Total time: 59:14, 17 songs
The tracks on this album run the gamut from '50s to '90s pop, with some
vocal jazz thrown in for good measure. I say "for good measure" because the
jazziest tracks are the ones on which the Harmonics seem to be most
comfortable and have the most fun, and are thus most successful. Most of
the rest of the tracks have various recurring problems. The two biggest are
having the sopranos sing near the top of their range on far too many songs,
and arrangements that are overambitiously busy and detract from the songs
themselves. I'm not saying that the sopranos couldn't make the notes — they
could (the A's, the B's...). But there are few times where it
belongs in the song instead of being distracting and sticking
out. Same thing with the arrangements — once you cross the line of
being too busy, the song just loses effect. The percussion, with a
couple of exceptions, is weak. As far as the soloists go, the women
shone out over the men, but even then, it often seemed that the
soloists were not always the right ones for the job. Then I looked a
little closer at the credits and I realized that, miraculously, each
of the group members had at least one solo. That's very egalitarian
of them, and maybe it saves hurt feelings or something, but I have to
guess it hurt the overall quality of this album. It might have almost
worked for the women (but even then I'm sure there were better choices
to be made), but it certainly doesn't work in the case of the men.
This album could easily be improved with the elimination of 3-5 songs
(there are 17 tracks), a rethinking of who should have the solos, and
toning down the sopranos and the arrangements.
Rating: 6 (6.1)
Escalator Music has been nominated for a CARA, and I'd say they've got a
pretty good chance — this is one good album. The Harmonics (and the recording
tech) have done a fantastic job in the recording process — EQ, dynamics, and
overall levels are just about perfect (hence my lack of comment on them in the
track listings). The group has a great clean sound and has obviously worked
hard hard hard in the last year (Compare this year's tracks to those recorded
in '96!). I think it speaks well for the group that they've made progress by
leaps and bounds from '96 to '97 and that most of the singers are relatively
young voices. Hey Harmonics — send me next year's CD — I have
got to hear that one! There are no bad tracks on this CD,
but the group's overall standard is a high one, so that some tracks
get left in the dust when you look relatively at the whole project.
My all-around favorites are without question the two rockers
Just a Girl and
Rhythm of Love, plus the surprise fave
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.
Most of the arrangements are impressive, putting the 15 voices to good
use. It's an hour long, though — skip last year's tracks so you don't
get tired by the end of the disc.
Rating: 7 (7.1)
This is a surprisingly good album. This is the best album I have heard that
is as eclectic as it is... from '90s alternative to vocal jazz in six seconds.
And they do it all well. The sign of a great a cappella performance is when
they can take songs I hate and make me love what they do with them. The
Harmonics did that in spades. This is an album I highly recommend.
Rating: 8 (7.7)
There are too many unexcited tracks, and even the occasional clunker, for Escalator Music to be a good album. But there sure are a bunch of damn fine songs if you skip over the other stuff. Just a Girl could rock more, but it's full to the brim with energy and harmony. Got to Get You Into My Life boasts an engaging solo by Cynthia Shih over a chirpy jazz arrangement. Thaila Sundaresan will wow you with en effective Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.
Looking at the album as a whole, I'd have to say that the best thing and the worst thing about this album are both bass Ben Lipson. He's the worst thing on the disc because he stiffly takes the lead on Still the One and the painfully overdone Sixty Minute Man. He's the best thing on this album because he happens to be a really good bass. The bass section is often a standout on this disc. Whether it's under the full, fun harmonies of Rhythm of Love or laying the bedrock of a song like Winter, the bass section is noteworthy.
The tight Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross number Four Brothers made it to this years BOCA installment, but it easily could have been any number of cuts from this disc, which while uneven, has a handful of great songs.
One side note: I loved the production notes! Not only do they list
the songs' authors, but they also list the artist whose version they're
covering! And they're smart enough to distinguish between the
original performer and a fellow cover band ("as performed by the
Manhattan Transfer" for example). It's the little things that make me
Rating: 6 (6.3)
The CD was quite original in its repertoire, save for the peppering of tired
overdone standard a cappella tunes. Still, there's a couple of tracks
worthy of CARA glory. What concerned me was a consistent deficiency in the
male soloists. They just seemed thin or weak. The female soloists were
quite strong and purposeful. Another problem I found was the lack of
dynamics as a driving force for many of the tracks. I wasn't looking for
sudden in-your-face forte, but something louder at the end than at the
beginning would've been nice. The tracks that did seem driven were more a
result of a well-written arrangement instead of any type of direction or
production. On the whole though, this is an enjoyable CD that, while I
wouldn't recommend you run out and get it this moment...if you have the
opportunity to buy when they're in town, it's definitely worth the money.
