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FriedChicken user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 23 Nov 10, 15:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Seriously, what on earth was going on with Queen's backing vocals around 1976-1977. It was horrible. Horrible even is an understatement, especially when you're talking about a band famous for it's backing vocals.

Roger and Brian sound horrible, they're out of tune the whole time, and they do not sound like they're singing together.

Just compare it to the vocals from 1973-1975. The vocals on Lap of the Gods (both versions), Keep yourself alive, liar, father to son are awesome. They're really well performed.

Also in the late 70's. Listen to 'If you can't beat em' The 2nd voice by Roger is so tight, and so locked in with Freddie. Also the backing vocals and vocal jazzband in Dreamers Ball (which have tricky parts) are so damn good! Same with '39 during the 1979 tour and songs like Brighton Rock, Keep Yourself Alive.

In the mid 1980's listen to the awesome harmonies on You're so Square and Hello MAry Lou, so good! Also the last chorus of Who Wants To Live Forever comes to mind.

What was wrong in the 1976-1977 period? Did they stop caring?


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Posted: 23 Nov 10, 15:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I wanna say touring lag and exhaustion--but I have the feeling that's not the cause.


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Posted: 23 Nov 10, 16:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Exactly, if that was the case it should've been a problem in every tour ;-)


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Posted: 23 Nov 10, 16:26 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Queen probably forgot their autotunes on those gigs... :D


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Posted: 23 Nov 10, 19:21 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Snort.

Glug, glug.


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Posted: 23 Nov 10, 19:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think that was because they were so obsessed with the fact that they were playing to bigger audiences so they started caring about looks. I agree. For instance, I've been wanting to say this for a long time but I've been afraid that I would be looked down for it but their harmonies at Earls Court SUCKED!!!!!! Also, their harmonies on the WATC chorus never were that stable. I think the main reason with that was Freddie's voice was jumping all over the fucking octaves. If he would either just sang the chorus notes in the longer range or the higher range it would have sounded much more stable and better rather than him singing one note lower and then yelling a high note. 

It never seemed like they well rehearsed their harmonies live. For example on some songs Roger would come in singing and then stop all of a sudden then Brian would sing, then Freddie and they would not be all together.


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Posted: 23 Nov 10, 22:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

jamster1111 wrote: I think that was because they were so obsessed with the fact that they were playing to bigger audiences so they started caring about looks. I agree. For instance, I've been wanting to say this for a long time but I've been afraid that I would be looked down for it but their harmonies at Earls Court SUCKED!!!!!! Also, their harmonies on the WATC chorus never were that stable. I think the main reason with that was Freddie's voice was jumping all over the fucking octaves. If he would either just sang the chorus notes in the longer range or the higher range it would have sounded much more stable and better rather than him singing one note lower and then yelling a high note. 

It never seemed like they well rehearsed their harmonies live. For example on some songs Roger would come in singing and then stop all of a sudden then Brian would sing, then Freddie and they would not be all together.

============

You try playing on your first "big" tour (with tens of thousands of people watching you). Hell, I'd be nervous as hell and would make mistakes. It had nothing to do with "looks." Look at the later tours--their harmonies are almost pitch perfect (either due to the small venues like the Crazy Tour ones, or the fact that they have gotten used to the bigger crowds).


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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 03:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Meh...Sounds like you won't or can't admit that Queen weren't perfect... After playing 200 shows it really doesn't matter whether you play  for 5000 people or 10.000 a night.


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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 05:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The vocal harmonies of Queen were a studio-product and would start to "work" if mainly Freddie and/or Brian were multitracked. 
Just two or three of them singing together never led to that typical sound. 
Also Queen were playing very loud in those days and monitoring was not as good as today with in-ear systems etc. 
So singing in harmony was very difficult then. I've heard recordings of their contemporaries "Sweet", who used to do similar vocal harmonies and they had even four singers. Brilliant in the studio - even without multitracking - and yet terrible on stage.

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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 06:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

> The vocal harmonies of Queen were a studio-product and would start to "work" if mainly Freddie and/or Brian were multitracked.

Roger multi-tracked himself almost as much as Freddie and more than Brian.

> Just two or three of them singing together never led to that typical sound.

But Niek's point is that, on some tours, even just with three voices, they sounded great. On others, they didn't.

