As much as I'm into the endless pleasures that the human voice has to offer, acapella music has never done a whole lot for me. Friends have made their attempts at swaying me with records by The Bobs, The Nylons, and The Manhattan Transfer. Nope. Not gonna happen.
It's tough to place exactly what the problem is. Maybe it's just that it all seems too earnest or something. For what it's worth, I get the same reaction when exposed to show tunes. Not good.
Disclaimer: there are a few acapella-ish records in my collection. Bobby McFerrin may have annoyed the bejeebers out of everybody with "Don't Worry Be Happy," but before that came Spontaneous Inventions, an amazing recording of a completely improvised show. McFerrin also put out a couple of great records with both Chick Corea (Play) and Yo-Yo Ma (Hush). On the more out end of vocal recordings are the Bulgarian folk ensemble Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares and Bjork's Medulla. Not acapella in the strictest sense but nonetheless, celebrations of voice.
So in all honesty, I was expecting to be placing Slammin All-Body Band on my "Uhm... No, Thank You" shelf. Instead, I was sort of blown away by the music and my reaction to it.
The opening track showcases why this collective is so different. The key might be the beatboxing of Steve Hogan. On "Overjoyed" (yes, the Stevie Wonder tune) Hogan vocalizes brushes that are so realistic I quickly forgot that no physical instruments were involved.
There are many similar moments on this record when the individual talents push the concept far beyond voice—the "synthesizers" on the gorgeously harmonized "Pressure Drop," "Body Music: Slammed" (a slow-building percussion/groove piece), an inspired version of "Freedom Jazz Dance," a slinky cover of Miles Davis' "All Blues," and a nice take on Sly & the Family Stone's "Thank You" that morphs into a brilliant "What Is Hip" (my personal favorite Tower of Power song).