Friday, February 14, 2014

It Takes Two - Favorite Duets

Doug: Since today is Valentine's Day, we're going to bring the love through song.  And not just any genre of songs -- nope, today's discussion will center around the collaborations of two voices coming together to make a memorable song.  Of course, just like love doesn't always work out for some couples, neither is success guaranteed to recording artists merging their talents in a recording studio!  We'll talk about the songs you loved, as well as some you may even have loathed -- as long as there were two stars spinning under the needle, it's fair game.

Doug:  Stevie Nicks was all over the duet map in the 1970s-'80s, wasn't she?  From Kenny Loggins to Tom Petty to Don Henley, our Fleetwood Mac siren sang with all sorts of pop and rock icons.  I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when two songs in row came across my shuffled playlist and both featured her distinctive vocals.  So of course I thought to myself -- I'll bet our music-loving BAB playmates would have something to say about all the duets they've loved before (evokes Julio and Willie, right?).

Doug:  Today you can discuss any duets in your catalog -- the Motown song by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston gives today's post its title, and of course Gaye had a string of hits with Tammi Terrell.  And for fun, how about those oddball pairings (Julio and Willie, as previously mentioned), such as the one below:


Redartz said...

You mentioned Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty; that would be tops on my list. Tom's raspiness meshed beautifully with Stevie's fine pipes, and the result was the best collaboration of their careers.

Honorable mentions; Michael Jackson and Paul McCarney- "Say, Say, Say"

Carly Simon and James Taylor - "Mockingbird"

Edo Bosnar said...

Maybe it's due to nostalgia and the fact that the song was imprinted into my brain at an early age when AM radio was playing in the house, but I have to go with "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Kiki Dee and Elton John. I still like that song today.

And I totally remember that Bowie and Bing duet. However, as far as Bowie duets go, I prefer "Under Pressure" with Freddie Mercury.

Redartz said...

By the way, my first choice title was "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"; that's what happens when you get caught up in the morning rush...

jcpowell said...

A few of my favorites beyond the classics that Stevie Nicks was involved in that you mentioned:

"Don't Fight It" by Kenny Loggins & Steve Perry

"Don´t Give Up" by Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush

"Easy Lover" by Phil Collins & Phil Bailey

And for something a little different:

"Take Off" by Bob & Doug McKenzie + Geddy Lee

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William said...

A few that spring to mind are:

- Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder - "Ebony and Ivory"

- David Bowie and Mick Jagger - "Dancing In The Street"

- Lionel Richie and Diana Ross - "Endless Love"

david_b said...

Redartz, you gave me the best laugh.., unintentionally.

I was thinking your choice would be a funny wedding song.

"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"..

Soorry, couldn't resist.

Ohhh, Everly's 'Let It Be Me' comes to mind. Peaches and Cream 'Reunited'..

(Wait, which one was Peaches..?)

Donny and Marie's "Other Side of the Mountain", "Separate Lives" by Phil Collins and Mary Marilyn, I'll probably come up with a few more favs..

Special Mention..? Carly Simon's "You're So Vain". Technically not a duet, but adding Mick's voice on the last half of the song fitted it perfectly.

david_b said...

"Summer Song" by Chad and Jeremy, anyone...?

McCartney's "World Without Love" for Peter and Gordon.

"If I Fell" by the Fabs, I still have a couple of different released versions of that song, love the one where Macca's voice cracks at the climax.

I'd add "This Boy", but sorry lads it was a trio.

Anonymous said...

"LOVE HURTS," by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris.

Cherokee Jack

Humanbelly said...

Hmm-- how to limit it to less than 50. . .

"If I Fell"-- John & Paul's terrific harmonies. 'Course, it might not be fair to include the Beatles at all, since vocal blend was one of their stocks-in-trade.

"The Last Time I Felt Like This"-- Johnny Mathis/Jane Olivor, the theme from SAME TIME NEXT YEAR

"FAME"-- Ha! That David Bowie got around, didn't he? W/ John Lennon.

Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" has always felt more like a duet to me, w/ a fellow named Rory Dodd doing that soaring tenor "Turn Around" line.

"Lily's Eyes"-- the big male duet (and signature tune) from the musical SECRET GARDEN.

Oh wow-- "Paradise by the Dashboard Light"-- the album version w/ Meatloaf & Ellen Foley.
You come away thinking that she could sing it, maybe, 4 times, and then have to retire her voice forever. . . whew! Geeze, I love that song. . .

"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by the Righteous Brothers (again, maybe not a fair choice).

TOTALLY want to support Redartz'
Simon/Taylor "Mockingbird" choice. Uncharacteristically fun collaboration from two generally-earnest solo performers.


Doc Savage said...

I think some of you are mistaking harmony singing for duets. A duet has two singers who each take a lead.

Humanbelly said...

Yep-- yep, that's a good distinction, Matt-- that helps. Although I'm thinking there's always going to be exceptions and grey areas. "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" would still be a duet. "If I Fell" wouldn't. (Although I want to thank DavidB for mentioning Paul's voice-crack in that one version-- I thought NO ONE had ever noticed that but me! That is one murderous, sustained high-harmony line even for a tenor like Paul-!)


Doug said...

I think Matt's onto the original intent of the post -- not that we're not open to tangential topics. But to me, a duet is two stars coming together to make a hit record. Bowie and Jagger doing "Dancing in the Streets" was a great example from William.

Kenny Rogers had some notable duets with Kim Karnes and also with Dolly Parton (doing Barry Gibb's "Islands in the Stream").


david_b said...

C'mon..., harmonies vs. two separate vocals..? Way tooo technical for me.

Two awesome vocalists together (regardless of whether harmonies are included) is still a duet to me.

