Total time: 54:40, 16 songs
The two biggest problems this album has are song sequencing
and energy. It would seem like such a better album if they had
spread out the traditional arrangements throughout the album,
because first one gets an overdose of contemporary/classic rock
songs, and then one gets an equal overdose of traditional
songs. So many of the songs are decent to good arrangements
and singing, but they could be excellent if they sounded like
they were more into it. This is especially true for the
soloists — most of them sound like they're afraid their voices
will break if they use them too hard. Their basses aren't
particularly strong, but many of the arrangements disguise this
fact well. It is very well recorded and mixed, although
sometimes the percussion seems overdubbed or faked in some way
that I can't quite pinpoint. They have a nice blend and
mellow, jazzy/classical side that could be put to better use by
choosing better songs with which to showcase it. Their rock
stuff is decent, but I'd like to see them branch out a little
and try to challenge themselves — maybe then they'd be more
excited. Overall fairly middle-of-the-road — no huge stinkers,
but nothing fabulous, either.
Rating: 5 (4.6)
More is not necessarily better. This album is simply too
long. The quality of this album would have increased greatly,
if the weaker songs, particularly those that end in a different
key, were dropped. The lead vocals are mostly tuneful, but are
too pedantic for pop music. The bass and low baritone vocals
do not have enough presence. I had to adjust my equalizer to
get any presence out of the bass vocals at all. For the most
part, the background vocals are well done and mixed well.
Vocal percussion is good, but sibilants were produced which
could have been toned down via a digital "de-esser" or
"ducker". The arrangements are well done, but the arranger
needs to experiment with changing the background in the latter
half of songs. For example, I do not recall hearing one
pronounced key modulation on the ENTIRE album. On a
more positive note though, I think the group shows promise and
I look forward to listening to next year's product.
Rating: 5 (5.2)
I'd say "ho-hum", but that would be an over statement.
Most of this album is average, and a good chunk of it is
sub-average. In the case of the insulting and mocking
falsettos on "I Will Survive",
it's even terrible. I expected much better from this group
having already heard one of their early albums, "From the
Hive", which featured a bunch of really great cuts. The
only real signs of something special happening here happen to
be in the middle of a bad track. There is, for example, a
nicely arranged Stone Temple Pilots song, but the soloist is
mismatched with the material. Likewise, the disappointing
"Crazy" features a surprising
jazzy/choral arrangement that comes in at the end and brings
some excitement to the song. But, on the whole, this album is
a lot of nice blends but without much spirit or reason for
Rating: 4 (5.1)
This is a really good college group that I wish would
branch out a little in its song choice: 2
+ 2 James Taylors
+ a Dan Fogelberg
betray a particular musical slant on the part of the
director/primary arranger. That would be fine if that were
their forte, but the best tracks aren't the 'adult
contemporary' ones (with the exception of
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road).
That aside, the arrangements here are good, the soloists are
mostly very good, the blend is great, and the energy is usually
just right. I wouldn't say there's any groundbreaking or
breathtaking work here, but it's definitely a solid
Rating: 7 (6.4)
What can I say — The Yellowjackets are just plain good.
And they have the benefit of having a very talented arranger
in the group in Nate Holt. There are really no holes here.
Musically they are very good. They have smooth blend, good
dynamics, and some great percussion. Some soloists are better
than others, as in any group, but the rest of the group always
compensates appropriately to deliver a consistent level of
quality. There is a nice mix of songs here with a variety of
styles, and overall I have to say that this is a good solid
album to include in a collection of college a cappella.
Rating: 8 (7.3)
The best rendition I've ever heard of this song
(granted, that's not saying much), including the
soloist, who treads the fine line between
over-enunciation and verisimilitude well. No one,
however, seems to be able to imitate that easy
off-the-cuff feeling that makes Elton John not sound
_as_ cheesy as he could sound. As if in recompense,
they _don't_ try to imitate the horrid tone of the
original's "la, la la la la la" section which has always
put my teeth on edge. The arrangement is slightly
square, but considering the song, not bad.
