Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Brian May, singer

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Boy Thomas Raker user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 07 Feb 06, 13:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Last night I listened to Sail Away Sweet Sister for the first time in a long time, and forgot what a wonderful singer Brian was in Queen. Hearing '39, Long Away, All Dead, All Dead, the man was/is a guitar legend, amazing writer but his vocals and his ability to deliver a song for a 'once an album' guy were fantastic.

Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Pete Townshend are among the few guitar heroes who are also renowned as singers, I'm just curious where some of the SERIOUS music fans would place Brian as a singing guitarist, based on his Queen work only as I don't think he has a voice suited to hard rock music as shown by his solo output. Thoughts?


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Posted: 07 Feb 06, 13:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

No offense, but I think Brian is best as the 2nd or backing vocalist. Big difference in BTTL and AW, although I would guess the studio equipment had a lot to do with that.


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Posted: 07 Feb 06, 14:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

As Brian himself says on the video commentary for ANATO, he only sang the songs that he thought would lose their meaning when presented in Freddie's style. Although Brian lacks serious vocal strength and chops, the earnestness of his delivery is just perfect for things like Sail Away, Sweet Sister and 39. That said, it would have been fascinating to hear Freddie sing Sail Away, Sweet Sister.


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Posted: 07 Feb 06, 18:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Studio equipment cannot make a bad singer sound good, at least not and still be recognizable as the original vocalist. Yes, recording equipment is technically better than it was 30 years ago, but the singer still has to be able to actually *sing*.

Brian is a perfectly respectable singer and he definately came into his own between Back To The Light and Another World. The tracks on Another World were recorded over five years, after the Light Tour, which gave Brian what every singer needs to develop: practice.

As far back as Someday One Day, Brian was good. Solo touring and recording forced him to get better, and better he became. He's certainly much better than even he gives himself credit for. He knows how to use the equipment he's got and makes the most of it.

What makes a good (or great) singer? Range? Volume? Or whether your vocals are suited to the songs you sing. A song is not just the lyrics, the vocals, the high notes or the low-notes, but how they all fit together, along with every other instrument in the recording.

That said, I want another solo album, and right soon!



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Posted: 07 Feb 06, 22:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hi Rhyeking!

I respectfully have to disagree with you. Using products like Antares Auto Tune, you can take a marginal singer and make them sound like they hit it out of the park.

http://www.antarestech.com/products/auto-tune4.shtml

Case in point, there are a LOT of current pop singers that can't pull it off live, but have sold millions of records. The producers are more computer programmers than record producers. I once saw a single song by a pop songstress that had over 300 edits in a simple 4 minute song.

You couldn't do that with a 2 inch 24 track master in the old analog days.


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Posted: 07 Feb 06, 22:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

This isn't going to make any sense, but try to stay with me:

Brian May is an *incredible* singer, emotive and usually pretty good in the studio.
But his voice just isn't designed for certain things. For instance, it's not quite made for the high stuff really.
Great singer, not-as-great voicebox.

Having said that, I loved Resurrection. :D


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Mr. Barcelona user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 07 Feb 06, 23:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'm not crazy about brians voice, he sings a nice ballad but he lacks power. Roger is a much better singer, a man that could sing hard rock with the accasional ballad. ROTC (love of my life) he sounds like a dying animal in certain parts of the song.

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Posted: 08 Feb 06, 07:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian has a good voice for the songs he sang with Queen. However, when he hits the higher notes his voice becomes nasally and somewhat annoying. He does have a "universal" voice that can blend with other vocalists to produce beautiful harmonies.


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Posted: 08 Feb 06, 08:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

brian is good for some songs, but he cán´t sing others tracks, for example,like the hitman (we can hear that and i´ts terrible in the demo version). but for the backin vocals was very very good.by the way; somebody listened the spanish version of another world? i´ts a shit.sorry, brian.


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Posted: 08 Feb 06, 09:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

jchensf wrote:

Hi Rhyeking!

I respectfully have to disagree with you. Using products like Antares Auto Tune, you can take a marginal singer and make them sound like they hit it out of the park.

http://www.antarestech.com/products/auto-tune4.shtml

Case in point, there are a LOT of current pop singers that can't pull it off live, but have sold millions of records. The producers are more computer programmers than record producers. I once saw a single song by a pop songstress that had over 300 edits in a simple 4 minute song.

You couldn't do that with a 2 inch 24 track master in the old analog days.


Oh how I laughed when I saw that autotune makes you sound good. It's not that cut and dry. Heck, not even Melodyne is that good!

There's a video on the Melodyne site where you see a BBC reporter using the latter to see if it can help him sound better. It was very dodgy sounding before and even after. A marginal improvement. Seek out that BBC video here - http://www.celemony.com/cms/index.php?id=256

You still have to be have a decent singer. But of course, I think what you meant is that take after take (present day and olden days) will still be better than either of those processing units. It's usually faster and headache free. No one-in-all unit is going to help JoeBloggs get anywhere.


