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  1. #1
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    100 greatest lead singers of vocal groups

    This list was put together by a moderator on another website. He asked me to take a look at it and I thought it was pretty good, except he had left Marvin Junior off the list which he admitted he screwed up [[not easy to get T.J. Lubinskys cousin to admit he screwed up ANYTHING) and corrected [[# 17)when I pointed it out. I also suggested that James Epps deserved a spot on the list...being Ric Tics biggest selling group prior to Motown purchasing the label.

    http://digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/be...al_groups.html

    Any comments...

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    well I think Ronnie Bennett & Gladys Horton should be much higher on the list. I also think LaLa Brooks & Wanda Rogers should be on the list.I love my girls... I agree that Martha Reeves was the best female lead singer of a group!

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    I am very happy to see the first Lady of Motown Miss Martha Reeves near the top of the list. After 5 decades in show business Martha's voice just keeps improving.

    Nice to see Diane Ross on the list as well.

    Thank you for this list.

    Roberta

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    Eddie Levert "only" in the 40 the place...?!

    Where are Joe Ligon [[Mighty Clouds Of Joy), Ron Banks and LJ Reynolds [[The Dramatics), Barbara Roy [[Ecstasy, Passion & Pain), Philip Bailey and Maurice White [[EW & F)...?

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    Quote Originally Posted by manny View Post
    Eddie Levert "only" in the 40 the place...?!

    Where are Joe Ligon [[Mighty Clouds Of Joy), Ron Banks and LJ Reynolds [[The Dramatics), Barbara Roy [[Ecstasy, Passion & Pain), Philip Bailey and Maurice White [[EW & F)...?
    The list clearly states that it's focus is "secular" groups' thus eliminating Ligon for eligibility. Earth Wind & Fire were a band, not a vocal group' thus eliminating Bailey and White from consideration. Levert, I suppose an argument could be made, and the Dramatics guys...just how influential were they? Archie Bell and George Williams..also missing which I men.tioned to the author.
    Last edited by StuBass1; 05-31-2012 at 04:39 PM.

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    Full respect to them, but there's a massive slew towards Fifties singers here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by soulwally View Post
    Full respect to them, but there's a massive slew towards Fifties singers here.
    True...partly because of the influence factor. The 70's and 80's guys weren't as influential due to the rapid changes in musical styles throughout that era. The other factor is the authors somewhat obvious bias.

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    Is Otis Williams of the Charms, Otis Williams of the Temptations?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    Is Otis Williams of the Charms, Otis Williams of the Temptations?
    No relation Rob. The Charms were a popular 50's Doo Wopp group.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    The list clearly states that it's focus is "secular" groups' thus eliminating Ligon for eligibility. Earth Wind & Fire were a band, not a vocal group' thus eliminating Bailey and White from consideration. Levert, I suppose an argument could be made, and the Dramatics guys...just how influential were they? Archie Bell and George Williams..also missing which I men.tioned to the author.
    O.K., you're right and I miss-read the thread start... BTW, MCOJ recorded some great "secular" albums in the 70's on ABC [["Time" and "Truth Set You Free" were two shouting-bombastic up tempos!)

    About maurice and Philip from EW & F this is true, they're a self contained band who have more instrumental tracks than vocal tunes... But the same could say about The Trammps [[they're more members than the "vocal" quintet who appears in many sleeve arts and also the "quintet" played guitars - the Wade bros.- and Earl Young the drumms and got many instrumentals... In this category and the same criterium we can also included the ENORMOUS FRANK BRUNSON.

    Some others, IMHO, who are missed in the list and I consider "essentials" are Little Sonny from The Intruders and, despite the fact that before him there was Russell Thompkins, William hart, Little Anthony and Eugene Record, a falsetto like the one by The Wizard from Blue Magic, deserves a place in a 100 - list or also on a 20 - list.

    [[This is the humble opinion by a Phillysound obsessed, :-) )

    Cheers to all

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    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    Earth Wind & Fire were a band, not a vocal group' thus eliminating Bailey and White from consideration.
    Well, much as I love THE BEACH BOYS I don't consider them to be a "Vocal Group" but a "Self Contained Band" and yet there is BRIAN WILSON in the list at #17!!

    Roger

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    Quote Originally Posted by manny View Post
    O.K., you're right and I miss-read the thread start... BTW, MCOJ recorded some great "secular" albums in the 70's on ABC [["Time" and "Truth Set You Free" were two shouting-bombastic up tempos!)

