Vocal Groups

Vocal Groups

You may ask, isn’t any group that sings a “Vocal Group”? As with many musical questions the answer is not that straight forward. But think of the ‘Backstreet Boys‘. My understanding of the difference is that a “Vocal Group” primarily consists of a front of at least three singers (three part harmony) with a back-up band. While researching I ran across this website The Vocal Group Hall of Fame (VGHF) by the names it mentions it also allows for two part harmony or Duo’s, though I can’t find an actual definition on the website. However to me this site seems contradictory in that the typically guitar playing Everly Brothers seems to fit for them. I will use this website as a bit of foil for this post. Aside from the VGHF view, in my definition it would be very uncommon among these groups for one or more of them to play a musical instrument (not that they can’t) as part of their performance.  Therefore disqualifying the commonly guitar playing Everly Brothers. On the other hand, the VGHF initial inductees for the most part reflect this singing only criteria. But again in the ‘Hall of Fame’, I’ve found many more exceptions to this such as the ‘Bee Gees’, Robin was the only ‘vocalist’ while Maurice Gibb quite often played the keyboards among many other instruments during performances (and when recording) and Barry played guitar. Read More »

Session and Background Singers

 

Background Singers

 

Today I am talking about the voices in the back, these singers may also include the ones traveling with the recording artist, but some session musicians worked in the studio only, as always there are exceptions. Once upon a time, most every solo singer and many groups/bands used backing vocalists to fill out the sound they were trying to deliver to their audience. Today these singers may be used less frequently, there purpose is to fill in a missing element groups can’t produce on their own, such vocal range, pitch and sound. Truth be told many well known singers if asked for an “F” are more likely to show a middle finger rather than sing a perfect fifth
 

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The Greatest Bands of all Time!

The Greatest Bands of all Time!

You may not know their names but we most certainly have heard the songs! Although there are many more to be acknowledged, between The Wrecking Crew, The Funk Brothers, The Memphis Boys, The Nashville A Team and The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section there are many thousands of songs with uncredited musicians. These “house bands” often had no set membership, but a lot of recurring names that formed these organized teams of artists giving producers some of the tightest sounds in recorded music. For the musicians themselves it was a much preferred lifestyle, as they rarely travelled to other cities studios, they did not go on the road with the singers and they were afforded an opportunity to have a more stable family life-with a lot less pressure and stress. They were paid everything from scale which was a set hourly amount but more often by the “recording session” which is where the name Session Musician comes from. Sometimes they demanded big money, Carol Kaye for example was listed as one of the highest paid musicians and her net worth, through some shrewd investments is reported at over 6 million dollars. Many were independent contractors, meaning they could play wherever they wanted.

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Groundbreakers Part 2

Groundbreakers Part 2

Rock & Roll

I have talked about R&R in numerous posts, and I have many reasons for doing so, aside from the many great songs. R&R revolutionized Popular music and by extension almost every facet of the music industry. The music itself, even today, has not definitively been described to my or many others satisfaction. But here are some things that we do know, it’s genesis came from Rhythm and Blues and we can give that a full stop. We also know there were many other influences that brought about this phenomenon that kicked off a music frenzy in the mid 1950’s. For example it’s also an amalgam of many forms of music including Country, Folk and the wild child of Hillbilly music known as Rockabilly. In the early days we have artists such as the New Orleans sound from Lloyd Price and Fats Domino under the same umbrella as Etta James, Wanda Jackson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and the Comets and I could go on. Sometimes just based on particular songs they were identified as “Rock and Roll” singers. We know some were associated with other genre such as R&B with Etta James or Country & Western with Bill Haley.

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Women in Music

Women in Music

Anne Murray
Recently, while doing some research I was reminded that the history of ranking and rating recording artists really does give women the short shrift. My next post will be on May 6, it’s the third anniversary of writing my blog and a bit too close to Mother’s Day for this topic. So I’m getting ahead of that to celebrate Women (and many of them mothers) in music.  A  clue on Jeopardy also piqued my interest to dedicate a post. It was from April 7, 2021, “Last name of Fanny, seen here, (picture shown) some of her compositions were originally published under her brother Felix’s name” and a contestant got it right, I however had no answer. I will get to that a bit later.

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Isn't it Ironic

Isn’t it Ironic?

Sorry, I’m not talking about Alanis Morissette! But there are artists who have been eclipsed by their own songs. Many of them are amazing songwriters but, ironically, their chart-topping hits were written by someone else. As I pointed out in my series, I Write the Songs, many great songwriters are not well-known, yet their songs are easily recognized by most people. Today I will point out the contrasts in popularity for some singer/songwriters. When I say ironic, I mean that things turned out the opposite or in an unexpected way from what one might have expected.

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Music Icons, is it all just DNA?

Music Icons, is it all just DNA?

Some well-known recording artists come from families who have a strong musical background. It makes perfect sense, having the exposure and a bit of musical DNA most certainly helps. And how do the offspring of musical legends fair? In the inset photo I love the expression on Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s daughter’s face: it looks to me like a classic “oh dad, just let me play!” But then he is not just any old Dad. Here is a song by father and daughter, David Gilmour with Romany Gilmour – Yes, I Have Ghosts.  Another example is Jakob Dylan. I don’t need to explain who his father is and it is a stretch well beyond my imagination as to what it might be like for him to be in the family business.

Growing up with one or both of your parents as musical icons must be very difficult. I can imagine it’s hard to find a way to have your own life and career whether you stay in the world of music or not. At the same time, you have inherited some serious musical DNA, so yeah there is that! Read More »