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Songs that sound better without backing vocals

Mon Apr 04, 2005 4:47 pm

Two comes to mind Mr. Songman and Love Song Of The Year. Any others?


Sincerely MB280E

Mon Apr 04, 2005 4:55 pm

MB280E -

Hmmm.......... your two examples would be improved with the speakers turned off altogether !

But seriously, I think the backing vocals enhanced Elvis songs.

Listening to something like Our Memories of Elvis they are sorely missed.

I would be hard pressed to think of a song I prefer in its undubbed state.

Well, OK, just the one: Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain [and then it's an outtake !].

Mon Apr 04, 2005 5:59 pm

ColinB wrote:your two examples would be improved with the speakers turned off altogether !
But seriously, I think the backing vocals enhanced Elvis songs.


I disagree. Especially with Mr. Songman. However, I do agree that backing vocals only add to the flavor of an Elvis song. I can't think of anything that would sound good without backing/harmony vocals. I did not like the Our Memories Of Elvis album when it came out. It sounded too empty. It was an album that received very little play from me.

Mon Apr 04, 2005 6:58 pm

All of them = 0

Mon Apr 04, 2005 9:33 pm

Everything with JD Slumber and the Stamps, Imperials and Voice on it

Mon Apr 04, 2005 9:59 pm

I suppose this is a really a matter of opinion. But in my mind there is no doubt that some songs sound Extremely better without the backing vocals and overdubs and some sound better with them. And I really enjoyed the Our Memories of Elvis Series with the exception of a few tracks (eg. Way Down etc.)

I also like 'Mr. Songman' but don't care as much for "Love Song of the Year".

A large majority (not all) of the '70's songs sound better without all the background vocals and overdubbings.

Tue Apr 05, 2005 12:56 am

Personally, I never cared for the Jordanaires on a number of tracks, especially "Hound Dog."

In Your Arms

Tue Apr 05, 2005 1:08 am

Controversial but I can't stand the Vocal backing on 'In Your Arms' I would love a stereo mix with the Jords out it sounds dated and cheesey like a Morecambe & Wise take-off, which is a shame as I like the song.

Tue Apr 05, 2005 1:11 am

Yes! "In Your Arms" is a great example of a song which sounds ridiculous with backing vocals.

Tue Apr 05, 2005 1:12 am

When they released "honky tonk angel" in the early 80's as a country single, it became a hit. I think it sounds wonderful with the backing vocals removed.

Another that comes to mind is "do you know who I am".

Tue Apr 05, 2005 1:12 am

"It's Midnight" is the one that jumps to my head. That last note hit by the backing singers is an over the top touch that undoes a lot of the work done by Elvis and the band in the previous three minutes. If the record ends with a simple resolution by the band it is much more effective.

Overall, the sound of the vocal group is the sound that Elvis wanted.

Tue Apr 05, 2005 1:37 am

In The Ghetto,stripped of the backing vocals,strings
and horns sounds more pure and sincere to me than
the released version(which i still like btw)One of my
favourite alt takes

norrie

Tue Apr 05, 2005 7:27 am

The undubbed Master of T-R-O-U-B-L-E!!!

jus E and the band was all it needed!

Thu Apr 07, 2005 4:21 pm

In my humble opinion, most of the songs recorded in the Jungle Room at Graceland in 76 sounds way better undubbed.

Especially songs like Never Again, Bitter They Are Harder They Fall and It's Easy For You benefit from the stripped sound picture, as found on the fantastic The Jungle Room Sessions FTD cd, compared to the overwhelming original overdubs and orchestral arrangements.

Br
Kristian

Thu Apr 07, 2005 5:03 pm

Agreed. The Jungle Room sessions were subjected to way too much overdubbing and were much crisper and clearer on the FTD release
rick

Thu Apr 07, 2005 5:04 pm

norrie -

You wrote:
In The Ghetto,stripped of the backing vocals,strings and horns sounds more pure and sincere to me


Yes, but when he sings that "In The Ghetto" line & the girls don't echo his words, it just doesn't sound right !

Kristian/rick -

Some of the masters of the Jungle Room tracks had Elvis too far back in the mix.