    About maurice and Philip from EW & F this is true, they're a self contained band who have more instrumental tracks than vocal tunes... But the same could say about The Trammps [[they're more members than the "vocal" quintet who appears in many sleeve arts and also the "quintet" played guitars - the Wade bros.- and Earl Young the drumms and got many instrumentals... In this category and the same criterium we can also included the ENORMOUS FRANK BRUNSON.

    Some others, IMHO, who are missed in the list and I consider "essentials" are Little Sonny from The Intruders and, despite the fact that before him there was Russell Thompkins, William hart, Little Anthony and Eugene Record, a falsetto like the one by The Wizard from Blue Magic, deserves a place in a 100 - list or also on a 20 - list.

    [[This is the humble opinion by a Phillysound obsessed, :-) )

    Cheers to all
    Good points...however, Little Sonny IS on the list. Ted Mills could arguably justify a position. When I've seen The Trampps perform, Earl is generally singing and dancing with a different drummer, although I'm sure he played on the tracks, being the phenom he is on drums.

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    Quote Originally Posted by roger View Post
    Well, much as I love THE BEACH BOYS I don't consider them to be a "Vocal Group" but a "Self Contained Band" and yet there is BRIAN WILSON in the list at #17!!

    Roger
    Agree that The Beach Boys are a band. I sort of overlooked that one and will pass it along to the author who HATES to admit he screwed up.

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    I'm a Beach Boys fan [[will see them this summer on their 50th anniversary tour) and I think Brian Wilson's bandmates Mike Love, Al Jardine, Carl and Dennis Wilson, were better singers, IMO.

    Yes, Levert at 40 is too low, IMO. Phillip Bailey should be somewhere, right?

    The Whispers not represented.
    Last edited by tsull1; 05-31-2012 at 08:22 PM.

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    Where's Paul Williams? This ommission is inexcusable giving that he was the original lead vocalist of the Tempts and shaped them into the legends they are now!

  16. #16
    smark21 Guest
    Whoever put together this list obviously hasn’t listened to any songs recorded after 1973 or so. What a geriatric list.

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    Before I looked at the list, I made my own top ten list. They were all on this top 100 list

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    Whispers...Wallace "Scotty" Scott #94.

    Paul Williams...A personal friend and GREAT singer. I don't believe however that Paul had enough leads in the groups heyday to be widely recognized along with David and Eddie as The Tempts lead singer, despite the fact that songs like Don't Look Back" or "Love I Can See" are near and dear to us more ardent Temptations fans. For once In My Life was really not a /rock/pop song, so wouldn't be considered as a justification for this list.

    I adressed this issue to Bruce [[the list author) regarding The Beach Boys and his justification being their intricate background harmonies. I then said that others like EW&F, The Eagles, First Edition [[Kenny Rogers) Queen, and others should be considered as elegible for his list, calling it a slippery slope. Heck, even James Brown [[with his Famous Flames) would have to be considered. Frontmen or lead singers? I'll see how he responds.

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    There are too many Late '60s and '70s artists for my taste -and almost no '40s artists!!! it's WAY too modern for my taste. Where are The Delta Rhythm Boys and Golden Gate Quartet? Where is Richard Street of The Distants/Majestics/Monitors/Temptations? Why is Dennis Edwards listed only for The Contours and The Temptations, and not for The Celebrities??? Paul Williams-Temptations,

    Where is Carl Fischer of The Vibrations? Why is Eddie Levert not listed for The Mascots? Why is Nate Nelson not also listed for The Starglows? Where is Tommy Hunt [[Flamingos)? Where is Van McCoy [[Starlighters/Four Buddies)? Where is Garnett Mimms of The Gainors/Enchanters? What about Billy Butler of The 4 Enchanters. Why is Eugene Record not listed for The Chanteurs and Presidents? I'd list James Ellis of The Satintones over Michael Jackson. Where is Bobby M Mitchell of The Toppers? Was Cleve Duncan of The Penguins on the list? I don't remember seeing him. Jackie Wilson of The Dominoes. Bill Baker of The Dominoes and Checkers. Joe Stubbs Falcons/Contours, Wilson Pickett-Falcons. Sonny Munro-Playboys/Fabulous Playboys/Falcons, Bobbie Smith-Spinners,

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    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    The list clearly states that it's focus is "secular" groups' thus eliminating Ligon for eligibility. Earth Wind & Fire were a band, not a vocal group' thus eliminating Bailey and White from consideration. Levert, I suppose an argument could be made, and the Dramatics guys...just how influential were they? Archie Bell and George Williams..also missing which I men.tioned to the author.
    Ron Banks and LJ Reynolds should definately be on that list. Those guys were just as good as some of the others listed.

