December 17, 2005

Mighty Echoes - A Cappella Cool

We will freely admit to loving LA's four Echoes, "Brothers in Harmony" Charlie, Harvey, John and Jon at first listen, almost 20 years ago. Many audience-pleasing live performances and three great CDs haven't changed our feelings as we joyously tear the annoying plastic wrap off "Cool" and treat our boombox to the Echoes' 4th collection of 15 Doo-Wop winners. Some of our favorites include an exquisitely meandering "I Only Have Eyes for You," a complex, soaring arrangement of Brian Wilson's "Good Vibrations" (that few groups would even attempt, much less nail), a rock-solid, soulful "Lean On Me," a silly, tough-talking "Daddy Cool," a richly harmonic cover of Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight," a powerful "Duke of Earl," a luscious "In The Still of the Night," an incongruous but marvelous "White Christmas," and the final tune, a foot-stomping "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye." The Echoes have the tight arrangements, perfect pitch, soaring leads, deep basslines and love of singing that make "Cool" one of the best Doo Wop recordings of the year! 8204c CD 14.98
Listen to "Daddy Cool"

Posted by acapnews at 12:30 AM

December 13, 2005

Glad - Receive The Glory

One of Contemporary Christian music's most enduring vocal bands, with a 30 year history of recording and concert ministry, all-male quartet Glad gives us the Christmas gift of "Receive the Glory" (A Cappella Project IV), their first a cappella album in 5 years. These ten songs have Glad's trademark impeccable arrangements, layered harmonies and vocal versatility, beginning with the finely-crafted "A Debtor to Mercy Alone," and continuing through covers like "All Hail The Power of Jesus' Name," "O Wondrous Love," "Blessed Be Your Name," "O Sacred Head Now Wounded," "Holy, Holy, Holy," and "Be Still My Soul"—but the arrangements are so fine, it is as if we are hearing these songs for the first time. The title tune and "In Christ Alone" are lovely and inspirational. Since their formation at West Chester State U in the early 70's, Glad has touched millions of people with their musical ministry while creating a wonderful body of work, 11 CDs appreciated by a cappella lovers of all genres. All we can say is, we're glad you're back in the recording studio again, and don't wait again so long! 3033c CD 15.98
Listen to "A Debtor To Mercy Alone"

Posted by acapnews at 12:32 AM

December 12, 2005

Ambassadors of Harmony - Holidays in Gold

Pride of St. Charles, MO, 160-strong Ambassadors of Harmony, who won SPEBSQSA International Chorus Gold in July, 2004 in Louisville, KY, bring us a richly-textured, powerful Christmas collection, joined by '04 Collegiate Quartet winners Vocal Spectrum and AOH offshoot Gas House Gang. The really top-drawer barbershop groups have the great arrangements to go with the ringing harmonies, and "Holidays" earns high marks in this department. "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear," "Do You Hear What I Hear," "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch," "Hanukkah Medley," "The Little Drummer Boy," "Mary Had A Baby," the Nigerian Christmas Song "Betelehemu" and Handel's magnificent "Hallelujah Chorus"…each song is a flawless gem. What could be better for the holidays? 5701c CD 14.98
Listen to "It Came Across A Midnight Clear"

Posted by acapnews at 11:37 AM

December 10, 2005

The Alley Cats - A Christmas Long Ago

Our favorite Doo-Wopping Cats, who cut their a cappella teeth with Disney (like Sweeps winners Toxic Audio) and won the So. Cal. Harmony Sweeps, celebrate their 18th year together by finally saying yes to the many fans who have asked for a Christmas album. The upbeat, nostalgic original "A Christmas Long Ago," a wonderfully Doo-Woppy "Let It Snow," a bluesy "Please Come Home for Christmas" to slow dance to, a finger-snapping, Bing-imitating "White Christmas," some yummy falsetto on the Beach Boys' "Little St. Nick," a silly, manic "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer," a very funny "Blue Christmas" (Yes, Royce "Elvis" Reynolds is back!), a rhythmic, joyous "Feliz Navidad," a sweet baritone lead on "Sleigh Ride" and closing with the bluesy-jazz harmonies of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve;" it's all good. Yummy deep-bass harmonies, lots of the Cats' trademark humor, great arrangements by the group and in collaboration with original Cat Todd Dixon--"Long Ago," the group’s 5th winner, is a stone joy, and you should also check them out live in concert in their hot DVD! 8135c CD 14.98
Listen to "Sleigh Ride"