The overdubs on The Last Farewell & It's Easy For You weren't so bad, it's just that we couldn't hear Elvis properly.

That's what makes the outtakes sound better.

Something I'd like to hear [and we've never had] is the masters, complete with the overdubs, but with Elvis' voice brought forward in the mix to a proper level.

Thu Apr 07, 2005 5:14 pm

In my opinion, the backing vocals on 'My Wish Came True' are overpowering in places.


Brian

Fri Apr 08, 2005 1:22 am

I think Wear my ring around your neck takes the cake.
Won't you wear my ring (DOO-DOO-DO)..
The song is a wonderful rocker, but the backing vocals are as ridiculous as a pink ribbon on the Hound of Baskerville.

Fri Apr 08, 2005 1:38 am

How about Amazing Grace ? Rumour has it that Elvis made a guest appearance on this track. I have never liked the arrangement, albeit it was probably Elvis' doing.

I think Mr. Songman has just about the best harmonizing on any Elvis record. I love it.

I know it's not well thought of, but Love Song Of The Year has always appealed to me. The kind of counter-melody that the piano provides is something beautiful.

Steve Morse

Fri Apr 08, 2005 1:43 am

Brian -

My Wish Came True is a lost cause !

The song is so trite [lousy lyrics & a stilted melody to match] that the Jordanaires contribution is neither here nor there.

And they can't be removed from this mono track anyway !

R R Police -

But the Jordanaires backing on Wear My Ring Around Your Neck is great !

But speaking generally, I think that some posters have become so enamoured of Elvis & his voice that they dislike anything that they feel detracts from it in the slightest !

Take a step back, and really listen to the songs, and it is obvious that the backing vocals do add something.

And remember, the tracks we hear pre-overdubbing aren't "the way Elvis wanted them" at all.

He arranged and recorded them with the overdubs in mind !

He listened to and approved [or otherwise] the finished sound.

They are as much a part of Elvis' production of the song as the bits recorded 'in the studio'.

Fri Apr 08, 2005 1:15 pm

I was never a fan of the Jordanaires - I find their style of singing incredibly dated and hokey.

I do really rate the Imperials Quartet and the Sweet Inspirations, and sometimes I like the Stamps, but it can disappear into freak show territory when JD does that annoying zooming bass thing.

As for individual songs - I much prefer the versions of True Love Travels on a Gravel Road when Elvis's voice isn't drowned out by the harmony singer.

And I can't be doing with Kathy Westmoreland's "high voiced singing" on the likes of Something - it just plain irritates me.

Mostly I like to hear either Elvis alone or with the Imperials and the Sweet Inspirations.

Jules

Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:00 pm

I don´t like OUR MEMORIES OF ELVIS because it is stated that these are undubbed version but IT IS NOT TRUE : the backing vocals were present at those STAX sessions and if they were true undubbed tracks, you should be able to hear THE STAMPS, VOICE, etc. because they were there!

Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:41 pm

Steve Morse -

You wrote:
How about Amazing Grace ?
Rumour has it that Elvis made a guest appearance on this track.


The outtake is better - at least it starts off with just Elvis' voice !

But what about A Thing Called Love ?

He doesn't even seem to make a 'guest appearance' on that !

The harmony vocal takes over !

Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:18 pm

I don´t care that much for Elvis´ version of A Thing Called Love either. I wouldn´t even call it an Elvis performance...! Jerry Reed has a beautiful version of it, I´d take that over "Elvis´ version" anyday!


Sincerely MB280E

Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:47 pm

MB280E wrote:
I don´t care that much for Elvis´ version of A Thing Called Love either. I wouldn´t even call it an Elvis performance...! Jerry Reed has a beautiful version of it, I´d take that over "Elvis´ version" anyday!

Sincerely MB280E


Hear hear!

I second that Jerry Reed (who actually wrote the song in the first place!) also does the best version of A Thing Called Love.

Johnny Cash did a good version of it as well.

Somehow Elvis' version lacks something...

Can't put the finger on it exactly, but maybe if the arrangement had been different and Elvis had approached the song differently, we would have had a better result.

It all depends on taste, of course...

Br
Kristian