In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Western Onion went broke. Say what? Yep, they went broke, leaving all the singing telegram deliverers broke and unemployed. That was the Great San Francisco Singing Telegram Depression of 1981. Two of the unemployed were Gunnar Madsen and Matthew Stull. They placed a twenty-five-words-or-less ad in the free classifieds, looking for a bass singer. They got one call, from Richard 'Bob' Greene, who was not only a bass but a songwriter and recording engineer.
They rehearsed for six months. Gunnar remembers that their first gig was at an open mike in a Cuban restaurant where they were shuffled ahead of the line waiting flamingo guitarists by a manager aware of the patron's acute flamenco ennui. They sang "Psycho Killer", "A White Sportcoat" and a few others that night. The audience loved them.
At first all the arranging that Gunnar and Richard did was cover tunes. As they began writing their own songs, the need for another voice became an imperative. Auditions found Janie 'Bob' Scott. Lots of local appearances caused the stage show to gel. A record contract with a local record company, Kaleidoscope Records, produced the first album, The Bobs. A Grammy nomination for their arrangement of "Helter Skelter," a nation wide tour, and soon they were on radio, then TV, eventually traveling to Europe doing huge festivals and concerts.
When the first Contemporary A cappella Recording Awards were released in 1992, The Bobs won Best Arrangement for "Helter Skelter." (they also won the category - Signed Professional Best Album, 1992, and ever since, they've won CARA Awards too numerous to mention) The description of the song which accompanied the award was the following. "Rather than translating instrumental parts to voices or relying on cliched syllables and voicings, Gunnar and Richard created a new vocabulary of sounds and textures. The arrangement deconstructs the song line by line, transforming the Beatles classic into an a cappella, post-modern performance art piece." That's a definitive description, accurate too!
Another notable avenue of expression for the Bobs has been collaboration with dance companies. Their first was the commissioning of a series of songs, "The Laundry Cycle" for the Oberlin Dance Collective. Later that year (1987) after returning from their first European tour they met the dance troupe named Momix, who later changed their name to ISO. Improvising with them was the source of creation for a show. Their continued work with ISO for a number of years was noticed sufficiently that they received a commission from Lincoln Center, a one-hour presentation on PBS and a spot in the Smithsonian Institute's Museum of American History! That's quite an honor for the only New Wave a cappella group in history. It's also a testimonial to just how important the Bobs have been to the flourishing world of contemporary a cappella music.They are among the elite handful of totally original creators who blaze the path which so many others follow it becomes a freeway.
In 1990, after ten years of bob bob bobbing along, touring began to feel flat to Gunnar who decided to retire (to the shock and dismay of fans). Could the group continue? The answer was an emphatic yes. Joe "Bob" Finetti added vocal percussion, sound effects and pyrotechnics never heard before during his 13-year tenure with the group, and in 2004, Dan "Bob" Schumacher, Tallest Bob Ever, took over the role of resident groove-master and oral instrumentalist. And so the Bobs have continued to add to their musical palette of possibilities as no other group. Another apparent disaster was the departure of Janie 'Bob' Scott whose shoes were briefly filled by Lori "Bob" Rivera. Since 1998, Amy "Bob" Engelhardt has commandeered the femme-Bob slot, packing a pistol wit, years of musical, comedy and theatrical experience, and numerous haircolors. Witnessing these four amazing personalities and their combined musical wizardry, audiences tend to "spontaneously combust" (to quote a Bobs song) with alarming regularity. The Bergen Record/Home News Tribune calls The Bobs "One of the most entertaining acts on the live circuit today."
