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Author Topic: John's Voice - what happened?  (Read 244 times)

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KEROUAC

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John's Voice - what happened?
« on: December 04, 2014, 03:11:54 PM »

This might not go down well because I'm going to say something negative even though I am a big fan of John's solo work and there is still greatness in those recordings.

When you compare John's amazing vocals from the Beatles era with his solo work in the seventies his vocals do not come close. There seemed to be a deterioration of his vocal abilities. They were still good but not as good.
I know naturally a singer's voice will usually worsen with age. The point I am making is that McCartney retained the ability to still sing all those early rockers like Long Tall Sally well into the nineties and perhaps beyond. Paul's vocals still sounded amazing and perhaps as good as he did in the sixties.

But whether you want to admit it or not John could not have sung Twist and Shout or Rock n Roll Music in the seventies anything like he could in the sixties. The Rock n Roll album is good but it's not in the same league as early Lennon.

Personally I think it might have been the drugs which affected his vocals. I'm sure a singer's nose can contribute to the characteristics of their voice and perhaps cocaine had an impact. He lost a lot of those great characteristics.  I feel sad saying it but I think it's true.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2014, 03:13:51 PM by KEROUAC »
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Bobber

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2014, 07:14:49 PM »

Dr Yanov's screaming therapy might not have helped either.
I believe there is a similar thread about this subject. Ah, if only one of those moderators could dig it up. :D
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Kevin

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2014, 07:37:03 PM »

 Again, I thought it was accepted that loosing his voice, along with being called the Fat Beatle, significantly contributed to John's loss of confidence mid sixties, and the reason for that annoying thin reverbed bathroom vocal that dominates so much of his later work.
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KEROUAC

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2014, 12:20:15 AM »

I still think John did some really good vocals in the latter stages of the Beatles even if it wasn't on the level of Twist and Shout.

It's also telling that Harry Nilsson completely wrecked his vocals in the seventies which was likely the result of drink and drugs many of which we know were consumed with John.
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Moogmodule

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2014, 12:27:34 AM »

It's an interesting topic. I agree his vocals seemed to weaken in the seventies. He could still deliver some nice performances. But its not at the same level as his 60s stuff.

While vocals weaken with age John was only in his 30s. If anything his voice should have been at it's peak.

I vote drugs, booze and loose living.

And Yoko.
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Fab4Fan

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2014, 03:29:07 AM »

While I agree that his vocal abilities declined during the '70s - and notably so - he was still able to pull off some great singing at times. IMHO, his overall best solo vocal performances appeared on Walls and Bridges (virtually every song but most especially #9 Dream).
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Moogmodule

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2014, 09:42:19 AM »

John was a brilliant pop/rock singer IMO. In his early days he had a unique power to his voice as we heard on many early Beatle songs. But he had a real expressiveness to his delivery that showed itself later on. Subtle vocalisations such as A Day in the Life and Sexy Sadie showed he knew exactly how to use a microphone to get the tonal shadings perfectly for the songs he was singing. I think that skill lived on and, as Fab4Fan says, it was in evidence in his solo work such as Walls and Bridges.

But it seems that raw power had left him. While Paul seemed to maintain it til quite late in his career.
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Mr Mustard

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2014, 12:55:55 AM »

Sorry, I just don't buy any of this I'm afraid.

"Twist And Shout" was a wonderful freak of a recording - ONLY John could have delivered that incredible version (too much coiled, controlled power there for screamer Paul to handle) and it's doubtful that even Lennon himself could have replicated the recorded version on any other day (he even admitted as much) and certainly no live Beatles performance of this song ever matched the sheer might of the album version. Consequently I think it's unfair to use this as a yardstick by which to measure other vocal performances.

Although he outgrew the "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" type of songs, John retained his peerless vocal prowess until the end of his life in my opinion. He was neither writing nor performing primitive, gutsy belters like this by the 70s; his style and repertoire had matured and broadened and I do think some of the solo work if anything vocally surpassed - in phrasing, tone, range and subtle control if not raw strength - anything he did as a Beatle. Various live versions of "Cold Turkey", "Instant Karma!", "Well Well Well", "Gimme Some Truth", "Power To The People", "New York City", "Meat City", "What You Got", "Rip It Up/Ready Teddy".... I find no dilution of power there.

But his shift towards generally wispier vocals was evident as far back as the later Beatle days. He'd been the battering ram within the group in those early, energetic years and I think he realised he no longer needed that, he became a more introspective, thoughtful, contemplative artist and bellowing R&R became a rare, nostalgic indulgence. Primal scream therapy showed his lungs could still deliver when the occasion demanded it. Paul retained his own considerable vocal talent by honing it on the road - he still needed those screamers with which to wow the audiences (who had long since lost their appeal to John).
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tkitna

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2014, 10:57:13 AM »

Yeah, I never really thought he lost his voice.  Maybe his desire to sing such songs more so.  'Twist And Shout' was a one time deal, so its a poor measuring stick in my opinion.

Moogmodule

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2014, 04:54:08 PM »

I still find his delivery on the Rock and Roll album pretty tepid compared to his efforts on similar songs in the 60s. Of course that might not be down to a physical diminishment in his voice and down to attitude and the way it was recorded.
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Mr Mustard

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2014, 12:58:40 AM »

If only he'd re-titled the Rock 'N' Roll album as - oh, I don't know - let's say "Fifties!" or "Youth" or something, I think it would have been less disappointing and better received. He treats the songs as though he were flipping through an old re-discovered photo album. There are flashes of power on there. The "Rip It Up/Ready Teddy" medley and "Slippin' And Slidin'" are vocally on a par with stuff like "Bad Boy" or "Slow Down" as far as I'm concerned.

Beyond that, most of the tracks are indeed tepid and the listener feels short changed by a singer of Lennon's calibre calling such a watery collection "Rock 'N' Roll", which misleads us into expecting high octane barnstormers throughout. "Stand By Me" is a great track and demolishes the original for my money, but I just don't regard it as a rock & roll song, rather as music which hit the airwaves at the same time as rock & roll music and probably got pigeonholed with the more explosive stuff because it was "new"? I wasn't around, I'm guessing here. Perhaps I have too narrow a definition of "rock & roll" in my mind.

But it's a poor album by which to judge John's post-Beatle vocal ability.
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Bobber

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2014, 08:48:28 AM »

It would have helped if George Martin had done the production for Johns Rock & Roll album in a 1963 style.
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KEROUAC

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Re: John's Voice - what happened?
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2014, 11:15:14 AM »

Mr Mustard I'm going to have to disagree with you about Twist and Shout. John is on record as saying he could have done a better vocal than the record version. He also went as far as to say he was ashamed of it for a long time. He had a bad cold at the time and he said he could do it much better. So he felt he could do much better which makes it a fair measuring stick. "Money" is another great vocal.

Also for me "Slippin' And Slidin'" doesn't match the standard of "Bad Boy" or "Slow Down".

I know he switched to a more subtle vocal style but was that perhaps because he had to?
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