Reviewers' Questions Re: The Old Block

Discuss our reviews or just talk about any old album.

Reviewers' Questions Re: The Old Block

Postby Johnsapella » Mon Nov 07, 2005 7:38 pm

Well, I have good news and I have bad news.

Bad news: This may very well be a very, very long post.

Good news: The tone of this post is meant to be positive! Yay!


So, let me preface this with an apologetic "Thank You!" to the reviewers, and try to answer a question that all three of you seemed to have.

I admit that my motives in submitting this album were...well, not "impure," exactly, but perhaps not in sync with the true idea of RARB. Since I only know of one member of my group who dares dig into the forums here (and he's an alum), I confess that I was, in large part, trying to prove a point. (And if any of the current members are reading this, I will be pleasantly shocked!)

Sure, part of why I submitted this album for review was because I felt that if we had the chutzpah to actually put this out there as a commercial venture, then we'd darn well better have subject it to a review by the a cappella gurus.

But the underlying reason was part of a multipronged plan to stimulate aca-activity in the current group. When I took over as Musical Director following our final concert last year, I began making plans for reform, and it's been gratifying to see some of them begin to come to fruition this semester. I've been actively trying to get everyone to listen to more a cappella just for exposure's sake, and I'm now starting a push to get us to go to more live shows, to gain more of an audience perspective on what works well and what just doesn't. Of course, in order to get a group to enact change, you have to get them to realize that change is necessary, and that's where this review (hopefully) comes in.

Now, that's not to say by any means that the review has sole responsibility for that, nor that I was hoping for the group to get totally slammed - after all, it's my group too. But I've come to the opinion that we (as a group) have this weird ego...this feeling that we're much better than we really are (I've been guilty of it too). I don't really know where it comes from, since we don't exactly have a huge legacy (we did just put out our 10th Anniversary Album, after all), but it's frustrating when a group has that attitude, and then I sit down and compare a video of our show with, say, an old 'Bubs show, or my memories of the Crosbys at my high school.

I don't think we're terrible (though I get accused of slamming the group about thrice a week) - in fact, I think we're riding on the high side of average - but I have higher ambitions than that, and I could use a little backup when I tell the group that we need to be better. That's where the reviewers came in, and honestly I couldn't have asked for more fitting reviews. Each of you said something that I have been trying to get across for some time, and (if nothing else) it's gratifying to me to hear that coming from other mouths with more know-so than I.

So thank you again, I hope you'll find our next studio release much more palatable, and now on to specifics:

Dave: Hilarious preamble. Good lord, man.
-Side note: the liners were, believe it or not, printed on a laser printer ;-)
-I apologize for the problem with the second CD! I assume you eventually got it to work somehow...uh, if you want a replacement, let me know.
-Please send my condolences to your spouse.

TeKay: Glad you liked My December.
P.S. Thanks for not mentioning my ungodly out-of-tuneness on Stairway.

and Adam: Well, I guess I answered your question?

I guess I've touched on everything and anything that I could think of. Thank you again for your time, gentlemen (and if you feel like you wasted hours of your life for nothing and are never going to get them back, let me know how I can make it up to you. Honestly.)

Hats off to ya and here's looking forward to the rest of a new year.

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Postby billhare » Mon Nov 07, 2005 10:39 pm

I just have to say that I really, really enjoyed that! What a great way to prove a point, sacrificial as it may be!

FWIW, to answer (I think it was) TeKay's question - having recorded or attended quite a few of these sort of reunion shows myself, I find it an almost 100% occurrence that the alumni groups kick the current groups all over the stage. The current groups have been rehearsing for weeks or months for this show, the alumni groups just get together a few hours beforehand, work up a set and kick ass on it. I don't know why this is - maturity of voices? Groups really were better back then? Overpreparedness vs. some people who are just having fun reminiscing?

Who knows? I just know when seeing especially the older groups like the Mendicants at Stanford - each 5-year set of singers seemed to get better and better as they went backwards in years, and when they reached the "Founding Fathers" group of 1963 all jaws dropped to the floor as these guys easily wiped the floor with everyone else.

This is an interesting phenomenon, and I see it just about every reunion show I go to!

Anyway, best of luck to the Chips!


Bill Hare Some dude who records and mixes people who can't play instruments.

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Postby DJO » Mon Nov 07, 2005 10:48 pm

Just wanted to say that I also really enjoyed this post. I've not seen this sort of insulated feeling that groups have articulated, but I suspect it's probably pretty true across the board.

I think it's natural for a group to want to believe they sound the best they can, and sometimes I know it helped in my group to hear from outside sources where we could improve. Criticism is often hard to take from someone inside the group, even though that's where it should be most effective, because that person is seen as a downer or as not wanting to "just have fun with it."

Yeah, so.. cool post :)
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Postby dherriges » Tue Nov 08, 2005 2:15 am

In response to Bill, my take is:

Reunion shows usually take place early in the year.

The alumni groups may disproportionately consist of the people who were most dedicated to the group and/or in it for the greatest number of years, as they want to come back for the reunion.

The alumni groups are generally performing their best material from a span of several years.

Can't speak for everybody's group, but mine just had a reunion show and it was very obvious that the group consisted of, on the whole, more talented singers and performers in its early years when it was one of 4 groups on campus, and the only co-ed one, than now that it's one of 9. Assume the overall talent pool is relatively constant over time, and that's just how the math works out. I dunno if that's relevant to the Chips, but at a lot of schools it is.
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Postby bstevens » Tue Nov 08, 2005 5:29 am

I want to thank John for taking the time to reply to RARB's review as he did. He should also be commended for having his group's interests, especially its improvement, so much at heart.

As for 'reunion shows' and 'alumni ass-kickers': I agree that part of the explanation must be dedication and experience -- I've always been four to five years older than the other members of groups I've performed with, and with that difference I've felt more relaxed, better able to focus on the music and have a good time, and, of course, more experienced both musically and performance-wise.

Also, I have some gray hairs. It's true!

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Postby cmasone » Tue Nov 08, 2005 7:01 am

billhare wrote:The current groups have been rehearsing for weeks or months for this show, the alumni groups just get together a few hours beforehand, work up a set and kick ass on it. I don't know why this is - maturity of voices? Groups really were better back then? Overpreparedness vs. some people who are just having fun reminiscing?

Heh heh...not in the Aires.

The fellas from the 70s, 60s and 50s tend to be pretty good.

The guys from the 80s all have little kids, so they don't come.

The guys from the 90s and later get so astoundingly, mindblowingly drunk all weekend that it's shocking that they can even stand, much less sing songs. I think that there's some dudes from the mid nineties that I've literally never spoken to without them being totally obliterated. So they (I guess "we", now) don't usually sound very good. Ah, well. Maybe in 20 years "Sweet Child of Mine" will actually start to rock again. It's at the point now where I'd rather NOT sing at this sort of stuff.

Maybe if I actually left, I'd start to miss it...

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