Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Discuss: Great Vocal Performances

Doug: Today we're discussing great vocal performances, both recorded and live. Below is one of my all-time favorites, from 1982's "The Concert in Central Park". Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Roberta Flack – First Time. Obsession, but grown up, reflective obsession, not teen dramatics. Nice choice, Clint.

People go bonkers for the Three Tenors version of Nessun Dorma, and it’s forever associated with Pavarotti, but I much prefer Jose Carreras’ version.

Even though it’s middle of the road, you have to love the 1-2 combination of Bill Medley on You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling and Bobby Hatfield on Unchained Melody.

Jeff Buckley’s Halleluah.

Leona Lewis’ version of Run has had me in tears (on the motorway, for God’s sake, pull yourself together, man!)

I’m not a fan of his music really, but I do love Andy William’s voice. As Cyclops once said, like marshmallows dipped in honey. When I hear his version of Battle Hymn of the Republic and imagine where he sang it (standing beside RFK’s coffin) and remember that the whole of Boston stopped in the streets and sang along, that must have been a moment.

She’s relatively new, but Adele is amazing. I pick Rolling In The Deep, but what a voice.

Nothing compares to you – Sinead O’Connor. Actually her version of Elton John’s ‘Sacrifice’ is beautiful too.

Wicked Game by Chris Isaac is almost hallucinatory.

That Sarah McLaughlin song, is it called ‘Angel’ or ‘Arms of the Angels’? I disappear into that every time I hear it.

Old and Wise by the Alan Parsons project - the vocal belongs to Colin Blunstone.

Clare Torry – Great Gig in the Sky

I need a Freddie Mercury, but it’s hard to pick. There are many obvious ones, but I’ll go for You Take My Breath Away from A Day At The Races.

Johnny Cash – I can’t remember which one has that really REAALLY deep vocal (even for him), like granite on granite. Anyone?

Marc Almond - Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. He originally did this as part of his electro pop synth band Soft Cell. It was covered by many people over the years, and then, in a magnificent version with the full Jools Holland band, he took everybody back to school.

There are so many beautiful vocals around Jim Steinman’s work, it’s hard to know where to start, but I will go for Rory Dodd’s Surf’s Up and Kareen Anton’s French version of Total Eclipse.

Actually, French accents kill me in song, so I have to put in a vote for Carla Bruni’s Absolute Beginners (don’t say sacrilege until you hear it).

And for a beautiful vocal and piano playing, I recommend you seek out Jennifer Ann’s version of Madworld. If you thought Gary Jules nailed it, prepare yourself.


david_b said...

I've had that same youtube link on my Facebook page often. For me this performance always acknowledges the fact that Art OWNS this song, pure and simple, like McCartney on 'The Long and Winding Road'.... Actually my Mom just passed away this last week all of a sudden, so I had to play the 1976 Wings live rendition in my car when I heard the news Saturday evening, because I loved when they sang the 'Don't leave me waiting' at the end, tugs my heart-strings every time.

Anyone can sing it obviously, but for most entertainers (if they're lucky..), they'll be established in the same 'global' light for their 'signature songs'. Like Dolly Parton's 'I Will Always Love You'.., I know a generation later everyone gushed over Whitney Houston's polished performance, but it'll always be Dolly's vulnerable, heart-wrenching voice that cuts so deep into the heart.

If you've ever been in love deeply and 'in-that-moment', you'll know exactly what I mean. :)

Doug said...

David -

Very sorry to hear about your loss. Please accept my sympathy for your family.


Anonymous said...

Sorry about your mother, David. Richard already mentioned Roberta Flack so I'll add Neil Diamond, "Hello" and "I Am, I Said" - anything by Neil Diamond actually. Don McLean, "Vincent", anything by Joan Baez, "Annie's Song" by John Denver, "Yesterday Once More" and "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft" by Karen Carpenter, "Love me Tender" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight" by Elvis, "Evergreen" by Barbra Streisand...

Anonymous said...

I already mentioned both Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand but forgot about "You Don't Bring Me Flowers", greatest duet ever.

Anonymous said...

Hi David – very sorry to hear about your mum. We’re all getting to that age where the empathy is all too genuine.

I completely agree about Whitney – she had an astounding voice, but her need to hit every note in every scale in every song just removes any emotion or sense of connection. It just sounds like someone warming up. Dolly Parton’s version is far more authentic, not least because she wrote it.


Anonymous said...

The only problem with Whitney Houston is that she was almost shouting at times rather than singing. Anyway, how could I forget Tom Jones's amazing version of "Green Green Grass Of Home" - #1 for a whopping 7 weeks in the UK in 1966 and deservedly so. Plus Rod Stewart's "Maggie May", Tony Christie's "I Did What I Did For Maria" and "Honky Tonk Women", my favourite Rolling Stones song - and I once saw a TV show which featured a great version of that song sung by a choir of women from Eastern Europe !!

Humanbelly said...

Are you holding up okay, David? Richard's observation is so true-- it is indeed a shared empathy for (and from) all of us. We steel ourselves-- but I can't imagine ever being entirely ready . . .

Without any qualifiers or discussion or clarifications, I'm just gonna put Barbara Cook singing "Glitter and Be Gay" from CANDIDE at the top of the Christmas tree, declare her my own personal winner, and then happily discuss other unparalleled performances that could be on that next tier of branches right below her, yep. The ol' musical theater background is takin' precedence. . .

But I do love:

Adele's "Someone Like You"-- how many times have I nearly crashed the car because I tear up just about every time it plays on the radio?

Pat Benatar has about a zillion songs I love, and a FANTASTIC vocal instrument-- but for some reason, the little-heard cover of Alan Parsons' "Don't Let It Show" grabs me more than anything else.

