Total time: 49:05, 18 songs
I've seen the Derbies live and I think it's safe to say that putting on fun/funny shows is the groups top priority. That's why I was surprised that their latest album showcases some smart arrangements and tight performances. Music may take a back seat in their live shows, but their musicianship shines through on the CD. It's very high quality stuff.
Unfortunately, the album doesn't hold up to repeat listening. Of the 18 tracks, five are novelty introductions and songs (Tracks 1, 7, 9, 15, and 16.) Most are given polished performances and don't interfere with the CD, but when you program the good cuts, you won't be playing these. That brings the count down to 13 listenable tracks. Of those, two don't deserve careful a cappella treatments: Who Are You and the truly unworthy View to a Kill. That leaves 11 songs. Subtract one more for an outright dud — the sluggish She's Always a Woman. We're down to 10 now. The Friends Theme actually makes the song an enjoyable, upbeat pop song, or at least it would if it weren't a live cut. This turns the song into a joke (that isn't funny on CD) that was poorly recorded. So skip that, too. That leaves nine songs out of the original 18. Most of them are well done, but they don't go the extra mile to be really exciting. They're serviceable. If you like the original song, you'll enjoy the cover well enough. Only a handful are true standouts: A reflective interpretation of In the House of Stone and Light, a rocking Better Man, and a perfectly rendered cover of The Downeaster Alexa that hits all the right tragic notes.
In short, this group really knows how to sing. You'll be impressed by
the quality. The Derbies arrangements on the throw away novelty bits
are more carefully and considerately done than a lot of other group's
regular songs! But there are some uninspired song choices. When you
add those to the tracks that are only just "well done" but never
really exciting, you aren't left with enough reasons to pop this into
your CD player. They set their standards pretty high, but their track
list doesn't quite live up to them.
Rating: 7 (6.7)
The Brown Derbies' latest effort is on the whole a rather lackluster affair. It's not very good, but neither is it screamingly bad, and that's almost part of its problem. I couldn't make it through more than 8 cuts of this album in any one listen, meaning it took me three tries to come up with something to say about each and every song. It's not that I couldn't bear the stuff, but all the sound sort of runs together with little personality to give it life.
The big surprise on this album was that the two best songs are both Billy Joel ballads, not a historical source of success in the college a cappella market. They're ballads, so the lack of obvious energy is more appropriate. They both have delightful solos, and the backgrounds defy conventional wisdom that slow songs are tougher to tune than upbeat songs with fewer sustained notes.
Structurally this album looks a lot like Down Time, the last Derbies album to come RARB's way. The commercial-cum-phone message skit (first Coke, now Mentos.) The one-hit wonder from the 80s (Tarzan Boy, now Break My Stride). The mangled Peter Gabriel song (In Your Eyes, now Secret World. Which to be fair is just heavily diluted, not mangled like its predecessor.) Even the talking animals theme song (the Muppet Show, now Gummi Bears). With only a little creativity, you could link both albums in toto.
Down Time was a decent little album — it had some nice
tunes, a couple of stinkers and a clear picture of who the Derbies
were. In allowing the formula to pass unchanged, the spirit has
atrophied, and Nightcap feels a lot like they're just
going through the motions.
Rating: 5 (4.8)
OK, you want my overall opinions about this album by the Brown Derbies? It is good. It is very good. It is one of those college albums that you find yourself listening to again and again. This is an enjoyable album that was well produced. The group has some good arrangements and a beefy sound (which is not that hard when you have 18 members). They have some kooky humor tracks that make you laugh (but only the first time... they are not that funny), and a good mix of songs. This is certainly an improvement over Hat Trick and Down Time, two earlier Derbies albums.
There are two or three things that bug me about this album as a whole. First thing would be the group's desire to use irritating vowels all of the time. They sing their vowels like they are words, and they do it harshly. This seems to be a tradition with a lot of groups from the East Coast I have heard, especially with groups that have been around for a while. Why, I don't know, but lots of people like it nonetheless. Maybe it's funny or something.
Second thing is their blend. It seems like they don't care much about
blending with all of the other voices in the group. This is quite
apparent from the preference towards really complex arrangements. This
gets the members thinking "I have to sing out MY part" and
then you have noisy songs with lots of layers. Some people in the a
cappella community think that the best arrangements are the most busy,
complex, and obtuse arrangements. Look at UPenn's
Couple the blend with the vowels and you have something that makes me think: "Why the hell did they do that?"
I am sure that these guys are fun to hear live. The way they sing vowels are the kind of nasal sounds that, along with funny faces, make for a laugh a minute a cappella show. On an album, it gets old.
Despite all of these things, I like it. It deserves some good press...
but not too much. ;) The Derbies may not be the best thing in college a
cappella, like some people insist, but with this album you realize that
they are definitely worth hearing over many other groups out there.
