Burt's unique use of background vocals

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Steve Schenck
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Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by Steve Schenck »

I was just watching and listening to the video on YouTube of Burt and Dionne showcasing "Loneliness Remembers." It struck me again while listening just how unique is/was Burt's way of using background vocalists. He sometimes brings them in at points you'd least expect, just "oohing" or "ahhing" a chord, sometimes without any words, but it's just so damned effective! It sounds perfectly natural to listen to, yet in trying to analyze it, I can't quite figure how or why he did it... or even what he did! He just is a genious who doesn't cease to amaze. His songs always hold something more for me to discover - whether it's the chord progressions, the arrangements, or where he takes a lyric line with an unconventional melodic phrase. I notice the same unique use of background vocals in the Promises score, and in places on his 1969/70(?) album, "Burt bacharach - Make it Easy on Yourself." I wish I had a week to just sit in a studio and watch him work, or question him as he goes about constructing an arrangement. There would SO MUCH to learn!

blueonblue
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by blueonblue »

Hi Steve,
Here's a perfect example of what you've just mentioned....


"blue"

steveo_1965
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by steveo_1965 »

Steve, Nice post...and hello to my friend Blue...
Burt's album "MAke It Easy On Yourself" became a life theme of mine during the time it was out in 1969... it constantly inspired me...I had a 4 track tape of it playing in my car at that time, and I would often cruise around various parts of Los Angeles while listening to the music..
I think the thing I want to say here is that although some of the songs that were on that album were from the play Promises, Promises..Burt kind of reinvented the characterisitcs of these tunes for his Lp, they are unique in their own album setting, as from the broadway version..and I love that!
Using those girl backround vocals in certain spots certainly was a feature that was present on that album in plentiful amounts, and it was and is inspiring to hear...
For example he starts off one of the sides (i think... its been awhile) with a different section of Whoever You ARe, I Love You...than what would be normally heard on the Dionne version...
Dionne's has the piano solo thang and the entrance vocal...but on the Burt album
We hear a different part of the song right at the beginning and from the opening intonation of that trumpet solo we suddenly hear glorious voices chiming in with the orchestration in an emotional and dramatic way...! Very cool!

Am I "Burting" too much? lol(term Susan Vincent uses)

Best,
Steveo

An Enormous BB Fan
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by An Enormous BB Fan »

Hello Bacharachians!

I've got "Pacific Coast Highway" blasting away in my ears now and I just love it! I've heard it a million times and it just next gets old... like all of Burt's compositions.

Everything you've said above really strikes a chord with me (no pun intended). I have also noticed Burt's unique use of the background singers. He's really a genius at JUST THAT ALONE.... as you've said -- when he brings them in, when he takes them out, what harmonies they're singing, etc. etc. etc. Burt's "feel" for these things is astounding.

I also wore out the "Make It Easy On Yourself" album. His re-orchestrations are astounding. He really can take a song and re-work a million different ways. As one easy example: What he did to "Alfie" on his "Reach Out" album.

I've often said that Burt doesn't write music -- he IS music!

And, Steveo: No! You're not "Burting" too much. As far as I'm concerned, no one can "Burt" too much -- there's just too much to "Burt" about!

blueonblue
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by blueonblue »

Hi Steveo and Enormous,
Steveo......carry on "Burting" away !!! lol


"blue"

Steve Schenck
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by Steve Schenck »

Hi, guys - Steve_O, that album, Make it Easy on Yourself, was the very first Burt collection I listened to, knowing that he was the common thread between so many great songs. I had loved songs he had written before, but never knew all those songs were written by the same guy. In 1969, my parents had purhcased a stereo sound system, the whole 60s thing in the classy wood cabinet, and my mother sent my dad out to buy an album by Bert Kaemfert(sp?). Dad came back with an album by Burt, but the wrong "Bert!" It was a blessed mistake! That glorious rendition of Whoever You are I love You, opened the 2nd side of the album, if I'm not mistaken... Another song that has those unique background vocals used to such great effect is "Who is Gonna Love Me?"

