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This album was reviewed by five members of
RARB. In this compilation, their comments are
always listed in a consistent order. Thus, for each song (and in the
"overall" section), all comments numbered "1" are from the same
reviewer, as are those numbered "2", etc.
This is a pretty good album needing a massive infusion of
soul. Hell, I'd settle for some energy. Almost all the pitch
problems sound like they might have been avoided had there been any
mutual feeling of what was going on. They sound like an unenthused
choir, which I guess they are, and a cappella needs more than a nice
voice and an arrangement to get it going. The arrangements are for
the most part straight, though some do show some innovation. Dynamics
are good, but their sense of tempo is in some songs utterly lacking.
In a few of the songs, the endings are the only parts with any pep,
almost as if they're psyched it's over.
Their song choices are very good — stuff with potential,
that people like to hear, and percussion is well done and effectively
used. The Quaker Notes' soprano section shows well but seems
seriously underused. Who's That Girl? and
Leave It in particular could have been greatly
aided by a sop line and I Will Survive has
this great and practically mute soprano overlay. Go figure. The
second altos are great in that they avoid the "laserbass" syndrome
(e.g. "dow, dow, dow" at the bottom of the range, short and stacatto
with no feeling or expression) They're very strong, but at times
unconnected with the rest of the group.
Rating: 7 (6.6)
Overall, this is a pretty good album. The Quaker Notes have
some powerful and talented voices. The large number of
members in the group allows them to sing many parts, giving
them a full sound, but so many voices can also be quite
powerful, and it seems that all but the strongest soloists
could be in danger of being drowned out. Another consequence
of this is that the Quaker Notes are often heavy on middle
parts in the background, and lose the high and low parts a
bit. But the group size also allows them to spare voices for
percussion while maintaining their full sound. I think that
vocal percussion really adds to a song, especially in a
women's group. My only other comment is that it would be nice
if the group would give credit in the liner notes for the
songs that they cover, either to the songwriters or to
performers whose versions they covered.
Rating: 6 (6.6)
This album is solid. Some nice soloists, none terrible.
Arrangements are not terribly interesting, some are way simple.
Tuning problems, and soloists ocasionally miss pitch. Listening to
this album, I feel like more should be happening. Not that complex
arrangements are per se better, but simple arrangements must be very
well sung to work, and the Quaker Notes don't always quite pull it
off. If the tuning was better, I think the album would have been
improved significantly. Some of the chords and blend just weren't
there. Parts needed to be crisper, singing more intense. Something
isn't clicking. Energy sometimes seems low. Nothing sticks out as
"wrong" with this album; it is fine, but many areas could be
fine-tuned and improved.
Rating: 5 (5.5)
It was very difficult to review this album, as the recording
quality is so bad that it's hard to tell what they actually sound
like. This may have something to do with the fact that this album is
on a tape rather than cd, but that shouldn't be that horrible. The
overall sound is so tinny, quavery and fast that I can't tell if all
the soloists have insane vibratos or if it's just that. Everything
also sounds really high, but I think that is because they only have
one Alto II who can hit anything below an F (below middle C), and this
forces them to raise 2/3 of the songs. Their blend is so-so, and
often their sound is not really well balanced between the various
parts — I can always hear the Sop I's but never the Sop II's or Alto
I's. Soloists are middling to poor. I do, however like their
percussion a lot when they do it, but they should a) do more of it,
and b) sing it out.
Rating: 3 (3.1)
This group has a smooth, easy blend and lead vocalists who know
how to step out of the background and take charge of a lyric. Pitch
sense is excellent though and the ensemble is flawless. This album
shows very uniform, high quality. The weakest point is the
arrangements. These are, without exception, imitative arrangement and
follow the original versions quite closely. This is a disappointment
in three respects. First, the group has a predilection for dance
numbers, which generally make hideously boring album/concert pieces.
It also means they have to deal with the problem of fade-out endings,
many of which are translated here to rather abrupt, unsatisfying
cut-offs. Second, it relegates the background voices to two or three
syllables, which are probably no more interesting to sing than they
are to listen to over the span of an entire album. Finally, the group
is clearly capable of much more challenging and interesting material.
Rating: 7 (7.2)
The soloist hits it too hard — it sounds overly
deliberate a lot in an attempt to imitate Annie Lennox's tones, and
the heavy intonation is not at all consistent. But it's a tough job
so I shouldn't be too critical. The second altos sound awfully good
on the "just one thing" but they sound alone too — arrangement gets
bottom-heavy and at times sparse. It feels as though a good soprano
line would really help it out.