Rating: 8 (6.6)
i always used to like the brown derbies; my college group sang with them a
couple times at various shows around new england. they were fun and
everybody in the audience was left wanting more and that kind of stuff.
but for some reason that feeling is lost on this cd for me. they attempt
to recapture their live performance in a few ways, with a live track thrown
in and some of their comedy things in there as well, which is cool, and i
respect the fact that they are trying to recapture that live thing, but
somehow the humor and the coolness is lost in the translation to the
digital media. i'm not at the show, i'm not gonna laugh at a group of guys
doing the friends theme, especially when i can't see what everybody's
laughing at. the gummi bears theme was probably a riot in a live
situation. but these things just don't work on a cd, unfortunately.
there are a couple studio tracks on this album that stand out, notably
in the house of stone and light and
she's always a woman, but there were
some decisions made about percussion and mixing that i question.
overall the soloists were quite bland, to be frank, a problem not with
the derbies in particular but with much of college a cappella in
general (people trying to sing things they wish they could sing,
rather than things they should be singing, i guess). arrangements
were usually pretty interesting and NOT the usual fare, but
somehow lacked that final element of asskickingness that is required
to bring a good arrangement to life. anyway, in general i wasn't as
impressed as i was expecting to be.
Rating: 4 (4.4)
The Brown Derbies ring in after some absence with this gem of a CD that
hits hard with musical excellence early on. Unfortunately for me, the
first tracks were SO good, by the time the second half rolled
around, it just didn't sustain the same bang, mostly because of a
really cruddy Huey Lewis cover. The Derbies follow a fairly simple
formula: two Billy Joel tracks, a Peter Gabriel track, a Pearl Jam
track, and a telephone message based on a popular commercial (You
think I'm joking? Look at their last
CD). Intersperse other outstanding tracks in between those and
you'll have a great CD. Technically, the Derbies have their act
together. From solo to background, start to finish, save for one
track, they obviously knew what they were doing. Shame they didn't
know the same when doing the humor tracks as they tended to fall flat.
Despite that, I still think it's a must have.
Rating: 9 (7.0)
A quick opener. It's a pretty accurate impersonation of the
THX sound check/demo. It's short,
clever, appropriate, and well done. You won't mind listening to it
every time you pop it in. How many novelty intros can you say
Hrm. This seems like it needs more tuning and polish. I mean, the whole
point is that THX is this great digital technology thing, and the vocals
here sound decidedly analog. Maybe a good live gag, but why record
imprecisely a gag which depends on technical sophistication? (Making it
obviously bad might have been a different strategy, but they sound too
serious to have thought of that.)
You hear this in the movie theaters loaded with the THX sound system.
This nasal buzz resolves to the requisite chord pretty well. It does not
quite stay there though, wavering a little bit. Oh well.
kinda cool. not really a song, just the thx thing. neatoburrito.
Cute idea...wears thin.
This track opens with lots of "bip-ums" and "ip-ops". It's extremely
original, but not very listenable. It's not easily accessible, which
makes it a bad choice for the first song. Maybe they should have
moved it to later on the disc. After the intro, it gets better. It's
kind of a vintage Beelzebubs song. The lead has good timing, but in
the end, it never really ROCKS.
Finally, a group that remembers this is a rock song. I've heard so many wimpy a cappella renditions, all of which seem to miss the underlying point — The Who is a rock band, not a cross between Styx and Crosby, Stills and Nash. I also very much like the texturing at the beginning, which is excellently arranged and executed.
Having said that, the main body of the song needs some serious energy.
The solo is on the right track, but I can't blame him for sounding a
little out of it with a background that is so, well, there. It kind of
reminds me of road noise. The four-voice cascade breakdown is too choral
for me, but the solo comes back in and saves the day. You go, Adam Arian.
The Who. Classic song. Given some star treatment here with this
arrangement. A powerful sound that grabs your attention with some neat
sounds in an interesting intro. I did not recognize it at first, but
when the boys all of the sudden resolved into the "who are you"
background, I thought: "Cool". That it is. Really good beat and a sound
that is rich. This is a damn good arrangement with the kind of evolution
from beginning to end that is really great for a power song like this.
Percussion that drives, but does not run you over. A soloist that gives
his all. I really think this is the best song on the album. But don't
worry. They did not blow their whole wad all at once.
this song starts out great, really cool arrangement by evan schiff i think,
but as soon as the soloist comes in you remember why collegiate a cappella
is as cheesy and bland and white and wussy as it is. the group sounds
really good behind him, but he's just white and he can't help it.
percussion SOUNDS good, but doesn't really groove. good
pitch, and, again, cool sounds, but just misses the mark in terms of
the daltreyish wailing stuff.
What can I say about this track? If you want to start off with a heavy
hitter, this would be it. I loved EVERYTHING about this
track. Evan Schiff's arrangement had my attention from the first
note. Adam Arlan's solo was powerful. Whenever I talk about the
backing being too powerful, this is what I'm listening for in the end,
because the balance was there. Percussion was perfect. Wow.
It's not what you'd expect. The lead is extremely sedate. It's not
that he's too lame to throw enough passion at it, it's more of a
deliberate choice to keep the song sweet and pretty. The problem is
when the first instrumental bridge (with all the "baa baa"s) comes
in; the energy level jumps dramatically without ever BUILDING
to it. The second time the theme comes around, they smoothly work up
to it and it pays off. If they had cut the first bridge, it would
have been a much more effective track.
