Bands with singers who can really sing?
June 8, 2005 8:58 AM   Subscribe

What are some good bands with lead singers who can (and do) really sing? The best example I can think of is Queen. I also like Ben Folds Five and The Shins.
posted by callmejay to Media & Arts (79 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You're going to get eight hundred conflicting answers here unless you provide some sort of criteria for what you are actually looking for in a singer. Just as many people will argue for Paul McCartney as will argue for Ronnie James Dio, and they'd all be correct.
posted by Dr. Wu at 9:02 AM on June 8, 2005

Little Feat (with Lowell George, of course)
Three Mile Pilot
The Dismemberment Plan
The Sea and Cake

On preview, Dr. Wu is right, I have no idea if any of these bands come close to meeting your criteria.
posted by saladin at 9:07 AM on June 8, 2005

Echoing Dr. Wu.

Don't most singers really sing? (Except for that guy from Cake, of course.)
posted by jdroth at 9:08 AM on June 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

posted by fire&wings at 9:09 AM on June 8, 2005

posted by cillit bang at 9:12 AM on June 8, 2005

X-Ray Spex!
posted by escabeche at 9:15 AM on June 8, 2005

And the Housemartins, too, of course.
posted by escabeche at 9:15 AM on June 8, 2005

I'm not entirely clear on what I mean either. I want bands which are driven by good singing. An example of a good band NOT driven by particularly good singing is The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Maybe I mean rock bands with singers who are uncharacteristically melodic and have a wide range. Freddie Mercury gives me goosebumps. Hendrix's guitar gives me goosebumps, but his singing doesn't.
posted by callmejay at 9:17 AM on June 8, 2005

I think Freddie Mercury was one of the best, if not the best, rock vocalist ever, so that's a good starting place. I'd put Paul McCartney up there pretty close with him. James Mercer has quite a voice as well. Also excellent singers:

Brian Wilson (in the 60s)
Morrissey/The Smiths
Rufus Wainwright
Rivers Cuomo (on the first two weezer albums)
Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley)

Don't most singers really sing?

That depends on your definition of "really sing." He gave us a good criterion when he mentioned Queen.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:18 AM on June 8, 2005

Judas Priest.
posted by hellbient at 9:20 AM on June 8, 2005

I've always liked Ed Kowasadfasdfafdsas (I think that's the actual spelling), the lead singer for Live.

Another voice (well, many times it's two lead singers) I like is what I hear from System of a Down. Sure, they scream a lot, but many times that's just one of many tools of expression, rather than a default. Just singing along with some of their tunes gives you a great vocal workout.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:26 AM on June 8, 2005

Some more ideas:

The Lucksmiths
Fleetwood Mac
Sigur Ros

Of course, there's that class of bands which is very much driven by vocals and melody, and where the singer may well give you goosebumps, but doesn't fit the classical mold. Neutral Milk Hotel comes to mind; I love Jeff Mangum's voice and I think he's a terrific vocalist, but not in the Freddie Mercury sense, and there are some who can't stand him. I can't pretend to understand those people, though.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:27 AM on June 8, 2005

Very few singers can sing with the range and virtuosity of the late Mr. Mercury, he was a rare one.
A few others (who are close):
- Ian Gillian (Deep Purple, but really shines on Jesus Christ Superstar, great range)
- David Bowie (not a great voice but he uses it very well)
- Art Garfunkel (try singing along to Bridge Over Troubled Water)
- Elvis Costello (also not a great voice but he's got great control)
posted by doctor_negative at 9:31 AM on June 8, 2005

If you like Queen, check out "Odessey and Oracle" by the Zombies... it's kind of a proto-Queen sounding album, and Colin Blunstone has a great set of pipes.

For another band with a great singer and a sound similar to Queen's, find an album by Jellyfish.
posted by the_bone at 9:32 AM on June 8, 2005

Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Check him out on ballads ("Fake Plastic Trees" from The Bends, "The Tourist" from OK Computer). In addition to the leads, he does many if not most of the background vocals on their records, and the interaction is amazing - check out their most recent, "Hail To The Theif", in addition to "The Tourist" for excellent examples of that. (I've heard he was a influenced by Jeff Buckley, truly a great singer as well.)