The Quaker Notes kick off the album with a solid
track. The solo is strong and rich. The group uses changes
in dynamics very well. The blend in the background is good,
but the background tends to be a little bit sloppy.
There are some unnecessary (and unwanted) dead spots in
this arrangement. The soloist was a little wavering on
pitch. Backup ok.
Generally sounds really thin, the arrangement is really
choppy although parts of it work, the descant in particular. Solo is
also uneven — sometimes she works and sometimes not — sort of husky in
a weird way, but one of the better songs on this album.
Tempo tends to drag during the choruses of this number,
which presents a problem for the otherwise excellent
This soloist is too light for my tastes, with a thin
tone. I do like the execution of "I'd feel so guilty if you died."
The soprano obbligato is lovely. The alto 2s sound nice, but the rest
of the background has ups and downs. There's not much else I can
pinpoint about the song, but this version of it grates on me.
This is a really cute and hilarious song. (I wish I
knew where it came from, but the liner notes don't say.) The
clever lyrics are so enjoyable and the soloist's style so
perfect for them that I almost don't mind the tuning problems
that permeate the song (especially the high harmony, which is
always a bit off.)
Never heard this song. It's cute, funny. The soloist
has just the right timbre for this.
This is a hard song to do a cappella without wrecking
it, and unfortunately, they miss. Arrangement exceedingly weak
("dit-dit"), solo quavery and inappropriate, stratospherically high
descant. This song is high enough to begin with, and they raised it
even higher. Generally irritating and unsuccessful version of the
I particularly like the high, clear lead and even
higher, clearer upper harmony voice. This is good, because it helps
to distract from the background, which I begin to find tedious after
the first two voices.
Nice by the soloist, who does a good job with a tough
assignment. The soprano line should have been mixed a little louder
— it sounds good, but is very background, and could have tempered the
harshness of the "ba ba ba"s which are tough to keep precise and get
pretty sloppy intonation wise. Good choice of ending.
Great song choice! Soloist has a nice voice and a
good attitude. The arrangement is good, but the highest and
lowest background parts (which may be the most interesting)
tend to get overpowered by the "ba-ba-ba"s of the middle
harmony parts. The ending is weak, but overall not a bad song.
Solo good. Song seriously lacks punch, however. There
is a solo with a "ba-ba-baaa" backup, plus a soprano line. Either a
more rhythmically varied arrangement (perhaps with some percussive,
layered parts rather than just the ba-ba-ba) or some vocal percussion
is needed. Some major tuning problems at times in backup.
Arrangement slightly boring.
Typical arrangement of this song for a women's group.
that takes all semblance of rhythm out of it. They're off-pitch
during the instrumental section, the solo is decent but her phrasing
is extremely weird — she needs a little more soul/attitude.
Lead is excellent. Very true to the original and every
bit as boring. The monotony is occasionally relieved by a rare pitch
problem in the high descant voice.
The ensemble bit right after the spoken stuff works
well, and I really like the soloist's tone for the most part. The
verses sound weird though, and the solo flattens out the top of her
range. End chord a little shaky, and the spoken part doesn't really
do it for me recorded, though it may have worked better live.
Here is a pretty good arrangement of a song that
wasn't very good to begin with. The bassline consistently
keeps the song moving. At times, the soloist seems to be
singing above her range, and so sounds strained. Another weak
I can't believe this song exists. I didn't enjoy the
choral ending, it doesn't work (IMHO). Alto line keeps song moving
well. Lead nice, with a few pitch problems.
The beginning of the arrangement works for me, but then
(just when it ought to kick in) it degenerates to rhythmless annoyance
and a lame Alto II line. Solo has problems overcoming her massive
vibrato; she's also too trained-sounding for this song. Occasional
pitch problems. She seems to think that getting into it means getting
out of control. Ending (of arr.) is ridiculous and inappropriate.
Another dance number which, unlike the previous one, at
least has more than one eight-bar phrase. Blend is particularly good
during the intro and bridge sections. The lead is also quite good.
I like the verses, but the choruses were too fast and
anemic. This song needs conviction, here it's just a song. I would
have slowed down the last verse a lot. Effective and more dramatic
use of tempo changes would have made a big difference.
Well this is not one of the better tracks. The
soprano solo is weak, and often gets drowned out by the
background. The background blend is good, but the song lacks
energy. The arrangement could use some percussion, perhaps.
Arrangement — same story as I Will
Survive. Very simple. The arrangement
should develop this song over the verses, not merely
This song is a good one for them to do, but the
arrangement is wimpy. The main problem with it is that there's no
distinction in intensity between the verses and the chorus. Strange
little attempt at humor in the middle of the song. Also solo sounds
like the song is too high for her.