Now, Brian is a great singer. The difference between BTTL and AW is pretty huge. You can hear it in business or Wilderness. He's certainly one of the more pleasant lead guitarist gone singer types out there.

Peace,
Adam.

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Posted: 08 Feb 06, 12:29 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian's voice suited ballads definitely and his rendition of 39 is far better than Fred's live one. However he struggles on the more powerful songs- he just doesn't have the strength to carry the words. Live for example, I very rarely hear him in the mix but subtract his voice and perhaps you would notice a difference.


hj
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Posted: 08 Feb 06, 12:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Asterik wrote:

Live for example, I very rarely hear him in the mix but subtract his voice and perhaps you would notice a difference.


It really depends on the concert. He was more confident on some nights than others in the later years, but in the early years, he always sang, and their three-part harmonies were fantastic. Check out any 74-76 shows for proof, especially the Japanese recordings.



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Posted: 08 Feb 06, 13:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

lizardmaker wrote:

As Brian himself says on the video commentary for ANATO, he only sang the songs that he thought would lose their meaning when presented in Freddie's style.


That hits the nail on the head really. Take "Too Much Love Will Kill You", a song all about a fragile, scared vunerable man, with a complete lack of confidence or hope, basically falling to pieces... Brian's voice is perfect for that song.
Freddie's so confident and powerful on the Queen version, as if he's in full control of the situation and everything's okay. Couldn't be more wrong for the song.

Generally though, Brian's voice isn't really that amazing, hence I guess why his mic seems to be almost off for most of the concerts.

I always think it's funny how Queen started off with Roger as the band's second singer (singing parts of Black Queen and the BBC Doin' Alright when they weren't even his songs, singing a song on Queen I where Brian wouldn't until Queen II, having his high pitched screams as predominant features of the first few albums, having his mic way louder than Brian's at the concerts) and then gradually Brian became the band's second singer instead (sharing lead with Freddie on Flash, Who Wants To Live Forever, I Want It All, Mother Love and Let Me Live, and doing most of the vocals on No-One But You, whilst Roger's only lead parts of the post GH1 albums are his verse and bridge in Let Me Live, and his backing vocals / screams etc are also much less prominant in the later albums).
Never made sense to me as Roger, although very different in style to Freddie, has confidence and power in buckets, whereas Brian just doesn't.



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Posted: 08 Feb 06, 15:18 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Good post Last Cyborg. I loved Brian's version of TMLWKY for the reasons you stated, and hated Freddie's for the same reasons. When I saw and heard Brian sing "I'm just a shadow of the man I used to be" at Freddie's tribute, it was crushing. Brian was always the most vulnerable member of Queen, and his words had a poignancy that Freddie's would have never had.


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Posted: 08 Feb 06, 15:21 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

IMHO, he can be a pretty good singer - WHEN he stops trying to sing like the Red Special and simply sings like Brian May.

Of course, most rock songs will always be out of his reach, but he can be quite good even in areas one would not expect - "Teasin' Around", any?

FWIW


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Posted: 08 Feb 06, 15:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

gnomo wrote:

IMHO, he can be a pretty good singer - WHEN he stops trying to sing like the Red Special and simply sings like Brian May.

Of course, most rock songs will always be out of his reach, but he can be quite good even in areas one would not expect - "Teasin' Around", any?

FWIW


Glad you mentioned Teasin' Around - that is one hell of a vocal track by Brian (even though he says it kills him to sing it with such force). I love his bluesy stuff, think it's class, he's far more suited to that in my opinion (Sleepin' On The Sidewalk, Teasin' Around, Let Me Out...). Did any one hear the track he did with Jimmy Gnecco for Spiderman 2 called Someone To Die For? Great track with great guitars, and I love the guys vocals anyway, but I wonder what it could have sounded like with Bri on vocals?


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Posted: 09 Feb 06, 04:39 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian has good singing-skills, he just lacks the VOICE of a great singer, like FM and RT are/were. Because of his steadiness and stuff, he is a magnificent backing vocalist, and always gets away with singing lead. But getting away with it is not the same as PERFORMING a song like Roger and Freddie. For instance, it took me four years to recognize the greatness of ´39. It took Live Killers.

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Posted: 09 Feb 06, 05:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I am in disagreeance about TMLWKY. I think Fred's vocal is magnificent- harrowing and beutiful. Funnily enough I think that song needs some power- otherwise it would crumple altogether.


hj
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Posted: 10 Feb 06, 15:18 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I agree with Adam, Stuff like antares is great. And Melodyne is even better. But it can't change a terrible singer in a great singer. It can change the pitches, but you can't change a horrible sounding voice in a wonderful sounding voice.




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Posted: 10 Feb 06, 22:46 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"I think Fred's vocal is magnificent- harrowing and beutiful."

Freddie turns in a magnificent performance in that song, and coming from him the song gives a different meaning (not that AIDS one that all those morons argued about years ago... jeeze) but... I don't know, there's something about Brian's version that just seems more personal.


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