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Nothing but new?

The Essentials have ushered in a new decade with a new member, new sound, new CD, and renewed enthusiasm.

Called "one of the finest acappella groups in the world" by one reviewer and "musical geniuses" by their mothers, The Essentials continue to sell-out shows while reinventing themselves and are now emerging on the international stage with some new twists on some age-old ideas.

"It's been a great journey so far but that was really just a warm-up," said band member Dan Speck. "Since Janet joined the group in the last year, we've basically reinvented ourselves. But we won't ever get away from what got us here - strong vocal harmonies and performances, tied to unforgettable melodies. Maybe we should have called the CD Nothing But New instead of Nothing But Blue!"

Dan's brother and bandmate Thom Speck added, "Nothing But Blue sounds so slick and is really interesting to listen to. Basically there are two conflicting acappella-percussion philosophies in the world; some groups insist on real drums and some insist on 'vocal percussion' or 'mouth drums'. It's a serious divide - a Hatfields and McCoys sorta thing. We decided to blend both real and vocal drums on this album. We ended up with thick harmonic tones, great grooves, and as always, magical studio performances. Plus, Darryl Neudorf, our producer and engineer did an awesome job of stirring in just the right amount of technology so it sounds very 'authentically us' while being hip and radio-friendly. And what I like is that the album is a mix of cover songs and originals."

The Essentials' newest member, Janet Turner, is a singer/songwriter who wrote two of the ballads on the album.

Janet was born in London, Ontario but moved to Toronto a few years ago. Coincidentally, this was the same journey that The Essentials had taken a few years earlier as a group.

The Essentials began as a group of guys singing acappella doo-wop songs in the parking lot of the Merla Mae Ice Cream parlour in London, Ontario. Their unique range of voices and arrangements of songs from the 50's to modern day struck a chord with audiences near and far.

Their success led them to tours from Vancouver to Halifax in Canada, from San Francisco to New York City south of the border, and even across the pond in Europe.

"I was excited to join The Essentials," said Janet. "I used to go and see them perform around my hometown of London, Ontario. Actually, I first met them at the Remember December CD release show. At that point, I had no idea that I'd be in the group a year later."

Some fans were shocked by the addition of a girl to a formerly all-male acappella group, but everyone that hears the new sound is impressed with the blend and loves the chemistry on-stage.

The addition of a female was something that the group had been discussing for years.

"We always thought that we'd only add a female if the right one came along and she's it," said bass singer Jo3 Oliva. "Janet is a great combination of songwriter, singer, performer, and has a natural ear for harmony. Adding her to the group really did mark a turning point for us. We've had members come and go but it seems like it was all leading up to this moment. New member, new sound, and fresh ideas all bundled into a CD that's energetic and fun to listen to and that everyone can sing along with. And, we were doing this long before Glee became a hit TV show!"


Displaying 1-5 of 5 items.

Essentials : Nothing But Blue : 1 CD : 

Listen to
Free Ride

Essentials : Nothing But Blue

Review: Dan, Thom, Janet and Joe (he spells it Jo3) are the London, Ontario-based mixed voice Contemporary a cappella group The Essentials, contains a faux "Parental Advisory" on the back of the cardboard jewel box sleeve for "Acappella Content," warning that it contains only human voices and drums, but "it still sounds so full that you'll think there's a whole band playing." Continuing, it adds: "Lyrics are suitable for all ages"-whew! We hope no parents will be scared off from enjoying this excellent collection by the warning, and conversely, that those in search of questionable lyrics will at least enjoy some great a cappella covers! Our favorites among the 12 songs include the a laid back arrangement of the Reggae anthem "I Can See Clearly Now," the Edgar Winter Group's "Free Ride," The Doobie Brothers' "Takin' It to the Streets," Tim McGraw's poignant Country hit "Some Things Never Change," Stephen Stills' Buffalo Springfield and CSN&Y hit, "Love The One You're With," a soulful, funky cover of Dave Mason's hit for Joe Cocker, "Feelin' Alright," the Rockapella standard "Falling Over You," and a live recording of Ray Gillen's Badlands Gospel hit, "In A Dream." Lead duties are shared among the four, and each shows off their serious talents as the others provide rich, sumptuous background vocals. Add some marvelous arrangements and you have "Nothing But Blue," the debut winner from The Essentials! Extensive liner notes with all the lyrics.