Humanbelly said...

Oo! This is actually more retro than even I am, but they are SUCH a hoot--

THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC-- Louis Prima & Keely Smith.


Tony said...

Battlescar- Max Webster and Rush

Anonymous said...

"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." Stevie was (and still is) awesome.

Rip Jagger said...

Two names:

Sam and Dave!

Love 'em!

Rip Off

Doc Savage said...

"I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher. No one else likes that one?

J.A. Morris said...

Looking at this list, I'm realizing I'm not a big fan of many duets. But I'll go with 'Whatever Gets You Through The Night' by Lennon & Elton John.

Humanbelly said...

Welllllll Matt, uh--- no.
It's just. . . Sonny had a dreadful voice. The instrument itself. His ear was adequate-- but that flat, broadly-nasal tone. Yeeks. And he had a tendency to come in under pitch. Cher was an exponentially better singer, of course.

In fact, I performed that number (impersonating Sonny) as part of a small DOD tour a zillion years ago-- and it was staged as an affectionate parody of Sonny & Cher. Well-received in the friendly spirit it was intended, thank goodness. My favorite of theirs is definitely THE BEAT GOES ON, though.


Steve Does Comics said...

I can officially announce that Fairy Tale of New York by Kirsty MacColl and the Pogues is the only duet I can think of that I like.

Doug said...

Steve --

Many duets are indeed sappy, forced, and performed with abject commercialism in mind.

You are a tough sell, my friend!


Steve Does Comics said...

Doug, I would like to retract my previous statement. I've just realised I also like Set The Fire To The Third Bar by Coldplay and Martha Wainwright, despite not generally liking Coldplay and knowing no other tracks by Martha Wainwright.

Steve Does Comics said...

Argh! Why did I say Coldplay? I meant Snow Patrol!

Doug said...

Snow, cold, whatever. Hopefully all that rain hasn't gotten to you!

Be well and safe, Steve!


Steve Does Comics said...

Come to think of it, I also like Your Love Alone Is Not Enough by Nina Persson and the Manic Street Preachers.

My nomination for the worst duet of all time has to be Bono and Frank Sinatra doing I Got You Under My Skin. Some horrors should never be inflicted upon humanity.

Steve Does Comics said...

Don't worry, Doug, I'm up in the hills. The water would have to be a thousand feet deep for me to be submerged. Sadly, I can't say the same for the rest of the country, which is increasingly starting to resemble Atlantis right now.

david_b said...

Actually one of the best S&C albums was 'All I Ever Need Is You'.., pound-for-pound quite a good album.

Despite his vocal limitations, which aren't all that bad in duets w/Cher, he had one of the smartest minds in the business.

His arrangements were very very well done, a good songwriter, and he knew the industry pretty well from top to bottom.

Not sure if anyone's appreciated it, but I sure like the 'robot challenges' today.., with the cute stuffed bear.

Anonymous said...

Resident Deadhead!

Jerry and Bobby doing "Jack Straw from Wichata"


Graham said...

Gotta go with Rip....too much Sam and Dave ain't enough.

Anonymous said...

Leather and Lace by Stevie Nicks and Don Henley always does the trick for me! Beautiful song, great lyrics, awesome duet.

- Mike 'tone deaf' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

There have been so many great ones mentioned already that I have very few, if any, to add.

Before I do, I will say this about that, You Don't Bring Me Flowers is really the template for a great duet. Right up there is Nicks and Henley.

david_b, I think Peaches is the one on the right, no, no the other right.

I always enjoyed Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson's "Candy".

The Prowler (always singing the Ashford part in "Reunited).

Humanbelly said...

Wait, wasn't it "Peaches and Herb"-? I feel like "Peaches and Cream" was a comic book parody of some sort awhile back (or. . . maybe that was "Milk & Cookies". . . ). I seem to recall that Herb was a darned big, built-up guy who then tended to sing w/ that soft falsetto. . . (wearing a polyester jumpsuit-- I mean, it was the 70's).

David, you're exactly right about Sonny's pop-music/show-biz acumen-- I should have mentioned that myself above. In fact, that's even underscored by the fact that he was able make himself into being half of an extraordinarily popular music and comedy double-act in spite of his own vocal limitations. The songs he wrote and arranged for his voice suited him well, and played cleverly with how similar he and Cher's voices could sound, and he was honestly funny and comfortable in front of an audience.

Hmm, and as I think about it, "A Cowboy's Work Is Never Done" ("Ride"-?) might be my favorite song of theirs. . .


Joseph said...

So many insightful and great comments! Loving this site constantly.

My favorite duet to do karaoke with my lovely wife: You Don't Bring Me Flowers (it isn't done ironically or literally - we just both love Neil Diamond). Backup: anything from Grease.

Guilty pleasure duet: Friends And Lovers by Carl Anderson & Gloria Loring.

@jcpowell: I can't understand why the Steve Perry/Kenny Loggins isn't included in most 80's classics lists!

And 'Don't Give Up' is timeless!

@Steve Does Comics: I bow to your wisdom, sir. Fairly Tale of New York IS the best duet of all time.

However 'Set The Fire..." is also great. Let me add that Martha Wainwright has many other amazing songs (some better than this) - find her before she finds you! She is one of my favorite voices. She is incredible live.

@Rip Jagger and Graham: agreed - Sam & Dave rule!

Doc Savage said...

Fairytale of New York: great song ruined by presence of Shane MacGowan's singing...find it very hard to listen to, much like latterday Tom Waits except Tom does that fake "old blues guy" voice on purpose (check his early records for his real singing voice)...

Paul Westerberg and Johnette Napolitano on "My Little Problem" is always enjoyable, though not one of his finer songs.

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