Re: Bubs' Code Red (mostly to Guang Ming)

Discuss our reviews or just talk about any old album.

Re: Bubs' Code Red (mostly to Guang Ming)

Postby Chris -- Shir Appeal » Mon Jun 09, 2003 6:45 am

For anyone interested, the background color of the member headshots on the inside of the insert corresponds to the uniform color of the superhero alter-ego on the cover. As to explanations of why certain Bubs have certain powers...well, you're going to have to get in touch with the group on that one.
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Postby Chris » Mon Jun 09, 2003 7:50 am

Wow! It's a post in the RARB Discussion Forum about a review! I can't believe it!

Seriously, it has surprised me how little is discussed about the reviews, especially considering how active the Forum has been. We set the Forum up with the idea that it would be a way to talk about the reviews and albums, but most things that are discussed have nothing to do about RARB. Not that there's anything wrong with posting about general a cappella topics in here (there have been a lot of great ideas and thoughts posted); it just surprises me. :-)

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Postby Neil » Mon Jun 09, 2003 9:18 am

I think it may be just too infrequently that people on this forum have the albums that are being written about currently. I know that's the only way that I'd discuss a review - if I had something to compare it to. I think that since the forum was created, this album (Code Red) is the first time I've actually owned the CD that's being discussed.

Since I can do it, though, I'll discuss the CD and the reviews...

I have to agree with an overall 5 rating of this CD, simply because, beginning to end, it is flawless. I've been listening to it constantly since I got it, and it's 11 of the most well-done songs I've ever heard on a college a cappella album.

However, I don't like this CD as much as I do those from the Stanford Harmonics or Tufts Amalgamates, and I'm sure there are plenty of other albums I would like more from other groups; Rebecca Christie said it pretty well, so I'm just going to quote her:

So it's a good album for a bunch of college singers, but I think they go overboard. If it sounds too much like the real thing, it loses some of the fun. A cappella straddles a gap; on one side is the out of tune, unprocessed vocal-guitar-solo-from hell, but on the other is a collection of computer bleeps that is equally unrecognizable. The happy medium is Vox One's Paul Stiller, singing guitar solos live through a distortion mic, captured on the sublime recordings of yore. When it comes down to it, this is still about making cool sounds with your mouth, not a computer, and the best producers let that shine through all the special effects.


This is the perfect album to get into the 'natural sound vs. crazy effects' argument over. I love the music, it's impeccably done, but I actually prefer other CDs that have a more natural sound.
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my two cents

Postby jonathansears » Mon Jun 09, 2003 10:28 am

I agree with Chris .. it's nice to have a discussion in this forum about an album that got reviewed.

I purchased 'Code Red' after hearing the sound clips on their website. I wanted to hear the whole album, and I was anxious to see what the reviewers said about it. For the unofficial record, I tend to agree with what Neil and Rebecca have said. The album definitely deserves a 5 from RARB, ... but it bores me to tears.

Maybe it's the jumping from Nelly to Frank Sinatra to Ozzy Osbourne to The Bee Gees to Sinead O'Conner ...

Maybe it's the fact that there are only a few priceless moments where the art of a cappella still exists on the album ...

Other than the amazing lead vocals from Greg Binstock, I just dont get much enjoyment from this album in comparison to other great college albums. It is disappointing to me how little I listen to this album now after having it for a while. There are albums that I gave a 3 or 4 to in a review that I listen to more than 'Code Red'.

'Code Red' is a good album, no question. It's just not one I can enjoy with tons of repeat listening. Its more of an album that I can pop in for a friend just to say 'Look what can be done when you take college a cappella to an extreme level'.
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Postby joe » Mon Jun 09, 2003 11:16 am

i agree. i dont get why the repeat listenability score was so high. the only songs i would care to listen to more than once are mr roboto, nothing compares and take me home (and i have listented many times, because they are amazing). for the rest though it's kind of like a novelty the first time you hear it, but ozzy osbourne a cappella more than once? not for me!

that said, the album is truly amazing and definitely deserved the 5. =)
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Postby Chris » Mon Jun 09, 2003 11:18 am

Neil - No Southern Accent wrote:I think it may be just too infrequently that people on this forum have the albums that are being written about currently.


Good point. However, I bet plenty of people do have the albums. Many people say they enjoy reading reviews of albums they already have. Our reviews don't come out before the albums come out; there is usually a lag of at least a few months.

I'm surprised there aren't more posts from people in the groups being reviewed, and from their friends. Maybe they're scared that they'll come off as "whining" or "sore losers" if they object to negative comments about their album?