Good lead vocal, although at times too pedantic or
choppy. The bass and low baritone vocals do not have
enough presence. The harmony vocal is tuneful, but is
too throaty and does not quite mix with the breathier
lead vocal. The vocal percussion suits the song,
instead of sticking out like on other tracks. The
background singers are singing on consonants or closed
This is a reasonably fun version of Elton John's
up-tempo 1950s-esq rocker. There's only one real
problem, but it's a big one for me. When you first read
the name of this rack, what was the first thing you
thought? I'll tell you what it was: Naaaaaaaaaaa! Na
na na na-na! It's what makes the song. It's the part
you can't get out of your head. It's the tunes reason
for being. You would expect an A CAPPELLA group to
throw some heavy harmony onto the recurring Na-na
section. Nope. One voice. Falsetto. Oy. On the
upside, they do, for a reprise of the first verse, turn
the solo into a duet, which helps lift this cut up to
where it should belong.
This gets the album off to an OK start. The group
has enough energy throughout the song, and though it's
not that interesting of a song, the arrangement's got
enough business in the background to reward repeat
listening. Not much of an ending, though — not even a
cadence, just ending on the 5 chord on beat 4. The
soloist does a good job; no obvious missteps.
This first track is just brimming with energy. It's
got good percussion, good blend, and very tight control
of a complex and fast-moving arrangement.
A pretty good arrangement of this exceedingly
overplayed song, which almost manages to achieve a
semblance of mellow rocking without sounding ridiculous.
Particularly good is the percussion, which, even though
arguably a little too beat-box-y, pushes the song along.
Nice crunchy chords in the beginning. Soloist however
is too slight and too bright-toned for the background.
They should sing out even more on the "ay-ay-ay" part,
to contrast it with the smoother background during the
verses. Excellent choice of syllables.
Okay lead vocal, although the melody does not seem to pose much
of a challenge to him. The bass vocals do not have any presence.
Nice vocal percussion.
If you think a Stone Temple Pilots song would sound
silly a cappella. . . well, you're absolutely right. At
least in the case of this song you are. It starts well.
It captures a certain grunge sound without ever sounding
like it's bending over backwards to do so. A nice blend
of rock and harmony. But then the lead vocalist comes
in. His voice is fine, but not for the material. James
Taylor, yes, Stone Temple Pilots, no.
Not being a fan of Stone Temple Pilots, I still
found a lot to like about this. After a quirky intro on
"waoh" or some such syllable, it eases into a nice
groove that cycles through the various figures of the
song smoothly. The chords are nearly all in tune
(though on the loud recurring figure (ay-ay-ay-etc.)
the top notes are often out of tune), and I appreciated
the dynamic contrasts in the song. The soloist didn't
sound especially 'into' it emotionally, but other than
that did a fine job. The percussion was realistic and
A decent cover of the Stone Temple Pilots, and
nicely arranged. I actually liked this version better
than the original. And the vocal percussion is great.
If the soloist wasn't so nervously trembly and
talky, he could be good — he sounds a lot like JT at
times. Tempo is way too slow, and arrangement doesn't
change in the bridge or the other parts where it should.
The arrangement is really just more or less a direct
transcription of the backing vocals of the original,
anyway, so I don't give it too much credit. But they
sing it competently enough, and if it was just a little
livelier it could be a lot more fun.
Lead vocal tends to be out of sync and at times, out
of tune with the background vocals, but other than that
he does fine. My guess is that this piece is meant to
be comical when performed live. Unfortunately, I don't
believe it has nearly the same effect when recorded.
The ending just stops, and this makes for a weak finish
to a song that needs a catchy ending.
Speaking of James Taylor. . . This cut starts off
with a good premise: You're at a party, walking around,
overhearing parts of other peoples conversations. You
move in on a man talking to his friends, saying that
he's going to make a move on someone. He walks up to
you! All other noises stop. There is only him.
"Excuse me miss..." Then he launches into "Is That the
Way You Look." So what's wrong with this track? Well,
they don't exactly LAUNCH into the song — waddle
through it is more accurate. It cries out for higher
energy, a faster tempo, and more impassioned singing.
