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Whiffenpoofs have been a cappella-ing their undergraduate butts off since the early 1900s, as one of the oldest continually performing Collegiate groups on the planet. We got a taste of how good these guys are from their recent strong showing against a cappella's best on NBC's The Sing-Off, so for the 2010 version to call this collection "The Best Whiffenpoofs Ever" may be more than just an idle boast. They seem to be looking to convince (possibly fool) those of us who have listened to and reviewed many previous 'Poofs albums, giving all of them excellent ratings. Skeptical, we cue up the first tracks: wonderfully arranged upbeat takes on the 50s hit "Nature Boy," and Buble's confident "Haven't Met You Yet." Next is a poignant lead on Williams/Asher's "Rainbow Connection," masterful covers of the Motown hit "Midnight Train to Georgia," and the Dave Brubeck hit "Take 5." Hmmm, all these songs have strong leads, but the background harmonies are equally strong, almost symphonic, with creamy basslines and confident vocal riffs... The traditional heart-tugger "Down by the Salley Gardens" we've heard before, but never this fine, Cole Porter's jazzy "Too Darn Hot" is sweet and smoky, Marvin Gaye's "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You" is a soulful gem, John Denver's "Leavin' On A Jet Plane" and Weill/Anderson's "September Song" are harmonic and fresh as new, "Re: Your Brains" is a surprising, hilarious, cliche-ridden zombie anthem, James Taylor's "New Hymn" is powerful and deep, "When the Saints Go Marchin' In" segues from a slow chant to a celebration, "The Whiffenpoof Song" is as rich, strong and heartbreaking as we've ever heard it, and the bluesy, spirited, incongruous "Operator" rocks us home. OK, they're not lying about the best-ever thing. You'll want to own this CD, it's envelope-pushing a cappella at its best!
Listen to Too Darn Hot in RealAudio.