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Review: Since 1983, when the Bobs, the original "band without instruments" put out their first, self-titled album, we started our own love affair with this talented, funny, edgy, envelope-pushing group. Matthew Bob Stull, Dan Bob Schumacher, Richard Bob Greene and newest member Angie Bob Doctor, local Harmony Sweeps favorite performer and host, have come up with the goods for 30 years of recording and performing, and now have taken a long-overdue item off their bucket list, "the concept album." "Biographies" is an album about historical figures, both famous and not-particularly-famous, and the group that has been described as "Manhattan Transfer meets Monty Python" nails it! A few of our favorite song titles will give you a taste: "Andy (TV comic Andy Kaufman) Always Dreamed of Wrestling," Lord Buckley explains the life of Jesus on "The Nazz," "The Homey Rumours" takes on the "great one" Jackie Gleason, "Clarence Birdseye Flash Frozen Food" speaks for itself, as does "Fidel's (Castro) Fashion Manifesto," "Julia's Too Tall" is a delicious take on the life of Julia Child; "Lorenzo da Ponte" (Mozart's librettist) will make you forget the movie's Antonio Solieri; "Tesla, Tesla 1,2,3" (a forgotten Bay Area genius now totally in and hot); "Johnny Ramone" (Punk pioneer and guitarist for the Ramones) and finally, "Shut Up and Sing," the autobiography of the Bobs. No surprise to us, this collection is funny, intelligent, ironic and cutting-edge from beginning to end. Don't miss "Biographies," another winner from one of our all-time favorite mixed-voice a cappella quartets!
Songlist: Andy Always Dreamed of Wrestling , The Nazz , The Homey Rumours , Clarence Birdseye Flash Frozen Food , Valentina Tereshkova , Fidel's Fashion Manifesto , Elwood Decker , Hedy Lamarr Spreads it Around , Julia's Too Tall , Lorenzo da Ponte , Tesla, Tesla, 1,2,3 , Johnny Ramone , Bach to Bach , Shut up and Sing
Never Date a Musician
Review: The Bobs' 14th CD is a stunning compilation of 18 new, original songs sprung from the dangerous minds of ASCAP-award winners (and Grammy nominations for vocal arranging) The Bobs. Recorded in Seattle, Berkeley and in Room 144 of the Best Western in Marshalltown Iowa (yep, that's right!), this collection features guest appearances by former Bobs Gunnar Madsen and Lori Rivera. What's the album about? Oh, the usual assortment of obvious topics. Tubas, fast food, feng shui, the wild west, vibration, lame pickup lines, the faux poor, wrong numbers, annoying simians, religious cooking, cow tipping, hope, David Mamet, giant bagels, dating, poverty, and the ability to par-tay... This is classic Bobs guaranteed to please both new and old fans alike.
Songlist: Silver Lining, The Tight Pants Tango, Come Here Often?, Sandwich Man, Funk Shui Massacre, Imaginary Tuba, I Dreamt That David Mamet, Buddha Bakes, Never Date a Musician, Silver Lining II, Diappointment Pants, Cow Tipping, Part II, Howard Peterson, Hit the Road, Greg, Poverty, Tom Spath, Get Your Monkey off My Dog, Party Arty, Hope
Review: The documentary SIGN MY SNARLING MOVIE chronicles the history of the Bobs, the original "band without instruments" as they rise from the ashes of San Francisco's Western Onion Singing Telegram Company. Known for their vocal pyrotechnics, witty tunes, musical brinksmanship, and amazing live shows, the band evolves as they gain an audience, get nominated for a Grammy, tour the world, and manage to thrive for 25 years with no major label support, no hit records, and no instruments. Featuring music from the Bobs 25th anniversary concerts in Berkeley in 2006, rare and never-before-seen archival footage, new interviews with the band and their fans, and many surprises.
