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The 1998 Thread


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1 hour ago, jwillis35 said:

A few reviews for you all to read if you did not catch much from 1998.

 

HA! Obviously I was a little more critical of Cadets than I remember. Maybe I should read my twenty-year old reviews before posting now.

And I have absolutely NO memory of that show being in the afternoon. 

It's amazing how much we forget. In the end, often what we have are isolated images and feelings and the words we have written in the aftermath of the event. But even words we have written do not automatically conjure up images or feelings. Furthermore, they are not the entire account of what we experienced. 

Other senses help us more. For years the smell of diesel fumes transported me to tour. I no longer play brass, but I'm sure the smell of valve oil would unleash a powerful wave of memory and nostalgia.  

 

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3 hours ago, hostrauser said:

1998, "The Rock"

Thanks! Therefore I must have attended the Massillon show in 1998.

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30 minutes ago, mfrontz said:

HA! Obviously I was a little more critical of Cadets than I remember. Maybe I should read my twenty-year old reviews before posting now.

And I have absolutely NO memory of that show being in the afternoon. 

It's amazing how much we forget. In the end, often what we have are isolated images and feelings and the words we have written in the aftermath of the event. But even words we have written do not automatically conjure up images or feelings. Furthermore, they are not the entire account of what we experienced. 

Other senses help us more. For years the smell of diesel fumes transported me to tour. I no longer play brass, but I'm sure the smell of valve oil would unleash a powerful wave of memory and nostalgia.  

 

Hey, I'm with you. I've gone back and read some of my old reviews and thought to myself "I said that?" I did enjoy your review though.

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I feel 1998 is one of the weakest top 12's of the decade, especially compared to the season before and after.  A few corps hit home runs, but not as many as I expected.  Oh, and the recordings were again awful - the mix is insanely loud compared to other years.  This was the last year they had the Killeen, TX show - I did get to see BD rehearse during the afternoon - first time I'd been exposed to air only, air and drums, full ensemble...  Sometimes we forget how homogenized (in a good way!) and interconnected marching instruction is these days!

Cadets had one of the most intentionally-ugly opening horn hits ever heard to that date.  Musically, they did what they did very well, but holy cow is that an ugly piece.  I keep trying to go back every few years and rewatch, but I can't.  I'd have put SCV in first, but also have to recognize that Cadets were very, very clean.

When I first saw SCV, I wrote a fairly scathing review on RAMD about how inaccessible the music was.  With 20 years of hindsight, no - the show was brilliant.  Dark, but brilliant.  I still smile when thinking about the dancing tenors.  I have to admit I'm kind of glad they didn't win, though, else they might not have done the '99 show the way they did.

Honestly, Blue Devils had my favorite show from the top 4.  As someone mentioned earlier, BD playing classical was definitely a head-turner, but they made it sound gooood.  I loved their arrangement of Romeo and Juliet in the opener, and One Hand One Heart was an epic closer.  Personal note - James Gulke conducted the victory concert in Killeen about 3 feet away from me.  I might have fanboyed a bit.  

Cavaliers put together a rock-solid show, built on what they had always done well - visual and drums.  The guard had a neat trick wearing the corps uniforms during the opener - funny enough, it made the ensemble as a whole look smaller, not bigger.  Machine is a brilliant closer, especially when the guard picks up the cymbals and chaos reigns right up to the abrupt end.  

Glassmen... their corps was head and shoulders better in talent than '97, and the music was definitely more sophisticated... but the show didn't have quite the same heart.  I can't quite articulate what the Bizet show had, but it had "it" and I don't think '98 had it.

Madison Scouts had a great and entertaining show, but it definitely felt like Scott Stewart's feud with DCI judging was influencing their design process.  Remembrance is a wonderful chart, but I think I liked the '90 version better.  Peer Gynt was a lot of fun, and seeing the battery continually swapping instruments throughout the show warmed my percussive heart.  

Crossmen weren't quite as strong in '98 as the year before, with a show that to me felt like a bit of a retread.  I have to admit, it's not one that finds playtime in my lists.  Hopkins responded to my complaint online about why Metheny again with "nobody in the current Crossmen has played it."  I have to admit, as a parent now I get that argument, but I'd still they rather had made new classics instead of using old ones. 

Phantom's show, like The Ring, sounded great on paper but wasn't as clear on the field.  I think this one should be held against the designers, rather than the performers, though it felt their hornline had slipped a fair bit.  The Respighi at the end sounded tired.

Blue Knights had what I thought was a very strong and solidly programmed show.  I thought between Ben Hur and this they were developing a very distinct sound, and their drumlines were getting better and better.  I appreciated the straightforward arrangements too.

Bluecoats played a "Greatest Hits" compilation, and it was gooood.  Didn't score the highest, but it was great to listen to.  I can't complain.  🙂

Crown put on what, to me, was their weakest show since joining D1.  Another one I think that falls on the designers.  The whole show felt fuzzy both musically and visually.  (Of course, with two decades of history, one of Crown's strengths has been that they can turn on a dime when it comes to reinventing themselves, but we're not quite there yet.)

Colts switched to vocal jazz (one guess who picked the music!) and it worked beautifully.  Yes, 12th, but a bright, fun show that really stood out for its uniqueness.  I still listen to the source material.  