Picking up on Dr. Wu's cue, let me advocate for the Beatles, who did it all first, without the benefit of digital editing or automation. For vocal prowess, check out the early stuff - although, given your tastes, it may sound dated. "Yes it Is" and "Here, There, and Everywhere" are a couple of great examples. "Because" and "Sun King" from "Abbey Road" are pretty stunning, too.

saladin hit the nail on the head with Lowell George. Soul personified. For vocals, my favorite is "Waiting for Columbus".
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:35 AM on June 8, 2005

Andrew Bird ( solo and Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire) - beautiful and strange violin based songs
Kelly Hogan - country and jazz sung with the best voice chicago has to offer
Antony and the Johnsons - dark vaguely glamish dramtic songs
Neko Case - damn good singer
Handsome Family - Brett Sparks has a lovely baritone
Jolie Holland - nice sort of folky/jazzy feel to her vocals
Paul Burch - Old time country feel to his voice
Sufjan Stevens - I think his voice is great

seconding the votes for : Radiohead and Muse
posted by mrs.pants at 9:35 AM on June 8, 2005

jdroth: given the wonders of digital recording, the ability to sing is no longer a prerequisite for being able to, well, sing.

That said, you can't fake what Thom Yorke does, or Paul McCartney, or many of the others mentioned.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:38 AM on June 8, 2005

I would second Rufus Wainwright enthusiastically...Also, one singer that consistently gives me goosebumps is Martin Tielli, who has done some solo stuff, but is also one of the singers of can-rock gods The Rheostatics.

In a different vein than Queen, but more goosebumps are had by listening to some of The Bands' work...Levon, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel all have some pieces that amaze me.

Apart from those, any other suggestions would totally fall into what I would call a vocalist (think Mick Jagger, Prince, Bono) than a singer (think Freddie Mercury, Annie Lennox). some great vocals (I think) can be found on The Weakerthans' records, Paul Westerberg's solo and Replacements work.

I am sure there are more that I love that I can't think of right now...but there are a couple of ideas.
posted by Richat at 9:42 AM on June 8, 2005

Oh yes, definitely Jeff Buckley, both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and The Zombies.

As for the best Beatles vocal performances, that's tough. I think McCartney's best vocals are probably on Hey Jude or Let it Be. Because and Here, There, and Everywhere are wonderful for harmonies. So is If I Fell. So is almost everything they ever did.

Sufjan Stevens - I think his voice is great

I like Sufjan, but he never seemed like a very powerful singer, more the soft, whispery type, but I don't know his whole catalogue. Am I missing something?
posted by ludwig_van at 9:48 AM on June 8, 2005

Hawksley Workman
posted by Monk at 9:52 AM on June 8, 2005

The guy from cake. Great voice.
posted by justgary at 9:53 AM on June 8, 2005

This is great stuff, everybody. Thanks (but don't stop!)
posted by callmejay at 10:02 AM on June 8, 2005

This question would take forever to answer so I'll just limit myself to: 1) voices that I love and that I think are very distinct (meaning I recognize them instantly, even when singing a song I've never heard) and 2) lessser-known so I'm trying to spread the word:

My Morning Jacket [MP3 2 3]
Antony and the Johnsons [mp3]
Low [mp3]
Lift To Experience [mp3]
The Bellrays and The Now Time Delegation (both feature singer Lisa Kekula) [mp3 of Bellrays]
The Detroit Cobras
Paul Burch [iTunes file]
M. Ward [mp3]
Freakwater [mp3] which features Catherine Irwin [mp3] and Janet Beveridge Bean [mp3]
The Handsome Family [iTunes file]
Mia Doi Todd [mp3]
Dead Can Dance
Parker Paul [mp3] (NOT a great singer. But I love his voice.]
Thalia Zedek [mp3]
posted by dobbs at 10:27 AM on June 8, 2005

