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I miss the harmonies
13 July 2014
1.12am
trcanberra
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I have been listening to a number of solo albums of late so it has been a while since I listened to actual Beatles tracks.  Last night I happened to hear Nowhere Man on internet radio on my PS Vita and it just reminded me that no matter how great the solo material was it rarely had those wonderful multi-tracked vocals backed by some wondrous harmonising - plus great instrumentation and production.

I guess we have covered the collaboration aspect quite a lot but it has been ages since it struck me so forcefully - and for me at least it seems that not only was the dream over, for the most part so was the magic.

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13 July 2014
1.44am
vonbontee
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Yeah, I totally agree with you. I think that lack of lush JPG harmonies is the main reason why the most ordinary solo material can never measure up to the (merely) ordinary Beatles stuff. Those three voices just complemented each other so thrillingly - all the magical 70s studio tricks they could do as far as multitracking their own harmonies didn't have that contrast.

Rubber Soul is my ultimate Beatle Harmonies album; I could listen to those voices-and-nothing-but throughout the whole album and be enthralled.

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13 July 2014
2.50am
Mr. Kite
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Beatles harmonies really are a bit of magic. Listening to Because, especially the Anthology 3 version, always hits me. What's funny is looking at pictures from that era, where John looks Amish, and imagining those beautiful voices coming out of those three men.

The harmonies are a major part of why The Beatles' music sounded so good and probably won't ever be matched.

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13 July 2014
6.12am
Matt Busby
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Mr. Kite said
Beatles harmonies really are a bit of magic. Listening to Because, especially the Anthology 3 version, always hits me. What's funny is looking at pictures from that era, where John looks Amish, and imagining those beautiful voices coming out of those three men.

The harmonies are a major part of why The Beatles' music sounded so good and probably won't ever be matched.

That version of Because always gives me chills up and down my spine.  The way Paul does that little arpeggio-like sequence at for example 0:43, "Because the wind is high, it blows my mind (aye-aye-aye-aye-aye-aye)".  In fact Paul does a lot of really good, sometimes haunting high harmonies.  The range of harmonic structures they used, from resonant to dissonant (is "resonant" the right word?), shows their musical knowledge.  The ease at which they would switch mikes in the middle of songs, and spontaneously, randomly join another in harmony, shows their inborn musical talent (and just how close they all got in the early days like Hamburg).

I hate to draw the comparison once again, but the Beach Boys were the only other popular group whose harmonies came close to (and sometimes exceed) those of the Beatles.  S&G sounded real good, but there are only two of them.  More modern groups like the Dixie Chicks or those little boy bands like N'Sync and Backsteet Boys are too stiff and formal, their live performances carefully scripted, rehearsed, mixed, and fairly inflexible.  I suppose there are present day harmony bands, especially the acapello ones, but I guarantee they ain't the Beatles a-hard-days-night-george-10

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13 July 2014
6.21am
Billy Rhythm
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Mr. Kite said
Beatles harmonies really are a bit of magic. Listening to Because, especially the Anthology 3 version, always hits me. What's funny is looking at pictures from that era, where John looks Amish, and imagining those beautiful voices coming out of those three men.

The harmonies are a major part of why The Beatles' music sounded so good and probably won't ever be matched.

Their harmonies were simply angelic, unmatched by any others, whether it was only just Paul & George belting out the last verse of 'All My Loving', or more often, John, Paul & George performing repeated 3-Part Harmonic Brilliance throughout many of their classic works, The Beatles established a benchmark of sorts to which all other singers can only strive for but never truly achieve.  Sure, there's been many more who are, in fact, technically more accomplished than any of them ever were, but ANY combination of them displaying their pension for creating another voice beyond their own could NEVER be duplicated, the closest representation of "the voice of GOD" that humans will ever know.