Watered-down, ballady, sweet and blank are the words that jump to my
mind. Solo is pretty, pulls out some impressive notes from time to time,
and generally sounds way too sweet. The only place the song gets going at
all is the instrumental, which is in my view the toughest part of the
song to like. The rest of it reminds me of a Richard Marx ballad. I like
the chorus arranging toward the end much better than what's usually
arranged for this song, but it, too, is really mellow.
Man! I am soooo tired of hearing this song done by college groups!
But... wait. What the heck is this? This is cool! The Derbies take this
song and make it something that really ebbs and flows with tension and
drama. It is not some attempt at being huge. It is done with a sense of
understated tenderness. The transitions are a lot like a tide suddenly
washing in and taking you away. The soloist is not great, but neither
was Martin Page. The Derbies manage to avoid having a mediocre song
build up to one short, overdone ending like so many other groups do.
They turned this thing around. I almost like this song now.
very pretty arrangement by raj patil. beautiful, really. it's funny, i
think martin page is the perfect type of song for these guys; his music
doesn't require the wailing of the who, but is what it is, very pretty and
unthreatening. i'm REALLY liking this arrangement and the
performance. some of the guitary kind of stuff in the instrumental
part was kind of obnoxious but was mixed low enough to not be too
bothersome. after the big wailing high note by the soloist there's a
strange rhythmic skip which is unprofessional. the big break where
the arrangement tapers to nothing is nice but i question the syllables
there (doo wah type stuff). soloist is great through the whole song
until the very very end, when he kind of wusses out on the high notes.
but i did love his tone until that section. very nice, rides along
well atop a cool bed of percussion.
Anne Raugh said in her CAN article about the NCCA: this ballad
"provided not only a change of pace, but a chance to show off a piece
with changing textures and special vocal effects.". Thanks, Anne,
couldn't have said it better myself. It's that subtle intensity that
they convey that makes it good. One problem with it: What I liked
about the original was its gradual build to this vocal release at the
end. It's not here. The first time I heard this track, it infuriated
me. I've since seen a therapist and am content with the track at
hand, though I wish they had attempted it anyway.
Did they have to do this song? I know it's funny live (they do all
sorts of cute James Bond jokes) but it could have been ANY
James Bond song and they could have done the same routine. It could
have been to Live or Let Die. Hell, they could have done
it to the Spies Like Us song! But this song doesn't
deserve their time or effort. The chorus, with its "Dance . . . Into
the Fire" stuff, is all right. But the verses are a snore. Well
sung, but not worth the effort.
Um, this is the song that blew away NCCA audiences? In the words of that
little old lady — where's the beef?! Flimsy. No texture. No energy. Solo
gives new meaning to the word white. This is a throwback to the early
days of contemporary men's a cappella, with a sort of doo-wop structure,
lots of "bows" and "bahs" and the odd echo of words now and there. I am
wanting, particularly given the advance press.
It is the Duran Duran "007" song. It has a good intro with some cool
production of echoes and layers. But it degenerates into something
rather campy. One of the things that takes it there is the soloist. What
possessed them to make him try and sing just like Simon LeBon? Simon had
this very unique whine to his voice that really should never be
recreated. When you do, it sounds like shit. It is kind of like
cloning: the copy is never really as good as the original. Sometimes it
is really fucked up. The whine that Rolo Fernandez affects is just too
irritating to me to forget... or forgive. The really crass vowels in the
'instrumental' sections are just as ludicrous to my ears. A relatively
complex arrangement that unfortunately leaves this sloppy, empty feeling
in my ears. These guys sang this song on Good Morning America before the
NCCA finals. That was a bad choice. They should have done something
richer and more interesting like Who Are
You or something wackier like Break My
Stride. They may not have sounded so rough at 7am with
those songs. Oh well.
i really like some of the production techniques in this one, echoes,
choruses, people in little boxes way back in the left corner of the left
speaker and stuff like that. i disliked the syllables in much of this
arrangement; there were many rhythmic problems again; the soloist was quite
thin and adds little to this straightforward arrangement. another problem
with the straightforwardness of the arrangement is the boredom factor which
sets in by the time you get to the second verse.
James Bond meets a cappella. I liked the transition from James Bond
theme to the actual track. The arrangement is excellent yet again.
What I wasn't sold by was the solo; it seemed too mechanical, following
too close to rhythm, and possibly too high at the end. All the bases
were covered, it just didn't exude typical '80s schmaltz OR personal
musical expression. Ah, well. It's still a good track.
Joel Beglieter kicks ass! Billy Joel never sounded so good. This
song, about work, family, responsibility, and passion, may come from
the album that marked the beginning of the end for Billy Joel, but
it's still a damn fine song. And it gets a perfectly executed and
well conceived a cappella transfer here. As I said before, Joel's
leads are top notch — he makes every word sound poignant and every sad
note sounds like it's coming from his soul. The vocal percussion is a
perfect example of how to use percussion minimally and
effectively — the bass drum never sticks out but it shapes the ambiance
of the song. If this doesn't land on the next BOCA disc I'll make a
few calls and have Adam Farb's
SAT score lowered 10 points.