mrs. pants and I have the same taste in music-- I was going to say Neko Case (definitely!!! and also try The New Pornographers), Paul Burch, and Kelly Hogan.
Paul Simon gives me goosebumps but I'm not sure he's actually a good singer; he just appeals to me.
If you like the bluegrassy thing, check out the Be Good Tanyas, who have that awesome three-girls-in-a-bluegrass-band harmony thing that also gives me goosebumps.
I don't personally like the Beach Boys very much but they might fit your criteria.
If you can deal with the whininess, Counting Crows, especially August and Everything After, their first album, are definitely singer-driven, I think.
Bobby Bare Jr. also has a weird voice but uses it powerfully and well. See especially his song "Mehan."

And on preview, how could I have forgotten M. Ward??

Email if you want examples.
posted by librarina at 10:29 AM on June 8, 2005

Bjork (the new album, Medulla, is all voices)

Mike Patton (of Faith No More, Mr. Bungle etc) can sing his head off.

I'll put in another big vote for Tool. Maynard sings in a way that you just won't hear on other contemporary records. His voice is bright and brilliant live, too. Never off key.

Crosby, Stills, and Nash have some stellar vocals, too.
posted by Jon-o at 10:35 AM on June 8, 2005

Neil Finn, both with Crowded House and solo

And if you like The Housemartins, you'll probably like The Beautiful South.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:35 AM on June 8, 2005

Paul Simon gives me goosebumps but I'm not sure he's actually a good singer

He is.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:39 AM on June 8, 2005

Ozzy - Black Sabbath
Bruce Dickinson - Iron Maiden
Roger Daltry - The Who
Robert Plant - Led Zeppelin
David Lee Roth - Van Halen
Marc Bolan - T Rex
Phil Lynott - Thin Lizzy
Brian Ferry - Roxy Music
Peter Murphy - Bauhaus

and while I don't personally like them much, I can appreciate that these guys can sing:
King Diamond - Mercyful Fate
Paul Rodgers - Bad Company
posted by hellbient at 10:42 AM on June 8, 2005

Roger Daltry - The Who
Robert Plant - Led Zeppelin
David Lee Roth - Van Halen

As much as I enjoy these bands, those guys strike me as the antithesis of what callmejay is after. But don't worry, I'll stop posting in this thread ;)
posted by ludwig_van at 10:47 AM on June 8, 2005

To add to the list...

Devandra Banhart
The Decemberists
The French Kicks
Elliott Smith
posted by lalalana at 10:47 AM on June 8, 2005

I think Todd Rundgren has a fantastic voice even now, and his songs are almost all very melodic and vocal-driven. Check out his band Utopia's album POV for some great harmonies, or his solo album A Cappella for... well... it's all his voice, although he uses a sampler. He came out with a solo recording last year too that is just great.

Since you like Freddy Mercury you may also like Geoff Tate of Queensryche; he has quite the range and, like Mercury, an operatic-sounding voice (Tate actually studied opera). Although I have to admit, they did do their most interesting stuff a couple decades ago. Man, that makes me feel old. I still vividly recall rocking out to "The Warning" on car trips, with my little cheap cassette Walkman.
posted by kindall at 10:48 AM on June 8, 2005

Rufus' sister Martha is arguably a better singer than he is and she's starting to hit it big in the past little while.

One thing that I think is all too often overlooked is that phrasing and control are just as important to good singing as range or holding a note or whatever. Think of Ella Fitzgerald - she hit her notes, but it's WHEN and HOW she hit them that made the difference.

And in terms of phrasing I would very sincerely put early Bob Dylan in there as one of the all-time great singers. A more recent example of a similar thing would be Jeff Tweedy. He hits his notes, but HOW he does it (and when) is incredible. Macy Gray is another example, I would argue.

