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  1. #1

    Motown-Backround-Vocal-Question

    Hi Folks,

    I would like asked this again. I´m wondering about the fact, that Motown had The Andantes as female backing Group, but no male backing Group. They uses the backing Group only for the female Groups, the solo artists and The Four Tops,some recordings of the Temps and maybe Elgins, we never heard The Andantes on Miracles track or Gladys Knight and The Pips.
    Maybe somebody know the reason why ? Thanks for any help

  2. #2
    The Originals, Spinners, Temptations and Four Tops were all used as backing singers.

  3. #3
    ...and so were the Supremes...!

    ...Kim Weston's 'It Should Have Been Me' for instance...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igGYlm0I4s8


  4. #4
    It's been my understanding that The Originals were most often used for male backing vocals, while those other groups would do a one-off every now and then.

  5. #5
    Before the Originals came to Motown in 1966, the Spinners were used quite a lot as the prominent male background vocal group between 1964 and 1966.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Polhill View Post
    The Originals, Spinners, Temptations and Four Tops were all used as backing singers.
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    Motown also used The Love-Tones as their main male background singing group from 1961-early 1964. They backed up Mary Wells on several of her songs, and Marv Johnson, and Linda Griner, and some others. The Temptations and Four Tops did most, if not all their background singing before they hit it big. Some members of The Originals sang backgrounds before The Originals had been formed. They were members of The Voice Masters. They had left Gwen Gordy's Anna Records, in early 1961, along with Billy Davis. In late 1961, when he started running Check-Mate Records, Chess Records' Detroit subsidiary, he signed them to the new label. When Davis left for Chicago in mid 1962, he took The Voice Masters' lead singer, Ty Hunter, with him, along with Tony Clarke, Willie Kendrick, and Al Hamilton (AKA Kent). David Ruffin, Alan Story, Lamont Dozier, The Del-Phi's (Vandellas), and the rest of The Voice Masters (future Originals), signed with Motown. In 1961, Mickey Stevenson was hired by Berry Gordy, to become Motown's chief producer and A&R man. He brought his own background group, from his own Stepp Records, to Motown, with him.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by Fullfillingnessfirstfinale View Post
    Hi Folks,

    I would like asked this again. I´m wondering about the fact, that Motown had The Andantes as female backing Group, but no male backing Group. They uses the backing Group only for the female Groups, the solo artists and The Four Tops,some recordings of the Temps and maybe Elgins, we never heard The Andantes on Miracles track or Gladys Knight and The Pips.
    Maybe somebody know the reason why ? Thanks for any help
    I think, if I got it right, you're more interested in why Motown seemed to use the Andantes more on the female groups and rarely on the male groups. I think I remember you had a thread on this subject awhile back and this is something I've thought about too.

    The female groups all seemed to get "The Motown Treatment" more than the males. Years ago, I think the belief was that only The Marvelettes fell prey to this but we've learned over the years The Supremes, Velvelettes and Vandellas were all subbed out more than we realized. However, The Andantes rarely were used on recordings by The Temptations and Miracles. The Miracles actually had the Andantes' on "It's A Good Feeling" and I have a feeling they are also mixed in very subliminally on "Come 'Round Here".

    All the male groups didn't escape "The Motown Treatment" though. The Underdogs had the voices of The Originals on all their backing vocals. Either we were supposed to think those were the other Underdogs doing background or we were supposed to view it as only one guy was the lead singer and the other guys only played instruments and weren't vocalists.

    The Spinners had The Andantes in the mix on quite a few of their recordings. When I heard "Just Can't Help But Feel The Pain", I thought, well now, there's that Four Tops sound again. What's so ironic is that here you had a group that excelled at doing backgrounds for others having others doing backgrounds on their records as well.

    The Monitors also had the Andantes mixed in many of their recordings. "Say You", "All For Someone", "Since I Lost You", "Time Is Passin' By" among others.

    The Originals. Again, totally ironic that this group was practically THE de facto group for male backing vocals and even they had The Andantes on their recordings at times.