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Postby ariel » Mon Jun 09, 2003 11:21 am

Hmm.... maybe it's just that I enjoy pushing the envelope with a cappella, but I really love this album. Not just for the amazing and "dangerously creative" effecting and percussion, but because I simply think they really just ROCK. Maybe this is just my preference for harder music in general, but I'm fairly tired of hearing beautiful, flowing, lite rock a cappella. I am just amazed by the Bubs' capacity to really just rock the hell out. The guy who sings Crazy Train just channels the sound they're looking for perfectly. He could be in a metal band! It's not perfect pitch, it's not full, round tone, it's rock and roll and it's great.

Another great thing about this album is that it has something for everyone. You couldn't have more different genres, and they do it so well. I think tracks like Take Me Home prove that the Bubs aren't just all production either. That's what that song would sound like live (except for minor tuning, probably) and it's still really great. And I haven't gotten tired of listening to it yet. There isn't one song I consistently skip, which there is on every other a cappella cd I own, even my own group's cds.

I think the Bubs (and Bill Hare) should be applauded for sticking their necks out so much on something so innovative. And I think some people will probably say, oh, they're probably not very good live, so they resort to production on their cds.... They are amazing live. Best collegiate concert I've eve seen.

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bubs

Postby jonathansears » Mon Jun 09, 2003 12:20 pm

I know what you're saying Ariel, there are definitely some great tracks on the album. My comments were more about the album as a whole. It's just not an album that I can listen to from beginning to end. Individually though, my personal favorite track is 'You Should Be Dancing'.

I'd also like to point out that I think Bill Hare and Deke Sharon did an outstanding job with this album. The engineering and production is first class all the way.

I agree with your point about the "ROCK"ness of the album. I just look at it differently. If I want to listen to Ozzy Osbourne and ROCK out .. i'm going to listen to Ozzy Osbourne, not the Bubs. I'm still the staunchest supporter of production and studio wizardy in a cappella, but to me 'Code Red' is getting too close to a mimic of the original recording instead of a creative interpretation of the song by the Bubs. A cappella (to me) is all about how you creatively perform and record a song, not how you just re-create what is already out there.

What is the point in ROCKing out to an a cappella version of a song that is so close to just being a re-recording of the original? Just ROCK out to the original!

I guess I wanted something new and fresh from the Bubs. Not just a 'Look what we can do' album.
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Postby Neil » Mon Jun 09, 2003 12:22 pm

I completely agree that these guys are rocking the hell out on this album. I also agree that nearly every song on this album is about as good as it could conceivably be done a cappella.

Finally, I know these guys rock live... actually, as I was listening to this in the car about an hour ago, I realized that I'd like that exact album, but the 'live' (not really live, but uneffected) version, quite a bit more.


OK, as I was writing this, I decided to put it on again. I've decided what it is: 1) the chime-y sound on Hot in Herre, and 2) all of Mr. Roboto. They're too fake sounding for me... by contrast, I love Machine Head, Crazy Train, and Sell Out, with their comparable level of effects. If I copied this CD minus those two songs (no matter how well they're done), I'd like it a hundred times better. They contaminate my impression of the rest of the disc:)

BTW, my favorite tracks are Shining Star and You Should Be Dancing (they seriously make me want to dance), and Disarm, Nothing Compares to You, and Take Me Home for their... oh, they're so pretty.
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Postby ariel » Mon Jun 09, 2003 12:42 pm

I can't believe this lyric didn't get a mention for "best a cappella irony ever," what with the debate over effects and technology vs. the live sound.

From Mr. Roboto:

"The problem's plain to see
Too much technology
Machines to save our lives
machines dehumanize....."

tee hee.

Jonathan, I agree about the mimicking the originals. But it's not gonna stop me from listening to it, over and over again, obsessively, instead of studying for my finals :)
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Postby jonathansears » Mon Jun 09, 2003 1:20 pm

Ariel wrote:"The problem's plain to see
Too much technology
Machines to save our lives
machines dehumanize....."


Yes. Phalanx got a good chuckle out of that when we recorded our version of Mr. Roboto on our 2000 release, "Goodphellas". Those lines were the inspiration for just producing the hell out of the song with anything we could find (basically as a tasteful inside joke). We thought we digitized ours to death, little did we know we weren't even close to the digital revolution that the Bubs would use on their version.

About our version, RARB Reviewer Geraldine Chung said:
"Phalanx is the first college a cappella group I've heard perform Mr. Roboto, and they do not skimp on the full capabilities of digital recording arts today. The song is a monument to the '80s Styx cover, replete with computerized effects that bring you back to the days when you wore fluorescent pink socks and tapered jeans."