Rating: 7 (6.4)
The first thing you hear on this track are the sopranos' choral sound
bopping around in their upper range. The tone of the song is almost
plodding, and too serious for the goofiness of the song. A plus for the
arrangement is that it isn't boring, a big minus is that it's very busy,
and sometimes (most times) I can't catch what the background parts are
saying when there are real words. The soloist is uninteresting.
I disagree with the choice to open the disc with this tune. (Mental note: use
"shuffle play" when listening to the CD next time.) Shannon's harmony on the
chorus is great, but for the morhythms and
sounds. I think this is a heckuva CD, but I'm still fighting the mistaken
impression this opener left me with, especially that "shika digga digga doom"
The arrangement sounds very well-thought through...and the execution ain't
half-bad either. The arrangement moves very well, the vocal percussion is
tasteful, and there's a lot of neat things going on.
The one minor weak point of this is that the tuning of the soloist was suspect
at points. What he did bring out, though, was the feeling of the
original...he had a solid understanding of Colin Hay and his vocal style, and
that helps a lot.
It's a little sluggish for an opening track, but taken out of context,
this song works. I've heard a couple of versions of this song, most
of which fall flat on their ass because they forget that the lead
singer is supposed to sing, not just talk his way through the number.
This time around, the lead vocalist actually finds the melody. Imagine
that. He could be throwing even more energy at the song to give the
whole thing a boost, but what he does is on target. That's pretty
much true of the whole arrangement. Nothing is wrong with it, there
just needs to be more of it.
The CD starts off with this Men at Work classic (I don't know any other Men
At Work classics, do you?). I really liked the arrangement of sopranos as
the flutes, they didn't come off as blaring. Unfortunately there was a bit
of hole left when they weren't fluting (or is it flouting?). The soloist
spent about half his time speaking, and half singing...not a good combo.
In the end, an OK start to the CD.
This arrangement is actually pretty nice, but it loses a lot in the way
it's sung. Long "ah"s drown out the more interesting moving parts. The
Harmonics sing it very straight, and don't inject much life into it at all.
It's like, "look — we can sing these notes proficiently!" Which they do.
They use a female soloist, who is far enough removed from Seal that I
didn't long for his version of the song as much as I otherwise would have.
There's a powerful build right toward the end that I would have liked to
see throughout the song.
One of last year's leftover arrangements, it doesn't stack up to Jon and
Matthew's from this year. Fez does a nice job on the solo, but the arrangement
gives us uninventive sounds, a soprano descant and lots of unisons and octave
doubling; not as good a use of all these singers as we hear on the rest of the
AGAIN? But that trick never works (tm Jay Ward). Well, actually, the
arrangment is good, albeit a bit heavy handed, and the execution is
good.....still, this isn't the best version of this I've heard.
What saves this is a KILLER lead by Leslie 'Fez' Abramson (BTW, I just love
the fact that she got her own nickname. =) She's got the low range to nail
this song from top to bottom...and her low range and fullness of sound really
got my attention on this one.
Half of what makes Seal so damn good (if you're with me on that point)
is his detailed arrangements and deft production. Because of this,
it's always struck me as a bit odd that the most of the Seal covers
that work (and there aren't many of them) use simple, back-to-basics
arrangements. This track is one of those arrangements.
Unfortunately, it doesn't get any energy, emotion, or drive until the
end of the song when the harmonies start to get good and thick. On a
side note, the percussion, as simple as it is, clashes with the
arrangement and should have been cut. Besides, it fails to add
I don't know when they recorded it, but at this point to hear another
version is not original, and unfortunately, neither is the solo. I rather
liked the soloists performance, and the use of the group's range, but the
track suffers from an overall sense of overkill. One track that might have
been better done away with, though it's not detrimental to the CD.
