Sunday, February 19, 2012


The beauty of the human voice has led some people to believe that its purity is best heard without piano, guitar or other musical accompaniment. Sometimes a single sadist will stand up and start singing (Sinead O'Connor lost her hair doing this) but more often, a group is involved, creating a gangbang for the ears.

With rare exceptions (The Mills Brothers, for an example) a cappella has not been commercially successful. It's been pretty damn good (think of The Persuaions and "It's All Right") but not successful. And if it's sold a lot of copies ("The King's Singers') it shouldn't have. But sometimes…in some ways, it can be, to quote a David Seville b-side, "Almost good." And I'm glad that I found a CD by the Oxford Blues!

I found it despite the sloth I've felt in the past six lazily downloading from blogs similar to mine replaced going to thrift shops and library sales. Why help the economy and pay so that somebody can still own a record store and be a magnet for weird old vinyl and oddball CDs when it's easy to just stay home and leech for free? Well, once in a while I find a surviving record store somewhere, or a thrift shop that still keeps a box of singles away from the mildewed floor, and one day I did rummage around, grab a fistful of oddball CDs, paid some poor wretch a buck each…and came away with some fun stuff including the Oxford Blues. And thought of YOU. And how you might like to hear a few tracks. And go on your own hunt again and buy and discover.

And to keep things fun, and not snarky (which is so hard for any blogger to resist) I will not, NOT make fun of an all-girl college a cappella glee club who combined vocals and menstrual cycles at Haverford College and pointlessly named themselves the "Oxford Blues" when they weren't at Oxford and never sang the blues. I won't say that Haverford College is located a good distance away from Philadelphia because Philadelphia insisted on it. I won't say that being in an a cappella choir is generally considered the best way of maintaining virginity.

I won't laugh at how late the "Oxford Blues" came into existence (1985) compared to Yale's poufter-esquely named Whiffenpoofs who have been pooffing away since 1909, or the all-female Smiffenpoofs (of Smith College, and I'm not making that name up) who began harmonizing in 1936. Nor will I make a lame joke about scat-singing being shitty. Nor will I lapse into lame rock-critic-speak and say how much I loves me some outsider music that's in because, well, Gabba gabba hey! No, not ME.

Because I respect any singers that DO something. That take a chance. Seriously, there's something pretty sick (even for ill folks) about getting an evil kick out of enjoying (to the point of grand derisive laughter) the well intended failures of others. Here's two cuts from the 1997 CD, issued when Emily Dorean was the musical director for the "Oxford Blues." You'll hear soloist Sarah Byrne (class of '99) handling Madonna's Connie Francis-like opening to "Like a Prayer" before the rest of the choir kicks in. No way a cappella is entertaining? Way!

LIKE A PRAYER - Madonna cover oozing with oohs.
Instant download or listen on line. No capcha codes, wait time, or whines about paying for a premium account.

I SHALL BELIEVE - Sheryl Crow cover with merry-go-round whoops

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I TRIED, man. This is painful in a sick smiley way.