The Dunster Dunces

Soundcraft Assoc. SLP 1001, 33 1/2 rpm, $3.95

The Dunster Dunces have emerged from the House dining hall with a new record, and the results are rather pleasant. Combining several of their standard songs with some new experiments in sound, the Dunces display a new maturity, both in their singing and their arrangements.

Maturity, however, has not destroyed their playfully off-color sense of humor. The Dunces have a traditional knack of giving the most innocent subject heavy sexual implications and the new selections prove that this skill has not been lost.

Recent Dunces' compositions in this genre of the nice naughty song include Winter--"a time to snow your girl," Mary--who cavorts in the zoo, and I Like Sex--the "National Game." All are sung with sparkle and life, with the lyrics competing with the music for attention. No Dunce concert (or record) would be complete without Secret Love, and on this disc the group relates the story [of the sponsored prostitute] with liquid harmony and emotion.

Less successful is the Scholar's Lament, which tells of a Lamont-bound student who suddenly feels the desire to be "more adjacent" to a 'Cliffie. Here the humor is strained and the tone is hardly memorable. Please Darling is well done but the humor fails. The Lehrerlike Drainpipe Song is just a bit sick.

One of best of the new arrangements is Tranquilizer, an ode to Milltown. Opening as a hymn, the theme is restated as a Bach fugue, transformed into the Halleluia Chorus, and returned once again into a hymn. The exercise shows to advantage the range of voices in the group, their versatility, and their style. Most Dunce songs are a parody of some music form, but few do it as well as this one. Cool Mover, a rock in roll parody that might fool a WMEX disc jockey is not new, but makes a fine addition to this collection.


Jingle Bells also wanders through a number of modulations and parodies, finishing up as The Great Pretender revisited. The subject of girls and what to do with them is also revisited, and the Dunces version of this quaint old children's song would disturb most carolers.

But not all the presentations are in this vein. All the Things You Are, Shadrach, Ride the Chariot, and Blue Moon demonstrate that they can sing straight songs, and sing them quite well. The arrangements of these old standards are refreshing and interesting, and the group is capable of sometimes difficult harmonies. Unlike many amateur college groups, the Dunces maintain consistently accurate intonation, and their voices blend into sweet, as well as powerful sounds.

Unfortunately the recording, while clear, is a little dead, removing some of the spontaneity and zest of the Dunces in person. Nonetheless, in this record the Dunces show they are the best small singing ensemble at Harvard, and Harvard's best is not bad at all.

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