Even though the genuine ska-ness of No Doubt remains an issue, the
Harmonics manage to take most of the ska out of this song. The only thing
hinting at a ska beat is the thin percussion, while the background of the
choruses are syllables on the on-beats and sung harmonies. No ska there.
The verses are actually much perkier, and have much more of an appropriate
lilt to them. And I actually enjoy the soloist, who is much less annoying
than Gwen Stefani.
This song absolutely rocks! Jon Pilat '99 gives a great arrangement that's not
afraid to let the basses lay out here and there, which makes it striking every
time they return. There's a nice "Don't Speak" reference sandwiched in the
middle, and the percussion is subtle but way cool throughout. Kristin
'99 carries the whole thing with a killer solo. Gwen Stefani, eat your heart
FUN arrangement....the syncopated tradeoffs in the beginning
are tight as hell, and from personal experience I know how rough that
is. Good soloists, weird vocal percussion, but it fits here rather
nicely. Nice use of the other ND song in the middle. All in all, a
lot of fun.
It could rock more. That's the sum of the bad things I can say about
this song. Everything else is pretty damn cool. It's a good song
choice. The arrangement boasts big, coed harmonies and a clever riff
on "Don't Speak" (and that's a harder thing to pull off than you'd
think). The percussion is fun and effective, with lots of woodblocks to
really spice up the chorus. This is the song the album should have
I was impressed at how well this came off. I thought it would be schlocky.
Instead the group handled an arrangement that was well-constructed with
deftness. It doesn't necessarily rock, but the soloist was a definite plus
to the mood. I also thought the use of "Don't Speak" by the men in the
bridge was clever, but I'm not sure I liked it.
The basses start out right away with some note problems, but get into a
groove soon enough. The background parts build throughout the song, and
while they don't really break any new ground, it seems the whole group is
getting into the feel of this song. The only real complaint I have is that
the soloist is too mild for the song — by the buildup of the background
parts toward the end, he just sounds a bit too thin.
The Harmonics display a nice variety of styles on this album, and this is a
well-arranged tune — nicely mixed, excellent dynamics. Jon Pilat '99 does a
nice mellow job with the solo. It's a good one for him and fits his voice
nicely. Nice treatment all around, from the walking bass to the snazzy solo to
the "horn line" background.
From Alternative to '50s jazz...my neck hurts from the whiplash. Seriously,
good build throughout the song, the soloist has the prerequisite smarm
factor...although he doesn't have the power to bring the song home. Still,
decently executed, if a bit on the pedestrian side in terms of
arrangements...except for the end. =)
Wow, it's almost like being at a Bar Mitzvah! Are they going to do "New York, New York" or "Celebration" as an encore? Okay, so you're thinking of doing the Bobby Darin version of this song. Maybe you should ask yourself the following question before you do:
If you said "no" all three times, maybe you should reconsider. (Heck, even if you said "yes" you should think twice! OVERDONE!) If you are going to try to do it, you should at least rock more than, well the average Bar Mitzvah band. The lead here is sort of jazzy, in a pretty-tenor way. He doesn't punch any of the notes. He doesn't put a nasty edge on it. He doesn't swing. He doesn't rock. And, surprise surprise, it doesn't work.
(In case you were wondering, you can hear a darker interpretation of
this song on any one of the number of soundtracks to "Three Penny
Opera" (try the Raul Julia production). Many of the names, "Lucy
Brown" for example, are characters in the show. Lotte Lenya was the
wife of Kurt Weill, who wrote the music. She played "Jenny", a
prostitute with a dark vision of the fall of London, in the original
production. That's what makes singing about her like she's "Miss
Mollie" so funny. Get it?)
I had a hard time trying to decide whether to complement the arrangement
and the group background for not being overstated as groups often can be
when they throw dynamic out the window, or whether to criticize the group
for not even using dynamic and staying at one level throughout. The
soloists mediocre performance didn't help me decide much either. In the
end a listenable track that is strengthened by the evenness of the
I like the arrangement of this one, and the way the group sings it as well.
Lots of swells and dips, giving a real shape to the song. Lots of
interesting things in it, but it doesn't come off as too busy this time.
The soloist comes in and I think I'm really going to like her a lot, but
then she slips into a nasal sound periodically. Still not too bad. Then
near the end a tenor harmony comes in and totally breaks the mood — who
decided that he would be a good thing?