Also, some of the background conversations are meant to
be funny. They aren't. They are just random, unfunny
references to Lance Ito ("Yeah, he's got such a cool
(...not quite sure what the point of all the
pre-song jabbering in this was...) This is sung well
enough, with cool jazzy backgrounds and a clear-singing
soloist, but the song does nothing for me. Maybe if the
words were more interesting...
This is a cute song with a doo-wop feel, but it is a
little thin. The group blend is there, but the basses
could definitely stand out more. This could be the
result of the singing or the mixing.
I'm not sure I ever wanted to come into such close
proximity to this song to learn who wrote it, but this
is not a bad version of it. Soloist too legato and
classical, not to mention mixed a little too far back -
you can barely hear him at times. The blend in the
background is nice, but the "bum"'s irritate, it's the
Bandersnatcher style of arranging ballads (although to
give the Yellowjackets credit, they pull it off better),
overall a really mellow rendition of a rather soporific
song to begin with.
Sweet lead vocal fronting a beautiful song.
Unfortunately, the harmony and lead vocals don't blend
particularly well and consequently, the harmony vocal
could have been mixed a little lower to compensate. The
tune tends to drag after the second verse. Perhaps the
arpeggio background could have been changed in that
latter half of the song to make a more interesting
A Dan Fogelberg love song. The performance is never
emotionally grabbing, but it's a faithful translation.
The only major problem is a harmony section sung by
Lush arrangement, well sung. The soloist has the
right range for it, which is nice to hear for once (most
"Longer"s are painful to sit through). The closing
'ba-da-ba' figures are not completely in tune, but I
have yet to hear any group do those perfectly. Overall
a fine rendition of what I consider to be a pretty bland
I like the song choice. It is a pretty ballad with
some very nice chords. The solo is light yet emotional
— very nicely sung. And the background is soft and
steady. The only problem is that the high harmony
sounds a little strained.
Too slow, doesn't rock enough (tough to pull off,
obviously), soloist sounds at times like a baby on
helium, trio limp, arrangement sort of wimpy and boring,
particularly during the bridge, percussion good if
mechanical, overall just not very inspired.
What better than a bass singing in his falsetto and
dancing around the stage like
I understand that this is probably a big winner during
live shows, however, the lead stops really sounding like
Prince after his first line. At times he re-captures
Prince's style but he's more unlike Prince than like
him. Also, lead vocal tuning and rhythm could be
better. The arrangement is lacking, sometimes singing
parts that don't really mesh with the style of this song
("nin nin nin nin").
If the artist currently known as
Tom Jones has
taught us anything, it has been that you don't need to
impersonate Prince to cover his songs. (He bullied his
way through Kiss as a brassy baritone and
it still sounded cool.) It sounds great that high when
Prince sings it, but it sounds silly here. It isn't a
performance of Kiss — it's an impersonation.
And not a very good one. I'm getting sick of hearing
every group with a half descent falsetto doing lousy
Michael Jackson impressions. Please — if you must sing
one of their songs, MAKE IT YOUR OWN!
They play this for laughs as far as I can tell, and
it works for me. My favorite thing about the track is
the creative rendition of the backgrounds, especially
the "ninga-ninga-ninga" lines right before the word
"kiss". The soloist does a really good imitation of
t.A.f.k.a.P.'s voice, and the harmonies on the verses
are well executed. A fine track.
Certainly not the best track, but the arrangement
works for this song. I liked the trio. An impressive
solo by a baritone, as well as a decent and entertaining
One gets sick of James Taylor songs covered by male
groups here at RARB, although at least the Yellowjackets
have the decency to choose lesser-known ones. Soloist
again sounds sort of like a younger brother of Taylor -
he bears a slight resemblance, but doesn't have much
character of his own. Percussion sounds overdubbed and
too loud at times, arrangement mildly interesting — I
like the little horns or something during the verse, but
then it gets repetitive and by the end I'm bored.
Nice tuning and tone placement by lead vocalist,
unfortunately there is a very distracting "sssst" vocal
percussion part that should have been mixed down or put
through a "de-esser" (a processing device which tames
sibilants produced during recording). There is a faint
feedback (a very high A flat) occurring first in the
second bar of the piece and then recurring at times
throughout the song.