I was disappointed not to hear some sort of emotional
buildup through the course of this song.
Mostly good pitch, nice choral arrangement. Pffft. Not
enough punch to the opening, and the whole song sounds slow. The solo
has vibrato, for Chrissakes — nothing too bad, but when was the last
time you heard Jon Anderson with anything vaguely approaching vibrato.
There are some nice points, too — the instrumental lead in to the "a
cappella" chorus is lovely, even if the chorus itself is lackluster —
an energetic soprano line could have made it great. Great percussion,
though. The opening chorus had a lovely ensemble sound most groups
don't get when they cover it (yes used a chorus effect, so it's
understandable), but didn't punch it enough. The solo's pitch sounds
odd in places throughout, and the "free time" stuff in the middle
This is a great arrangement of a good song. Nice
opening — tight harmony and smooth blend. Good, strong solo
and good vocal percussion. I especially like the high sound
effects in the first verse. The dynamics are very effective,
and the ending is tight.
This song has been done before, and if you're going to
cover an a cappella tune you should pick one you can
really rock. This version is only fine.
I like this song a cappella (I barely even remember the
original), and their version of it is one of the more successful songs
on here. Percussion is nice, however the rest of the background
sounds as if about two people are singing. Solo is not bad but
sometimes her pitch is slightly off, especially on the high notes of
the verse. Nice echoing in the chorus.
Every bit as interesting as the original. The group
does an excellent job of presenting the changing
textures in this piece. The lead is quite good.
Nice percussion by them second altos. The opening
multi-voice is unsettling if you are familiar with the song, but is
kinda neat — just different. The solo has some nice moments, but
could use some oomph — she drags during the bridge, which should be
the most pumped part of the song. But then she rushes the opening to
the bridge — maybe she just needs connection, because after a really
nice percussion expo she comes back in sharp. She does do a good job
for the most part, but in a few places sounds hesitant and almost flat
for the highnotes. Enthusiasm could help — it shows through in that
great "yeah" at the end of the second verse and in the last phrase of
the song of all places, but not nearly enough in the song.
Interesting mix in the choruses that drops the middle voices out —
not how I would have done it.
Percussion on two songs in a row is a bonus. The
claps aren't always together, but this doesn't really detract
from the song. The energy is high, and the soloist has a
clear voice quality. The section after the 2nd chorus,
consisting primarily of percussion and sound effects, is great.
Same comment as 6 — especially for a
song that so many women's groups do. If you're going to do
this, you'd better rock it. Or at least do something different with
the song. This is a transcription of the Mint Juleps version, with
(as expected) less impressive singing.
Pretty standard Mint Juleps cover, solo again has a
massive vibrato, also sort of wavers and blares simultaneously.
Percussion break isn't bad, but the rest of the background sounds like
they a) don't have any Alto II's and b) they can't go very low.
The obligatory Mint Juleps number. This one also benefits from
an interesting original.
Very soft — what's with that? Good beginning, nice
choruses. The verses sound disjointed, though, and I'm not sure about
the ending. Overall, a good effort — I really like their
interpretations of the instrumental sections.
A good song choice and a good solid arrangement. Nice blend in
the background, and the balance of background parts is much better
in this song than in some others. The solo has a distinctive
personal style, and the 'basses' are also good.
Handclaps help, but arrangement could be 'rockier' and
more true to the original with a more complex arrangement. Overall
The homemade 'wind blowing' effects in the beginning are
cheesy, the solo is really hard to hear — she needs to be further
forward in the mix. She has an extremely audible break between her
chest and head voice(s). the arrangement starts out very basic, and
attempts to become more complex in the middle of the song, but the
result is just chaotic. They used bad syllables, and I think it's an
annoying song choice anyway.
The usual arrangement; the usual solid performance.
The choral effect helps them more than it hurts them
here. The melody seems a little light, but comes across. Great job
by the second altos, who here give a wonderful example of how to
sing low stuff rather than just blat it out. The bass solo
sounds soft and sultry and really good, and not just blaring the way
some bass sections do.
This song offers a nice variation in style and a
change of pace. It is done as a group song, the only one
without a solo. There is lots of movement in the arrangement,
as well as changes in tempo and intensity. The melody gets a
bit lost at times, but nice use of dynamics. The crescendo to
the end is very effective.
Sounded thin. I know that this song needs that in some
places, but it should fill out more than it did.
Has none of the fullness of the Bangles version,
striking lack of dynamics where they would be
particularly helpful, even more lame syllables
("na-na-na" for the guitar solo).
Dynamic control is very good, blend is impeccable. The
occasional surprise unisons are perfect — a great effect.