Hey, this is a real ballad, and you know what? It works really well.
Lovely solo by Joel Begleiter, and the background's calm blend is for
once totally appropriate. This is a nice song that doesn't make it off
the B-side of Stormfront very often, and the Derbies do it up right.
A pretty amazing Billy Joel song, in my opinion. The Derbies take this
song and give it a smooth sea to sail upon. The original has a strong
driving beat that really gives you the sense of the power and the rhythm
of the ocean, and the waves crashing over the prow of the boat. This
arrangement does not have that, and I really missed it. The original
makes you feel like the storyteller is standing tall on the bridge of
the ship with the sea spray flying in his face as he drives the ship on
into the storm, determined. This arrangement takes the captain and shows
him bobbing on a calm sea, all alone on the deck, mending an empty net
as the sun goes down behind him. The almost ethereal, misty sound that
this arrangement imparts is not inferior to the original, just
different. It is a good song, with a good soloist who actually sounds
like Billy Joel every now and then (good job, Joel Begleiter). The group
blends half-way decently in this song too. This song is a winner, and
leaves an impression, right to the end, as you watch the captain get
back behind the wheel and sail on into a stiff wind.
more derby rhythm problems, another derby soloist with no power or
thickness (he's also mixed low and his volume jumps up and down all the
time, an unfortunate mixing problem). percussion lacks the boomy bass that
they could've achieved and has NO groove. the arrangement otherwise is
quite pretty and choral, nice thick chords, but certainly does not support
the limited percussion in establishing a groove. there are some incorrect
chord changes in various spots, but i suppose that's not critical. well,
yeah it is...
The solo that was lacking in the previous track is more than evident
here. By this track, I found it really hard to start critiquing this
CD, since to me there is so little to pick on. The background
arrangement is subtle yet drives the track just as well. The studio
mixing also helped.
An odd early 80s gem that, probably not coincidentally, opens with a
line about sailing. Cute segue. For the most part, it's a little too
light and tinny. There's too much percussion and not enough harmony.
At least until the end when they start clapping, boost the energy,
throw in some seriously fun harmony, and give the sucker some bass
while they're at it. It's the tone the arrangement should have had from
The opening sounds like it needs some edges, like a good spy movie
soundtrack or a Bobs rock cover. But then the real song kicks in, and you
recognize it as one of those vaguely calypso '80s songs. It's a cute
little song, with a neat ending (hark — some studio processing!) and
catchy breakdown. Only it needs to slow down a tad and go find some
attitude. As it is, it sounds like an insipid sitcom theme song.
This song is well done, and done with a bit of a sense of humor. The fun
beat and chorus really make you sing along, and the harsh, nasal vowels
are just goofy enough for you to see that they were having fun during
the twangy instrumental parts. Cute and fun... and well done.
cool ugly noises, another winner of an arrangement from raj patil, and a
solid solo by the same. percussion here is pretty good. feel! it's got
the feel! finally... and really good pitch too, really tight trios and
stuff. something weird is that the claps in the breakdown sound like it's
turning into a gospel tune, which it's not, and when the basses kick back
in for the groove, the drums don't, kind of an unfortunate choice. but
otherwise, this is the best so far.
That's it, I'm hanging up this reviewing thing. It is increasingly
infuriating to criticize a CD I find so little fault with. Raj Patil
arranged AND took the solo (did he cater, too?). Meet me at
the next track, I'm too busy tapping my foot to this one.
"Mentos — the Message Taker!" It's funny and its surprisingly full
arrangement is well sung. But that's not enough for this song — it has
to work as an actual answering machine. I put it on my machine for
a couple of weeks. Before I had my first incoming call, it was
already giving me problems. Like many other people, my answering
machine has a 30 second limit. This song is about five seconds too long.
It took me a while to find a way to cut off the first few seconds
without making it sound choppy. I only got one caller who wanted to
know where I got the message from. Most callers seemed bored by it.
Several pointed out that you couldn't understand a lot of lyrics (it's
a full arrangement and it gets a bit muddy over the phone). Two
frequent callers actually hated it. One caller called it "disturbing"
(by which he meant that he finds the Mentos ads to be creepy, so I'll
assume he found this to be funny). Anyway, it has technical problems
and didn't get the warmest reaction in the world from callers.
Mentos commercials are more fun when they are warped, twisted or way out
there, like those free advertising postcards you see in restaurant
dispensers. The only part of this I like is the "Mentos — der
Messagetaker" tag at the end. The rest is too normal.
Some skit that the Derbies did in their shows, I am sure. Take a simple
telephone message and do it to the Mentos theme. It is funny for a
while. I would love to know how many answering machines end up with this
as the outgoing message after this album really gets around.
uh, this is kinda funny, a silly little arrangement of a mentos ad. but i
don't think it was necessary to stick this on the album. there's fucking
18 tracks! we don't need a 30 second joke. save it for the concert, dudes.
The Derbies' continued message parodies takes this gem of a Mentos tune
and puts even more sugar on it...cute, but maybe too cute.