Posted by acapnews at 12:42 AM

December 9, 2005

Manhattan Transfer - The Christmas Concert DVD

What’s better than hearing Manhattan Transfer sing our favorite holiday tunes? Seeing them sing those holiday tunes, LIVE! Thanks to the awesome sound and picture quality of this DVD, you can watch the internationally acclaimed quartet spread Christmas cheer in your very own living room. It's like having your very own personal concert. All 11 tracks from their earlier CD release, 'The Christmas Album' are presented as well as four solo songs (one for each member of the group). Also included, in the bonus features, is an rare interview with the group, sharing their individual backgrounds, their secret to success, and insight on how they learn their music as a group. This DVD is sure to become a Holiday Treasure and is not to be missed! 4634 DVD 24.98

Posted by acapnews at 11:36 PM

December 8, 2005

Poor Baker's Dozen - Christmas with

St. Paul, MN's all-male Contemporary Christian sextet Poor Baker's Dozen's "Christmas with PBD" is their 4th excellent CD. We can't tell you very much about the group because the liner notes are sparse, and their website focuses on their ministry—which we like, because it places the emphasis on the group's calling as opposed to promoting themselves individually as singers. 8 songs, a very nicely arranged "Drummer Boy," a fine original by group member David Olson, "Redeemer in the Hay," "Pat-a-Pan," "Good Stuff" (the group's comment on Christmas consumption, writing new words to the Young Rascals' classic "Good Lovin',") "Gabriel's Message," "Silent Night" and the group-arranged "Amen." Some light percussion played by the group. PBD prefers to let their music and message do the talking, and "Christmas with PBD" speaks quite eloquently! 3007c CD 9.98
Listen to "Gabriel's Message"

Posted by acapnews at 12:46 AM

December 7, 2005

Slammin All-Body Band

Oakland, CA-based mixed-voice sextet Slammin All Body Band, which we caught at a recent A Cappella Summit, is at its best live–as "Slammin," their debut CD proves. In fact the idea for the band came out of a raucous jam session at Jazz Camp/West, where the creation of a full and textured sound using no instruments outside the body "was just too happening to ignore." Slammin concerts were immediately rowdy, funky, humorous, vibrant and fresh. We particularly liked the opening cut, "Overjoyed/ Cabra da Peste," riffs on the reggae anthem "Pressure Drop," "Thank You/Just Be Thankful/What Is Hip" medley and "Freedom Jazz Dance." Exciting, cutting edge stuff! 7468c CD 14.98
Listen to "Body Music"

Posted by acapnews at 10:44 PM

December 2, 2005

Whiffenpoofs - A Very Whiffenpoof Christmas

This is officially, a 14-tune, "Best of the Whiffenpoofs Christmas Songs" CD. The song selection ranges from the 1963 'Poofs' harmonic rendition of "Coventry Carol" and the 1964 group's melodic "Le Sommeil de L'enfant Jesus" to 1992's "Jingle Bell Rock," and 1994's "Up on the Housetop." Then we have the 1998 group's "Christmas Song," 2001's rendition of James Taylor's "New Hymn," and the group's trademark "The Whiffenpoof Song." These various versions of the oldest collegiate a cappella group in the US treat us to a range of emotions about Christmas, lonely (2004's poignant "Lonely Christmas Eve") hungry (the 1990 group's "Home Cookin'") to traditional and sacred (1998's "Christmas Song," 2003's "Ave Maria" and "O Holy Night" and 2003's "Ave Maria"). Admittedly, though, a few have no obvious connection to Christmas whatsoever, like 2000's "Walking in the Air," 2001's "Time After Time," and 2004's Bohemian Marching Song "Aj Lucka Lucka, Siroka". But we won't split hairs—the 'Poofs are known for their sense of humor, and the singing is beautiful! 1758c CD 14.98
Listen to "The Christmas Song"

Posted by acapnews at 12:03 AM

December 1, 2005

Voice Male - Jingles 2

Utah-based six-man Voice Male has released seven CDs to date, including the self-produced "Jingles", which won the 1999 CARA for Best Holiday Album. Luckily, this encouraged the guys to do a sequel! Much of the arranging on these 15 songs is by group member Mike Beardon, who has a mischievious streak and a refreshing irreverence - cue the Doo-Woppy “White Christmas,” sassy, silly “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a live (with Mike’s daughter Casie) “Rudolph,” a very strange “Tractin’ in a Winter Wonderland,” and “The Chipmunk Song.” They can play it straight too–note the faux trumpets on “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” the King’s Singers’ arrangement of “Jingle Bells,” sweet “Away in a Manger” and more. Will CARAs fit in 6 stockings? 3038c CD 14.98
Listen to "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow"

Posted by acapnews at 12:30 AM