Holy cow — what a voice! I'm melting, I'm melting!... This may be the sleeper
favorite of the CD. It's not a rocker, it's not a goofy collegiate standard.
It's a great arrangement (Cynthia — do more arrangements next year!) that
reminds me of the King's Singers pop stuff — lots of criss-crossed rising and
falling lines in the background, a nice mix of flowing chords and poppy
thrown in here and there. Thaila Sundaresan '00 blows me away with her solo...
Smooth, sexy, poignant. Wow.
BEAUTIFUL arrangement....very flowing, very moving. The
soloist isn't what I would have expected...but her delivery works...I
can't place who she reminds me of, but it's very well done. What really
grabs me about this song is the dynamic contrast. Too many groups are
either all quiet or all force, and it's great to hear a group that can
go back and forth in that as effortlessly as they make it sound here.
Good news: Thaila Sundaresan won't graduate until the year 2000! Not
only does she put in a top-flight solo, but she does it on a song that
could easily sound corny, even with a good soloist. But this is a
GREAT solo that really sells the songs. It isn't the sort of song
that will blow you away, but it's pretty damn solid. The rich tones
from the bass lend this track a very professional sound.
I haven't heard this done a cappella before. The soloist opens with
"What have I got to do to make you love me?
What have I got to do to make you care?"
Pretty much keep singing to me like that and I'll attempt to cook you
dinner for a week. This track just flowed beautifully from start to
Oh, and here he is again — a little more appropriate for the Erasure sound,
but still pretty annoying. I think the guy singing the echo part only
serves to indicate that it might be better if he was the soloist instead.
The background is terribly repetitive, and leads to the occasional tuning
Not a song I'm familiar with — I have no Erasure in my collection. Greg does a
pretty good job with the solo, though a few times his flip from chest voice to
falsetto is more obvious than others. A straight-ahead driving rhythm with not
too many remarkable spots.
Well-executed arrangement if a trifle repetitive. The soloist is a bit on the
weak side here...and coming from an Erasure song, that's saying something.
There are moments of brilliance here, but otherwise it's pretty
straightforward synth pop. Not one of my favorites...but the arrangement
execution is solid.
RARB reviewers have no idea what the other reviewers think until all
the reviews are posted. This often puts us in the position of saying
that a certain song is the best thing we've ever heard, only to read
that one of our fellow reviewers think that the same song suck shit.
(I like to think it's one of the things that makes RARB fun to read.)
Anyway, I predict at least one of the other five reviewers are going
to pick on this song for being so damn '80s. Well, I'd like to defend
it. For all of it's flaws, a lot of '80s music really worked. Like
this song. It's a good choice for co-ed a cappella groups. But, to
the issue at hand: This arrangement should have been taken down a
notch for the sake of the soloist. There's way too much falsetto.
This would have worked better lower where he could have just sung this
song on his own terms instead of having to try to be Erasure.
Basses start out a bit high, but they get DOWN quickly later
on. The soloist just doesn't convince me, especially when he's not
all that successful at the falsetto. The percussion was what sold me
on the track. It made it listenable, though I don't really know why.
Aside from the terribly high soprano notes (two women are even credited
with singing "way up high"), which stay pretty close to in tune considering
how hard it is to consistently sing up to a high B on such short syllables,
the Harmonics seem to really be in their element on this jazzy arrangement,
based on a Swingle Singers version of the Beatles tune. The scat interlude
may be the most comfortable solo so far on this album.
A re-work of the Swingle Singers' arrangement. Hm. I think I prefer the
arrangements that Jon did from scratch than this one he altered. Fine solo,
this song now has those trademark Swingle stratosphere soprano lines we all
know and love (or not).
Jazz Beatles? Interesting. These guys do jazz pretty well. Good tuning,
good build on this one. Good breakdown section here.....again, very well done.
There's two very nice things going on here. First, there's smooth,
strong, and confident solo by Cynthia Shih. Then, there's a breezy,
brisk, and jazzy arrangement that chipperly glides along under
Cynthia's solo. The backing vocals could have really sucked. The
arrangement is full of "bah"s and VERY high trilly sections. But they
nail it, and dang, if works like a charm. There's a scat solo that
ought to fit into the rest of the arrangement, but it's more of a
distraction. But don't be distracted, right after the scat section
the toss in some very sweet little fills from one of the guys in the
backing vocals (nice mixing, folks) that's worth checking out.