This relatively laid back Pearl Jam song would end up on a BOCA if it
weren't for the fact that it was arranged by Derbies Alumni Adam Farb,
who has too much class to put one of his own songs on his
compilations. The Derbies are okay on the quiet intro, but they
really kick when the song starts to rock about halfway through.
Pitch on this one — solo and background, particularly the chorus ooh
melody — is a lot worse than usual. The guitar noises are hard to tune
also; the ahs behind the voices are much better, light and smooth like
whipped margarine. The solo is rather bland on the verses. He gets his
attitude up for the chorus, but goes consistently flat on the top note of
the phrase. It's not high, and makes for lousy styling.
Halfway through the song, it suddenly picks up and tries to go rock,
but then it settles down to rocky-ballad. Derby alum Adam Farb's
arrangement is very nicely textured, but the whole thing fails to move
me. When Pearl Jam does this song it has pathos. This just has a melody.
Here is a Pearl Jam song that graced the air waves of thousands of radio
stations and the CD players of many a home stereo. This song as done by
the Derbies is a little bit of a cappella mastery. This song was made
for a large group like the Derbies. Hell, this arrangement was made for
the Derbies by their most famous (or as famous as he can get) alum, Adam
Farb. Well, he has a winner with this arrangement. It is a smart, snappy
arrangement that moves from quiet drama to driving emotion with skill
and grace. I love the part where they move into the last chorus from the
soloist and his echo. The move... well, moves me. The soloist does a
good job, but occasionally tries to affect the thick, rich, and unique
sound of Eddie Vedder's voice. When he does, it just does not quite
work. Just another voice that nobody should try to imitate. But this
song does not lose points for that. It is really good, and you should
like it. Hats off to the Derbies (past and present) for this one.
can't hear the solo at the beginning, and he's on the flat side the whole
time, although i'm sure the chicks dig the thickness (as do i, but you
know, not in that way...) and gruff of his voice, but he leaves me wanting
the passion which should be making him scream once the drums really kick.
he's like a watered down heineken; good stock, but not the real thing.
scream, motherfucker, scream! feel the fucking pain! i disagree with the
breakdown after the first chorus, and i can't stand when the soloist goes
up and changes the melody. really don't get this part, ruins the feel for
me. the slowing down thing at the end of the tune was kinda neat, but i
felt like the syllable choice was again inappropriate.
Pearl Jam grunge meets a cappella, again. It does sap most of the raw
grunge that fueled the original, but the track does stand on its own
quite well. Another fine solo effort. The arrangement is not only well
done, but it is performed nicely.
It's a Casey Casem intro to "The Power of Love." The impersonation is
lackluster (the secret to a good Casey Casem impersonation is
remembering that he was the voice of Robin on the Superfriends) but
the script nails his patter dead on. And it's a very appropriate
intro for the next track, given the period it came from.
Well, this was dead on. It's Casey, it's bland, you want to switch to
another radio station. But bonus points for realism.
Hello, I'm Casey Kasem, And this is really campy. The person only
sounded mildly like Casey, and maybe that is a good thing. I did not
laugh, and no one who heard this laughed either. We also all groaned
when we heard the lead-in for the next song. You will groan too. This
was just unnecessary filler.
another piece of comedy bullshit. i appreciate that the derbies want to
recapture their live shows on the cd, but well, whatever. i actually
didn't mind this from a kind of pulp fiction, reservoir dogs soundtrack
Does NOT sound like Casey Kasem, is not funny...ah, I feel
whole again, as this just really doesn't help things (could've just
left this out).
This doesn't live up to its own potential. Too much of the
arrangement leans on the percussion like a crutch. The song itself,
like all Huey Lewis songs, was about the simple pop-power you could
get out of a basic straight-ahead rock set up and simple chord
structures. It's not surprising that this cover is at its best when
it's at its simplest. They should have stuck to the spirit of the
song and done a back to basics arrangement where they just focus all
their energy on belting out simple harmonies (not unlike Huey and
friends do when they sing a cappella). As it stands, much of the
arrangement is unengaging.
I try not to question song choice too often, but really, why do this?
It's not too bad as things go, not too great, but I would never listen to
it even if it were a masterpiece of imitative a cappella. Solo is Mr.
White Boy 80s Garage Band guy. Background is full of "bow"s and the bass
bums along true to form.
Huey Lewis to the Max! Whiny vowels to the max in the background! No
Blend in the background, either. But by this point in the album you
should have gotten used to this. It is fun. The whiny, nasal sounds
actually sort of work in this song. I am sure that this is especially
entertaining when seen and heard live. Especially the crazy little
chaotic guitar ending. It is fun, and that's more than good enough.
another weak solo mixed low and thin. not loving this patil arrangement.
whatever whatever whatever whatever whatever. lots of bahs and ahs and
annoying guitar sounds and rhythm problems. wussy wussy wussy wussy.