    The Fantastic Four- I'd almost wager on some of their stuff, it wasn't even the other guys doing backgrounds but a mix of The Originals and Andantes.

    The Contours. As time went on, they became more and more "Motown-ized" with Andantes being used to augment the sound.

    The Isley Brothers- from the start, The Andnates were almost always added in to round out (or round off) their sound.

    Motown wasn't the only company and certainly not the first to do this whole "sweetening" thing. The Drifters, as their records became more and more pop-oriented, had female voices drafted onto a lot of their records. I think even The Platters, on their 60's material had females mixed in with the group to achieve that sort of Motown Sound.

    Who knows why Motown didn't give "The Motown Treatment" to The Temptations and The Miracles more often? Was it because they carried more clout? Was it because they could yell and protest a bit louder than the Originals, Spinners, Isley Brothers and all the others? Someone will say The Tempts and Miracles had a more established sound and so escaped this sort of thing, but why didn't that apply to the ladies?
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 05-12-2019 at 06:01 PM.

  8. #8
    The Originals did a lot of background work on Motown recordings.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post

    Who knows why Motown didn't give "The Motown Treatment" to The Temptations and The Miracles more often? Was it because they carried more clout? Was it because they could yell and protest a bit louder than the Originals, Spinners, Isley Brothers and all the others? Someone will say The Tempts and Miracles had a more established sound and so escaped this sort of thing, but why didn't that apply to the ladies?
    I believe the Tempts, as well as the Pips, asked that the Andantes not be added to their recordings, although each have at least one recording with those women.

    Re why this happened with the female groups more than the male, I always suspected that the females might have been less likely to protest. Maybe the guys could get right in a producer's face and threaten to whip some tail if they were replaced. The producers most likely had the authority to get the sound they wanted so complaining probably did no good and might have even been seen as a negative.

    Maybe others didn't want to rock the boat, especially since they still received royalties anyway. I did read that Flo complained about the matter on one occasion and had some Andantes vocals removed from one of their recordings. But I've never heard of any other female backup vocalists doing the same.
    Last edited by reese; 05-12-2019 at 07:31 PM.

  10. #10
    I never bought Motown’s reasoning that it was cheaper to fly in the lead vocalist rather than the whole group. Like what Reese had said, the guys were more likely to cause a stink and protest if they were replaced. A bit of misogyny thrown in too.

    There are instances in the guy groups where the producers did sub the Originals over the Four Tops, Tempts, etc. One particular song that comes to mind is the Four Tops’ “Can’t Stop This Feeling.” That one is definitely just Levi with the Originals and Andantes. I also think “Can’t Seem To Get You Out Of Mind” is Levi and Ashford & Simpson. Doesn’t sound like the Tops on it.

  11. #11
    Wow. Didn't know that about the originals on CAN'T STOP THIS FEELING and possibly CAN'T SEEM TO GET YOU OUT OF MY MIND.

  12. Quote Originally Posted by bradsupremes View Post
    I never bought Motown’s reasoning that it was cheaper to fly in the lead vocalist rather than the whole group. Like what Reese had said, the guys were more likely to cause a stink and protest if they were replaced. A bit of misogyny thrown in too.


    I've read that thought that the guys would protest more, but there are too many of the male groups that DID have others added on their records, so I don't think any of them were protesting. Likely, your earlier statement is more true that they just didn't want to rock the boat, especially being that so many of them were 2nd level artists and wouldn't have much power anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by bradsupremes View Post
    I also think “Can’t Seem To Get You Out Of Mind” is Levi and Ashford & Simpson. Doesn’t sound like the Tops on it.
    That's a tough one because there are literally at least a couple layers of vocals going on there. The Andantes are in full force for certain, but there are definitely more than just 2 or three other voices. It's just that the mix doesn't really reveal all of what's going on. I did a thing with a guitar effects compression pedal where I dubbed that song with tons of compression. You can hear the backing vocals a bit more clearly and at the end of the song, you can really hear there are a couple layers of vocals each singing overlapping lines. It sounds like the Tops (and/or Originals) and Andantes repeating the "Can't seem to get you out of my mind..get you out of my mind/get you out of my mind" while another layer of consisting of the Andantes are doing a mass font of "ahhhh"s using the same melody line as the the sung vocals.