Sopranos do get quite high, and are even credited as "Way Up High" in the
liner notes. What most annoyed me on this track was the periodic loss of a
tempo, like a half beat crept in and threw the ship off course...a cappella
rule #18, unless it's in the arrangement, pick a tempo and stick with it.
It always seems like a good idea to do a Tori Amos tune, but it's a hard
challenge for a cappella groups to rise to. This effort is not without its
flaws, but does a decent job of it. The arrangement works but overuses the
syllables "ba da." Women can't help but sound choral when they're singing
high A's, and the sound is really top-heavy until the basses come in. The
verses seem a little strained on the high end, but the choruses have a much
nicer balance to them. The richest parts are when the sopranos stay down
out of the stratosphere.
Nicely worked version of a Tori Amos tune. Tough arpeggios are tuned well,
overlapping background lines rise and fall quite nicely. Good solo and a nice
rendition. I find little to say about this one.
Damn...Katy Hyde has Tori down. This song had me in
tears....that's how good this song is. VERY impressive job all
around....there is so much that can go wrong with a song like
this...poor tuning.....wooden expressiveness...but they transcend all
of this. One of the five best college tracks I've heard this year.
You should know I really love this song, so I think I'm giving it a
ridiculously close listening. If aren't familiar with it, ignore any
criticism. When you hear the Harmonics' version, you will love it and
play it to death, and put it on mix tapes for your boyfriend, and all
that good stuff. Okay, moving on: I think the solo, which is good,
don't get me wrong, could be a little more emotionally involved in the
song. It's a convincing performance from that perspective, but it
could be really chilling. That's something that's hard to put your
finger on. But I can say fairly certainly that she does need to bring
the energy up to the next level on the bridge. The backing
arrangement really swells up (again, there's some great work from the
bass section) her voice isn't exactly lost in the mix, but it is
overwhelmed by the arrangement. But at the end of the day, it's still
a very good track.
I'm not that familiar with the original by Tori Amos, but the soloist
lacked any kind of raw intensity that Tori Amos has in her performances,
she almost comes off as too pretty. The arrangement, while nice, I'll
credit more to the original than to any flair.
This Manhattan Transfer tune shows the Harmonics more in their element than
they have been so far on this album. They just have so much more of a feel
for the jazzy side of things. The quartet singing is really on, and
crisp. The male solos don't hold up alone as well as the female ones, but
overall it makes for a nice listen. And the usually too-weak percussion
fits just right here.
Goodness! Matthew brings us another jazz tune, impressively
performed. Great tuning and diction in this, a pretty complex diddy
for a collegiate group to tackle. Good solos, smooth harmonies, very
tight all around. I'm finding a lack of things to criticize this CD
for... How about that. A fine tune, and the Harmonics conquer
Fun song...the four-way harmony was very tight. This is not easy jazz to
do...but again, they comet through very well on this. Background is tasteful.
Not many groups do jazz...or even do jazz well.
Chalk this one up again a s a very solid effort.
It's Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross via the Manhattan Transfer, but the
overall sound has a real "Andrews Sisters" feel to it. This rendition
is also crisper and snazzier than anything I've ever heard from the
Manhattan Transfer. The song isn't exactly my cup of tea, but the
singing is so tight, the energy is so non-stop, and the spirits are so
bright that it's kind of hard not to like it. Much better than any of
the stuff I've heard from the typical Ivy-League jazz groups (which,
admittedly, I try to avoid).
At the opening, I was listening and thought the record was stuck as it
repeated the same beats over and over again...then I realized I was
listening to a CD. The major problems with this track are its length (it
could've been a good minute shorter) and the weak male solos (the ladies
come out strong again). Quick question: did the group mean to say
"hi-hat" in the liner notes, instead of "hi-ho"?
The insert indicates that this was recorded earlier, with a slightly
different incarnation of the Harmonics. My question is, why put this track
on at all? The album is already too long, the song has no verve, the
arrangement is boring, the syllables split between "ba da"s and "doo"s, the
soloist is at best unexceptional. Then they have the basses briefly singing
"disco disco." What?
