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637804 Posts in 25493 Topics by 3625 Members - Latest Member: spgass September 21, 2018, 09:31:20 AM
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Author Topic: Early Vocal Arrangements Query  (Read 479 times)
c-man
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« on: September 08, 2018, 10:21:26 AM »

For musical scholars - the question of who's singing which part on the early recordings has been examined in great detail on an earlier thread with the great Adam Marsland. But in terms of how many voices were utilized for various arrangements - it seems apparent that Brian typically utilized four-parts in the early days: the general formula was that on the fast songs, the verses would normally feature Mike on lead, singing in his tenor voice, with a three-part background (Brian on top, Dennis or Al in the middle, and Carl on the lowest of the three parts), and for the verses, Brian would sing the high falsetto hook line, supported by Dennis or Al and Carl, plus Mike, who dropped down to sing a bass part....and the slow ballads would typically feature Brian on a high lead (soaring into falsetto, as was his wont), with a tight three-part harmony blend from Al or Dennis, Carl, and Mike in the bass or low baritone range. By the time of the All Summer Long album, however, Brian was using FIVE-part vocal arrangements regularly, utilizing all the guys on practically every song, and from there he would expand into six or more parts occasionally, once Bruce came on the scene ("California Girls", "Sloop John B.", "Wouldn't It Be Nice", "Good Vibrations", etc.). 

However, I'm intrigued by the arrangements on two early (Hite Morgan) recordings, where in one case it seems to me that more than five voices may have been used, and another where I'm only hearing three:

LUAU
On this one, I think there might actually be MORE than five voices - Brian and Mike are in unison on the lead, while in the background I hear at least three voices chanting "luau", and one of them is a distorted, throaty bass voice which couldn't be Mike, because he's singing a unison lead with Brian, and probably isn't Dennis, since I don't think he could sing that deep at this early point (and there was no overdubbing here - the whole thing was "live" to mono) - my bet would be Val Poliuto (in fact, he claims he did sing a bass part on one song). I've considered different scenarios for this song, including one where maybe it is Mike singing the bass voice in the background, in which case it would be Dennis singing the unison lead with Brian - but the trouble with that is, Mike's unique tonality is apparent in that unison lead, whereas the bass voice in the background sounds a little more mature (and we know Val Poliuto is a few years older than the other guys). Dennis does sing the solo line "Girls will all hula, boys will all sing" - so perhaps he's also in on the unison lead with Brian and Mike? Or, perhaps that's the only part he sings on this one - I think it'd be kind of hard for him to move quickly from the background mic to the lead mic for that one line, and then back again. Even so, I still think there's at least three voices singing the background chant, and if Al and Carl are two of them, who is third (low) voice? Most likely Val?

LAVENDAR
Now, this sounds like a classic "Four Freshman"-style arrangement, but I can only pick out three voices for sure with my untrained ear...  Smiley ...and I doubt there's five...they rehearsed and made a recording of it with the Morgans prior to Al's return, and upon his return, he definitely played upright bass on the "master" takes recorded along with both sides of the first single...but he may not be singing on it, and I'm thinking Dennis isn't either, meaning the three parts would be Brian, Carl, and Mike...but does anyone hear a fourth voice in there?
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CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2018, 05:07:08 PM »

These are fascinating questions, c-man. I need to listen to these to dissect them too, the way you have.

It's always fascinating to think about people who were not members of this band singing in the background of songs here and there. One thing that occurred to me is how interesting it is that Terry Melcher is now, although barely, in the vocal harmonies on the song God Only Knows from the recent Philharmonic album,  since it appears they fused the alternate ending version (the "a capella outro version" with all the "bops") of that song when making the new mix, right?

Random question - is  John Stamos heard singing on any other BBs studio recording, released or otherwise, other than Forever '92?
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RONDEMON
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2018, 01:42:15 PM »

Apparently Bruce didn't like Jack due to his sexuality (Jack was gay).
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c-man
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2018, 02:50:38 PM »

Not sure what the above has to do with the topic of my post...I'm guessing it was intended for the topic on Jack Rieley below...mods, can it be moved?
« Last Edit: September 09, 2018, 02:51:18 PM by c-man » Logged
HeyJude
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2018, 09:36:34 AM »

I know this is stating the obvious, but considering we're still vociferously debating who's singing the single LEAD on a few songs, trying to parse out who's singing what in a 3/4/5-part vocal stack is rife with uncertainty.

An attempt to simply *count* the number of voices in a stack might leave less room for debate I suppose.

All interesting stuff.
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