Songlist: Carefully, White Room, ...In 60 Seconds, Western Onion, Cuban Restaurant, Audition, Janie Bob, Fever, Naming The Band, Bus Plunge, Helmet, Early Years, Prisoner of Funk, Songs, Johnny's Room, Arranging, Joe Bob, Gigs, Zappa!, Lori Bob, Late-Model Love, Amy Bob, Sandwich Man, On Tour, Barber Lips, TV Medley, Through The Wall, VP Story, The Crow, Air Drums, Dan Bob, My, I'm Large, Helter Skelter, A Cappella Choir
Review: From one of the most inventive vocal groups in history, Rhapsody in Bob has both a classic that truly rocks and classic rock. Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue concerto premered in New York in 1924 in a program called "An Experiment in Modern Music" alongside pieces incorporating barnyard calls and a tin can. Gershwin originally called the piece American Rhapsody because it was such a melting pot of varied musical elements. So, what better group of artists to revisit this auspicious beginning than The Bobs, with a killer combination of vocal chops, Grammy-nominated arranging, and an inscrutable sense of humor that makes them impossible to categorize? Tallest Bob Ever Dan Schumacher (formerly of Kickshaw) debuts with The Bobs (replacing tenor Joe Finetti) on this album, which also features brand new recordings of six cover tunes ranging from Kurt Weill to Tom Petty to a new Bobs version of Cream's White Room. We love the Bobs!
Songlist: Dinner Bell , (I Was A) Teenage Brain Surgeon, There Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens , Alabama Song, Free Fallin' , White Room , Rhapsody in Blue
A Cappella Choir In The Sky
Review: Musical malfeasants the Bobs are simply one of the most beloved and original a cappella groups ever, writing such classics as "Slow Down Krishna," "Kill Your Television" and "Drive By Love." Not only were the Bobs acclaimed for their original material, they were also beloved for their hilarious and technically masterful renditions of cover songs including "Psycho Killer," "Helter Skelter" and "Purple Haze." Along the way they were Grammy-nominated, appeared on PBS in their own one hour special and were added to the Smithsonian Institute's Museum of American History! "Best of the Bobs" a.k.a. "Twenty Songs from Twenty Years" is an instant collector's item, with rare outtakes, twelve previously unreleased tracks in all including three brand new songs. No greatest hits re-hash, this CD takes you through dark and winding passages into the very center of the Bobs' twisted psyches, behind the scenes to the core of the Bobs' creative genius. A must have for any Bobs fan.
Songlist: The Boxer, Giant Robot Store, Weekend in Cincinnati, Bee Bop I Love You, A Cappella Choir In The Sky, Fluffy's Master Plan for World Domination, Hey Coach, Don't Call Me A Queer, Swingers, Elwood Decker, The Wind Cries Mary, White Room, Searchin, Slow Down Krishna, Share A Load, Mopping, Mopping, Mopping, Please Let Me Be Your Third World Country, Helmet, Art for Art's Sake, Cowboy Lips, Helter Skelter
The Druid Song
Review: The Bobs have left an indelible impression since their formation as a new wave a cappella group 20 years ago. "Coaster" swerves into the 21st century, with the same wanton desire to corrupt the minds of all who listen that have characterized the Bobs' previous nine recordings. Musically, of course, the membership - Matthew, Richard, Joe and Amy - are exceedingly qualified, more than might be suggested by such lyrical perversions as "keeps me warm at night/she's like a fire, she's like a tire" ("Rubber Girl") and "rising from my coffin/for coffee and a muffin" ("Drive Time Blues"), while walking the high wire between classical, jazz, rap and rock. There's even an accompanied pop tune - "Believe In Love" - that sets aside the musical malfeasance in favor of an unabashedly sincere performance by Joe Bob. The addition of Amy's wickedly mischievous contributions such as "Bring To Boil" and "Fluffy's Master Plan For World Domination" show that the Bobs had better not plan on retiring any time soon.
Songlist: Caravan, Drive Time Blues, She Made Me Name Her Earl, Loyal Officer, Barber Lips, A Vacant Stare, Turtle Girl, That Old Swamp, Rubber Girl, Bring To Boil, Believe In Love, Bach To Bach, Hidden Bonus Track, The Druid Song, Let's Adopt A Highway, Light My Fire, Fluffys Master Plan, A Cappella Choir
Review: Feel the love in the room ignite when you play "The Bobs Sing! (and Other Love Songs)" available now on VHS or DVD! Celebrating The Bobs' 20th Anniversary year this is a must for music lovers, audiophiles and fans alike. On VHS you get a one hour PBS TV special, recorded in Cincinnati on February, 2001, followed by a hilarious behind-the-scenes featurette revealing Amy, Joe, Richard and Matthew's wacky spontaneity and the true history behind their 20 years of presenting "a cappella worth singing about!" On the DVD you get all that with both a Stereo or Dolby 5.1 mix of the PBS concert plus nine, new and vintage Bobs songs from performances taped around the world, including: "My I'm Large," "Spray," "Druid Song," "Signs On The Line" and more!