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    Last night I was thinking about this question whiteout the "conditionations" by the list author or some kind of prejudice; simply who are the lead voices on vocal groups / self-contained bands with chorus and one or more leads who IMPACT me in a deep way for his quality, mellow feel, etc. Sadly I don't recall the name of the female voice of South Shore Commission, their cover of "Any Day Now", the female voice is pure poetry! The same on many tracks by Rufus where Chaka Khan lead is explosive [["You Got The Love"); the falsetto tenor on "Love In a Two-Way Street" by The Moments; Harold Melvin on many tunes before, simultaneously and after Teddy pendergrass period with The Blue Notes [["To Be True", the intro on "Hope That We Can Be Together soon" after Sharon paige's verses; "Baby Come back"; Frank Brunson on "Don't Send Me Away";...).

    This is simply a comment about some subjective toughts as a result of this thread

  22. #22
    smark21 Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    There are too many Late '60s and '70s artists for my taste -and almost no '40s artists!!! it's WAY too modern for my taste. Where are The Delta Rhythm Boys and Golden Gate Quartet? Where is Richard Street of The Distants/Majestics/Monitors/Temptations? Why is Dennis Edwards listed only for The Contours and The Temptations, and not for The Celebrities??? Paul Williams-Temptations,

    Where is Carl Fischer of The Vibrations? Why is Eddie Levert not listed for The Mascots? Why is Nate Nelson not also listed for The Starglows? Where is Tommy Hunt [[Flamingos)? Where is Van McCoy [[Starlighters/Four Buddies)? Where is Garnett Mimms of The Gainors/Enchanters? What about Billy Butler of The 4 Enchanters. Why is Eugene Record not listed for The Chanteurs and Presidents? I'd list James Ellis of The Satintones over Michael Jackson. Where is Bobby M Mitchell of The Toppers? Was Cleve Duncan of The Penguins on the list? I don't remember seeing him. Jackie Wilson of The Dominoes. Bill Baker of The Dominoes and Checkers. Joe Stubbs Falcons/Contours, Wilson Pickett-Falcons. Sonny Munro-Playboys/Fabulous Playboys/Falcons, Bobbie Smith-Spinners,
    Yes,it is way too modern. Where are the 19th century singers?

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    I thought some of you might find these lists interesting and thought provoking. I do, despite the fact that nobody will be in complete agreement on any of this stuff. A couple of things to keep in mind when ascessing this particular list. We are for the most part talking about vocal "groups"...three and four part harmony in the background is essential for the lead singer to be considered. The Doo Wop groups of the 50's set the standard leading to the slightly more sophisticated groups of the 60's and 70's. After that period, vocal groups with a lead singer became rarer and rarer...with most groups either being self contained bands, and often background singers singing simple two part harmony or unison with the frontman or frontwoman. Thus, when using the stated criteria, it's difficult to find a lead singer heavily influenced by some of the later 70' and 80's groups since that style of vocal group has largely played out. Impact is the result of how a singer impacted music in general...not the impact on a particular individual fan...more like their impact on the culture of music. I suppose the point here is that despite the authors obvious early rock bias, that seems to be the era when vocal "groups" florished. If you look at those PBS 50's and 60's rock and doo wop specials, you'll see the acts top heavy with vocal groups. Such would not be the case if the shows were based on the 80's 90's or 00's. This particular list, despite the placement or recognition of personal favorites is what it is. It's a list of lead singers of "vocal groups"...not frontmen and frontwomen in self contained bands, which is why I don't believe The Beach Boys lead singers belong on this list, despite their intricate harmonies. Plus...as great as The Beach Boys background harmony is...their lead singers leave much to be desired IMO. Meantime, enjoy the discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by manny View Post
    Eddie Levert "only" in the 40 the place...?!

    Where are Joe Ligon [[Mighty Clouds Of Joy), Ron Banks and LJ Reynolds [[The Dramatics), Barbara Roy [[Ecstasy, Passion & Pain), Philip Bailey and Maurice White [[EW & F)...?
    I didn't look at the list, but if Eddie Levert is in 40th place, the list is bogus. Eddie should easily be in the top 10-15!

    Levi Stubbs should be at or near number one!

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    Maurice McAllister of the Radiants should have been in........

