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RARB/CASA Forums • View topic - Mendicants Review

Mendicants Review

Discuss our reviews or just talk about any old album.

Mendicants Review

Postby billhare » Mon Oct 11, 2004 9:58 am

Thanks to all of the reviewers for the great comments. I do need to take my friend Tom to task though, NOT because his scores were lower, but to correct a few factual errors.

Tom opens his review saying it's the Mendicants' fourth album. Where does this info come from? I think this is the 10th album that I'VE done for them, and they were already together for 25 years when I started with them in 1988. So there have been at least 30 albums since the first in 1964 or '65. I also feel that the Mendicants were partly responsible for the evolution of Collegiate A Cappella as we know it today. Independently of what was happening on the other coast, I think the 1991 "Just Like That" album was the first to use all individual mics, be produced in a "rock band" recording format, and even using some VP, which was almost unheard of in those days. Two other albums from the East Coast claim to be the first in 1991, but I think "JTL" came out a month or so earlier. Here I probably need to check my OWN facts, but I think I have it straight!

I'm always glad to be a reference for fact checking - I definitely don't want to bias a review, but if the facts aren't right the rest of the review loses a bit of credibility. Feel free (any reviewer) to email me (bill at dyz.com) if you need any factual information on any album you see my name on before you commit it to print. I don't care if you're trashing the album as much as whether your facts have basis.

As far as "taking your suggestions from the last review", this is not why the album sounds like it does. It's just a different group of singers, with a different focus on performance, different set of internal politics (a MAJOR factor on any collegiate album - get rid of the 16 different opinions and put one person in charge, and the album will not only be better, it will be cheaper!) Your comment from the last review also could have used some fact checking (from review # 354):

"This is a prime example of why you need adequate planning and budgeting when cutting a studio CD; whether the group ran out of time, or money, the difference in quality between the beginning and end of the album is disheartening."

As anyone who has made an album knows, you don't record the songs in the same order that they go on the album. In fact, most of the first half of the album was the last stuff to be recorded - so running out of time and/or money was not a factor. While this *may* have been a factor of the group "gaining their recording legs" over time, it probably only boils down to a happenstance that you didn't particularly like the second half of the album. The other reviewers didn't have the same perception, which of course doesn't mean that you are wrong and they are right, but making a blanket guess as to why this is happening is not the best way to go about writing a caveat for the community on how to plan albums.


Again, this is not to pick on Tom directly - this is for all reviewers. Tom is actually one of the more *realistic* scorers as far as numbers go in my mind. There are so many "3" albums out there gaining "4+" scores, and I appreciate and applaud his stinginess with the higher marks.

Lastly, singling out one singer as "atrocious" can be hurtful - on any given track on any album, what you might not know is that one singer put EVERYTHING he or she had into it, and took it very, very seriously. Professionals who have made it already can take this stuff (well, to more of a degree), but a collegiate singer may never open their mouth again, even if they have talent. In this particular example, there are 2 different soloists on that track, so luckily we'll never know which one you are talking about, but I think you can use a different word - I doubt many would use such a strong descriptor if they actually heard it. It is a little syrupy and choirboy sweet, but that's how it was intended - "atrocious"? I've heard much worse on much higher rated albums!

OK, 'nuff said from this end...

-B

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

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Postby bstevens » Mon Oct 11, 2004 11:36 am

Hi Bill,

Thanks for taking the time to correct some factual errors. One of the difficulties with reviewing in any medium is that the process behind the product may be opaque. Especially for reviewers whose musical skills are just that (i.e., not engineering expertise), what the album "sounds like" is what the review will (and should) be based on. Willingly open engineers/producers/studios like Bill('s) are not just informative for reviews (for which I thank you) but instructive for everyone invested in a cappella (on behalf of the 'stockholders', I thank you).

Another difficulty, and another reason I'm thrilled that the forum exists and is made such marvelous use of, is that many of RARB's reviewers, while deeply committed to the a cappella community, are young. 1991 may have seen a big step forward in a cappella recording, but it also may not have seen high school for some of our members (reviewers and otherwise). Bill and I are old enough to remember e.g. Mixed Company's "Unanimous"; but many are not. A cappella history is still mostly oral tradition, another reason to thank talkative elders (hm ... that may not have come out quite right).

Thanks again, Bill!

Benjamin Stevens

CASA Director of Education

Educational Officer for Festivals and Events

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Re: Mendicants Review

Postby nosugrefneb » Mon Oct 11, 2004 12:51 pm

nosugrefneb.com
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Re: Mendicant Review

Postby GrahamAD » Tue Oct 12, 2004 11:16 am

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Postby Nick Lyons » Tue Oct 12, 2004 5:35 pm

Solo... smooth. Some strain in the higher register but not much... and in a way it lends itself to the style. If I've found nothing else in reviews, I've found that the reviewers review the album that day at that time. If Tom were to review the album on a Tuesday at 5pm as opposed to a Saturday at noon, you may get a completely different review of an album.

The other thing I've found is that, you know your group better than anyone else does. If your group has phenomenal tuning and a reviewer says your group doesn't tune well, take it with a grain of salt. If they say your arrangements are boring and you know otherwise, again... grain of salt.

Just realize that this is a circle. If you submit your album, you don't necessarily expect to get a stellar review... HOWEVER, in return, the "community" shouldn't expect you to NOT respond, ESPECIALLY with incorrect information.

As an aside, I think Bill's post displays what the true point of reviews, albums, the community, etc is. The teacher in me looks to positive and negative reinforcement (haven't I posted about this before?). A "You may want to try..." statement, as opposed to any use of the word "atrocious," will most likely have a better affect... but as I have learned, every reviewer has his/her style(s). But please continually question your purpose as a reviewer as it relates to the growth of the a cappella community, and not just a multi-thousand dollar disc ;-)

Nick
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Postby brianhaverkate » Wed Oct 13, 2004 4:48 am

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Postby Tom C » Wed Oct 13, 2004 6:52 am

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http://www.rarb.org/people/tom-czerwinski.html
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Postby tekay » Wed Oct 13, 2004 9:13 am

[color=#8040BF] CASA Dir. of Ambassador Program SoJam Producer & Concert Mgr Sing Producer CAL jd All Things A Cappella FOTS #1 ICCA Producer Emeritus "the

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Postby seth » Wed Oct 13, 2004 11:43 am

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Postby brianhaverkate » Wed Oct 13, 2004 1:01 pm

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Postby seth » Wed Oct 13, 2004 1:14 pm

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Postby aballard » Wed Oct 13, 2004 2:09 pm

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Postby GenesisPhreak » Wed Oct 13, 2004 3:08 pm

Ahren Okamoto

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Postby billhare » Wed Oct 13, 2004 5:32 pm

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

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Postby brianhaverkate » Thu Oct 14, 2004 5:01 am

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