You know this song ("oh what a night"). This is another one from the early
shoo-wah" days of the Harmonics (see #12). Good solo by a former tenor (as in
"a tenor no longer with the group", not "became a bass the next summer"), nice
percussion by Matthew, extra credit for using the word "disco" in the backup
parts. The intervals between verses were rather weak, but what a goofy song.
You gotta smile.
This is from an earlier incarnation of the group. And as much as I hate to
say it, you can tell. Musically, it's well executed, but it doesn't show the
depth that a lot of the more recent arrangements show. Loren has a decent
falsetto, and he does very well with the solo, but the rest of it is very
and while it's good, it's not on a par with the rest of the album. Still, it
is well executed
This classic opens with some really sweet percussion. Unfortunately,
the solo is too damn high! It's a very gentle, sweet, performance.
But this song doesn't want gentle, sweet singers. It wants
commanding, soulful singers. So they either picked the wrong soloist,
or the wrong song. Either way, it doesn't work.
A tune dredged up for another straight interpretation arrangement. This
should really be allowed to rest for a good 30 years until all that know it
have forgotten it in a cappella format. There was absolutely no build or
climax to it, which made the whole track a yawner.
The female soloist was ok, but when the male came in on his verse...I don't
even want to talk about it. This is sort of a descendant of Dec. 1963,
except with more busyness. It just comes off as really bland. The most
interesting part are the "guitar" solos, sung on "na," which are actually
closer to, say, scat than your typical a cappella guitar-mimicking. There
are a few moving female parts near the end that betray the singers'
yearning for more jazziness than what they're really giving you.
Christine Nguyen '98 is a great match to this solo! She does a great job and
makes it a really fun song. Ben Lipson '99 does an admirable job as well, and
there are some nice call/response moments from the two of them. It's a peppy
little toe-tappin' arrangement by Matthew. Fine work all around; I refuse to
nitpick on this one, just 'cause it's fun!
This would have been a really good track...if they had stayed with the first
vocalist. Ben Lipson has a good voice, but it doesn't fit with this song.
Cynthia Shih works a lot better with this song,
and personally I wish they would have given her the entire song...but the low
voice takes away from the song. Otherwise, the arrangement is pretty
good...there's not much that can be done with this song.
Oh my. It's a duet between a soprano and a bass. She's okay, but
he's a real problem. First off, duets generally sound cheesy. They
try to get around that using a suitably cheery arrangement. But that
doesn't hide this guy's voice. I'm all for giving basses solos. But
here, he sounds like he's singing phonetically. Everything is sung in
these big, round, over-enunciated syllables. It's also extremely flat
(not in the off-key sense of the word) and lifeless. I firmly believe
if the arrangement just let him sing midrange instead of trying to
show off how low he can go, then he would give a much more natural
performance. Add an unengaging bridge where the wordless solo line
never stands out from the basic backing vocals and you've got big
I don't know what it is with this group, but the male solo comes off as
less than strong again. Thankfully, due to an interesting arrangement
choice, the solo alters between male and female. As crazy as it sounds for
an arrangement of this particular song, I think it deserves consideration
for an arrangement CARA. The performance isn't up to the arrangement
standard, but I enjoyed listening to the detail that was put into it.
The soloist on this one is a little more soulful than most on this album,
so I can see why they held this one over from the earlier recording
session. The tenor part during the chorus ("walking on broken glass")
always sounds a little flat, and there are some weird pitches going into
the bridge, but the soloist and the bulk of the background arrangement
carry this one nicely.
Not a bad rendition, but it's obvious that the group has really been working
hard between May '96 when this track was recorded and early '97 when the
majority of other tracks were done. Pretty good solo by someone who doesn't
seem to be in the group any longer, although as it gets higher in her range
seems to be reaching. I'm not sure that "bop shoo-wop bop" would be the first
choice Annie Lennox would make were she inclined to arrange her song for
collegiate a cappella (it could happen). It's OK, but not up to the standard
that the group has set for themselves.
Can I tell you just how tired I am of hearing this song? That having been
said...Natalie Harris does a really good job with this song, and the
percussion is the best, most realistic on the album. As seems to be the case
most of the time, execution is really tight.