It's kind of hard to kill a James Taylor song, and
they don't. It doesn't soar, but it doesn't crash and
burn. It's. . . nice.
The soloist is going for a straight James Taylor
imitation and succeeds pretty well. Not an interesting
song for me, and the background doesn't seem as solid on
their parts as they do on other tracks. Still, if you
like the original you should like this one.
The second James Taylor cover on the album, this one
is arranged better than the first. It is fuller and
more interesting. I enjoyed the varied percussion and
nice blend. The soloist has a nice voice but tends to
Really, there's just no need to cover even one Green
Day song, especially on the syllables "jin-jin-jah",
which get old after about one repetition and sound dumb
to begin with. Soloist too tenor-y sounding, guitar
solo irritating but (thankfully) brief.
Sharp! Sharp! Sharp! The tuning is absolutely
terrible on this song. The lead singer starts sharp and
the group follows suit. The overall tuning drifts sharp
Okay, so sue me! I like this cut. If you listen to
Dookie loud, you probably won't like this song, but if
you've just heard them on the radio/MTV/VH1 and thought
"Green Day's not so bad," then you'll like what the
Yellowjackets serve up here. They weed out the angst
and leave you with a piece of pure, catchy pop music.
There are timing problems between parts in the first
4 measures, but then they settle into the groove fine.
The background's on the syllables "jm jm jah", which
would be unusual enough to keep it interesting if there
just weren't so many repetitions of it. The soloist has
to work a little to hit the highest notes. Good
What is most notable about this song is the
fantastic percussive effort. It really sounds like a
lot of work! The soloist really gets into it as well,
and it works. Good energy and a good beat, but an
Decently realized, including soloist, although he
could have been mixed just a bit further back — he sort
of jumps out at you as it is. Blend is nice and
delicate in the background, and they slide from chord to
chord in a pleasantly swoony way. The ensemble bit when
the soloist retreats shows that the Yellowjackets could
do more songs like this if they chose. One of the most
even performances on the album.
Nice "open 5th" chord leading to a 9th chord to
intro the song. A little slow and draggy, but the
baritone lead vocalist does a nice job. Background is
mostly in tune.
It's sluggish even for a slow ballad, but maybe it
just seems that way because I'm used to the Persuasions'
brief version of this that they use as the intro to
"Looking for an Echo". The lead vocalist
has a strong yet sentimental voice that is well suited
to this sort of ballad.
Sappy standard, done standardly. Nice opening
chord, nice soloist. Very pleasant interpretation of an
oldie. Rich background. A little too slow to hold my
interest for long, though.
I love this track. Gorgeous solo, gorgeous harmony
and blend. It is tender and lilting. It is nice to
hear an old standard thrown into the mix. I can
easily picture this group singing this under a street
lamp 40 years ago.
Starts out well, with good if programmatic
percussion, but the soloist ruins it — too high and too
clean-sounding for this song. Arrangement is also
rather predictable, which becomes tedious. Descant
isn't bad, albeit a bit scanty.
The lead vocalist's voice is more pleasant to listen
to than the original, however, tuning is off at times.
Harmony doesn't blend with the lead very well. Vocal
percussion creates sibilants which could have been toned
It doesn't rock the house, but it is spirited. A
good song choice all told. Is that a wood block, or
some really funky vocal percussion technique?
Faithful rendition of the Mellencamp song. The
soloist's got a lot of energy and nails the notes. The
background syllables aren't the most effective; "do do
do do" gets awfully old after a very short while in this
particular chorus. Okay percussion, okay claps.
My first impression of this song was that it sounds
like the key is too high. Other than that, it is not
bad. A standard rendition enhanced by good, solid
Again, no need for two Elton John songs on the same
album. Otherwise, fairly decent rendition — simple but
effective arrangement, sung well, soloist a little weak
on the verses but good on chorus, he seems a little too
far back in the mix, although that might be an attempt
to camouflage the aforementioned weaknesses.
This piece drags! It should have taken it at a
faster tempo. Background vocals are thick and mixed
fairly well. Rhythms are off. Tuning is horrendous.
