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Author Topic: Early Vocal Arrangements Query  (Read 896 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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« 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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adamghost
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2018, 12:34:46 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?

Hey Craig, guess what...I'm temporarily in LA, just got new headphones, and I'm on Smiley Smile for one of my biannual visits. Thus I'll give it a go.

Lavender...on this version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCBcVzds2Ck the vocals disarticulate at :47 and you can hear four parts:
Brian - F#
Carl - Eb
Dennis - Bb
Mike - whiffs on a low Bb (but you can hear him just prior to that and it's clearly Dennis carrying through from the prior note to the higher Bb)

To me the bottom of the top triad is pretty clearly Dennis.

LUAU
So it sounds like the biggest harmony spread is on "Sun" at 1:07 on this version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK8oyfXnnqE
 Top: E
main vocal: B
next: Ab
I THINK I hear a low E as well, but it's just an overtone so I can't swear to it.

That makes four part, but the "B" could be doubled which does get us to five. However...

To my ear, it's pretty clear that it's not a real call and response throughout, but the same singers switching from lead to harmony (the lead lines cut off abruptly to draw breath and never overlap the backups), so it doesn't require five singers to be there. I think it's the same group all the way through. And yes, I do hear the super low vocal you're talking about.

To me the tell is on Dennis' solo lines.  In the stack, the bass vocal that's been present everywhere else is GONE, and it's a straight triad on the backgrounds. That tells me it's really four voices singing all the way through.

So I think you're looking at (top to bottom) Brian-Dennis-Carl-Mike, with Mike doing the uber low thang. I think it's Carl at the bottom of the triad because it's clearly Dennis holding the melody (loudly) on "Sun," and it does sound like Carl in his low voice when the triad scoops low on the 4 chord. It seems like they'd determine where to position Carl and Dennis in the stack based on which was the easier part (which would go to Dennis).
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 12:41:50 AM by adamghost » Logged
adamghost
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« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2018, 12:36:31 AM »

[duplicate post]
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 12:37:36 AM by adamghost » Logged
adamghost
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« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2018, 12:39:10 AM »

[duplicate post - the board is malfunctioning as I'm trying to edit typos]
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 12:39:52 AM by adamghost » Logged
c-man
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« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2018, 04:21:54 AM »

Wow, awesome Adam - so great to have you back!  Smiley

So now the next logical question - do we think Al sings on the released (Candix single) version of "Surfin'"?  From the rehearsal tapes, we know he was not involved at that early stage (Brian threatens to get Al to replace a hiccupping Dennis), but he was obviously there for the master session, playing the upright bass. But does he sing on it?
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 04:36:03 AM by c-man » Logged
adamghost
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« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2018, 11:27:00 AM »

Wow, awesome Adam - so great to have you back!  Smiley

So now the next logical question - do we think Al sings on the released (Candix single) version of "Surfin'"?  From the rehearsal tapes, we know he was not involved at that early stage (Brian threatens to get Al to replace a hiccupping Dennis), but he was obviously there for the master session, playing the upright bass. But does he sing on it?

Ooh interesting question. OK, I go into this with some bias in that I have a hard time believing that Brian would have Al on the session and NOT have him sing. We also know that Brian would occasionally have Dave reinforce Dennis' part. But Al isn't immediately obvious in the vocal blend.

So listening through "Surfin'" first of all obviously it's not a very clear recording. You're basically hearing a four part harmony but two of the parts are much louder - Mike's and the middle of the triad which sounds very like Dennis (not unusual for Dennis to stick out of the blend on the early records). The other parts of the harmony are pretty faint but it sounds like Carl on the bottom of the triad and Brian on the top which wouldn't be unusual (Dennis getting the simplest harmony as usual). So that's four.

However, some interesting spots in the song make me think Al is there.

Listen at 1:00 as one of the harmonies briefly pops out as one of the singers projects while he's running out of air. What's that we hear? Vibrato! Brian, Carl and Mike never used it. Dennis did, but this sounds very NOT Dennis. It doesn't sound like a Wilson at all. I can't say it sounds LIKE Al, but it does not sound UNLIKE Al, and I don't think it's any of the other guys. And Al uses vibrato quite a bit when singing lead.

Now listen to the bottom of the triad (it's an A) at 2:04-2:05 where it goes "only way for me." The "for me" sounds like Al, though if so it's a little odd for a reason I'll get into below.

The tell here is the "Surfin'" chorus. The middle part is much louder than the other two to the point that it's hard to tell if the other two parts are there, though it rings like a three part and if you listen carefully you can discern the other two parts.

But more to the point, the reason that part is so loud is it's doubled. There's two guys on the same note. I can hear it best on the first chorus. The double is tight, but it comes apart slightly in a few spots.  So that's five guys. Which gives you Brian on top, Dennis and a mystery double on the middle, Carl on the indistinct low harmony, and Mike on the bass.  

Sounds like Brian had Al double Dennis at least on the choruses, or it may be that Al doubles Dennis throughout but he was just more confident on the chorus note since it was more obvious. The only thing about that that's weird is if it's Al at 2:04 he's on the lower harmony and Carl's doubling Dennis at that point. So it may be that's a false ID and it's really Carl on that note (since it would require either an arrangement change or them both to mess up their part at the same time).

You can also hear the double pretty clearly on the ending "ooo". On the middle harmony one of the singers enters flat and the other doesn't, and when that little flourish "oo-oo-ooh-oo" breaks off it's only one singer (Dennis I'd guess) doing it but the triad doesn't come apart.

So I'd wager it's (top to bottom) Brian-Dennis+Al-Carl-Mike.

« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 11:30:58 AM by adamghost » Logged
c-man
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« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2018, 11:33:47 AM »

Sweet - thanks, Mr. M.
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