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  1. #1
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    Background singers elsewhere

    We all know that Motown used the Andantes [[and others) on all their girl groups [[not sure about the Velvelettes?). Does anyone know if other groups used them, too? I'm thinking Pointer Sisters, Emotions, Three Degrees, etc.

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    I'm going to go with "no" on the Pointer Sisters and Three Degrees. Having extensively collected both of their works, I can't imagine listening to a song and not recognize their individual voices, which were quite distinct. I think the Mary Jane Girls were often- or exclusively?- replaced with the Waters.

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    Just re-read your question Lake. Are you asking about other backing groups that worked in the same way as the Andantes, as I understood [[or misunderstood) your post? Or are you asking if the Andantes were the group doing the replacing outside of Motown? If I didn't answer your question correctly, I apologize.

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    Additional vocalists were used on some of the Ronettes' Colpix recordings. The same applies to some of their Philles recordings. On some of those, I think it might be only Ronnie.
    Last edited by reese; 05-23-2022 at 09:31 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Just re-read your question Lake. Are you asking about other backing groups that worked in the same way as the Andantes, as I understood [[or misunderstood) your post? Or are you asking if the Andantes were the group doing the replacing outside of Motown? If I didn't answer your question correctly, I apologize.
    Sorry if my question was confusing. I was wondering if other 'groups' used extra background singers on their recordings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    I'm going to go with "no" on the Pointer Sisters and Three Degrees. Having extensively collected both of their works, I can't imagine listening to a song and not recognize their individual voices, which were quite distinct. I think the Mary Jane Girls were often- or exclusively?- replaced with the Waters.
    I'd have to agree about the Pointer Sisters and The Three Degrees as I also have most of their recordings and do not recognize any other voices. EXCETPT the latest Three Degrees CD from a few years ago [[Freddie Pool was in the group). It sounded like the
    Morman Tabernacle Choir in the background. When I read the liner notes it DID state
    the use of about 4 'other' other singers on background. Thoughts of the Supremes Jimmy Webb record came to mind.
    Last edited by lakeside; 05-23-2022 at 09:42 AM.

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    A lot of TLC recordings in the 90s had Debra Killings on background to augment T Boz, Chilli and Left Eye [[who usually rapped rather than sing anyway).

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    I can't think of anything more insulting to a vocal group.... not widely done I'm sure ...

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    at Motown it was a BUSINESS decision, Motown controlled the groups TOTAL career. They were kept busy out on the road...Motown would only fly in the lead singer if they had a session planned or wanted to get something done quickly.The Motown groups all could sing.Thats why they were so great LIVE.

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    I'm not sure that putting 'business' in CAPITAL letters makes the legitimacy of the practice any more tasteful.

    I'm trying to imagine someone telling Patti Labelle to her face, listen while you three are out touring off the LADY MARMALADE hit, we'll bring in some other singers to get your next album going .... .
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 05-23-2022 at 07:22 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    I'm not sure that putting 'business' in CAPITAL letters makes the legitimacy of the practice any more tasteful.

    I'm trying to imagine someone telling Patti Labelle to her face, listen while you three are out touring off the LADY MARMALADE hit, we'll bring in some other singers to get your next album going .... .
    Nona would have cut somebody! LOL!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreadinglove21 View Post
    A lot of TLC recordings in the 90s had Debra Killings on background to augment T Boz, Chilli and Left Eye [[who usually rapped rather than sing anyway).
    Did TLC do any live concerts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside View Post
    Did TLC do any live concerts?
    Sure they did. They still do; I attended one last summer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    Sure they did. They still do; I attended one last summer.
    Thanks sans. I guess I lost track of them after Lisa passed. I see they're heading
    to Glastonbury in June. "Creep" is one of my all time favorites.
    TLC – The Official TLC Site

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    Sometimes demos become "the record." Shirley of the Shirelles sang over the demo backing track of "Baby's It's You," which features non-Shirelles, including Burt Bacharach.



    Ellie Greenwich was an uncredited Shangri-La. She opens "Out In the Streets," for example.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    I'm not sure that putting 'business' in CAPITAL letters makes the legitimacy of the practice any more tasteful.

    I'm trying to imagine someone telling Patti Labelle to her face, listen while you three are out touring off the LADY MARMALADE hit, we'll bring in some other singers to get your next album going .... .
    You do know that the Blue-Bells first & one of their biggest hits was NOT even them but a group called the Starlets "I Sold My Heart To The Junkman" in 1962. This was done by the owner of Newtown Records in Philly.

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    At least two of the Crystals Hits were by Darlene love and the Blossoms "He's a Rebel", and "He's sure the Boy I love".
    Everyone passing through the studio sang back-up on the Ronettes records. Both Darlene Love and Cher have said they are on it.
    I suspect that the vocals of Wilson Phillips were augmented in the studio as only Carnie Wilson could really sing.
    I think that Motown's over-use of the Andantes undermined the dynamics of the groups. It gave naysayers an opportunity to dismiss the contributions of Mary and Flo to the Supremes, ignoring the fact that all of the records they were on were still more hits than any other female group in history. If you dismiss the ones they weren't on you don't lose much. As for a group like the Marvelettes, once Wanda took over lead and the Andantes replaced the Marvelettes, the group sound was gone.

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    Motony--Yes the Starlets recorded Junkman first, but it was credited to Patti Labelle and "her Bluebelles." There was a lawsuit over this, but it is not known if the lead vocal was erased and replaced by Patti. No one remembers! No one even knows if the original was done by the Starlets or just session singers. Whatever the case, the Bluebelles toured behind the single, appearing on American Bandstand circa 1962. Man I wasn't even born yet!