Other honorable mentions - Magic completely pivots...and falls out of Finals.  Boston kept '90's Bostoning, right up until next year when they didn't.  Les Etoiles did it again, making Semis against all odds.  East Coast Jazz put on clinic on how to go Old School in a New School manner, with some epic soloists.  And Tarheel Sun put out a massive group that looked like they were going to gain steam.  

Next, in '99 - the swan song for bugles, and some of the most iconic shows ever for a handful of groups.

Mike

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1 hour ago, MikeN said:

Crossmen weren't quite as strong in '98 as the year before, with a show that to me felt like a bit of a retread.  I have to admit, it's not one that finds playtime in my lists.  Hopkins responded to my complaint online about why Metheny again with "nobody in the current Crossmen has played it."  I have to admit, as a parent now I get that argument, but I'd still they rather had made new classics instead of using old ones. 

Well, now, it's not like Crossmen in 98 played all the same Metheny. But I love listening to both 1991 and 1998 because they are two great Crossmen drumlines from two different eras. Sure, 2/3 of the 98 Third Wind is the same song they played in 91, but Thurston's and Hannum's arrangements are completely different and both uniquely engaging. Thurston's stuff is obviously iconic and the 91 line is arguably the best of all his years, but listen to how faithfully Hannum's drumline interprets PMG's sound (I think the live recording on The Road to You must have been the inspiration). Yes, Letter From Home isn't anything to write home about (ha!) but The First Circle falls right back into that PMG groove.   

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Until this past season, 1998 was my high-water mark for Cavies ballads. It still is, but last year's certainly the best one they've had since then. Probably my favorite Cavies show music-wise.

1998 is my favorite Crossmen show, point-blank. Mostly because of that pit break, which, talk about ballsy design choices.

I can't find it anymore (or remember how I found it in the first place) but once upon a time there was a webpage by one of the 1998 Xmen staff talking about all the things that went wrong with that show going from design to execution. The highlights I recall include needing to move a couple of snares into the pit such that they only had five snares marching the closer by finals, and the sop line being too weak to handle any of the sop parts, which is why the melodies are carried by the mellos and baris basically the whole time. Anyone else remember what I'm talking about/have a link? It'd be nice to go back and re-read that again.

Super-fan-friendly BD is confusing to think about and also it's maybe the most brilliantly-arranged mash-up drum corps has ever done.

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My reflections on places 4 - 5:

4th Place: The Cavaliers really had a total show package with excellent design. Their show "Traditions for a New Era" was an appropriate title. After winning the title in 92 and 95 I felt the corps was good in 96 and 97 (and 93, 94) but were searching for that next "thing" that would propel them yet again to the top of the activity. They found it with this show. The title did not come until 2000 (a tie with Cadets), but you could see that the Cavaliers were onto something. The drill and music were masterfully coordinated. They didn't have the brass that BD or Cadets did (yet), and percussion was always a strong point for Cavies, but you could see the visual elements and guard integration that made this show a home-run for the corps. Their 1999 show would be even better, and then we all know what happened (5 titles in 7 years). I don't think anyone saw 5 championships coming, but many could tell they were heading in a slightly new direction while retaining those unique qualities that made them a fan favorite in the 80s and 90s. The Philip Sparke music was perfect for this show with beautiful melodies and rhythmic grooves that perfectly matched the visual program. 

5th Place: The Glassmen put together the talent, brass, percussion, guard, and a total visual and music program to finally compete in the top 5. They were the first Ohio corps to make top 5, and they would achieve that 3 times in 4 years (98, 99, 2001).  To be fair, there was a big gap between 4th and 5th place. The Glassmen were 3.4 points behind Cavaliers.  Having said that the top 5 placement was a HUGE achievement.

Their show, Dreams of Gold: The Music of Alexander Borodin featured some great orchestral music. The show felt like something you might see SCV or Phantom do, but credit to Glassmen. They had great arrangements and performed the heck out of this show. The corps was certainly powered by a top-flight percussion ensemble that I believe beat the Blue Devils in field perc on Finals night. As an Ohioan I was thrilled when the Bluecoats became the first Ohio corps to make top 12 (1987), so I was just as thrilled to see Glassmen be the first to make top 5. The 1990s were an incredible decade for the Glassmen, and I enjoyed so many of their shows. The 1993 show always stands out to me because I love how they did the Arkenstone music, but I honestly enjoyed everything from the 90s. Some thought the corps could be a little boring and the corps even made T-shirts to poke fun at themselves, but in truth they had many shows in the 90s that were flat-out good to great drum corps entertainment. 

Obviously there has always been a friendly rivalry between the Glassmen and the Bluecoats. If you had asked me in 1995 who I thought would be the first Ohio corps to break into the top five I would have said Bluecoats. By the end of the 90s it was apparent that Bloo was struggling a little (they were still talented and played great music) in terms of placement. In 97 Bloo had fallen to 11th. During the 98 season they were good with some excellent music, and did move up to 10th, but then fell out of the top 12 the next year (99). All this while Glassmen would enjoy top 5 in 98, 99, and 2001. The Glassmen seemed to have things rolling along. Not sure who arranged the music for them during the 90s, but I was a fan for sure. Percussion was killer. By 2003 however things seemed to fall apart and the corps went from top 5 to 14th place in just two years. But as of 1998, the Glassmen were riding high and the Bluecoats were definitely taking notice.

 

 

Edited by jwillis35
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Glassmen percussion warm-up in Nashville, TN in 98.

Glassmen Percussion Video

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