More conventionally, the Be Good Tanyas feature some exceptional harmonies and great lead vocals from all three members and the three great Sarahs in Canada - McLachlan, Harmer, and Slean are all wonderful singers.
posted by mikel at 10:51 AM on June 8, 2005

Lone Justice (Maria McKee)
Nickel Creek
posted by rainbaby at 10:51 AM on June 8, 2005

librarina, you might also like Bob Wiseman (note: acquaintance; self link).
posted by dobbs at 10:53 AM on June 8, 2005

Since the Detroit Cobras were mentioned, it's only fair to mention Irma Thomas. She's got an incredible voice, though she isn't a band per se.
posted by VulcanMike at 10:56 AM on June 8, 2005

A note on Mike Patton: get Bungle, Faith No More, Tomahawk and the Lovage album he did with Dan the Automator. Steer clear of Fantomas and Adult Themes for Voice.

Shawn Smith never gets any props. A fat white guy with a serious Prince fixation (in a good way). Check out the first or second Brad albums and the two Satchel albums he did. Oh, and Pigeonhead's "The Full Sentence."
posted by Atom12 at 10:58 AM on June 8, 2005

You won't like these, but I happen to be a sucker for offbeat (fig. and lit.) vocals and harmonies. Viz: John Doe and Exene from X, Jeffrey Lee Pierce from the Gun Club, and Neil Young. Oh, forget it. I'm not helping at all.
posted by scratch at 11:03 AM on June 8, 2005

Also, Layne Staley from Alice in Chains had an excellent voice, and the band made excellent use of vocal harmonies.

And for bluegrass, it's hard to beat the smooth sounds of Ricky Skaggs.
posted by saladin at 11:14 AM on June 8, 2005

Excellent excellent excellent excellent.
posted by saladin at 11:14 AM on June 8, 2005

I disagree with dr. wu's analysis; I love a lot of bands who have vocalists who just have really interesting, or do great things with, their voices, but could never win a tony. Singers who have a real range / honed skill are not necessary to be a good band, but are what's being asked for here...

This is a minor concern for me in general, but one band I love does happen to have a pretty powerful lead vocalist, too - that's The Dears.
posted by mdn at 11:29 AM on June 8, 2005

Here's a previous thread that might be helpful.

Devandra Banhart

Are you joking? Great music, but a "good voice"?

I second Sarah Harmer, Neko Case, and Sarah Slean (links to pages with sound samples). Especially the first two — beautiful, beautiful voices. (I wholeheartedly recommend The Be Good Tanyas, too, but they don't jump at me as 'great voice' off the bat.)

Oh, and the link that should be auto-posted everytime a post is tagged with music: Metafilter Scrobblers.
posted by rafter at 11:34 AM on June 8, 2005

Yeah the Mars Volta (Cedric Bixler-Zavala). Also, check out Of Montreal (Kevin Barnes).
posted by Laugh_track at 11:35 AM on June 8, 2005

Yeah the Mars Volta (Cedric Bixler-Zavala). Also, check out Of Montreal (Kevin Barnes).
posted by Laugh_track at 11:36 AM on June 8, 2005

Joanna Newsom
posted by schyler523 at 11:47 AM on June 8, 2005

*slaps forehead*

D'oh, bands with singers...
posted by schyler523 at 11:50 AM on June 8, 2005

I've been really digging the cat from Okkervil River and way his voice moves from quiet and intimate to powerful and vaguely menacing. Many MP3s here. Check out 'For Real' as a good example.
posted by verysleeping at 11:54 AM on June 8, 2005

A lot of these aren't bands though, just good singers with backup groups. Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley, &c. In fact, I don't think bands really come together around singers any more - I can think of so many soul and disco groups from the '60s and '70s, and then some new wave bands from the '80s but just a couple of indie bands from the '90s and really nothing from the '00s (except, yes, The Darkness - but they're really a '70s nostalgia band, right?). The efficiencies of the music business now seem to guarantee that a hot young singer will be "branded" and promoted with anonymous backup talent from the time they first appear without ever leading a band that puts out records under its own name. Please please please prove me wrong...
posted by nicwolff at 11:57 AM on June 8, 2005

Not only can he sing, he can keep his back to the audience while he does.
That takes talent.
posted by signal at 12:02 PM on June 8, 2005

Roger Daltry - The Who
Robert Plant - Led Zeppelin
David Lee Roth - Van Halen

As much as I enjoy these bands, those guys strike me as the antithesis of what callmejay is after. But don't worry, I'll stop posting in this thread ;)

Why? Granted, they're not the most original choices, but someone had to get the classics out of the way...and are they not uncharacteristically melodic and have a wide range?