The whole overall tuning is all over the map!
In the opening lines, the lead vocalist swooshes
around the melody, sliding from note to note. Not
recommended listening for anyone with motion sickness.
If that doesn't bug you, and it might not, then there
are enough harmonies to make this track worth listening
The soloist on this knows exactly what he's doing
and mimics Elton John quite well with just the right
lazy style. The background on this track is the most
intricate and harmonically interesting of any song on
the album. Excellent arrangement, excellent blend and
The soloist does a good job of sounding like Elton
John without sounding like that is what he is trying to
do. I was impressed that they actually got all of the
words — I don't think I've ever actually heard them all.
And great dynamics in this one!
Again the percussion might be good, but it needs to
feel the rhythm of the song more, pause or something,
it's far too mechanical. Arrangement is quite good
especially in the end with the trio, soloist starts out
all right but could just be so much stronger, especially
on the high notes, where his pitch is shaky, and he
shows about as much emotion as if he was singing a phone
book. This could be a much better rendition of the
song, if it weren't for him. Ending too abrupt.
Nice lead vocal. Also, a good mix and reverb. The
vocal percussion compliments the song nicely. Lead
vocalist should be aware of closed vowels like 'eee' in
the song title and not stress them.
should sound really cool a cappella when sung by a large
10 to 14 member group. (The original demo of Kiss
From a Rose was recorded a cappella with Seal
singing all of the instruments.) But still, I have yet
to hear a good version of either Crazy or
Prayer for the Dying. This track fails to
catch the Seal magic. But I have to give it a six for
the last minute and a half alone. They try something
original and rather brave: they go into an almost in
sync, jazzy choral arrangement on the lines "In a world
full of people only some want to fly. . ." Good stuff.
They could have done the whole song like that and had a
Seal's song survives pretty well with this a
cappella treatment. The background's syllables sound
really cool (harmonies on wa-wa-wa can sound excellent,
and these do). The soloist only falters in one or two
spots. The percussion is appropriate, and there's an
exceptional nasal 'wah' in the middle section that
doesn't sound quite human (and I mean that in a good
way). This was quite good.
I love the choice of song. The beginning is
fabulous. A must-hear. A difficult and innovative
arrangement, and very well done. In addition,
percussion and basses are impressive.
Their blend and overall classical sound is nice, but
it could be amazing if they had better basses — every
time they get anywhere near low, it sounds really good.
Soloist a bit too plaintive, and the swells too harsh,
but otherwise I can't really fault this performance,
though the song's not really to my taste.
The rhythm is so bad on this track that I have to
assume that it is 'free time' on purpose. Lead singer
over-annunciates his hard consonants and is occasionally
untuneful. Background is mixed well. Tempo is too
slow, dragging the song.
. . . He's my brother. This track features a strong
soloist and some impressive blend. (The soloist often
retreats into the ensemble.) Unfortunately, the song
itself isn't worthy of their careful performance. The
melody doesn't really flow — each chord sounds fine given
the preceding chord, but it never builds to anything.
Very flat. (The song, not the performance.)
This one has a really nice choral feel and a soloist
who gives the appropriate weight to the lyrics. Nice
Beautiful harmonizing, tight entrances and cutoffs,
and well-directed dynamics. This one is simple and
straightforward, with nothing fancy involved, but it
is sung with feeling by the whole group, and shines in
Really strange song order, to sandwich this song in
between two _very_ traditional songs. I have
to give them a lot of credit for doing the song in the
original key. Also the dance-beat machine feeling of
the percussion is appropriate here. Generic
arrangement, which gets old as the song goes on. Solos
could be good if they worked that attitude a little bit
instead of limply trembling in their falsettos — if they
had any _energy_. Ending is mildly lame.
Still the best version I've ever heard of the song, but
that's because it's usually an embarrassment to an
otherwise sensible group.
Like "Kiss", this
comical piece is probably a show-stopper during a live
performance, however, the lead is untuneful and
rhythmically even worse. The background vocals are
relatively tuneful and the vocal percussion blends well.