The intro is thin, no doubt about it, but once the strong alto soloist
comes in (with the bass section and some extra harmonies on the side)
the number really picks up. The only major setback is the bridge
section. The soloist is forced to try to cross the line into soprano
territory, and it's a little too high for comfort. Otherwise, this is
the right bunch of singers for this song.
ANOTHER arrangement of the Annie Lennox tune. There's no
tension built up in this song that would make it interesting on its
own. What drove it for me was the strong percussion. Otherwise, it
just comes up average.
This arrangement gets really busy and completely eradicates any sense of
serenity or tenderness that you would expect this song to have. That's ok,
because the solo sounds pretty lifeless anyway. And by the way, just
because sopranos can sing high, doesn't mean they always
have to. Sometimes it's in the original song and you have to
deal with it. Here it's superfluous.
Damn that Billy Joel for writing songs that stick in your head for hours after
you hear them, and damn the Harmonics for recording it so I sing the damn
all day. Grrrr. A nice solo for senior Pat Hurley. OK, I take my first
exception with Jon's arranging: the sopranos are way too high. Mellow, smooth,
but nothing exceptional here.
BEAUTIFUL solo.....very emotionally sung. This is another example of how the
Harmonics make their slow songs interesting and moving. Not much I can say
about this one other than good job.
It's a very tender solo, but he's also very comfortable with the
material. His voice has a nice low tone (for a tenor) that gives the
song a nice rich tone. Pay special attention to his humming solo.
Very nice. The arrangement seems fairly unassuming at first, but it's
got a lot of nice use of words instead of syllables that sort of
comment on the lyrics in the solo line.
From mediocre to more mediocre. While it's performed correctly (or so I
felt), it seemed rushed throughout. The soprano harmony comes off a bit
stronger than on other tracks and overshadows a blah male solo.
This is, as you might expect, an all guys affair. Standard men's a cappella
stuff. I don't really know why it's on here either. The soloist from track
11 is back, and is still pretty stiff, but tolerable. I'm not getting much
from it overall. If I were cutting the album down, this one would go.
OK, I admit it, I haven't heard Rockapella's version (which the Harmonics
credit) of this one, just the Persuasions'. That being said, Ben has a lot of
fun with the solo. It's simple and straightforward and good clean fun (well,
good fun anyway).
Ben sounds MUCH better here. =) Very credible cover of a Rockapella classic.
It's official — I can't think of a more overdone song than Sixty Minute
Man. Why, groups pick this tired novelty tune to show off their
basses, lord only knows. Anyway, the Harmonics use the same bass who
was so comically stiff on Still the One. He's a lot better here. It
doesn't sound like he's singing phonetically any more, but his
performance is still totally ignorant of any real, well, SEX. It
doesn't leer, it doesn't brag, it doesn't imply, it just hits the
notes. And even if it was well done, why do it in the first place.
This is a sad waste of this guys time and talent. I know, I trashed
him for his work here and on Still the One, but if you pay attention
to what he's doing in the backing vocals on the rest of the album,
he's actually one of the stand-outs in this group. He doesn't
graduate until '99, so I'll come right out and beg the Harmonics:
PLEASE give him more solos, but please pick BETTER SONGS!
I got the feeling that the arrangement and recording of it was resting on
the laurels of this songs past greatness. There wasn't any added here. I
was hoping for a little soloist investiture into it, but instead of "Come
up and see your Ben" which would've been great since that was the soloist's
name (though I would've been proud of that too...it's a good name, gosh
darn it), it was the standard "Come up and see your Dan". The pitch didn't
help matters as it phased in and out throughout the track.
The arrangement is...interesting. They start out at a pace that seems a bit
slower than the original, then they break into a faster, heavily percussed
interpretation. During the first section, the basses uncomfortably scrape
the bottom of their range. The credits have three different people doing
the percussion — I hope that doesn't mean all at once, because the
resulting sound isn't big enough to merit it. This arrangement is once
again busy and full of really fast syllables like "jiggity jiggity."
I really liked the slow beginning. When it kicked up the tempo, I wasn't quite
convinced by the sopranos. Maybe it's not quite in tune, though I suspect it's
just that the vowels aren't quite matched up. Nice guitar solo by Will — not
too processed and pretty rockin'. He did an excellent job with the arrangement
too, always changing things up and keeping it interesting. Good percussion!