And unless i missed something, I'm not entirely clear on what I mean either leaves things pretty wide open I think.

How bout Liz Fraser from Cocteau Twins,
Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star.
are those better, Ludwig Van??
posted by hellbient at 12:35 PM on June 8, 2005

While I'm relieved no-one's mentioned Paul Hewson -- stupid fucking Irish midget -- I am shocked, shocked, shocked that, even though he is thought of as a solo artist (the solo artist, imho), this discussion must begin with Elvis.

I mean, c'mon. Elvis. Before anyone and everyone there was Elvis.

And, to continue being difficult, I will humbly suggest that American Idol-ish leather-lunged melisma is one thing, but for phrasing, tone and expression, Dylan is the master.
posted by docgonzo at 12:45 PM on June 8, 2005

Jim James from My Morning Jacket-- glorious.

Nobody's mentioned Joni Mitchell yet? She's lost the cut-glass quality she had when she was young, but if her voice is deeper, it's also richer, and she can [i]sing[/i]. Comparing the recordings of Both Sides Now from her early 20s and from a few years ago is an amazing experience, encapsulating a lifetime of weariness, strength, love lost and found. Amazing.

Othe personal favourites: Elliot Smith; Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard (now making her career doing movie scores [i.e. Gladiator] with people like Hans Meyer); Chris Whitley; Elbow's Guy Garvey; Canada's Leslie Feist, formerly of Broken Social Scene; Britain's Martina Topley-Bird, with her gorgeously languid and drowsy vocalizations; Cat Power; PJ Harvey; The Smiths; depending on your taste, Sigur Ros; and of course a fourth or fifth shoutout to Thom, especially around the Bends era (94/95).
posted by jokeefe at 12:56 PM on June 8, 2005

Dang. Stupid message board formatting wiping out my ability to use html. Oh well.

Dylan, argh no, his inability to sing is part of his whole mystique.

Oh, and Hans Meyer in my earlier post should be Hans Zimmer. Hans Meyer was an ex-boyfriend. *shakes head, decides to get coffee*
posted by jokeefe at 1:00 PM on June 8, 2005

well, now that Dylan's been mentioned, I assume now anything pretty much anything goes, so I submit Ian Curtis from Joy Division. Like Dylan, not a good voice, but instantly recognizable. And he was actually in a band.
posted by hellbient at 1:02 PM on June 8, 2005

dobbs gets a double for Dead Can Dance--not only is Lisa Gerrard very very good (esp. with the whole glossolalia thing), her compatriot Brendan Perry has a great voice too...
jokeefe: have you listened to any of Gerrard's recent albums (post-Gladiator)?

If you want a more up to the minute singer, I'd recommend Josephine Foster. She was well on her way to becoming a fully-trained opera singer before she dropped out and decided to make weirdish folk music. Her album "All the Leaves are Gone", with the Supposed, is quite enjoyable.

If you're willing to look outside of rock groups, Cheb Mami, a raï singer, is pretty good too (it's traditionally influenced Algerian dance music, soo...).
posted by hototogisu at 1:50 PM on June 8, 2005

jokeefe: have you listened to any of Gerrard's recent albums (post-Gladiator)?

No, but I do understand that DCD are doing a reunion tour of North America this fall....

I also love Kristin Hersh (formely of Throwing Muses, now doing solo work and touring with a new band, 50 Foot Wave), who again doesn't necessarily have a conventionally 'good' voice, but one that is perfect for her material.
posted by jokeefe at 1:59 PM on June 8, 2005

I love DCD, but always found Brendan Perry's voice a little annoying, in a Neil Diamond sort of way...
posted by hellbient at 2:40 PM on June 8, 2005

The artistry and control in The Guess Who's lead vocalist always floors me. "Share the Land" is a particularly good example.

