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Author: Subject: Lead Singers : How important are they to you?

Peach Master





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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 12:45 PM
I read many of the posts here and really learn a lot about new bands, old bands I may have over looked and so forth. A;so you get to know what is very (or not so) important to the listener. Recently, I have seen a few posts regarding Derek Trucks Lead singer. How important is the lead singer to you. If the singer is "weak" or not your cup of tea; how does that affect how you listen (or don't for that matter)?

BTW, I happen to Like Mike M form Dereks band. But am just curious as to what keeps you guys interested in the music?

Mike U / Brooklyn

 
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Peach Head



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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 12:52 PM
When I hear a song for the first time, it is very very very rare that I even acknowledge the lyrics at all. In fact, for most songs, I consider the presence of lyrics to be a strike against the song. Often, I have to hear a song 5 or 6 times before I begin to pick up on the lyrics.

There are exceptions. There are lyricists whose skill I admire greatly. Richard Thompson, for example.

As for the quality of the singer, even the finest of singers rarely hold my attention. In all my life I cannot once recall listening to a song and coming away impressed by the vocal performance. If the singer sucks, though, that becomes very very obvious to me and further reinforces my notion that music is better without words.

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 12:56 PM
Interesting view point Vaylor.

For me, being an observer and lover of music...I keep an open mind. So much out there and it varies from instrument to vocals and which band...again an open mind!

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 01:46 PM
Depends on the type of music and band. If you're talking about a band like CSN where the vocals are the key ingredient, then yes it is important. With the ABB I think the vocals are very important. But in a band like say Phil and Friends, I don't think the quality of the vocals are as important.

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 02:02 PM
The quality of the singer's voice is everything to me. The music is secondary. Important but secondary.

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 02:05 PM
If I hate a particular singer or performance, there's no way I'm going to get into the song I'm hearing.

 

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Peach Master



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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 02:20 PM
Words and vocal melody are very important to me. An instrumental tune can only hold my interest for so long. Maybe that's the ADD in me, I don't know. It's hard to say that the vocals in the Allmans and Mule are not important, right? Warren and Gregg have such emotive voices, that their tone gives me chills most of the time. The words add a human element to the song, and the music adds color...if that makes any sense.

As for Mike Mattison, he is one ogf the most powerful blues singers I have ever heard. I had the luxury of seeing Scrapomatic at the Atlanta Room at Smith's Olde Bar in Atlanta. If any of you are familiar, then you know what I mean. We were about five feet from them in a tiny room, and boy, was that an intense performance.

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 02:53 PM
Really depends on the band and what "qualities" the singer has. Each band's identity is different, so the singer's importance to the group can vary. Just look at The Beatles - they can all cary a tune, but none of them are great voices. However, Led Zepplein wouldn't have been Led Zeppelin had Freddie Prinze been their singer, yet AC/DC was able to have two really weird yet totally unique vocalists, and maintain their fanbase.

A great singer can elevate bad material, but can't always save it. Everyone loves the mucisianship of the Allmans, but not even Gregg could save a dud like "Good Clean Fun" or some of the dreck off of I'm No Angel.

There are bands/performers that are all about the singing - CSNY is a great example.

Then again, if the singer isn't traditionally talented, but has a unique quality, it may be better than a run of the mill "talented" voice. Take a guy like David Byrne or Chrissie Hynde - neither is traditionally talented but I'd rather listen to them sing than one of Elvis' background singers. And of course, Bob Dylan will sing like Bob Dylan, even if those covering him improve upon his tunes.

Then there are bands where the singer is just another part of the sum, and fairly interchangeable. I think Elvin Bishop or Derek Trucks' rotating vocalist chair qualifies, kind of like a Tommy Dorsey singer. Mike has a great voice, but that band is about the tune, regardless of who is singing.

However, then there are bands that should just put an ad in the paper for a singer. I'm talking to you, Phish. There are a lot of reasons I don't like Phish, but their lazy, unapologetically, sub-amateur, tin-ear singing is an insult to anyone they ask to pay for their concerts and cds.

Let's put it this way: if singing wasn't an important element to a band, Derek Trucks would sing "Crow Jane" himself.

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 03:25 PM
quote:
...Derek Trucks' rotating vocalist chair qualifies, kind of like a Tommy Dorsey singer. Mike has a great voice, but that band is about the tune, regardless of who is singing.

I see where you're coming from there, but I would have to disagree in reference to Songlines. I think with the latest album, they have finally found there place with a singer. I think Mike is there to stay.

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 04:08 PM
If it is a " Solo" act...Then yes! Absolutely, that individual must be able to sing. In a Band a " Bad" vocalist can be a deal breaker.