Nice song — gets my vote for best on the album. While
slow, the group feels like they're excited by Deke Sharon's
arrangement and the group really comes together. The soloist works,
though she can be a little needlessly heavy at times, and the
obbligato is lovely. The beginning two bars seemed unrelated to the
song, but the soprano guitar and then the line at the end really
Nice, smooth percussion starts this song. The solo is
strong, but seems to waver a bit. The choruses are very full,
which contrast nicely with the light, haunting verses. I like
the fade-out ending.
Solo misses in spots, but generally fine. Perhaps a
little too stripped down, although I often like that. Sound
builds well moving into chorus.
Nice percussion, although it could be much louder. Even
though the song's been raised, it's nice to hear something even
remotely low. Arrangement is quite good, although a little blare-y on
the chorus (it's actually probably the only time they really sing out
on the entire tape), with none of the failings of the others — good
Alto II line, and good balance, and the Sop I's aren't agonizingly
high (although the descant at the end makes up for it). Solo likewise
is excellent on the middle range, but she sounds shaky on the low and
high ends. Minorly lame instrumental imitation in the end. Other
-wise, the best song on this tape.
Changing textures throughout this piece are excellent.
Dynamic control is outstanding and the blend and ensemble are (once
again) perfect. The lead is well done.
The chords sound funny at times — the second altos are
lovely and strong when they're doing their own thing but a lot of the
full chords don't seem to work. The solo gets awfully whiny at times,
and the chorus is — well, it isn't fun enough. The "do you" needs
some kind of spin on it, to make it peppy and catchy and
teeny-bopperish — this song isn't exactly Madonna, but neither is it
Sarah McLaughlin. (And Sarah would have ornaments, which would be
This is a good, upbeat song choice. The solo is solid, but her
tempo is inconsistent at a couple of points. The background
blend is good, but the arrangement is boring.
Solo a little too talky. The ba-ba-bas are overdone
here. They are good for moving into the chorus, but in the verse
don't work that well. There are 1000s of syllables out there, try
Decent version of a song that I really like a cappella
(sappy lyrics aside). The arrangement — especially on the chorus — is
not bad at all, although they really should avoid "doo-doot". Their
blend is negligible on this song — I can distinctly hear several parts
and individuals are sticking out. Solo sort of tremulous, but she
conveys the feeling of the song well. It is raised so high
that I hardly recognized it.
The scatting/improv/whatever parts are, surprise,
surprise, lacking and at times flat. The high ones at the beginning
are particularly hesitant and flat. So are some of the "hold your
head up, keep your head up" parts — they really sound as though
energy could have saved them — not to beat a dead horse or anything.
The "instrument" parts are really well done, and of all things the end
chord is excited and together and has more zing.
This song, in my opinion, is overdone by women's
groups. Nonetheless, this version is well done. The solo is
rich and smooth, and there is nice blend between the solo and
the harmony line on the solo. Tight cutoff at ending.
A hard song to do well, although a popular choice for a
cappella. Solo is slider in pitch than the soloist can comfortably
control. Here, diction is too precise — it sounded odd. "holD your
Arrangement sounds like it would be a decent arrangement
of some other song entirely, but it doesn't work for this one. Solo
has so much vibrato she's hardly intelligible, and she doesn't sound
comfortable on either the high or the low parts. The arrangement at
the end just sounds sort of out-of-control, plus they've raised it so
high that the descant at the end sounds ridiculous.
BO-ring. Come on guys, a whole Mariah Carey song, and
not one ornament? No syncopation, no playing with it? The pitch for
this song is good and the arrangement is decent — bonus points to the
soloist for pulling off a coed duet pretty well — so I feel compelled
to give it a nice score. But it's way too fast and the solo needs to
relax and have some fun. The obbligato is also too nasal and wispy
for my tastes. The third verse starts to get some passion, even if
the decoration is missing, so it's obvious that the potential is
there. I really hope they got closer to realizing it in concert.
This is a well-sung ballad. The soloist has a sweet
voice. I like the fact that she doesn't always imitate Mariah
Carey's version, but makes it her own without unnecessary
ornamentation. The arrangement is simple but pretty, and
supports the solo well.
Simple, and nice. Did not like the last chord — the
color of it, its sound comes out of nowhere.
Arrangement overly piping, although the Alto II's are
nice and low, background off-key in places. Solo is occasionally flat
on the top notes, which is understandable since they would give pause
to a young Michael Jackson on helium. This song really sounds like
it's suffering from being eaten by a tape deck, especially the warbly
This one shows of the lead and ensemble to good
advantage. The lead line is handled delicately and well, the ensemble
blend is outstanding.
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