While I really don't like their stuff, Everything But the Girl's Tracey Thorn has a fantastic voice. Check out her joint stuff with Massive Attack.

The Cowboy Junkies.

Oh for God's sake. As long as Dylan's been mentioned here, should I bring up the woman from Sonic Youth? No? I thought not.
posted by Aknaton at 2:41 PM on June 8, 2005

I'd third Muse. Matthew Bellamy's voice is just otherworldly.

Offhand, I'd also suggest A-Ha, Keane, and 10,000 Maniacs (the Natalie Merchant years).
posted by MegoSteve at 3:18 PM on June 8, 2005

enthusiastic second to Neil Finn from Crowded House, et al.

Steven Page from Barenaked Ladies. he recently put some Shakespeare to music too.
posted by killy willy at 3:18 PM on June 8, 2005

posted by a thousand writers drunk at the keyboard at 3:27 PM on June 8, 2005

sam cooke
posted by a thousand writers drunk at the keyboard at 3:28 PM on June 8, 2005

No Ronald Isley? Really now, people.
posted by gimonca at 6:14 PM on June 8, 2005

kindall - It's nice to know I'm not alone when it comes to Queensryche. Most under-rated metal band of the 80's in my opinion. I can remember listening to The Warning with a good friend of mine on Boy Scout camping trips... walkman headphones separated, one for him, one for me.

Mike Patton's work in Faith No More and Mr. Bungle is an all-time favorite.
posted by Witty at 6:14 PM on June 8, 2005

Katie Noonan from George has a voice to die for.
posted by tomble at 6:47 PM on June 8, 2005

Gawd, LOADS.

Radiohead, Muse, Zeppelin, Buckley, The Beautiful South, Anthony and the Johnsons, P J Harvey, The Neville Brothers, Fairport Convenion and most of its offshoots (Richard and Linda Thompson, Teddy Thompson, Sandy Denny, yada yada...), The McGarrigles, Eva Cassidy, Lone Justice/Maria McKee, Elvis Costello... honestly, the list is endless.
posted by Decani at 6:51 PM on June 8, 2005

Another vote for Geoff Tate of Queensryche...
posted by cup at 8:39 PM on June 8, 2005

Shannon Hoon from Blind Melon was an excellent and interesting singer in an equally enjoyable band.
posted by invitapriore at 8:44 PM on June 8, 2005

Band or Not:

Marvin Gaye
Jorge Ben
Joni Mitchell
Caetano Veloso
Stevie Wonder
Fela Kuti
Gilberto Gil
Harry Belafonte
Joan Baez
posted by crapulent at 10:02 PM on June 8, 2005

Why? Granted, they're not the most original choices, but someone had to get the classics out of the way

Because those guys weren't good singers. David Lee Roth? Come on. You may consider him a "good vocalist," meaning someone whose vocal stylings are distinctive or who you enjoy, but the question seemed to be about people who are actually good singers, like Freddie Mercury. Robert Plant is the prototypical singer who wasn't really a singer, although he had his moments.

For the same reasons, Devendra Banhart, Colin Meloy, Joanna Newsom, Bob Dylan, etc., seem like inappropriate choices.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:07 AM on June 9, 2005

The Doors. Jim Morrison was pretentious, but the man could carry a tune pretty well.
posted by alumshubby at 10:18 AM on June 9, 2005

I'm big on vocals too. Here's my list:
Aimee Mann (Lots of wordplay/wit. Great voice.)
Regina Spektor (Both her albums are good, and often nearly without instruments.)
TV On The Radio (not necessarily always vocal driven, but some great voices)

I always heard that Rufus Wainright had a fantastic voice, and was pretty excited about seeing him live (he was opening for Ben Folds) and found him to be nearly unintelligable. My friend who was with me at the show concurred. I've since listened to some of his albums, and enjoyed them, but I wouldn't call him a great singer. Everything runs together coming out of his mouth.
posted by heresiarch at 11:17 AM on June 9, 2005

I think there are two very different factors here:
1. actually having a good singing voice and knowing how to produce a good, sustained sound (the technical)
2. putting a song across (style)

The best singers have/can do both.

