Following on from my previous post, I’m uploading a selection of some of my favourite vocals in honour of The Voice. For the singers on the following records can really SING!!! In the vein of The Voice each vocalist will be ‘battling’ it out against a worthy contemporary and a winner will be selected. (But do I already know who the winner is going to be? You’ll have to wait and see.)
The first 6 singers I presented to you were the real McCoy. They’re men’s men. But any singer of any ilk should be in touch with their emotions to a certain degree, which leads me to this crop of falsetto loving ladies men.
The next 6 vocalists are in touch with their feminine sides (if you can say that Morrissey has a feminine side?) Their voices ring loud and clear, and produce some beautiful results.
Brian Wilson vs. Paul McCartney
Winner: Brian Wilson
It was hard for me to come up with something worth pitching against Brian Wilson on Warmth of the Sun. It’s a real gem. The planet’s aligned when the Boys recorded that one. The singing is just beautiful. Sorry Macca!
Morrissey vs. Thom Yorke
Winner: Thom Yorke
Those who read the blog won’t be surprised to see me pick Thom Yorke as the winner here. My favourite singer, of my favourite band, delivering my favourite vocal from my favourite album. No contest really. But that’s not taking anything away from Morrissey. I Know it’s Gonna Happen Someday is a fantastic example of Morrissey at his best. It’s a simple, sweet, and genuinely affetcing vocal. I can’t rate it highly enough. I love trying to sing along to it at home, but…I guess that’s another story.
There are undoubtedly countless fantastic performances from Thom Yorke, but The Tourist, for me, contains some real magical moments. They way Thom’s voice seems so vulnerable when he sings “they ask me where the hell I’m going at a thousand feet per second”. It gets me every time. And the magic doesn’t end there, it builds to a spine-tingling climax. When at 3 minutes and 47 seconds Thom extends the final “slow down” – before the distorted ethereal climax, I’m in heaven.
Jim James vs. Robin Pecknold
Winner: Robin Pecknold
I do love Jim James as a singer. On songs like The Bear, Gideon and Wordless chorus he really belts out some engaging sounds. But Jim’s not so hot on the lower scale, and without any added reverb I fear he may come unstuck. Robin Pecknold I believe has the best of both worlds. He has a soft, delicate voice that can also soar when called upon. On tracks like Oliver James, where he is barely even accompanied by his acoustic guitar, there are no gimmicks, there’s no trickery. It is his vocal that carries the song. Though far from being the best Fleet Foxes song, Oliver James is a marvellous example of Pecknold’s talent as a vocalist, and I look forward to many a more Fleet Foxes record because of it.
I mentioned before that artists such as Scott Walker have a gift. And that’s exactly what the following 6 singers have in abundance. A breathless, effortless, easy way of singing. Easy for these 6 singers I should say. Upon listening, you feel as though they could just as well be talking to you, or whispering to you, sounds that are so familiar and accessible. Class.
Dione Warwick vs. Dusty Springfiled
Winner: Dusty Springfield
I could’ve picked anything off of Dusty in Memphis, but it doesn’t get much better than Just a Little Lovin’.
Sam Cooke vs. Marvin Gaye
Winner: Marvin Gaye
Good God, did you hear that? These two were just born to sing. Pure aural chocolate. Sam Cooke is your milk chocloate, Marvin Gaye the dark. A voice that can stop you in your tracks. Outstanding.
Elvis Costello vs. Elliot Smith
Winner: Elliot Smith (by default)
Firstly, it appears that you can’t find everything you want on YouTube. Elvis Costello seems to only allow shitty mobile phone recorded live footage. It’s a shame because you’re missing out on a real treat. Indoor Fireworks is an unexpected piece of magic from Dec. Really sweet. Elliot Smith on the other hand I’ve included just for the ingenuity of it all. Not enough people whisper on record, though it sounds as though Elliot Smith is whispering from his gut. Harrowing.
Stay tuned for some more great vocals.