John Lennon's once-and-we're-done, voice-almost-gone, for-the-ages rendition of the Beatles' "Twist & Shout". That studio version is still the best of a song that grew to hate performing.

Similarly, Paul McCartney's purposely-wrecked , unchained voice on "Oh Darlin'" on ABBEY ROAD.

Ha! My daughter singing "STILL ALIVE" (from PORTAL) with the Baltimore Gamers Symphony Orchestra last year--- but I'm not sure there's an available public recording of that anywhere. . . !


Karen said...

David, I'm sincerely sorry to hear about the loss of your Mom. That's one blow I don't think any of us ever really recover from, but we learn to keep going on. Hang in there old friend.

Redartz said...

David- very sorry for your loss. All my sympathies to you and your family.

Musically- count me with the Adele fans. Especially love her knockout performance on "Skyfall ".

Alicia Keys- "Fallin'", absolutely killer.

Marilyn McCoo of 5th. Dimension- anything she sings is like ringing crystal.

david_b said...

Thanks much all, certainly didn't mean to hijaak, but you're ALL a swell family and it's what you do.

Redartz, excellent point on Marilyn of 5th Dimension. From 'One Less Bell to Answer' to 'Last Night I Didn't Get to Sleep At All'..? Just listened to that 2nd one again..., pure 'heavenly gold'.


BobC said...

David--please allow me to add to the condolences already expressed on this thread. I know I can speak for everybody on this forum when I say you didn't hijack anything. I went through the same thing with both parents and know the feeling. As Karen said, you can only get through the best you can. Take care of yourself, pal.

The 5th Dimension!! The first record I ever loved was Aquarius and that last chorus where they go up a step, with Florence Marilyn and Ron especially hitting those power notes with such assertion --well even today it makes the hair on my neck stand up!! But then again I've always loved black music and that sorta gospel sound.

Anonymous said...

David I want to add my condolences also. Your thoughts on The Long and Winding Road hit me close to home as that is a special song for me too.

And Doug, about the Concert in Central Park - I remember buying that album and playing it over and over again. As I recall, that show came within a year of the death of John Lennon. With John's death came the realization that the Beatles would never be together again. I think a lot of acts tapped into that notion of getting back together. Yes some (maybe a lot) of the reunions were financially motivated, but I think events like Central Park filled some sort of emotional vacuum left by the end of an era, if you will.

And yes, great vocal performances.


The Prowler said...

David, just want to say I know how you feel and I know how you will feel.

Richard, my Freddie suggest: Teo Torriatte. Just a great performance.

Stevie Nicks Landslide. It's become almost a cliche and just about everybody's go to Emotional Performance (!) but it's just that good.

Roger Daltrey's Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me And Good Times by INXS with Jimmy Barnes from the The Lost Boys. Two great songs. Sticking with soundtracks, Purple Rain Prince, This Is Not America David Bowie with The Pat Methany Group and How Do I Live Without You Trisha Yearwood.

Paul Young Every Time You Go Away, Robert Palmer Sneaking Sally Through The Alley, Billy Withers Ain't No Sunshine and Aaron Neville Tell It Like It Is.

And finally, last but certainly not least, Linda Ronstadt. Literally an artist who could sing the phone book. Just a few to get a sense of her incredible talent: Silver Threads And Golden Needles, When Will I Be Loved, Poor Poor Pitiful Me and Long Long Time.......

(Sunshine go away today
I don't feel much like dancin'
Some man's come he's trying to run my life
Don't know what he's askin'
When he tells me I better get in line
Can't hear what he's sayin'
When I grow up, I'm gonna make it mine
These ain't dues I been payin'

How much does it cost
I'll buy it
The time is all we've lost
I'll try it
He can't even run his own life
I'll be damned if he'll run mine, sunshine

Sunshine, go away today
I don't feel much like dancin'
Some man's come he's trying to run my life
Don't know what he's askin'
Working starts to make me wonder where
Fruits of what I do are goin'
When he says in love and war all is fair
He's got cards he ain't showin'

How much does it cost
I'll buy it
The time is all we've lost,I'll try it
He can't even run his own life
I'll be damned if he'll run mine, Sunshine

Sunshine, come on back another day
I promise you I'll be singin'
This old world, she's gonna turn around
Brand new bells will be ringin').

Not a robot but could be mistaken for a rolling jukebox......

Unknown said...

Condolences David.
Love reign over me.
Stay from Shakespeares Sister can still haunt me 20 yrs later.

Anonymous said...

Please accept my condolences on the passing of your mom David. Both of my parents have passed away also, my dad in 1992 and my mom in 2002. You'll always miss them no matter how old you get, but they'll always be a part of you.

As for great vocal performances, Ann Wilson of Heart has killed it on performances of songs like Barracuda, Crazy on you and Magic Man. Truly the greatest female rock vocalist in my opinion. Oh yeah, her sister Nancy does a great job on her unofficial signature song These Dreams also. Saw them singing recently on Youtube and they still sound great even into their 60s now.

Adele and Florence Welsh are two newer singers who really nail vocal performances. No autotune for these two!

- Mike 'Nicki Minaj is my countrywoman. How does that make me feel? Hmmm..' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Edo Bosnar said...

David, I left you a note on FB, but again, my condolences. I was kind of staying away from this thread because I had a bit of a scare involving my dad over the weekend and beyond, and everything here just reminded me of how stressed I was (talked to him on the phone last night, he seems to be on the mend, but still...)

BobC said...

Mtl Vouts--Shakespears' Sister by the Smiths? The Smiths were my favorite band in the 80's.

Anon--agreed on Ann Wilson. She is beyond amazing--not only because of her fantastic vocals, but her song-writing ability.

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