Let's discuss these! Anyone up for it?
So, I listened to this lot in the car today and found it beautiful and rather fascinating for many reasons. I thought I'd get bored listening to only vocals after a few tracks, but no!
I'd love to hear vocal only versions of other tracks too and also it's made me curious - I wish I could hear isolated guitar/drums/piano/bass too.... I mean, maybe a whole album of each of those might be a bit much, but it'd be fascinating to hear a few select tracks/examples of each.
Anyway, listening to these tracks in this way was so interesting! First I'd like to talk about the harmonies which I guess I'd noticed in some way in full tracks, but never as clearly in terms of who is singing and what the chords are.
I noticed that in the early days it isn't always the three of them singing harmonies in equal measure. Sometimes, when they want a really smooth, maybe more pop sound, it is just Freddie for some of the harmonies. If they want a full sound, it is all of them, if they want a more edgy, rock sound to contrast, they up Roger in the mix and if they want something warm, but not too rich and harmonious and so it contrasts they up (or have only) Brian. Only when the three of them sing in pretty much equal capacity do they get a sound that really does sound like loads of people. I found Killer Queen a great example of the use of different balances of their harmonies in terms of who is singing.
A sad thing I noticed about the harmonies is that I'm pretty sure Freddie doesn't do any of the harmonies at all in The Show Must Go On. I guess, I discovered Queen when Freddie was already dead so while I think of Freddie as very ill which of course he was when recording the Made in Heaven tracks, somehow, the notion that Freddie didn't sing harmonies in The Show Must Go On (at least I don't think I can hear him) made it hit home that he really must have been very ill when recording this album too.... oddly I felt it from realising this in a way that I hadn't connected ever even with the videos they made for Innuendo. Maybe as I think of the videos being filmed later? No idea of the timescale, thus how much later in reality. I feel like it is a track that he would have recorded harmonies on.... Did he record any harmonies on this album? I'll have to listen to the full album now and listen out as I've never thought about it. I'll return to The Show Must Go On later...
In terms of harmonies, I also noticed that some of the harmonies used in tracks truly are really pretty weird and wonderful and just unusual (this holds throughout the full timespan of the examples in this collection - the harmonies at the end of I Want it All are mmmm). You don't hear all of the harmonies and the complexity of them amongst full tracks at times. My goodness, how incredible is A Capella Bicycle Race!!!?! Totally given me a new appreciation of the songwriting of that song. Somehow... I mean I love the song, but I never think of it as being quite as musically complex as it evidently is when you can hear the intricacy of the isolated vocals!!
And then another interesting thing about these tracks is hearing how Freddie's voice changed over the years. Particularly interesting is listening to the heavier tracks and what Freddie did on tracks such as Stone Cold Crazy, Brighton Rock and especially Tie Your Mother Down in comparison to something like Hammer to Fall.
It's made me realise that part of the reason I don't like 80's Queen as much isn't only the music they made then, but Freddie's voice. I think he always had that hard edge to his voice to a degree, but in the 70's it was used sparingly (and maybe he only could just about get it at times then?) Obviously in the 80's it was more evident that Freddie went for power live, but you hear it here on the studio versions too. He still occasionally uses other styles of singing (and of course he did on some other tracks not on here and more often in later years) so it isn't that he entirely lost how he used to sing, but he uses it very little on the tracks here. And he did lose some of the purity and I guess the fragility his younger voice had - I mean I guess that's just age and a voice used so much and made so powerful! But it does mean there is not quite as much emotion in the tracks... but then they're less emotional tracks.
Interesting too to hear when Freddie double tracked himself on vocals and how you can hear two voices in the 70's, but in the 80's tracks he is so close to what he did the first time when he repeats vocals, you can only really tell at the very odd moment, or due to the sheer breadth of that edge.
I was especially surprised at just how very emotional the isolated vocal for Bohemian Rhapsody is. It is so known a track and has been a part of all of our consciouness' for essentially our entire lives that you don't actually think that when you hear Freddie alone on this, in the ballad sections, he truly is singing with the kind of feeling he does in his quiet piano ballads and his voice really does go through everything in this - from quiet emotion, to impassioned to hard rock. Obviously the track does that, but I've mainly thought about it in terms of the whole music, not how Freddie uses pretty much everything he can do in the track (Somebody to Love is pretty similar in this sense, too. You don't even miss the music on this one I have to say!)
I noticed that Freddie changed the style of his singing in the 70's a lot, even amongst one individual song - he could go from breathy to pure, to hard edged to impassioned.
And even though for example the vocal control on Let's Turn it On is wow, there's something that isn't there in his voice - I think the purity is gone?
Another thing I noticed that I think Roger mentioned sometime is that you can hear Freddie is no longer 100% in The Show Must Go On and for me a little even in the INCREDIBLE The Golden Boy. Both of these are some of Freddie's best ever vocals and for me way more enjoyable to listen to than what he was doing in the mid 80's... however, isolated I can hear how his voice has altered for whatever reason yet again. Even though it is gorgeous, I can hear there's something in the ease of richness to the non-hard-edged tone that is gone. Though in terms of skill, notes reached and genres/styles used this is beautiful and once again has the emotion Freddie's voice used to have, which makes me think he never lost that, just used it less. But I can hear there's something in his voice - you can tell even on that amazing The Golden Boy. (Also, wow to Montserrat's isolated voice!!) And it also made me wonder... that hard edged tone I never liked as much (well I like it used sparingly, but less so for whole songs) I wonder if that took more out of him/was harder to do?
We Are the Champions is surprisingly moving just the vocal track as well. Another track you're so used to hearing as I suppose a partly overplayed anthem feels totally different just the vocals and hearing the harmonies properly too without other instruments to distract.
So, what have you noticed from the A Capella tracks? Admittedly, I only listened once, so I may hear more! And are there any other isolated tracks anywhere.
Obviously interesting that you can hear some places where stuff has been spliced together or cut short without the surrounding instruments too.
Anyway, yeah, what have you noticed from the tracks? What did you think of them? Do you have a favourite?