Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > A Capella Collection discuss vocals, hamonies etc...

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spiralstatic user not visiting Queenzone.com
spiralstatic
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Posted: 21 Jan 19, 15:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

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?

Golden Salmon user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 21 Jan 19, 16:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I don't have much time to elaborate, but you know that there's a number of multitrack recordings out there, right? And that's on top of some isolated tracks from various DVD sources.

If you can't figure how to play them, a quick search on youtube might do the trick as well. And if you want some custom mixes that make for different song versions unavailable from official sources, you can check volume 4 in the link right below these lines.

RobbyBloodshed user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 21 Jan 19, 17:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

My favorite harmonies are on “It’s A Hard Life”.
This is a version without piano, you can really hear their backups.
https://youtu.be/xEqCmAhRSzo

Even if they’re not the most intricate in comparison to something like Black Queen or Breakthru, there is this warm-choir esq quality that especially shines through. Partly to do with Mack’s mixing, but nonetheless.

spiralstatic user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 21 Jan 19, 17:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Golden Salmon wrote:

I don't have much time to elaborate, but you know that there's a number of multitrack recordings out there, right? And that's on top of some isolated tracks from various DVD sources.

If you can't figure how to play them, a quick search on youtube might do the trick as well. And if you want some custom mixes that make for different song versions unavailable from official sources, you can check volume 4 in the link right below these lines.


Oh my goodness, I just downloaded & opened Bohemian Rhapsody. There are years of fun to get lost in in this lot! *mutes tracks in glee* Thanks SO MUCH! What a great resource. And no I didn't know about it.

Sorry I'm talking about things that came to light ages ago I imagine.

Everyone can assume I don't know anything that might have come to light in the last decade, or longer. I obsessively loved Queen as a child to the extent that I listened to everything and read a lot of biographies at probably too young an age (child-me even used to be in certain yahoo Queen groups, haha!) Obviously even then I didn't hear everything, as I was a kid so didn't exactly have the money or ability to find or buy everything. And there was the internet, but I dunno... could you even listen to much online in those days?? If so, I didn't know of it.

I basically stopped listening to music when my Dad died as a teenager and when I eventually began again, not that I never listened to Queen again or fell out of love with their music, but certainly I was no longer as addicted as I had been and mainly I listened to new music I was at last discovering - everything I'd loved before, it was too much to bear. So there's clearly a huge amount that's been released or has come to light that I either never knew of or has come to light in the intervening years when I wouldn't have been looking for it.

Thus, I am super-grateful for any information anyone can share about any interesting material from recent years and I do apologise as I'm only just discovering old stuff, which is new and so really exciting to me, but probably very boring by now to everyone else!

Thanks again Golden Salmon!

stevelondon20 user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 21 Jan 19, 17:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hearing these tracks like this has brought back great memories again. Just amazing. Love hearing Isolated Work like this.

Chief Mouse user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 21 Jan 19, 20:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Nice post! Freddie's voice changed a lot. Never better or worse but always different. And that's one of things why I find him enjoyable to listen to.

Makka user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 22 Jan 19, 05:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

If you get the chance to sit down with the stems from the multitracks with some DAW software you really appreciate what they have done. Well worth it!



The Real Wizard user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 23 Jan 19, 07:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

spiralstatic wrote:

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?

Yep, there are a few - Innuendo, Don't Try So Hard, and Delilah.

There's the massive choir on All God's People too, but it was recorded during The Miracle sessions.

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!!

Indeed. The isolated tracks gave me a new appreciation for the song as well. It's so bubble gum on the surface, but it's actually one of the most interesting pieces they ever composed.

I do apologise as I'm only just discovering old stuff, which is new and so really exciting to me, but probably very boring by now to everyone else!

No need to apologize - welcome aboard ! I'm sad to hear your grief led you away from music for a while, but glad you eventually found your way back, and in style - the vast wormhole of digging beyond the albums of a great band like Queen. You will be satiated for years to come, as there is so much to discover.

Keep digging beyond Queen, too. Isolated tracks of Sgt Pepper, What's Going On, Zeppelin II, and countless others are out there. A lifetime isn't enough.



Artists must pass on, but sometimes a mix of passion, good fortune, diligence, expertise, and meticulous labor can capture and restore some of the beauty they left behind.



http://www.queenlive.ca
The Real Wizard user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 23 Jan 19, 07:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

RobbyBloodshed wrote:

My favorite harmonies are on “It’s A Hard Life”.
This is a version without piano, you can really hear their backups.
https://youtu.be/xEqCmAhRSzo


Wow - that was a great listen. The guitar is actually higher in the mix than the lead vocal.

Equally impressive is the job done by whoever isolated certain frequencies to cut the piano out while leaving everything else intact.

Are there any more songs done like this?



Artists must pass on, but sometimes a mix of passion, good fortune, diligence, expertise, and meticulous labor can capture and restore some of the beauty they left behind.



http://www.queenlive.ca
mayqueen user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 04 Feb 19, 23:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

“It’s A Hard Life” is a particular favorite. I've always loved this song.