My interpretation of callmejay's original question, given the Freddie Mercury example, is of folks with both. So I disagree with lots of examples posted and am a bit embarassed to say I don't recognize the names of a lot of the others posted here. That said, my own (dated, yes!) list would include those on crapulent's list and
David Clayton Thomas
Art Garfunkle (not Paul Simon who can carry a tune and put a song over but does not have the pipes that Art has)
Carly Simon (who's sister is an opera singer)

and lots of the folk/rock bunch for wonderful vocal blend and close harmonies:
Crosby, Stills, Nash and sometimes Young
The lovin Spoonful
The beachboys
the Association

I guess that's enough for now.

It's really fun reading the responses here--good question!
posted by altobarb at 12:50 PM on June 9, 2005

Art Garfunkle (not Paul Simon who can carry a tune and put a song over but does not have the pipes that Art has)

When I saw them last year, both sounded excellent, but Simon sounded more powerful and a bit more youthful than Garfunkel, and Simon all but upstaged him in the finale of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Both of them sounded great, though.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:17 PM on June 9, 2005

Old Time Country Acts with close harmonies :

The Louvin Brothers : God was in a good mood when he gave these 2 brothers their voices, which fit together in the way only siblings' voices can
Monroe Brothers : Charlie and Bill Monroe. Damn it's good.
The Original Carter Family : THE BEST MUSIC IN THE LAND.
Jimmie Rodgers : singing brakeman. Rough and Rowdy.

Singers with unique and kind of rough/ raw voices who I love:
Bessie Smith : sings like she means it.
Charley Patton : the best.
Dock Boggs : haunting.
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper : so much fun.
Geeshee Wiley : only cut a few songs, but really unique ghost voice.
June Carter Cash : her last 2 albums are beautiful.

Ok enough dorking out, back to work for me.
posted by mrs.pants at 10:33 AM on June 11, 2005

Because those guys weren't good singers. David Lee Roth? Come on...Robert Plant is the prototypical singer who wasn't really a singer

Jesus, I'll give you DLR, not sure what I was thinking there. But Plant - I don't see how you can't consider him a great singer. Certainly more so than Paul Simon, methinks.
posted by hellbient at 4:35 PM on June 15, 2005

Plant had a powerful voice just like Roger Daltry. That does not make him a good singer. Paul Simon is much better.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:47 PM on June 19, 2005

I've always thought Simon the title you gave Plant: a non-singer's singer. I like his smooth voice and phrasing, and he's very good at working with his limitations, but I think even he would admit his greater strength is songwriting (but I suppose that's another argument altogether).

Mr. Simon - feel free to step in and back me up...
posted by hellbient at 1:28 PM on June 20, 2005

Paul Simon has a larger range, better pitch and control, and much better tone than Plant. I've seen Simon live and heard plenty of live and studio recordings from both of them. Plant had a scratchy, throaty voice and he screamed and did a lot of sing/speaking. It worked in the blues/rock idiom, but he wasn't a great singer in the classical sense. He rarely harmonized with anyone, and when he harmonized with himself on record his control is obviously not impeccable. Simon could sing in tune well enough to perform intricate harmonies as well as take the lead with a commanding presence. Could he belt out the blues like Plant could? Probably not. But he's still a better singer than Plant ever was. If you can't hear that, I think we must be on different wavelengths here.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:30 PM on June 20, 2005

Fair enough.
I've heard plenty of Paul Simon, but probably not enough to comment further, so I'll leave it at that.
See you at the next music thread, I'm sure...and thanks for your thoughts.

Oh, and Diamanda Galas.
posted by hellbient at 1:52 PM on June 21, 2005

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