  13. Quote Originally Posted by Fourtopsbiggestfan View Post
    Wow. Didn't know that about the originals on CAN'T STOP THIS FEELING and possibly CAN'T SEEM TO GET YOU OUT OF MY MIND.
    You learn something new all the time here! Hey, do you still have the Ivy Jo Hunter group going on?

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    That's a tough one because there are literally at least a couple layers of vocals going on there. The Andantes are in full force for certain, but there are definitely more than just 2 or three other voices. It's just that the mix doesn't really reveal all of what's going on. I did a thing with a guitar effects compression pedal where I dubbed that song with tons of compression. You can hear the backing vocals a bit more clearly and at the end of the song, you can really hear there are a couple layers of vocals each singing overlapping lines. It sounds like the Tops (and/or Originals) and Andantes repeating the "Can't seem to get you out of my mind..get you out of my mind/get you out of my mind" while another layer of consisting of the Andantes are doing a mass font of "ahhhh"s using the same melody line as the the sung vocals.
    Yes, there is a definitely multiple layers of vocals. I noticed that nearly every Ashford & Simpson production they sang background vocals on. They did it with the Supremes, Vandellas, Diana Ross, Marvin & Tammi, etc. It would make total sense they'd do it on this one. I just gave the song a listen again...it does sound like the Tops are on there (maybe), but I don't think that's the Andantes, but rather Nick & Val singing the higher parts. They also sound like the ones singing "Get you out of my mind / Get you out of my mind" at the end.

    Give a listen to another Ashford & Simpson production on the Four Tops "Don't You Think You Owe Me Something." I don't hear the Tops on it. Sounds like the Andantes / Nick & Val.
    Last edited by bradsupremes; 05-13-2019 at 12:44 AM.

  15. #15
    I know other records companies 'padded' the background vocals, too. Phil Spector was
    noted for this. But, other groups didn't. The Pointer Sisters come to mind as Love Unlimited....as far as I can tell. I'm not crazy about those 'choirs' in the background
    and feel it takes away from the groups unique sound.

  16. #16
    Hasn’t it been said again and again that the producers did what they thought was best and what they thought sounded best

    And sometimes it took artists by surprise

    Probably true that some stronger more confident personalities at times questioned the choice when they heard the release

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post

    ...Who knows why Motown didn't give "The Motown Treatment" to The Temptations and The Miracles more often? Was it because they carried more clout? Was it because they could yell and protest a bit louder than the Originals, Spinners, Isley Brothers and all the others? Someone will say The Tempts and Miracles had a more established sound and so escaped this sort of thing, but why didn't that apply to the ladies?
    Isn't that because HDH particularly liked using the Andantes to get their sound? I can only think of two HDH tracks by the Temptations.

  18. Quote Originally Posted by 144man View Post
    Isn't that because HDH particularly liked using the Andantes to get their sound? I can only think of two HDH tracks by the Temptations.
    That seems to be the case, especially with the Four Tops. I once read about how that all got started, having the Andantes sing with the Tops and the reasoning. It may be as simple as what you said, they liked that sound.

    Something similar happened with The Spinners at Atlantic. There was a radio interview program and the comment was made that the producers used female voices with The Spinners because the feeling was the lower, male voices didn't cut through the mix particularly, so the female voices would sort of bolster the sound. That didn't quite make sense to me, but then again, it all boils down to the personal preferences of producers.

  19. Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    Hasn’t it been said again and again that the producers did what they thought was best and what they thought sounded best

    And sometimes it took artists by surprise

    Probably true that some stronger more confident personalities at times questioned the choice when they heard the release
    No doubt, you're right on all counts. I can see that the producer would be thinking more in terms of what will make his or her production really shine. Some producers were better at trying to capture the true sounds and personality of the actual groups, but I think you're right in that most were more interested in what they thought sounded best overall. Even if that meant bringing in extra voices.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    You learn something new all the time here! Hey, do you still have the Ivy Jo Hunter group going on?
    Yeah unfortunately I'm not the head administrator. I don't visit that group much anymore. I created a RAYNARD MINER group but it's slow. Might delete it sometime.