 

Don't discount Ringo's contributions here as well eventhough his range was the most "limited" of the four, that goes without saying, but 'Hey Jude's (THE Greatest Song of ALL Time) epic refrain wouldn't be what it is without Rings' spirited contribution, nor would 'Carry That Weight' have made The Beatles' swansong known as 'The End' so very effective.  John's Fired Aspirations in combination with Paul's Watery Inertia was tempered by George's Aired Spirit, while Ringo's Earthly Presence grounded the entire experience for us all to relate to exoterically, and it's no more obvious to all than when they locked in on their vocals together.  For The Beatles, it was a NATURAL (or more accurately, SUPERNATURAL) projection, something that others can only try to accomplish with the aid of many years technical training...:-)

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13 July 2014
10.43am
trcanberra
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^^  I was actually listening to the Beach Boys after the Beatles and was thinking the same - even on some of their less well-known tracks like the California Saga off Holland.

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Matt Busby
13 July 2014
1.43pm
meanmistermustard
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The three-part harmonies are one of the few things i like about the two reunion tracks, despite it being 25 years later they still sounded as good as back in the Sixties.

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13 July 2014
5.25pm
Ahhh Girl
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Not to knock Paul's current band, but this conversation has me wondering what those harmony/a cappella parts in NEW (the song) would sound like if Paul had John, George, and Ringo singing with him instead.

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13 July 2014
11.12pm
Bongo
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Ahhh Girl said
Not to knock Paul's current band, but this conversation has me wondering what those harmony/a cappella parts in NEW (the song) would sound like if Paul had John, George, and Ringo singing with him instead.

Gotta give Linda sooooome credit while with the Wings as probably the only other singer to do Harmony within the solo years!  Pretty good stuff on the Ram LP and others...

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14 July 2014
12.06am
meanmistermustard
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Ahhh Girl said
Not to knock Paul's current band, but this conversation has me wondering what those harmony/a cappella parts in NEW (the song) would sound like if Paul had John, George, and Ringo singing with him instead.

Better.

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14 July 2014
12.45am
Ahhh Girl
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meanmistermustard said

Ahhh Girl said
Not to knock Paul's current band, but this conversation has me wondering what those harmony/a cappella parts in NEW (the song) would sound like if Paul had John, George, and Ringo singing with him instead.

Better.

To continue with @Billy Rhythm's theme, that sound would be heavenly.

14 July 2014
12.46am
Von Bontee
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I thought Denny Laine & maybe a coupla others did vocals too. Maybe just on the ones they wrote themselves?

I should check the credits in my few Wings albums more often.

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14 July 2014
2.00am
Bulldog
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Von Bontee said
I thought Denny Laine & maybe a coupla others did vocals too. Maybe just on the ones they wrote themselves?

I should check the credits in my few Wings albums more often.

Yeah, Denny definitely sang, along with Jimmy McCulloch and Joe English (obviously Paul and Linda as well - only full Wings line-up I know, sorry).

I'm certain at least three members sang in some of the harmonies on BOTR. Oh, I just looked it up, BOTR only had three members of Wings working on it: Denny, Linda, and of course Paul. Anyway, if you listen closely to the verses of Jet, specifically to the part with the harmonies: "...sergeant major" and "...thousand laces", there is CLEARLY a second male voice in the background, which must be Laine (however, I don't hear Linda here...) So, yes, Wings did three+-part harmonies too. Or at least every member sang backing vocals in certain parts of songs. (I'm sure, also, that there is further evidence of this from Rockshow if anyone wants to investigate.)

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14 July 2014
2.31am
Ron Nasty
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Linda could be made "right" in the studio, live she wasn't so good... As this infamous recording shows...

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14 July 2014
3.08am
Matt Busby
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Bulldog said

Von Bontee said
I thought Denny Laine & maybe a coupla others did vocals too. Maybe just on the ones they wrote themselves?

I should check the credits in my few Wings albums more often.

Yeah, Denny definitely sang, along with Jimmy McCulloch and Joe English (obviously Paul and Linda as well - only full Wings line-up I know, sorry).