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 04:17 PM
quote:
Really depends on the band and what "qualities" the singer has. Each band's identity is different, so the singer's importance to the group can vary. Just look at The Beatles - they can all cary a tune, but none of them are great voices. However, Led Zepplein wouldn't have been Led Zeppelin had Freddie Prinze been their singer, yet AC/DC was able to have two really weird yet totally unique vocalists, and maintain their fanbase.

A great singer can elevate bad material, but can't always save it. Everyone loves the mucisianship of the Allmans, but not even Gregg could save a dud like "Good Clean Fun" or some of the dreck off of I'm No Angel.

There are bands/performers that are all about the singing - CSNY is a great example.

Then again, if the singer isn't traditionally talented, but has a unique quality, it may be better than a run of the mill "talented" voice. Take a guy like David Byrne or Chrissie Hynde - neither is traditionally talented but I'd rather listen to them sing than one of Elvis' background singers. And of course, Bob Dylan will sing like Bob Dylan, even if those covering him improve upon his tunes.

Then there are bands where the singer is just another part of the sum, and fairly interchangeable. I think Elvin Bishop or Derek Trucks' rotating vocalist chair qualifies, kind of like a Tommy Dorsey singer. Mike has a great voice, but that band is about the tune, regardless of who is singing.

However, then there are bands that should just put an ad in the paper for a singer. I'm talking to you, Phish. There are a lot of reasons I don't like Phish, but their lazy, unapologetically, sub-amateur, tin-ear singing is an insult to anyone they ask to pay for their concerts and cds.

Let's put it this way: if singing wasn't an important element to a band, Derek Trucks would sing "Crow Jane" himself.


I disagree about Phish. They are one of the bands that the singing really doesn't make or break their music for me. I find them to be an aquired taste. You either like them or not.

Pete

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 04:23 PM
For me it goes like this:

!. instrumental music is best.
2. if the band has a strong instrumentalist(s) i can tolerate the singer
3. it's better if the singer plays an instrument and doesn't dance
4. despite 1,2, and 3, i do sometimes appreciate a great singer if the the lyrics are an authentic existential blues statement or artistically elevated.

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 04:32 PM
quote:
In all my life I cannot once recall listening to a song and coming away impressed by the vocal performance.


How sad for you. Do you have that high of standards or is it just not your bag?


one reason I like the 3/18/2006 show so very much is the incredible vocal performance by Gregg.
ABB Fans are luck with Gregg, Warren, Marc and Oteil all having great voices. I'd
like to see Marc take some lead vocals.

Just saw ASIA the other night and John Wetton completely blew my mind. He was great.

I've seen a dozen KIng's X shows and Doug Pinnick has always been incredible (even one night
with a horrible cold)

Saw J.D Souther do a show with a cold, and he still was incredible.


I just saw some local cats (33 &1/3) in the park last week and their vocalist was what impressed me more.

I love to sing and I love singers.

At most show's it is very important to me.

A John McLaughlin concert? not so much

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 04:36 PM
quote:
In all my life I cannot once recall listening to a song and coming away impressed by the vocal performance.


Or maybe you haven't been listening to any Roy Orbison records

Peace
John

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 05:59 PM
hey john, are you hitting John MC and 4th dim. at the lisner in sept? tix on sale this morning...we got row 8. since it's electric earplugs may be in order.

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 06:06 PM
It depends on how much the singer sings. If the song is mostly vocals and you have someone who is not a good singer, that is a problem. If the song has vocals but mostly guitar work, then you can overlook a less than spectacular singer. I think the most interesting songs do not have a heavy vocal presence; but the best singers also leave their legacies, like the Temptations song "My Girl", or Aretha belting out "Respect", even something not technically difficult like "Under the Boardwalk" has made it's mark as an important song in musical history. So how important a lead singer is to a song depends on many things, the song itself, the band, the music...

 

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Peach Master



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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 06:21 PM
When reading some of the thoughts on Dereks vocalist, I started to think what drives everyone here? I am really finding the replies pretty interesting and it is not as simple as being good, bad weak or strong. There's a lot more to it.
Since I brought this up: I'll give you an example that comes 1st to mind. Remember: to each his own: Robben Ford. I love his guitar work. However, I have a hard time getting thru an entire CD of his. I wonder how much better his work would be received if he let a stronger singer, perform his songs. I love when Robben guests on other folks music _ I love his guitar work on most types of sides projects. Just 10-12 songs with him singing is not my cup of tea.