If she'd hear the Bubs version today, I fear she'd think our version was performed live ....
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Postby gcampbell » Mon Jun 09, 2003 5:55 pm

Chris wrote:I'm surprised there aren't more posts from people in the groups being reviewed, and from their friends. Maybe they're scared that they'll come off as "whining" or "sore losers" if they object to negative comments about their album?


Back when I was in a college group being reviewed by RARB, that was my attitude (there was no RARB forum at the time, but there was certainly some RARB discussion on r.m.a-c). It felt like excessive self-promotion to get involved in discussions of my own group, and I clearly didn't have the perspective to properly analyze our shortcomings. Heck, even now that my involvement is limited to cheering loudly at shows (and helping my wife come up with some of the syllables for the arrangements she's done for the group since graduation), I feel a little reluctant to mention that you should go and buy their new album RIGHT NOW, even though you should, because it's awesome. :)

This is probably hypocritical on my part, though, because some of the best discussions seem to result when groups can discuss choices they made in recording openly and without fear of looking like, as you described it, "whiners".

Back on topic for the thread, though - this particular review read a little strangely. The first reviewer, in particular, seemed to give the 5 because she felt she had to, not because she wanted to. Unless I read her comments incorrectly, it felt as if the album wasn't a particularly enjoyable experience for her to listen to; when that's the case, I think the reviewer ought to feel free to downgrade the album no matter its technical merits. I may have a higher threshold for production wizardry than she does (although I haven't heard the album in question), but I can take that into consideration when reading her comments.

Of course, if I've misinterpreted, feel free to let me know.

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for thought

Postby tekay » Tue Jun 10, 2003 8:25 am

gcampbell wrote:
Back on topic for the thread, though - this particular review read a little strangely. The first reviewer, in particular, seemed to give the 5 because she felt she had to, not because she wanted to. Unless I read her comments incorrectly, it felt as if the album wasn't a particularly enjoyable experience for her to listen to; when that's the case, I think the reviewer ought to feel free to downgrade the album no matter its technical merits. --greg campbell


I'd pose: "Is that truly fair to the group getting the review?"

We're reviewing the album based on comparison to "all" a cappella recordings available. If my bias is heavily grounded in tuuvan throat singing, but I'm asked to review a rockabilly americana album, because I don't particularly "like" the genre of the album should I score it lower even if I think it would be superb for those who do like the genre?

It's part of the reason why there is a comment section on the website instead of just the numbers, so that you can see where we differ for support the numbers that we've given.

And yes, I have reviewed an album that I didn't particularly care for, but in the grand scheme of recordings knew that it was an Excellent=5 album.

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Postby billhare » Tue Jun 10, 2003 9:49 pm

Neil - No Southern Accent wrote:This is the perfect album to get into the 'natural sound vs. crazy effects' argument over.


You bet it is! I had a great time mixing it, knowing I probably wouldn't ever get to do such a project again. I saw this as a "great experiment", being given the challenge and opportunity to approximate the characteristics of the original records so closely, which I eagerly "went to town" on. Both Ed Boyer (Bubs Director) and I knew we would be simultaneously praised and lambasted for this work as it grew into the monstrosity it eventually became, but I've been especially waiting for the controversy! :-)

I do agree with Jonathan about getting TOO close to the originals for the exact reasons he stated, but I also think we had to get it out of our systems and prove that it COULD be done!
(BTW, Jonathan - "You Should Be Dancing" is my favorite track on there as well - I was bouncing all over the studio as that one came together!)

I'm also glad you liked the Harmonics album so much, Neil -if for no other reason that you can see I hadn't TOTALLY lost my mind with the Bubs!

I'm very proud of both albums for different reasons, and can't wait to hear the chatter regarding the new House Jacks album that just came out (shameless plug, but buy it anyway!! :-)

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Postby Neil » Thu Jun 12, 2003 5:59 am

when that's the case, I think the reviewer ought to feel free to downgrade the album no matter its technical merits. I may have a higher threshold for production wizardry than she does (although I haven't heard the album in question), but I can take that into consideration when reading her comments.


I think Tekay said it best; the idea behind the RARB reviews is the exact opposite. Regardless of how the reviewer feels about the type of album it is, you have to reward a disc that's as technically perfect as this one is. When it comes down to a matter of personal taste, that's where you read the comments and decide if this CD is for you.

Say, for instance, you're a huge 'Bubs fan. You know you love their material, you just want to know which is their best disc. You read all 5s on this one, and you know that this disc is an amazing piece of work.
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