Friday, November 14, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special Guided By Voices Edition

[This is one of the very first Weekend Listomanias ever; I originally posted it in early 2007, which as you know is several centuries ago in dog years. As is my wont, I have done some re-writing, substituted some different video clips, and added an extra entry, all mostly to keep you from thinking that I have grown indolent and lazy suckling on the government teat of Medicare and Social Security. -- S.S.]

Okay, kids here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best a cappella Pop/Rock Song (either totally a cappella, or with a cool a cappella section of whatever length!!!)

And I don't just mean doo-wop. Group harmony is group harmony, okay?


That said, here's my totally top of my head top eight:

8 Steeleye Span -- Gaudete



I don't know what's more amazing -- the Spans stunning medeival harmonies on this or the fact that at the time it was recorded, the band were actually pop stars in England with hit records on the charts.

7. Petra Haden -- I Can See For Miles



The Who's power pop classic done solely with mouths turned to eleven. Utterly mind-boggling.

6. Fairport Convention -- Percy's Song



The acapella intro for this is one of my all time favorite things; amazingly enough, the performance gets even better as it goes along.

5. The Beatles -- Because



Of all the reasons to hate the Fabs, the fact that they were -- on top of all their other talents -- absolutely astoundingly good harmony singers may be the most plausible. This may or may not be from the Love mashup album, but I'm too lazy to check. Maybe it was on one of the Anthology sets. Whatever

4. Big Daddy -- Eye of the Tiger



The Survivor song recast as street-corner doo-wop, as it probably always deserved. The traffic noises at the top are a particularly droll touch.

3. Crosby Stills and Nash -- Find the Cost of Freedom



The a cappella at the end is pretty spine-tingling, I think. One of their better songs, although the a-side -- "Ohio" -- sent the same message somewhat more forcefully with loud guitars.

2. The Beach Boys -- Their Hearts Were Full of Spring



A straight cover of the Four Freshmen's original, but if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye, I probably don't want to know you. And this despite the immense dickitude of Mike Love.

And the number one all-time top acapella pop/rock madrigal is ----

1. Imogen Heap -- Hide and Seek




I first heard this in late 2006 when it was used in a montage at the end of an episode of the short-lived Ray Liotta TV crime show Smith, although I'm told it had also figured earlier on The O.C. In any case, I remember practically falling off the couch at the time and thinking it's the most bizarrely haunting thing I'd ever encountered. It's almost a whole new genre -- Android Doo-Wop, anybody?

Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

b/c Sal is on the road: Todd - Something to Fall Back On (from the A Cappella album, duh)

David Crosby - the beginning of Orleans

Laura Nyro's Gonna Take a Miracle had several a cappella breakdowns such as the middle of Nowhere to Run, the beginning of Wind

Shriner said...

The break in "Never Been Any Reason" by Head East.

The opening of "Bohemian Rhapsody".

Todd's cover of "Mighty Love" from the same album mentioned above.

And, of course, the first 90 seconds of the awesome "Rocket's Tail" by Kate Bush...

Off the top of my head...

The Kenosha Kid said...

The Who - A Quick One (the intro)

Led Zeppelin - Black Dog (not harmony but it still counts thppt)

edward said...

The Belmonts (post Dion): Da Doo Run Run. Though most of the songs on the LP (Cigars Acappella & Candy) would qualify. And the velour suits are to die for.

must think of others.

MJConroy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MJConroy said...


Todd Rundgren - Something To Fall Back On

Anonymous said...

The opening part of the Eagles' cover of Steve Young's "Seven Bridges Road" (a Top 30 single, in early 1981, from their "Live" album).
Say what you will about these guys, but they are really good singers.

J. Lag

dSmith said...

The Columbia female a cappella group Bacchante does "Bitches ain't Shit" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izgrypEbYOk

jackd said...

Played this for the Mrs., who is a Todd fan from way back, and who also wants to know why no one mentioned The Roches. If nothing else, their version of the Hallelujah Chorus deserves to be in the mix.

Alzo said...

1. Petra Haden IS awesome- have you heard her do 'Don't Stop Believin''?
2. Although I never had much use for the Doobie Brothers, 'Black Water' is, despite being one of the most overplayed tracks in history, a truly wonderful song.
3. For pure a cappella, it's hard to beat Ladysmith Black Mambazo's 'Imbube.'

M_Sharp said...

This is a tough one.

Toni Price "Swim Away"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R05R5ttTJTo

More gospel than pop/rock- Johnny Adams & Aaron Neville "Never Alone".

John F said...

My only addition to the list is from Neko Case's most recent album: "Nearly Midnight, Honolulu". Uses some studio effects, but I don't think it's out of bounds. I like "Outro with Bees" a bit more, but that is not quite fully acapella.

However, my main reason to post is to say a profound thanks to Steve for that link to Petra Haden/I Can See For Miles. Chills throughout!!

Anonymous said...

The Zombies-Care of Cell 44.

Also - Is someone feeling a little insecure about the size of their penis.

Capt. Al

danny1959 said...

On a Fairport related note: Ian Matthews' cover of "Da Doo Ron Ron" is really beautiful, as is his version of "I'll Fly Away," although that one is accompanied by an autoharp.

wayne fraizer said...

"Our Prayer"..The Beach Boys..no words but some pretty good harmonies

steve simels said...

John F -- That Neko Case track is terrific -- thanks for the heads up on that

Anonymous said...

While we're on a Beach Boys tip: Brian Wilson's "One For The Boys" (from his self-titled first solo album on Sire, from 1988).

J. Lag

Anonymous said...

Hello all...no, please remain seated,

Perhaps cheating, in that it's not a pop song per se, but The Hallelujah Chorus by The Roches.

Big love for the Roches back in the day...

Regards,
RichD

Anonymous said...

Sparks' Propaganda, long version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oPxJlrQIkU

Dave said...

dSmith, great call on the Bacchante cover. Equally witty is their take on Our Day Will Come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsi3NX1MYkc&list=PL5CpO9ge0kYZeuYLyncqsYdCyzJw0TUZl

To me, the Beach Boys' "Our Prayer" remains the best acapella song in rock history, with their "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring" not far behind. Gotta love the acapella portions of "Care of Cell 44," too.

Loved the Neko case, which I wasn't familiar with, as well as the Fairport Convention choice of Steve's, which I haven't heard in far too long.

Dave F.

swboy said...

Family - "Larf and Sing"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy7J0V0tEN0

The Persuasions singing Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6GjqqjaCUo

Beautiful music from the soul.

Peter Power Pop said...

Hey Steve: Seeing as you like those tracks from the British Isles, get a load of "Theme from Harry's Game" by Irish group Clannad:

http://youtu.be/2KpNzalFKPo

It was a top 5 hit in the UK in 1983, and it's still the only song to appear on the UK charts that's sung entirely in Gaelic.