Mike


 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 07:08 PM
quote:
I read many of the posts here and really learn a lot about new bands, old bands I may have over looked and so forth. A;so you get to know what is very (or not so) important to the listener. Recently, I have seen a few posts regarding Derek Trucks Lead singer. How important is the lead singer to you. If the singer is "weak" or not your cup of tea; how does that affect how you listen (or don't for that matter)?

BTW, I happen to Like Mike M form Dereks band. But am just curious as to what keeps you guys interested in the music?

Mike U / Brooklyn


It affects it greatly. A great singer is very important to me. It's part of the reason I love the ABB so much because Gregg is such a great singer and I feel that way about Warren and the Mule also.

Doug

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 07:09 PM
quote:
Really depends on the band and what "qualities" the singer has. Each band's identity is different, so the singer's importance to the group can vary. Just look at The Beatles - they can all cary a tune, but none of them are great voices. However, Led Zepplein wouldn't have been Led Zeppelin had Freddie Prinze been their singer, yet AC/DC was able to have two really weird yet totally unique vocalists, and maintain their fanbase.

A great singer can elevate bad material, but can't always save it. Everyone loves the mucisianship of the Allmans, but not even Gregg could save a dud like "Good Clean Fun" or some of the dreck off of I'm No Angel.

There are bands/performers that are all about the singing - CSNY is a great example.

Then again, if the singer isn't traditionally talented, but has a unique quality, it may be better than a run of the mill "talented" voice. Take a guy like David Byrne or Chrissie Hynde - neither is traditionally talented but I'd rather listen to them sing than one of Elvis' background singers. And of course, Bob Dylan will sing like Bob Dylan, even if those covering him improve upon his tunes.

Then there are bands where the singer is just another part of the sum, and fairly interchangeable. I think Elvin Bishop or Derek Trucks' rotating vocalist chair qualifies, kind of like a Tommy Dorsey singer. Mike has a great voice, but that band is about the tune, regardless of who is singing.

However, then there are bands that should just put an ad in the paper for a singer. I'm talking to you, Phish. There are a lot of reasons I don't like Phish, but their lazy, unapologetically, sub-amateur, tin-ear singing is an insult to anyone they ask to pay for their concerts and cds.

Let's put it this way: if singing wasn't an important element to a band, Derek Trucks would sing "Crow Jane" himself.


Good Clean Fun a dud? First I heard anyone say that. Most people consider that the song that reviv the ABB.

Doug

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 07:37 PM
"We need each other, wordman. We go together, you and me. Like words and music."

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 07:43 PM
I'm with Marley, gotta have a good singer if I am gonna get into the song....
now ol' Bluedad sings a mean Liz Reed...
spdb

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 07:47 PM
the less words the better

 

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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 08:57 PM
Hmm...I guess it varies, but typically the insturmental talent of a band is more important than the lead singer and I'm drawn to more artists that can play than can sign. Gregg, Mike, and Warren are all great singers, but I would be essentially just as happy with an Allman Brothers show or DTB show of exclusively insturmentals. That's not to say the singers aren't talented, and I don't enjoy them, I just don't get into vocals like I'll get into a great jam, though a lot people and virtually all my friends don't feel that way. I'm trying to think of a band where the vocalist kills the band, but I can't think of any really...though I'm sure they exist. Right now it seems any band with a bad singer I think of is just a bad band.
A band like Pink Floyd though...I still can't distinguish between Waters or Gilmour, but I love their music and enjoy their music...I jsut don't hear voices the way I hear insturments. Vocals can fit a good melody, but I never find myself singing the hook of a song, but rather just humming and thinking the guitar or drums or keys part...whatever insturment it may be.
As mentioned earlier one exception is CSNY, the Eagles for me too, especially the earlier allbums. I love the vocals and they are the reason I listen to them...its just that the list of bands that are like that for me is significantly smaller than the list of artists I like for insturmental talent (Hey its not called insturmental for nothing!).
Someone like Leo Kottke I think his singing hurts his music. Not too bad, but it doesn't touch his playing.
Then there's The Band...quite possibly my second favorite band of all time and the reason I love them is certainly not Robertson's playing...and definitely the impeccable voices of their members.

In the end...vocals rarely make or break a band for me. I can usually appreciate a good vocalist, but typically its the insturments that get me into music, though definitely not always.
hmm that should be long enough. I need to learn how to keep my responses short like Haisija.

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 09:12 PM
quote:
"We need each other, wordman. We go together, you and me. Like words and music."


I love that first Eddie and the Cruisers movie. I was an usher in a theatre right after high school and that was the second movie that played there.

Pete

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 6/29/2007 at 09:13 PM
quote:
I'm with Marley, gotta have a good singer if I am gonna get into the song....
now ol' Bluedad sings a mean Liz Reed...
spdb


ROFL!

 

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