Songlist: I Can See Clearly Now, Free Ride, You and I, Invisible, Floating Away, Takin' It To The Streets, Some Things Never Change, Reality, Love The One You're With, Falling Over You, Feelin' Alright, In A Dream

7541c | 1 CD | $9.95 | A Cappella Mixed Voice Contemporary CDs

Essentials : ...and then some : 1 CD : 

Essentials : ...and then some

Review: This the Essentials second album and we have considerable change to enjoy. The harmonies are as tight as ever but the doo-wop tunes take the back seat in favor of light rock. In the footsteps of the Nylons they have chosen to add a percussion track to most of the tunes. "My Girl," "Lean On Me," "If I Fell" and "Only You" are the offerings for purists. Please don't let me give the impression that the doo wop is totally gone from the repertoire, for several songs still have that element but the selection is faithful to the historical changes of the 60's popular music.

Songlist: Twistin' The Night Away, California Dreamin, I'll Begin, My Girl, Lean On Me, Under the Boardwalk, Wonderful Time Tonight, If I Fell, My Juanita, Only You (And You Alone), This Night, If I've Taken Too Long

8019c | 1 CD | $14.98 | A Cappella Male Contemporary CDs

Essentials : Bare : 1 CD : 

Essentials : Bare

Review: Contemporary Canadian doo-woppers the Essentials have turned out two tight and tuneful CD's so far. This third, live recording is really a tribute to classic rock and pop, what with relentlessly infectious songs such as 'Stay,' 'Brown Eyed Girl' and 'Some Kind Of Wonderful.' Keeping a constant tempo are drums on many tracks. 'December, 1963' (a big hit for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) works both sides of the audio spectrum, high and low; the four cut loose on 'Kiss Him Goodbye,' the lead vocal intensifying into a throaty growl, the bass punctuating the concentrated harmonies working feverishly above. 'Change In My Life' and 'Lion Sleeps Tonight' are 'essentially' a cappella.

Songlist: Some Kind of Wonderfull, Heartache Tonight, Brown Eyed Girls, Change In My Life, Stay, The River of Dreams, We're Here For A Good Times, Your Song, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, December 1963 (Oh What a Night?!), Kiss Him Goodbye

2531c | 1 CD | $14.98 | Primarily a cappella

Essentials : Oh What a Night

Review: From that hotbed of a cappella music to the north, Canada, comes a young, high energy quintet who are devoting their harmonious labors on this album to the art of the doo-wop, particularly the early 60's style. 'Sixteen Candles,' 'Runaround Sue,' 'So Much In Love,' 'Come Go With Me,' and 'The Way You Do The Things You Do' are a partial list of the tunes, 14 in all. You can thoroughly enjoy a moment of nostalgia or enjoy those oldies anew as the harmonies are tight and rich, the bass is solid and the tunes are all from an era of great schmaltz and great vocalization, a virtual golden age of acappella. (For spelling information see the Belmont's review)

Songlist: I Wonder Why, Sixteen Candles, Runaround Sue, Up On The Roof, Denise, So Much In Love, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Earth Angel, Come Go With Me, Lean On Me, The Way You Do The Things You Do, Blue Moon, In The Still Of The Night

8020c | 1 CD | $14.98 | A Cappella

Essentials : Stocking Stuffer

Review: A little treat from north of the border from Toronto-based The Essentials. There's only three songs but they are most enjoyable and the recording is indeed a great Stocking Stuffer.

Songlist: The First Noel, Jingle Bell Rock, What Child is This?

2471c | 1 CD | $4.95 | A Cappella Contemporary Christmas CDs

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