Hmmm.....the arrangement seems very treble heavy throughout......but
the choruses REALLY work when they get hummin'. Soloist
sounds good, but isn't getting through the "spook" factor Sting does
so well in this song. Overall, though...it's a good arrangement...very
difficult arrangement..and they do it justice.
This song has some rather dull bits: The intro is a write-off, not
because it's slow, but because it's lifelessly performed. When the
pace picks up, it still doesn't rock your socks off. But when the
chorus comes around the second time, suddenly the whole thing seems
like a good idea. The harmonies suddenly don't seem out of place in
this song. It wasn't worth doing the rest of the song just for the
chorus (and the breakdown/outro), but it's still nice stuff.
I liked the arrangement of the Police track, but the female soloist didn't
convince me that it was her destiny to be the King of Pain. A little more
oomph, and I would've believed it.
This has to be the Harmonics' hardest rocking song on this album. If I
hadn't heard their jazzier stuff already, they could convince me that this
is what they're meant to do. Plus, Yes does lend itself to some cool jazzy
chords. They play with studio effects just enough to add to the hard-edged
quality of the song. The percussion (done by one guy this time) is actually
pretty good here. The soloist has good attitude for this one.
Go, Will! Rock that percussion! Look out, Andrew Chaikin, this guy's hot on
your tail... Nice hard-driving solo by Jossie Medina '00, who's still got two
more years to kick butt in this group. Have I mentioned that Jon does great
arrangements? He seems to know the voices in the group really well and uses
the sounds at his disposal admirably. The basses, percussion, soloist, and
harmonies all combine to make this one rockin' tune.
Ballsy choice for a song...Yes sounds so intricate most of the time....but
they come through in spades. Jocelyn Medina does evoke Jon Anderson very
nicely. EXCELLENT arrangement..builds and falls very
nicely. Good work here.
It grooves! It's got big old Yes harmonies! It's off the beaten
track! It's got energy! The percussion for the big finish has some
deadly high hat work! There's even some cool mixing of a distant
voice in the backing vox! Yahoo! This is what co-ed a cappella is
all about, folks. What a great find . . .
WOW!!! All I have to say is, this track deserves a CARA for the solo, the
arrangement, the track, or some combination there of. I was in shivers
from start to finish.
The two soloists work well together on this one, but again the female
soloist stands out a bit more, personality-wise. This has a nice,
traditional sound, with nothing gimmicky added. The background achieves a
nice, full sound, and I think a lot of it stems from the sopranos not being
off in some other world. If you've made it this far through the album in
one sitting, you get a little bit of a treat at the end.
A nice tribute to Deke and da House Jack boyz. Pat's got nothin' on Tristan
Bishop, though, and his smooth cheery treatment of this heartbreaker doesn't
quite hit the mark. Fez does a better job with the other solo line, though,
gives it quite a go. I've already compared vocal percussionist Will Budreau
to Andrew Chaikin, and here he gets to try on the shoes. Fine work, sir. A
closer to a darn good CD. CARA bound? We'll see...
Dang it, this group made me cry again! VERY good cover of one of my favorite
songs. Can I tell you again how much I love Fez's voice? Makes me wanna
start a fan club. The only reason this doesn't get the 10 is cause the Jacks
still do it better. =)
I'll skip my usual rant about covering songs that were a cappella on
the first go round. You know the drill. That said (or unsaid), this
is a very solid performance of a full sounding arrangement. The lead
vocals are handed off to two soloists, and the co-ed treatment works
(you'll never think of it as a duet between the two singers, by the
way). It's not flawless, however. I would have liked to have heard
even more done with the echoed lines in the backing vocals. Also the
choruses seem a little too rigid — the harmonies are good and the
energy is all there, but it seems like they're sticking too close to
the beat. It needs to loosen up, just a bit. It's slightly
march-like. Forget that — it's a very, very, very subtle thing. The
only REAL flaw is a certain lack of originality. But if you can get
past that, it's a good cover.
If you've ever seen Sister Act 2, it felt like the one high school choir
sings "In the Still of the Night": it felt too beated, rushed, and
uninspired overall. I did think the female soloist (it's split between men
and women again) was quite good, but it didn't raise the overall track
above an emotionless copy.