This woman walks into the doctor's office. She says, "Doc, I have a problem with this medication you put me on. It has some unpleasant side effects — Ever since I started taking the medication I've been growing hair on my chest." The doctor asks, "How far down does it go?" "To my balls," she says, "which is another thing I want to talk to you about!"
I tell you that joke so that when you read the following you won't think I'm just saying what I do because I have no sense of humor and don't appreciate sophomoric humor. Far from it. I love a low joke. To hell with being PC. Nevertheless, this track is downright disgraceful. The Yellowjackets pass the solo on this Gloria Gainer disco ditty around, letting different members of the group do hideous and ill conceived falsetto impersonation of women. It's totally mocking and not funny in the least. I didn't think it was possible for someone to have such an immature sense of humor and still get into college.
Pennsylvania Six 5000 has been known to be dirty. I
never had a problem with that. Heck, I like 'em. This
Yellowjackets' song, on the other hand, is just plain
Ugh. The different array of soloists they throw at
this song hurts more than it helps. Keeping, say, the
first soloist for the whole song would have made it a
lot better. Then there's the spoken break in the middle
that really doesn't add anything. Not a track I want to
This is definitely a contrast in style to the
previous track. This is a fun song, with the solo
line being traded off among several members of the
group. It is silly, but the background and percussion
are there to hold it together, so the silliness is OK
and the song is funny and entertaining.
Soloist completely unremarkable, ensemble parts
decently sung but have no emotion at all. Due to this
it's hard to muster up any excitement for the song.
This tune is apparently a school song of some sort.
Called a "traditional arrangement" in the liner notes, I
have to assume that the 'free time' feel and
over-annunciating every vowel and consonant was
intentional. It was probably my least favorite track on
the CD, but keeping those factors in mind, it was
adequately sung and produced.
It's an alma mater. Nuff said.
Their alma mater, near as I can tell. Nothing
distinctive about it, really — just a solid rendition
of a school song with a pretty solo voice. Pleasant.
The traditional alma mater piece. I like to hear
this kind of song from various schools. Nice choral
blend here, and a smooth solo.
Very traditional men's group rendition, executed
pretty well but lacks energy in a big way, probably
because it's sung at about half the speed of the
original. Soloist also uneven, and descant fine but
nothing to write home about.
Nice repertoire selection, nicely arranged, and the
background is well sung. The lead vocal could have been
tuned better. My favorite song on the album!
This is the first track that gives a glimpse of the
potential of what this group could be, or at least an
idea of what they used to be. It's a Beatles cover,
back from their happy 50's mode. It's vaguely similar
to "Sha Boom" off of the Yellowjackets' prior album
"From the Hive" (if you've ever had the
pleasure of hearing it). Bright. Retro. Fun.
I have a feeling the Beatles version had more going
on rhythmically in the background than this version.
It's a fine song, it just feels like there should have
been more going on; maybe percussion? Still, the solos
and harmonies are solid and it's got a good doowop feel.
This is really a swingin' tune. More fun than the
Beatles' original, I think. I was snapping my fingers
along with it. Good solo, good energy — well done.
Another oft-covered song, done averagely, soloist is
okay, although again kind of slight-sounding, especially
on the high notes, background also isn't very
substantial — they have a lot more power than this.
Snapping sounds like it's twice as fast as the
background and solo. Overall an unfortunately soggy end
to a pretty decent album.
The background vocals on this track sound like the
singers were out taking a break when it was recorded.
The background is way too low in volume relative to the
lead vocal. There is also an obvious track pop at the
39 second mark which the engineer should have noticed
This is the best cut on the album. I've always
liked this tune — it's kinda like "Up on the
Roof" on uppers. Where "Up on the
Roof" invites you, this song grabs you by the arm
and drags you to the roof and makes you dance until the
building superintendent comes up to complain. This is a
solid performance. Better than the Nylons, but not as
good as some other college groups I've heard. But you
probably haven't. So listen and enjoy.
Good rendition, with a great soloist. The big
chords come out really well. Occasional teensy tuning
problems in the background, but great energy. A fine
Another groovy, high-energy track, and a great song
with which to end the album, because it leaves you
humming after the music ends. Musically it is right on,
and tight all over.