Reviewer's note: Octopella is the album I was excited to listen to, only because I was (and am) SUCH a huge fan of the 2002-2003 Octet. I still love this Oldtet, I have, however, gained a huge respect for the other Oldtet/current Octet as well. I have so much respect to every man who has sung in this group.
1999-2000 Members: Ryan Antonelli, Steve Chu, Phillip Dwelle, Matt Johnson, Kevin Lamb, David Martinez, Benjamin Park
Beyond the Sea - Big, bold 40's style song, reminiscent of of crooners and bass and brass.
Baby One More Time - A classic (if you're a 90's baby.) The arrangement is complex and one of the few a cappella numbers I've heard that is easily danced to.
Because - This song is almost hypnotically repetitive, and kinda trippy. The tenors blend their voices well, in another Beatles classic.
Them There Eyes - Big and Bold, I can almost see these men performing this song as a chorus line. It's mind blowing!
I Got Rhythm - Playful. The comically mis-sung vocalizations and rhythmic harmonizing of the word "doors' is a treat. Another great number.
2000-2001 Members: Aaron Azelton, Andrew Bundy, Toby Jaw, Rob Liebermann, David Martinez, Neil Orlina, David Sloan, Richard Wood, Howard Wu
Fight For California - Cal Song, always good to lift the spirit of students.
McDonald’s Girl - I didn't realize this was a real song until I did a little research. The arrangement was done by someone who was a part of the Harvard Din and Tonics. (you can search for their video, it's exactly the same arrangement.) Rick Wood, the soloist, sings most of the song in falsetto, as an adolescent boy who has a mad crush on a girl working at Micky-D's. At the end, he' goes full bass and unloads all sorts of McDonald's inspired corny puns.
Baby Got Back - Arranged by Rick Wood, this is a similar version to the one on YouTube. It doesn't have the big bravado opening, though.
Uptown Girl - This is a song I grew up with. It's very similar to the original. Very enjoyable, 80's rockabilly.
Please - It's the best break-up song I've heard. Beautiful and sentimental.
That Don’t Impress Me Much - This is a parody of Shania Twain's hit. (Hint: the backs sing "Shania" throughout the song.
2001-2002 Members: Aaron Azelton, Andrew Bundy, Jason Mabie, David Martinez, Jerome M-C, Benjamin Sae-Tang, David Sloan, Brandon Swansfeger,
Share Your Love With Me - This song ripped out my heart and then refused to cuddle with me afterwards. I love it so much. The arrangement, the soloist and the backs go perfectly together.
With Or Without You - U2's Hit song, It's alive, and spiritual and searching. Beautifully performed.
Perfidia - I enjoyed this WASP-y version of the song with it's corny jokes. They dedicate the song to their friends south of the border, "With no further adobe". Playful.
2002-2003 Members: Kenny Kamrin, Jason Mabie, Jerome M-C, Jordan Meyer, Benjamin Sae-Tang, Parkers Sims, Brandon Swansfeger, Richard Wood
Beauty’s Only Skin Deep - (arr. & solo by Jerome M-C)
A backhanded love song in bass. The delivery of the spoken part of the song is slightly changed, but after a few listens, it works.
Blackbird - (arr. by Jerome M-C, solo by Ben Sae-Tang)
Dark yet hopeful Beatle's classic. The backs are restrained and murmur soft. This song does not need to be anything but subtle. The whistled portion by Rick Wood is different than in the 2003 concert, but after a few listens, it works well.
Lumberjack Song - (arr. by Jerome M-C, solo by Kenny Kamrin.)
Monty Python style humor, to a northern Californian audience. Kamrin does well in his spoken introduction, introducing himself and why he wants to be a lumberjack. Kenny's delivery is humorous and confident. The backs are done in a strong and manly way. I love this song so much.
Not Pretty Enough - (arr by Jerome M-C, solo by Rick Wood)
Slight difference from the original, but overall, it's effective. This is one of my favorites because this is the first Octet songs I ever heard. Some of the lyrics are different, because there is not spoken intro, as in the 2003 Spring show.
Come Go With Me - (solo by Brandon Swansfeger)
Brandon is the guy everyone asks about in the YouTube video. Classic Octet, well sung. Spoken portion of the song is well delivered: "Stupid Frat Guys" makes me chuckle every time.
Let’s Stay Together - (arr by Jerome M-C, solo by Jordan Meyer)
Masterful solo by Jordan Meyer, excellent backs by the rest. A bit more relaxed than the Spring show delivery. I love to listen to this while I'm getting ready to drift off to sleep. It's very relaxing.
Liar Medley - (transcribed by Jerome M-C) Old time, man's man song.
Octet humor through and through. Some of the visual humor is lost, but not much.
Nirvana Medley (hidden track) - (arranged by Jerome M-C, solo by Jason Mabie)
This is a very intricate song. You're not going to get all of the subtleties of the song from the YouTube video, so I added a clip.
I think that the overall reaction I get from this album is how much these men love music, and how fun music can be to play with.
I also noticed, with this album, that I can hear the singers take a breath. That's a really refreshing experience when most of the music nowadays has been mastered, remixed and auto-tuned into lifelessness.
With or Without You, being sung during Super Sproul by the incomparable 2000 Octet. The guys are (L to R) Steve Chu (bass), Ryan Antonelli (bari), Matt Johnson (tenor), David Martinez (tenor), Kevin Lam (tenor), and Ben Park (bari). The soloist is Phil Dwelle.
I was just listening to the 2001 Octet singing the same song on Octopella, so I was so pleased to be able to compare to two. :)
I hope that more Octet videos surface!