  21. #21
    The Andantes were featured on several male Motown artists' recordings as well as the female artists. Off the top of my head, Eddie Holland's "Just Ain't Enough Love" and "Candy To Me", Stevie Wonder's LPs including "I Was Made To Love Her", Jimmy Ruffin's "Top Ten" and "The Groove Governor", Marvin Gaye's HDH- and Norman Whitfield-produced albums, Jr. Walker's Johnny Bristol productions, Shorty Long's two LPs, Edwin Star's albums, etc. Motown's producers chose to use The Andantes on their productions because the girls' back-up harmonies were professional and they made Motown productions sound great -- for the male artists as well as the female artists/groups.
    Last edited by Philles/Motown Gary; 05-17-2019 at 02:36 AM.

  22. Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    The Andantes were featured on several male Motown artists' recordings as well as the female artists. Off the top of my head, Eddie Holland's "Just Ain't Enough Love" and "Candy To Me", Stevie Wonder's LPs including "I Was Made To Love Her", Jimmy Ruffin's "Top Ten" and "The Groove Governor", Marvin Gaye's HDH- and Norman Whitfield-produced albums, Shorty Long's two LPs, Edwin Star's albums, etc. Motown's producers chose to use The Andantes on their productions because the girls' back-up harmonies were professional and they made Motown productions sound great -- for the male artists as well as the female artists/groups.
    Very true. For certain, you'd have the Andantes doing backings for the solo male singers, but I think, mainly, Fullfillingnessfirstfinale was trying to figure out why
    the female groups' original members were very often subbed out
    by the Andantes while the male groups were able to often escape having the Andantes' voices drafted onto what was supposed to be an all-male group sound. You'd listen to The Monitors and wonder why 3 guys and a girl had decidedly extra female voices on the record. Or why the Contours, 5 guys and no girls, on later records had female voices suddenly appearing. The female groups' original members were very often subbed out, but that didn't seem to happen as often with the male groups- well at least I used to think so.

    Over the years, listening more closely, I noticed a lot of the male groups had The Originals, or Spinners and/or The Andantes either replacing the original group or used to smooth out the vocals.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    You learn something new all the time here! Hey, do you still have the Ivy Jo Hunter group going on?
    There's an Ivy Jo Hunter "appreciation"/fan page on Facebook which has a lot of activity. Even Mr. Hunter will chime in every now and then. Wow, that guy has done a lot.

    I realize that not all folk do or even appreciate Facebook; however, I'm just tossing this information out there.
    Last edited by jobucats; 05-17-2019 at 06:32 PM.

  24. Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    There's an Ivy Jo Hunter "appreciation"/fan page on Facebook which has a lot of activity. Even Mr. Hunter will chime in every now and then. Wow, that guy has done a lot.

    I realize that not all folk do or even appreciate Facebook; however, I'm just tossing this information out there.
    I remember that group. I was in it before I left FB. That was a good group and it was the wildest thing when realized that it really was Ivy Jo dropping in and commenting!

  25. #25
    Interesting stuff!

    WaitingWatching, can I ask, why did you leave Facebook?

  26. Quote Originally Posted by TomatoTom123 View Post
    Interesting stuff!

    WaitingWatching, can I ask, why did you leave Facebook?
    I'm not really good at the social media scene; I'll check in and be hot on a site for a couple days, then not log in for weeks on end. Not really a good way to build any kind of presence, lol. I just saw how so many others were so good at making these regular posts, corresponding with each other and such, and I just felt like I wasn't really giving it enough time there. I work odd hours and when I'm home, I'm even busier! I think Soulful Detroit is actually the one site I've been the most regular with...if you count checking in about 5 times a month "regular" lol!

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