill native, so that gives it an even
better excuse. Tenors sound a little pitchy on the "never feel sorry for
yourself..." line. This is very much a large group of men singing and
sounding just fine — it won't stick in your head, but it's pretty and
fills its expected role just fine.
Well, this is dull. Sorry, it is. The magic of the original had a
lot to do with James Taylor's voice. He could make the phone book
sound good, in my humble opinion. (And I'm not even really a fan.)
He had a way of making the song come alive. The lead here is good,
but he can't make this song fly. They do try to speed up the
arrangement part way through. It helps, but not much. This is not a
good way to end to this album.
A standard arrangement that is nice to listen to but is far from
special, even to the uninspired solo. Nice to listen to again, but
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