> Also Queen were playing very loud in those days and monitoring was not as good as today with in-ear systems etc.

Now that's an interesting point.

> So singing in harmony was very difficult then.

It still is.

> I've heard recordings of their contemporaries "Sweet", who used to do similar vocal harmonies and they had even four singers. Brilliant in the studio - even without multitracking - and yet terrible on stage.

Sweet did use multi-tracking often.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 07:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

FriedChicken wrote: Meh...Sounds like you won't or can't admit that Queen weren't perfect... After playing 200 shows it really doesn't matter whether you play  for 5000 people or 10.000 a night.
========

I never said that at all.


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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 09:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The more people you play for, the easer it gets.
This is the overall rule, and it's true. So that's no excuse.
Bad monitoring on stage however, is the most likely candidate.
And the alcohol didn't help either, nor the coke. (although i cant see brian snorting up)

It's time for a proper remix of these concerts with added vocals and smooth-making effects!
No more of these 'live' sounding recordings!! All must be digitalized, cleaned up and improved!


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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 12:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

1976 took them to bigger venues, and they would probably have to play louder, so the monitoring would be worse. That sounds like a good reason why the backing vocals are crap.

But what happened after 1978. They were still playing big (similar or the same) venues as in 1976/1977. But in that tour the vocals are great. Was there a big break in monitoring technology that I'm not aware of? I don't think money could be the reason, as I think they already had a great budget in 1976-77.

Or are there other reasons why this sudden shift in the quality of backing vocals?


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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 13:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

As for big shifts or whatever... sort of... maybe not something new invented but more like some equipment they weren't aware of, then tried it out, and liked it. It happens all the time: an established artist is used to working with 'x' gear, and suddenly they realise 'y' may suit them a lot more. Same for personnel: a new engineer or roadie can make a huge difference.

Regarding budget - who knows. Keep in mind that they changed management in '7 (IIRC, or maybe it was late '77), which may have been another factor. New people, new monitors, new attitude, new momentum, better quality for BV's.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 17:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I was out the door on my last post, so I couldn't really write what I wanted to write: So here it is:

Queen started playing some of the bigger arenas (equals bigger crowds) on the 1977 ADATR tour. That's why I call it Queen's first "big" tour (much more shows compared to previous tours). I'm sure Queen were fine with playing to a few thousand people, but when you start multiplying that by a couple times, you can get nervous (you have all those eyes watching you). Sebastian also made excellent points about other factors (equipment, crew, etc). By the later 70s, Queen got used to the arena-sized crowds--which fits in with the improved harmonies.

Other points I'd like to make:

1. I doubt drugs/alcohol did anything, I've seen other bands/ band members be high on stage, but deliver excellent performances.

2. Freddie never yelled during the chorus of Champions--nor were the harmonies in the song bad or unstable. Lowering notes doesn't make it unstable, singing off key/out of tune is unstable.


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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 19:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Ok even as much of the Queen fans we are, we could admit the choruses of Champions rarely sounded good live. They only sounded good when Freddie sang the whole thing in the higher range like Stockholm 78 and Live Aid. Also, they sounded good during Japan 1979 because Freddie's ailing voice forced the other members to sing much more and it sounded more together. I have to say, most of the time it sounded shitty. Just listen to Hammy 1979


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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 19:10 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"Good" is subjective: As long as it's ON KEY, it's fine. Sorry, maybe you don't like it, but it doesn't mean it was "bad."

Yes, I would've loved the original notes to be sung by Freddie, but the best we've got is Stockholm 1978, Glasgow 1979, Live Aid, and the 2nd Leiden gig on the Magic Tour. I'm fine with Freddie singing in the lower octave--we've got Roger to sing the original octave.

BTW what's wrong with Hammy's version?


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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 19:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Besides the point, the vocal harmonies improved greatly within the next tour or so!


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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 20:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Finally to add, I see what you are saying about the chorus vocals, but "bad" or "unstable" aren't really the right words. "Undersung" is probably the word I use!


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Posted: 24 Nov 10, 23:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Which 1976 shows are we referring to?  On the Boston recording and most of the Japanese shows, the harmonies are pretty much spot on.

But for 1977, I agree... for some reason the harmonies were very shaky much of the time.


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