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    I just read Anita Pointer's autobiography, and Ruth Pointer's as well, and they did all their own backing vocals. Their ability to instantly work out their background harmonies amazed their producers! they didn't need anybody else.

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    My original HIT 45 of "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" was credited to the Blue-Bells & is the Starlets. Maybe Patti & them were overdubbed onto the LP version. Patti NEVER did that song over the years and that was the biggest hit of the Blue-Bells or Patti Labelle & the Blue Bells. #15 on the HOT100.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyC View Post
    Motony--Yes the Starlets recorded Junkman first, but it was credited to Patti Labelle and "her Bluebelles." There was a lawsuit over this, but it is not known if the lead vocal was erased and replaced by Patti. No one remembers! No one even knows if the original was done by the Starlets or just session singers. Whatever the case, the Bluebelles toured behind the single, appearing on American Bandstand circa 1962. Man I wasn't even born yet!
    The hit version was the Starlets. Later, Patti and the Bluebelles recorded a faster version for their first album.

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    NOBODY at Motown NEEDED help singing. The Crystals nor the Ronettes did either. They were all GREAT LIVE. I saw & heard them all.

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    The Emotions sound is so distinct, I can't image them using additional vocals. For Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" album, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards used additional background vocals [[including the Chic singers and Luther Vandross). This was their first outside production and that was how they were used to doing it. I saw an interview where Debbie Sledge and Bernard actually bumped heads over this. Their second production with Sister Sledge they allowed the sisters to arrange and use their own vocals. I must say that vocally, I prefer the "Love Somebody Today" album because of the lush harmonies. The background vocals on the "We Are Family" album were mostly unison and the sisters even stated that they were harmony singers but nevertheless it was a blockbuster that they are still reaping the benefits from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    NOBODY at Motown NEEDED help singing. The Crystals nor the Ronettes did either. They were all GREAT LIVE. I saw & heard them all.
    The producers of their records didn't agree.

    I envy your experiences of them live, come to think of it, don't most live acts sound great to us live? Or we want that to be the case and are therefore much more forgiving ? ... !!

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    You could hear their harmonies LIVE. There was no continuous screaming from teeny-boppers like the beatle bands would get when I saw The Marvelettes[[Gladys,Kat & Wanda)Martha & the Vandellas [[Martha, Roz & Lois) Supremes[[Diana, Mary & Cindy) in the 60's. There were no Andantes behind the curtain either. The producers were driven by business decisions & timelines.In the case of the Crystals & the Ronettes, Phil Spector was the STAR, but I saw them LIVE & they were GREAT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside View Post
    Sorry if my question was confusing. I was wondering if other 'groups' used extra background singers on their recordings.
    Because I am of a different era, [child of the fifties, pre-rock and after rock] my definition of a group is one that sings in harmony and the lead singer doing a short lead in the middle. That may not be the correct definition of a group, but it is my opinion.

    Groups like the McGuires, 4 Aces, Ames Bros, Mills Brothers, etc. all sang in harmony. Some had background singers who sang background for the group while the group sang in harmony. On occasion the background singers joined in with the harmonized group. The McGuire Sisters usually had male background singers, so there could be no confusion there.

    But in the sixties and seventies, a group usually was a lead singer with the rest of the group singing background for the group. Fine. If that is now a group, so be it. But if they are part of the group and not just background singers, then they should sing the background on the record.

    When Mary and Cindy were lip-syncing to Someday and Love Child on some TV shows, were they Milli Vinilli-ing?

    In another thread, it was mentioned that Philly International used others to replace group members and it was confirmed by the Stylistics' Russell Thompkins Jr

    https://soulfuldetroit.com/showthrea...ght=stylistics

    I wonder if the Pips were ever replaced on any of the GK&P records.



    In the actual recording, you can distinctly hear the male background singers singing background to the group harmony and even joining in with the harmony at some points.



    In spite of my definition of a group, some of my favorite groups of the sixties and seventies were the Pips, Stylisitics, Martha and Vandellas, Blue Magic, Teddy Bear and the Bluenotes, 4 Tops, Tempts, Supremes, Spinners, Dramatics and so many more. Loved there records and saw them all live. I wish I was old enough to have been able to see some of the fifties groups live too. But I did get to see the McGuires in 1986 at Westbury Music Fair, where I had seen so many of the sixties and seventies groups.

    Sorry. Think I went off topic again. My bad

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    Quote Originally Posted by milven View Post

    I wonder if the Pips were ever replaced on any of the GK&P records.
    I think that the Pips might have been replaced on their tracks on the IN LOVING MEMORY album from 1968. Many of their backgrounds on that project had a choral sound that didn't sound like the group members they were attibuted to.

    I also think they may have been replaced on one version of a later release on MCA, SEND IT TO ME.

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    I think that in chicago, the opals did background vocal for some artist..perhaps[gene chandler-major lance?].

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    As Milven pointed out, Russell Thompkins Jr was only Stylistic to appear on almost all of the Thom Bell produced hits. The background vocals were typically done by Bell, Bunny Sigler, Carl Helm, Phil Hurtt, and Kenny Gamble. The same guys were also on Blue Magic & the Drells recordings too.


    I sometimes refer to Harold Melvin and the Blue notes recordings on PIR as being by Harold Melvin & the two notes, because several of their songs only featured Harold, Teddy and either Jerry Cummings or Sharon Paige. [[And a few only have Teddy) When the other Blue Notes did lay down vocals, they weren’t treated well in the studio.

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    What happened at Motown was that Holland and Dozier liked to record backgrounds last in order to fill in any gaps in energy. Bringing the artists in twice was considered too expensive when you included the lost gig income.

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    Thank you, Bob Olhsson.

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