Just when all hope was lost for my new reviewing career, this
clunker comes along and saves it. I was hoping the album would not fall
into the "at least one track" syndrome, but I guess everyone is
susceptible. Where to start: the song is driven by a heavy bass which
is not to be found here, possibly because the basses just aren't that
deep here. The solo, which should be that rock/soul combo, is instead a
grunge/techno combo. The arrangement seems mechanical as well. The
whole feel of the song just doesn't fit into the album...it probably
could do with LOTS of mixing.
Unlike track 5, the emotion isn't here. The simple, slowly churning
arrangement is appropriate to the song, but it doesn't work without
some spirited performances to back it up. The overall sound is
Okay, this particular ballad is one of my favorite Billy Joel songs. And
I have to say I like their version of it a lot, though I was quite
skeptical of two Billy Joel ballads on the same disk. But this cover has
a very different feel than "Alexa", which is a credit to them. (When
Billy Joel sings them — well, he's Billy Joel.) They do this one in a
light, musical folky version. No chest voice anywhere, some pretty,
flowery background lines and a lovely, emotive light solo. The
ba-da-da-da-das blur a bit, and "ding-ding-ding" would not be my choice,
but in general it works well. Nice warm ending chord, with a little extra
Here comes a classic Billy Joel ballad. With this song, the Derbies try
and show you that they can blend. They still don't blend very well, but
they did improve with this song. Though that may be due more to them
singing quietly than them actually blending. But they put this song
through its tender paces. It is done well, but the blend thing limits
the background a bit with those harsh little embellishments and
cascading notes in the simple (and rather elegant) arrangement. Nice.
some more incorrect chord changes. i LIKE the arrangement,
however. especially the little running lines in the chorus, and the
little flutey stuff is quite nice. soloist is quite good, and doesn't
try to sound like billy joel or anything, just has a pleasant and
pretty voice atop a sweet bed. diggin' it, except for the occasional
pitch problems. the only kind of annoying thing is that you can hear
people gasping for breath the whole time, which starts to get
aggravating. like it like it like it. kudos to joshua siegel,
arranger and soloist.
Very simple opening with a quiet intense solo that slowly gracefully
transitions into a nice intricacy and a louder, but still intense, solo.
A definite improvement over the previous track. Lie back in the dark
and let this track envelop you.
It's a live cut, and from the sounds of it, they're going for laughs.
But the arrangement takes the song pretty seriously. If it had been a
studio cut, you'd be able to enjoy this song at face value. But since
it's distant and cavernous, you can notice that it's spirited and that
the harmony is strong, but you won't be affected by it. The laughter
only makes you wonder what they're doing. They clearly think the song
is laughable, but their arrangement makes it sound pretty good. Or
it would have if it hadn't been done live.
This is one of those memento songs — you know, that the fans love live
and want to be on the CD to remind them of the shows. That's fine, and
it's sort of a given that a random listener/reviewer is gonna go
"whatever". There's only so many "ba! bow"s we feel like hearing in
I suppose it is de rigeur to have a live track on your album.
This is a fun song to do, I suppose, but it also tends to be recorded in
a detrimental fashion. This is the case here. The Rembrandts'
quintessential '90s TV song done nice and fast and loud and out of
balance and sloppy and full of jokes that only the live audience can see
or understand that could have been better but could have been a hell of
a lot worse makes this just another song on an album with better stuff
that you will probably want to listen to instead so don't get too
kill me. kill me. kill me. kill me. kill me. kill me. kill me. kill
me. kill me. kill me. kill me. kill me kill me
The most overplayed theme song in the world, now making its way to
college groups around the country. At one time, I, too, thought this
would be great a cappella fodder. That was before I heard it on the radio
all the time. Nevertheless, it's still a cute arrangement: it captures
the mood of the original, and the duet is nice. Not a great track, but
This cover definitely has a different feel from the Peter Gabriel
version — it's got a lighter and higher sound. There's some nice
subtle harmonizing on the lead vocals (which are smart enough to not
try to imitate Pete) sprinkled throughout. It's a good song choice
and a good arrangement. Unfortunately, there's one section that
pushes the lead vocals way too high. ("...In this house of make
believe..."). He sounds thin and boyish. It makes the rest of his
performance, which is basically faultless, sound like an apology for
what came before. It should have been dropped down an octave for him.
But it's worth trying to ignore that for the sake of the rest of the
Solo? Solo? Where are you? I can hear a melody, and I assume it has words
to it, but he's very blendy. The background is identifiably doing the
Peter Gabriel thing, but it sounds a little empty. And the falsetto is
not in tune. Intrusive syllables later on "chick chick chada" are less
than ideal — mostly 'cause I think "chick" is a lousy choice in almost
all cases. As with "Better Man," the first half is the slow part and the
second half is the upbeat part, and then it goes slow again. Except this
is a more boring arrangement of a more interesting song. As background
music, it does fine except for the tenor melody parts. As Peter Gabriel,
it is sadly wanting.