Songlist: Concert Selections (60:00), Unchain My Heart, Mess Me Up Again, Searchin', Fever, You Really Got A Hold on Me, My Husband Was A Weatherman, Banana Love, Bach to Bach, Drive By Love, Johnny's Room, A Cappella Choir in the Sky, Bonus Videos in Chronological Order (32:00), My, I'm Large, 1987, Excerpt from Up'nswutch, 1992, Excerpt from Multiple Choice -- With the Klaus Koenig Jazz Orchestra, 1995, Slow Down Kristina, 1995, Excerpt from Chickens, 1998, The Druid Song, 2000, Spray, 2001, Signs on the Line, 2001, Share a Load, 2001
Review: The more things change... Janie Scott has retired to be replaced by Lori Rivera who is a great compliment to the strength of voice, vision, and personalities of Richard, Joe, and Matthew. As it turned out this will be the only album to mark her participation in the band, drat! Extraordinary musical sophistication is the hallmark of this CD, with, of course the wry view we've become accustomed to sharing with Richard Greene in his songs. Typically, in "Hey Coach, Don't Call Me A Queer," he explores the fascist tendencies found in high school athletics. Increasingly greater sophistication is the hallmark of The Bobs. The Bobs have a considerable reputation for outrageousness and satire even beyond the frontiers of the a cappella community. "Change of Heart," sung by Lori "Bob" Rivera, is a tragicomic tale anchored by a "heartbeat" and a "churchbell" accompaniment. The joy-buzzer of a cappella, the Bobs constantly challenge your mind while entertaining your ears.
Songlist: The Ambient One, Hey Coach Don't Call Me a Queer, Why Not Try Right Now, Swingers, Late Model Love, The Crow, Bongwater Day, Is It Something That I Said?, The Waiting Song, The Vapor Carioca, There's a Nose Ring in my Soup, Bums in the Baseline, Leisure Suit, Like a Parrot, The Gate
Christmas in L.A.
Review: The Bobs have become rather a legend since their formation in 1982. Their self-written original material, which comprises the majority of their repetoire, is caustic, political, and delivers the maximum bang for the buck. "Too Many Santas" is a raccous wail with a funky groove, "Rasta Reindeer" bends Beach Boys harmonies around a lamp post and leaves them there. An "instrumental" version (vocal trumpet) of "Do You Hear What I Hear, Man" is a rum-soaked bop at the corner bar, which the Bobs do come by honestly (Joe "Bob" Finetti is an alum of Phil Mattson's P.M. Singers). "Christmas In L.A." is a modern standard, the grave insincerity of the lyrics offset by the lounge lizard arrangement, though them chords sure are pretty! The four Bobs - Joe, Richard, Matthew and Janie (yes, one gal) - keep it coming, so this is a Christmas get together you'll want to attend!
Songlist: Yuleman vs. the Anti-Claus, Mambo, Santa, Mambo, Too Many Santas, Christmas in Jail, Santa's Got a Brand New Bag, Fifty Kilowatt Tree, The Night Before the Night Before Christmas, Do You Hear What I Hear, Man?, Christmas in LA, Mrs. Claus Want Some Lovin', Rasta Reindeer, All I Want for Christmas
Review: Kill your television! Good advice but that's not really the message in the tune with that name, written completely from bumper sticker messages. That begins material that shares sardonic and whimsical views of tattoos, coffee, love, tagging, beat poetry and more. In the last album the Bobs began working with Scott Matthews and this producer is a significant participant in the creation of the all original work mostly written by Richard Green or a Green/Finetti collaboration. This reviewer's personal favorite is the beat poetry with a fabulous, very spare backing.
