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Which Beatle Do You Prefer Singing The "Screaming" Songs? John Or Paul?
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17 February 2014
Matt Busby
In the town where I was born
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meanmistermustard said

I know that there are mixes out there that have isolated the vocals on all tracks as well isolating the three part harmonies on This Boy and Because to reveal what each Beatle is singing so it probably is possible. How to do it i have no idea.

If you try hard and have a good ear, you can often discern the three voices, despite their being in perfect harmony.  Especially if you know what to listen for.  Especially in the early years, John's low harmony was pretty sandpapery and didn't sound nearly as good as it did 2 years later (about 1962).  Paul, being in the middle and always exactly on key, is hard to pick out, but George (high) and John (low) can be distinguished, at least in some takes.

I think most of the 3 parts were John, bass; Paul, tenor; George, alto.  Sometimes George and Paul switched up I think.  Also not sure if John was a pure bass...his voice was so amazing (to take nothing away from Paul and Georges' excellent voices!)...think of Mother...his vocals just skate on a plane...he minimizes most of the hard consonant sounds and just emotes!!!  I think the Beatles were amazing and unsurpassed in their ability to just join in anytime in perfect harmony...many obviously unrehearsed live versions of George (esp., but the others sometimes) walking up and joining another at a mike.  Just at random times (but of course they were the perfect random times a-hard-days-night-george-10 

I assume you know that each of the 3 voices was triple-tracked for a total of 9 voices in Because.  The um...Anthology cd set I think has this vocals-only version.  If I listen close I can just make out the 3 voices (well the triples of each man's voice)Like I said in another recent post (hopefully in another topic!), only the Beach Boys surpassed the Beatles in harmonizing, but they had more voices and a lot of studio work.  Whereas the Beatles could just harmonize effortlessly.  I'm sure I'm not the first who's said that (in fact, it's the second time I've said it in this post - but it deserves the emphasis!)

Ok getting to the actual topic:  I like John's screaming better, but Paul did it well too, and it's just a personal thing.  There's a fairly early version of Twist And Shout where he sang most of the verses clearly and only screamed at the loud endings of lines, and it sounds really good (some live version, cavern club maybe or hamburg?).

Half of what I say is meaningless... I feel good in a special way, I'm in love and it's a sunny day BeatlesBible.com earns royalties if you use these links when shopping: Amazon | iTunes
18 February 2014
Mincer Ray
Gainesville, Florida
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PeterWeatherby said
Paul had the naturally higher vocal range, so he's able to do more with the full-voice screaming than John. The top note in the "Mr. Moonlight" intro is a B-flat, I believe, but the Anthology outtakes reveal that John had a hard time getting there. Heck, he had a hard time getting to the high A in the chorus of "No Reply" ("I saw the liiight"), so he eventually relegated that part to Paul, just as he handed over the bridge of "A Hard Day's Night" to Paul because he couldn't hit the repeated high G's, F#'s, and screamin' high A at the end. "Anytime at All" is another example - Paul gets the second "anytime at all" in the chorus because it went too high for John, and again, it was only an A.

All of that to say, John could hit the occasional high screamer note if it was a somewhat isolated instance in the song, but even then he seems to have topped out around an A or maybe a B-flat on a good day. With that in mind, "Oh Darling" has that bridge that just freakin' camps out on high B's and A's, and I have absolutely no doubt that this would have been way out of John's range and ability. Not only does that bridge go higher than I've ever heard John sing, but it stays up there for longer than John could have done. (Listen to the end of "Instant Karma" and how the repeated high G's in the chorus eventually force John to start speak-singing because his voice can't sustain the punishment - and those are lower notes than the ones found in "Oh Darling".)

They could both scream, but John had a limit as to how high he could go and how often he could go there. Paul's screaming stuff is more razor-sharp and closer to the actual notes as well, whereas John's screams tended to splatter a bit (as in "Mother").

I'm not sure this is the best way to judge their screams.  


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