Peter Gabriel. This song starts out with a great little percussion riff,
and goes downhill quickly. The background comes in anemic and with
little or no interest. The blend and vowel issue that the Derbies have
really goes against them at this point, making things sound messy and
loose. Evan Schiff sounds fine singing the solo, but he might have
worked a bit more on making sure his fellow singers would make this song
really glow with the feeling that the song is supposed to convey. Sorry,
but the blend just does not improve at all. The energy picks up where it
should, but does not make things much better, when they get a bit out of
control. This is how a statue Michelangelo might have looked if he
had carved with a chainsaw: You know exactly what it is and that it
should be beautiful, but there are nothing but rough-hewn edges.
wrong chords again! this is beginning to drive me nuts. lotsa bad pitch
in this one. the soloist has a strange accent which kicks in occasionally,
and he has absolutely no power up high. i actually kinda like the
arrangement, but it doesn't really work as a whole without a kickass
soloist. the use of words in the background seems forced, and the mix as a
whole isn't terribly tight.
A song I'd never heard before and was pleasantly surprised with. Peter
Gabriel tunes tend to be overdone in some manner, the percussion, the
solo — not in this case. For the most part, the Derbies do best when
they let the arranger do the solo as well. It worked at least twice
before. Evan Schiff's arrangement gets full credit here, and his solo
follows his co-Derbies nicely as well. Not even a smidgen to criticize
here, maybe a little more intensity in Evan's solo...that's it.
The first verse may make you wonder why the Derbies wanted you to hear
yet another cover of this song. The high impact chorus lets you know
why. Jeff Falk throws in some good leads, particularly when he's
styling over the rest of the group's vamp line on the ending.
The intro is decidedly a mixed bag. The little dissonance at the end of the riff is subtle and neat, the falsetto that starts it comes on a bit strong. Most puzzling is the solo, who is pushing it so high and thin he almost sounds like he's making fun of the song. He gets better once the intro's over, but it's still unsettling. Basses are lovely when the verse come in and anchor a clean and textured arrangement that stays really nice until the chorus. There the tenor tuning gets the best of them, but it's still not bad. It's just that the verses are so good. (The held "ner" at one point in the second verse is not a great choice, but that's picking at things.) There is percussion throughout which is really nice to hear and adds to the song — most of the other numbers have drums in spots or not at all. Things go well until the "a cappella breakdown," which sounds very separated from what precedes it and shows the high-tenor-tuning problem in full measure, and the song never gets back on its feet.
That's the play-by-play — overall, Jeff Falk has put together a nice
arrangement and has convinced the group to sing it with a little energy,
oh so hard to come by in these parts.
I live this song... when it is done well. I don't like this one. I don't
like the arrangement — which lends the song a bouncy rubber ball feeling
in the chorus — and I really dislike the harsh vowels and lack of blend.
If Secret World suffered from this, this song suffers right along with
it. I did not know whether to take these guys seriously or not. This is
a serious song, but it only sounds like half of the group took it that
way. What a shame.
many annoying sounds at the start of the groove of this song, but the
arrangement begins quite nicely and is performed well. soloist immediately
has a childlike quality to his sound, way too pretty for this rocker. i
like the percussion groove for the most part, but feel like it's mixed out
of place (too loud, then too soft, then missing the whole hihat part...).
arrangement is still rocking, and when others join the lead in the chorus
it works much better. more mixing problems as the soloist sticks out and
then disappears. rhythm problems in the breakdown.
Opening was dodgy, sounded like a cappella police sirens...once you get
by that it moves nicely into the arrangement. I just wish the trio had
been a little more forceful here. I had to really listen hard for the
harmonies in the trio. Again, though, the arranger/solo trick works
again. Another worthy track.
Talk about setting up a straw man! This unfunny intro describing the
gummi-bears as an evil force of nature lacks any real satire. Unlike
Mentos, gummi bears aren't constantly in your face. The candy is well
known and often chewed on, but as characters they're obscure. What's
Uh, yeah. I guess this is supposed to be funny. I'm just not moved. It
reminds me of the Psi Upsilon haunted house my junior year, but without
the cool guillotine with the fake gore made with cooked spaghetti. This
is a bunch of college guys doing the Transylvania thing. If the actual
theme song had bounded into action it might have worked better, but as it
is I feel like getting up to look for a beer.
Not funny, but almost intriguing. This should have been trimmed along
with the song it was introducing. Funny live, I imagine, but not here.
Cute...not much to say.
If they're singing this because they think it's funny to put down the
gummi bears, they're wrong. Nobody ever really hated them in the
first place. If they're singing this because they think it's funny
for nostalgic reasons, they're wrong again. Nobody really has fond
memories of the gummi bears either. I suspect that's what they were
going for. Fortunately, this music is fun in a jokey sort of way
(with all its little fanfares) and they do put some serious effort
behind it. So you might enjoy this cut. Too bad the intro undermines
listening to this ditty for what it is.
I like the trumpet on the second verse, and the post key-change chorus is
lots of fun, with the little ending and all. The first verse is weighted
down, with too much emphasis on the 4-4 time. Energy is nowhere, and how
can you have gummi bears bouncing here and there and everywhere without
energy? But since it picks up I'll give them a decent score, cause I
mean, who wouldn't want to get their hands on some Gummiberry juice?