Songlist: When We Start To Sing, Tattoo Me Now, Kill Your Televison, Meat On The Moon, Elwood Decker, Cafe, Reasons, Stranger Then Love, Smoke, Spray, Too Cool To Care, Bus Tours, I.T.H.O.T.M.O.A., Andy Always Dreamed Of Wrestling
Review: Yea! Humor rules once again as the fab four return to their goofus roots. Though still writing, Gunnar has nearly retired, with just a couple of appearances as a guest vocalist. Joe Finetti is expanding the musical complexity with an additional palette of sounds not heard before. Historical note: Andrew Chaikin is the vocal percussionist on Mr. Duality. The Bobs have the courage to deal with common social afflictions such as sports autograph sessions (the reggae "Sign My Snarling Doggie") or "Spontaneous Human Combustion." Poof, there goes another one!
Songlist: Drive By Love, Mr. Duality, Tweak You Peak, Naming The Band , Sign My Snarling Doggie, Spontaneous Human Combuston, Rainbird, Shut Up & Sing, Angels Of Mercy, Something In My Ear, Lady Cop/ Take Me In, Slow Down Krishna, Synaesthesia
Review: Goofy and totally original are two legitimate perspectives on a group which has songs regarding a confusion of child/adult size issues ("My I'm Large"), 'security blanket' aspect of helmets ("Helmet"), the prognosticative propensities of a weatherman sung by his wife ("Weatherman"), polka joy at The Fat Room ("Bulky Rhythm") etc. etc.. There are another dozen gems of skewed perspective and joyous wit by the team of Gunnar Madsen and Richard Greene. You must, but just in case you don't know, BOB, is a dog show acronym for Best Of Breed. Though some new listeners may not know it, the Bobs are one of the most important voices in the world of a cappella music!
Songlist: My I'm Large, Helmet, My Husband Was A Weatherman, Mopping, Mopping, Mopping, Bulky Rhythm, You Really Got A Hold On Me, Johnny's Room, Please Let Me Be Your Third World Country, Valentino's, Banana Love, Little Red Riding Hood, My Shoes
Review: You know how the importance of historical moments are valued by whether you can still remember where you were when some major event occurred? Well this reviewer still remembers the moment a version of Helter Skelter was played on a tiny non -commercial radio station in the sticks of northern California and my host jumped up, and literally ran to the radio to turn it up mumbling, "This is really weird!" We were instantly hooked on one of the most original a cappella groups ever. This is still one of the best albums of all time! The original (and only) Nu Wavers. Someone has created an a cappella Hall Of Fame and wisely included this one.
Songlist: Art For Art's Sake, Prisoner Of Funk, I Hate The Beach Boys, Bus Plunge, Cowboy Lips, Helter Skelter, Through The Wall, Be My Yoko, Lazy Susan, Nose to Nose , Trash, The Deprogrammer, Eddie The Jinx, Democratic Process, Psycho Killer
Review: Primarily A Cappella is proud to bring you the first ever songbook from the Bobs. "A Cappella Songbook, Vol. 1" features 10 original Bobs songs with arrangements by Richard Greene, Gunnar Madsen and Joe Finetti, with adaptions and transriptions by Deke Sharon and Anne Raugh. Now you too can "Sing the Songs of..." the Bobs.
Songlist: Bus Plunge, Trash, Through The Wall, Helmet, Johnny's Room, Share A Load, Spontaneous Human Combustion, Drive By Love, When We Start To Sing, Elwood Decker
Review: Here's another 10 terrific original songs as sung by the Bobs. This songbook covers the decade of unforgettable tunes, from "My Shoes" and "Pounded on a Rock" to "Kill Your Television" , "Late Model Love" and "There's a Nose Ring in my Soup" Sing them if you dare!
Songlist: Pounded on a Rock, My Shoes, Angels of Mercy, Forty Seven Reasons, Rainbird, Kill Your Television, Stranger Than Love, Late Model Love, There's a Nose Ring in my Soup, 50 Kilowatt Tree