steveo_1965
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by steveo_1965 »

Steve,
I hope your mom wasnt too disappointed when she didnt end up Bert K's with The Match Game Theme(Swingin Safari) and Wonderland By Night, and instead traveled into the wonderful world of Burt B. songs! Im sure it was a fortuitous mistake your Dad made!
The song "Who Is gonna Love Me as arranged on re cord (as the british say) by Burt for Dionne has the greatest "chorals"...
The girls are doing the heavenly voices thing and in 2 spots it really becomes all encompasing..the instrumental bridge, and then the ending again where the trumpet solos with strings and the afore mentioned girl voices abound.
There I go..."Burting again!" lol

Steveo

grooverider
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by grooverider »

Sorry for asking a "silly" question, but is that Dionne Warwick singing "sometimes your eyes look blue to me" at the tail end of "Whoever You Are, I Love You" on the "Make it Easy on Yourself" album? It kinda sounds like her but yet, I'm not exactly sure that it truly is her... A great version (my favorite) of a just spectacular song!
Oh, and if it was Ms. Warwick, why no credit given on the album?

steveo_1965
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by steveo_1965 »

I think it was Dionne, and it was kind of a surprise thing....Personally, I like the fact that she chimed in for one little phrase as a mystery guest....

Steveo

An Enormous BB Fan
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by An Enormous BB Fan »

That was definitely Dionne. I remember hearing that version for the first time... then, at the end, Dionne's unmistakeable voice appeared. I vividly remember it -- even now. I remember thinking, "My God, that voice!!" Nothing like it.... a true instrument. I can't believe all these years have passed since I first heard this version.

Steve Schenck
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by Steve Schenck »

Yes, when I first heard that track, I, too, was sure it was Dionne, but looked in vain for her name on the album credits. The background voices were named and hers was not there. Years later, I read somewhere that Dionne did indeed sing that phrase; I think it was an interview with either Dionne herself or Burt, and she agreed to do that line but took no album credit for it... And Steveo, yes, my mother became a huge fan of Burt's! Like me, she recognized so much of his music, but had never realized all those great songs were from the same gifted hand. In 1975, she took me to a concert of his at the Westbury Music Fair on Long Island. He performed with Anthony Newley, and he showcased "Another Spring Will Rise," the instrumental which didn't have a title at that point, but which would later figure on his next album, Futures.

steveo_1965
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by steveo_1965 »

Steve,
Burt really used to enjoy playing at the Westbury Music Fair, His Dad, Burt Senior and I chatted backstage one time,(in Hollywood) and I think he indicated that He and Burts Mom showed up at Westbury when he played there....it's more or less in Burt's old turf...
Wish I could have been to those!

Steveo

Martyn
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by Martyn »

Steve,

Interesting that you state the background vocalists were credited on the 'Make it Easy on Yourself' album. I haven't seen background vocalists credited on any of Burt's solo albums prior to 'Futures'. Only feature vocalists like Cissy Houston and Tony Middleton.

A couple of times I have asked if anyone knew. Some names have been suggested but essentially they remain a bit of a mystery.

But thanks for clearing up Dionne's contribution. I never knew until now that it was actually her. But neither could I imagine anyone else with 'that voice'.

Martyn

Pablo
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by Pablo »

Hi everybody!

Mmh, I wish there was a reissue of the Make it easyon yourself album.

Don't you think that Burt's characteristic 'girl background vocals' (typical example: Burt's solo version of 'Don't go breaking my heart') are similar to those used by Antonio Carlos Jobim and other brasilian musicians of bossa nova? I thought ofthat this weekend listening to Jobim's 'Passarim'...

steveo_1965
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Re: Burt's unique use of background vocals

Post by steveo_1965 »

This guy who knew Burt(we are going back many years) at a restaurant I used to go to said that Burt was in Rio and was fascinated by Bossa Nova and Jobim....He was "really taken"
with it..so yes, Im sure there is an influence there.

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