I'm certain at least three members sang in some of the harmonies on BOTR. Oh, I just looked it up, BOTR only had three members of Wings working on it: Denny, Linda, and of course Paul. Anyway, if you listen closely to the verses of Jet, specifically to the part with the harmonies: "...funny faces", "sergeant major", and "thousand laces", there is CLEARLY a second male voice in the background, which must be Laine (however, I don't hear Linda here...) So, yes, Wings did three+-part harmonies too. Or at least every member sang backing vocals in certain parts of songs. (I'm sure, also, that there is further evidence of this from Rockshow if anyone wants to investigate.)

I had Rockshow on my dvr last week.  Unfortunately I let it get deleted or I'd check for sure right now (I did watch it about 5 times though so it's fairly fresh in my head).  Laine sings harmony and lead (harmony on Picasso's Last Words and others - his was the primary male harmony voice - and lead on Richard Cory).  McCulloch sings lead (I believe he wrote one of the songs), and backing vocals on other songs.  Usually several members sing on "big" lines (like "Let me Roll It to You", "Band on the Run", "Hi Hi Hi" and "Go now" - the lines not the whole songs).  English sang some harmony, I'm pretty sure.

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14 July 2014
1.50pm
Bulldog
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Ron Nasty said
Linda could be made "right" in the studio, live she wasn't so good... As this infamous recording shows...

<Link to isolated vocal from Knebworth show>

Ouch... it's weird, because I remember her sounding alright in Rockshow... (haven't watched it in a couple months though.) It doesn't detract from the spirit of the whole performance though:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-2VPAPb6mg

 

On topic, I went back to edit my last post because there are no backing vocals on "...funny faces".

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15 July 2014
10.44pm
Matt Busby
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Bulldog said

Ouch... it's weird, because I remember her sounding alright in Rockshow... (haven't watched it in a couple months though.) It doesn't detract from the spirit of the whole performance though:

I think she has good and bad moments in Rockshow - can't think of any high or lowlights offhand though.  Well, one for me is when they sit in the chairs and play acoustic, I could do without her (but of course Paul was going to include his true love in that arrangement).

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17 August 2014
12.03am
Oudis
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Matt Busby said 

... In fact Paul does a lot of really good, sometimes haunting high harmonies.  The range of harmonic structures they used, from resonant to dissonant (is "resonant" the right word?), shows their musical knowledge.  The ease at which they would switch mikes in the middle of songs, and spontaneously, randomly join another in harmony, shows their inborn musical talent (and just how close they all got in the early days like Hamburg).

What you wrote about dissonant harmonies resonated in my ears Matt. At times their harmonies do sound dissonant, and almost subliminal –almost.

I actually posted something about The Beatles’ harmonies in the “Most difficult Beatles song to sing” thread. Should any of the Moderators want to delete it and leave this one here (it’s the same) they are welcome to do it.

I’m copying from what I wrote in that thread: “What really amazes me about Yes, It Is isn’t just John’s performance, or George’s guitar (both are awesome) but the way they both sing with Paul. The harmonies are… very difficult to analyze, at times I feel they sing almost out of tune, yet they don’t, I don’t know what kind of strange harmony that is. Is it just me or is there anybody else who feels that way about this song? I’d appreciate any comments about this.”

Are they “dissonant” harmonies?

Oudis

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17 August 2014
12.09am
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Billy Rhythm said

[...] John's Fired Aspirations in combination with Paul's Watery Inertia was tempered by George's Aired Spirit, while Ringo's Earthly Presence grounded the entire experience for us all to relate to exoterically, and it's no more obvious to all than when they locked in on their vocals together.  For The Beatles, it was a NATURAL (or more accurately, SUPERNATURAL) projection, something that others can only try to accomplish with the aid of many years technical training...:-)

I love your esoteric (Pagan?) analysis; spot-on. Cheers,

Oudis

17 August 2014
1.01am
Ahhh Girl
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@Oudis, I think the two posts can live in harmony. The idea adds to both of the conversations.

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