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Old 12-20-2010, 01:54 AM   #1 (permalink)
Juicious Maximus III
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Default Raise Your Lighters, It's Ballad Week!

Yes, it's time for some of that sentimental magic. It's time to pay tribute to our favourite ballads. This week, you can cry to Bonnie Tyler if you want to. It's okay.

The theme is not specific to power ballads or any other sub genre, so post whatever ballad you want. It could be an old english traditional ballad, a pop power ballad from the 90s or one of the many rock ballads from the 70s, etc.

Here's Megadeth's popular metal ballad/anthem A Tout Le Monde

In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.
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Old 12-20-2010, 02:12 AM   #2 (permalink)
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How about Zeppelin's "The Rain Song"? It's got kind of an interesting backstory.

George Harrison was reportedly the inspiration for "The Rain Song" when he made a comment to Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, about the fact that the group never wrote any ballads. In tribute to Harrison, the opening two chords are recognisably borrowed from the first line of his ballad "Something" with The Beatles.
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Old 12-20-2010, 03:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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This is my main entry for the moment. This instrumental ballad almost always brings me to my knees.

Everything about this track speaks to me. It's a really interesting language...

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Old 12-20-2010, 09:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm more old school in my understanding of what a ballad is. I'll go for the a ballad from the book of jazz standards because most of the singers of rock ballads sing in a voice that sounds like sexually demasculated Italian castrado opera singer.

TRUE FACT: During the Baroque era, every church choir used pre-pubescent boys to sing the high parts in choral works because women were also not allowed to participate in church services. Thus, the finest of the boy sopranos were picked by music masters for castration. I've heard some of the recordings of Alessandro Moreschi, the last Castrato and it was a truly frightening experience that made my skin crawl. I'm sure some demented opera fan has posted Moreschi works on YouTube, if you are eager to investigate.

Most of the arena band singers sound like castrados with their vocal overkill, but singing a jazz or traditional folk ballad requires a highly nuanced approach where the singer melts into the song and really interprets the lyrics, without any show stopping displays of vocal pyrotechnics that kill the simple beauty of the lyrics and the music.

Robert Plant has a marvelous voice but when he sings, it's all about Robert Plant's voice and any song he's actually singing is beside the point. Rod Steward's albums of jazz standards are horrible because for all of his vocal talents, Rod doesn't have a subtle bone in his body.

Elvis Costello is one of the few rock singers that has the temperament and talents to sing a jazz ballad effectively. He has a remarkable talent for phrasing and isn't afraid to sing behind the beat of a song. He can also hit some incredible high notes without using a falsetto voice which is unforgivable error of style for a jazz singer.

Mose Allison and Van Morrison can also get the trick done. Morrison's interpretation of the traditional Celtic ballad Carrikferrgus has made many a grown man cry. It's one of my favorite ballad performances and I've embedded it below.

Chet Baker was a master of jazz ballad singing and was never given his due for his vocal skills. Elvis Costello was crazy about Chet's singing and wrote the song Almost Blue for him. Chet did both a instrumental trumpet version Almost Blue and near the end of his life did a vocal version of the song which was Chet's last great vocal performance.

Below is an embed of Chet's interpretation of the jazz standard I Fall In Love Too Easily. At first his voice doesn't sound like anything special. He sings in an thin quavering tenor but it is such a sweet and innocent voice it captivates you. He lingers some phrases so long you begin to think the band is getting way ahead of him but Chet lingers on because he's found the zone. There are moments when Chet even sounds close to going off key and the entire performance is about to collapse because this lazy ass singer is goofing off. You keep thinking if doesn't stop screwing around he's going to make a real fool of himself. But his heartfelt sincerity begins to weave it's spell.

Chet is toying with you and he's showing you just how much really he can do with that thin reedy, yet sadly expressive voice of his. Some of Chet's best vocal performance were on the rare occasions when he sang skat style and improvised his vocals. There are very few rare recorded performances of Chet Baker singing skat style because he usually did it on the spur of the moment at a live show. I found one video of song with Chet skat singing on it on YouTube and I could kick myself for forgetting the title of the song because I can't find it.

Chet was a genius at vocal dynamics and phrasing and all along you never even realize that you've fallen in love with the song because of Chet was so good at evoking an emotional response from you with such grace and ease. I've heard the old masters like Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald sing the same jazz standards and their interpretations no matter how good, never reached out and grabbed me like Chet's versions did. A good jazz singer makes it all look so easy but in reality Chet's mastery over his singing voice to him years to develop. Even when cigarette smoking and drugs had destroyed his voice beyond repair, Chet's winsome crooning in his forlorn and damaged voice had a strange allure of it's own.

Chet often used his trumpet as an extension of his voice and that interaction between his voice and his trumpet are part of one and the same organic musical conversation. Chet and his trumpet sang in the same wistful and plaintive voice and the beauty of his genius could break your heart.

There are two types of music: the first type is the blues and the second type is all the other stuff.
Townes Van Zandt

Last edited by Gavin B.; 12-20-2010 at 04:27 PM.
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