Just a bad idea on the part of the people who made the damn cartoon
show, and the Derbies for putting this on the album. Maybe the bouncy
'Kyrie' chorus was some kind of foreshadowing for this song. Here the
blend and vowel set that the Derbies use come in handy and actually
work. I did not want to listen to this whole thing, but oh well. They
did it well, all things considered. Like I just said, I imagine it was
funny live, but you will skip this two track set most of the time. It
just does not keep my interest.
at least the derbies are faithful to their humor and their devotion to it.
i'm sure that they're funny in concert, but somehow the humor of singing
the gummi bears theme doesn't translate well to me sitting in my room
listening to a cd. it probably does for their families and their fans, but
it certainly doesn't earn them new ones. sounds fine. arrangement's fine.
A sappy sugar filled theme that actually is listenable in this format.
A little humor interspersed as well. Could've lost quite a bit if they
hadn't treated it seriously, instead it works.
I keep hearing this being mentioned as the definitive overdone song by
male college groups. But, despite my perversely large collection,
I've never heard it before. Anyway, this song starts off with a deep
"Ooga Chacka" chant, the likes of which I haven't heard since the
Nylons sang "Somethin' Bout Cha." Overall, the track is a nice little
burst of energy.
Okay, I am betraying my cultural ignorance here, but my memory does not say that this song is the origin of that "Ooga-chugga, ooga, ooga, ooga chugga" manly-man paean that crops up now and again. Happily my knowledge of either song or mantra is limited to vague familiarity.
Regardless of what I remember, a heavy, spoken "ooga-chugga" is the dominant phrase in this-here arrangement. It comes in strangely lackluster for such a proud rumble. Then it comes back in after the scat (which by the way is rather nice except at the end when it gets too close to those awful vocal guitar solos) and sticks around, finally displacing the background again.
When it leaves, we are left relieved, somewhat drained and noting
the blandness of a little '80s-y ditty that is cute and passable and more
like what I remember of this song. Without any percussion line at all,
the strange contrast to the sections with mantra is odd. Kind of like
spicy mayonnaise on soggy cornflakes: with is definitely lousy, but
without has so little flavor that you almost — but no, without's fine,
really, that's okay...
OK, 18 guys who want to be funny really work for this song. A strong
"Ugga-Chakka" section drives this song, and the soloist (Joshua Siegel)
sounds great. It's fun. Enjoy.
now kill me. please kill me. i despise this song more than the fucking
rembrandts. ok, i'm sucking up my prejudice quickly: their pitch is fine,
the arrangement is nice and moves well, the soloist is appropriate, it's
fun, yippee. the 6 is for the people who like this song.
A rockin' tune that hits you from the first "aoogachaga". Josh Siegel's
solo drives this tune from beginning to end, even the cadence he takes
during the bridge. It's not outstanding, but it's definitely up to the
high standard they've carried throughout the CD.
I'm extremely puzzled as to why this has suddenly become an a cappella
standard. This arrangement does a good job of getting around the
song's biggest problem — the twangy guitar line, which often sounds
goofy when other groups try to transcribe it to an a cappella
arrangement. The soaring lead vocals make this a solid track,
although Better Man or
Break My Stride would have made for a
Bono imitator is really pretty good, down to that little waver on any
non-gutbusting extended note. The background is at its best on the
verses, when it is mellow, and has some movement. (Tempo is way up, and I
think that was a good choice for them.) On the choruses it gets busy and
more mediocre. The falsetto tenor stuff is a mess, and the basses get
louder without being very bass-like, which is not the best state of
affairs. (Dum, dum, diddy dum syllables without the least bit of bassish
intonation.) Thanks to their solo and their fine sense of tempo and
editing, this is one of the nicer tracks on the album.
A pretty interesting intro, that unfortunately slides into a bit of a
mess. Sloppy rhythm due to an overly busy arrangement, and a harsh blend
between the parts takes away from this song. The arrangement also leaves
some sections feeling empty, which is surprising considering how busy
the backgrounds are. The soloist hits the highest notes, but sounds like
he is always on the verge of disaster. Not in the way Bono used to. He
used to sound like he was tearing himself apart, body and soul to sing
it out. Rolo Fernandez sounds like he is about to fall off the top of a
ladder that he is precariously balanced upon. The instrumental sections
get way too cacophonous with the style of singing they Derbies do. I have
definitely heard better renditions of this monster U2 song. But still,
it was pretty good. Certainly a cut above most attempts.
soloist is fine on the verses, good i'd say even, but is not as strong on
the choruses, which demand precision and tons of confidence. the falsetto
parts don't work so well to add any intensity to the tune. percussion
lacks hihat, in an obvious way, except during the bridge, where i felt joel
begleiter's percussion was quite nice. otherwise the arrangement is
suitable, but not amazing by any stretch. a good tune overall, however.
ANOTHER U2 cover. Rolo Fernandez does a nice solo, but it
doesn't QUITE have the same soul that I liked about the
original. I'm torn by the fact that it's a well done arrangement and
the fact that it basically turns the song from a mellow gospel tinged
song, and basically makes it into a dance track. In the end, I like
the song, but it's definitely not my favorite U2 cover.