Friday, October 29, 2021

Friday's Playlist: Great Vocal Performances

This Friday's Playlist compiles some truly breathtaking vocal performances from genres as diverse as soul, jazz, rock, or metal. A lot of these recordings have become classics, but hopefully some might be slightly less obvious.

For example, when choosing a song to feature Bruce Dickinson's soaring vocals, I purposely avoided chestnuts like Hallowed Be Thy Name of Aces High and went for a more recent, less celebrated faux ballad that is not the style he is usually associated with. In the same style, it was hard chasing one song by Ronnie James Dio but we settled on Neon Knights because that is the quintessence of his style: operatic, full throated, melodic.

Procol Harum's An Old English Dream is also not an obvious choice: it's from their later years and is not a particularly demonstrative vocal performance. However, the timbre of Gary Brooker's more mature voice and the emotional delivery give the track a poignancy that warrants its inclusion here.

But this playlist isn't about mere technical proficiency, as evidenced by the inclusion of Johnny Cash's version of Hurt: these are songs where the voice invokes emotions.

Public Image's One Drop also falls in that category: John Lydon's voice might be less ostentatious and venomous than on Sex Pistols classics like Bodies, but he sounds so completely committed to the performance that it felt like a no-brainer. Similarly, no one has ever accused Ozzy Osbourne of being a great singer, yet his performance on Black Sabbath's the Writ is absolutely astounding and this is why Sabbath is included here twice, albeit with different (very different!) vocalists.

There will be more installments in this series as there is no shortage of fantastic vocal achievements in the musics we all love so much. Which tracks would you include in the next one?

Enjoy, comment and share!

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