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    I was so glad to see Levi Stubbs at the top on this list! Being that we are all going to see some adjustments that could be made this is one of the best list I have ever seen. How many of these things have you seen that have THIS MANY of the great lead singers from the 50s. I am in almost complete agreement with the people who are on the list, now the placement for the most part is ok but I dont think I would have made Clyde McPhatter number one but again this is all subjective. Kudos to the man who put this together.

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    Obviously, if we were making up lists like this as to our individual "favorite" lead singers, our lists would all vary depending on our personal preferences. This list is an attempt to quantify the influence, impact, and cultural relevence of the various singers on the list. The author is recognized as an historian, and consults with athe Rock&Roll Hall Of Fame. That said, he is also argumentitive, cantancerous, and obnoxious at times...and I have taken his ass to task when he gets involved in the bass lists...something I consider myself an expert on. He is a statistician on music, and does have a bias towards early Rock&Roll, although I agree that the list is well thought out, although there are certainly placements which can be debated. The problem with some folks opinions however, is that they base their judgements on person preference and not any stated criteria.

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    I will say this about Bruces objectivity as relates to this list. I know that Bruce absolutely HATES Frankie Valli's falsetto, stating to me on numerous occassions that he thinks it sounds like Frankies private parts are caught in a vice. I love Frankie, and have disputed this issue with him several times [[once again...personal preferences), but Bruce still puts Frankie at #10 on this list based on the criteria, and not based on his personal likes and dislikes.

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    Hey, Stu,
    When I was in The Sunliners we were playing a moonlight cruise for some DJ on the Bob-Lo boat. Remember those? Anyway, part of the show included the Four Seasons. Sherry had just really taken off and I had a conversation with Valli and he told me of the high number of sales that week. The beginning of a remarkable career.

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    Hey Ralph,

    Frankie Valli is a truly nice man. He used to come by my dealership in Thousand Oaks and just walk around the lot and we'd end up having some very nice conversations. A true gentleman. We know some of the same people. One mutual friend whose family was impacted by 9/11 back in New York, and I can tell you that Frankie went to visit him...gave him a blank signed check and told him to fill in the amount his family needed...just don't mention it to Frankies [[ex) wife...the golddigger. I can tell you as fact that Frankie has made more money these past 5 or 6 years than he did during the rest of his career with The Jersey Boys thing. I know several stories of him helping people out of jams, including some of his fellow Four Seasons back in the early days. A guy who truly deserves all his success.

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    I agree, Stu. An old school pro.

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    A bit [[pleasantly) surprised at Russell Thompkins Jr.'s spot at #7 on this list...ahead of Ruffin, Kendricks [[one of Russells influences) and many others. That said, when one looks at the criteria, Russell certainly has a uniquely gifted voice, and his contribution to the groups overall success is immesurable...Russell WAS The Stylistics, and certainly it was his voice that propelled the group to the significant success they enjoyed. It's nice to know that a performer known only to me through his recordings and his and his wifes humble, dignified and classy contributions to this website is so highly regarded.

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    Pretty darn good

    Levi is number one in my book and at least he is very near the top, I really love Jay Blacks voice and I don't know of a greater vocal song in history than Cara Mia- what he does on that song is amazing- I would have liked to see him in the top 10 for that reason alone. I am fine with most of the singers being from the 60's and 70's.
    I may have missed it, but did I miss the Gibb brothers - Robin and Barry

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    Well i haven't seen the list but i love this stuff so i hope that...clyde mcphatter,ben e. King,curtis mayfield,ron isley,zeke carey,clarence burke jr.,carl gardner,george smith,ruby nash,harry ray,marylyn mccoo,hank ballard are on the list!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    Hey Ralph,

    Frankie Valli is a truly nice man. He used to come by my dealership in Thousand Oaks and just walk around the lot and we'd end up having some very nice conversations. A true gentleman. We know some of the same people. One mutual friend whose family was impacted by 9/11 back in New York, and I can tell you that Frankie went to visit him...gave him a blank signed check and told him to fill in the amount his family needed...just don't mention it to Frankies [[ex) wife...the golddigger. I can tell you as fact that Frankie has made more money these past 5 or 6 years than he did during the rest of his career with The Jersey Boys thing. I know several stories of him helping people out of jams, including some of his fellow Four Seasons back in the early days. A guy who truly deserves all his success.
    Frankie is a good guy. His cousin and I were friends and worked together in Detroit.

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    Walter Williams of the O'Jays should be high up there on this list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Walter Williams of the O'Jays should be high up there on this list.
    Very good singer. The questions to be asked for inclusion onto this list would be...How unique was his voice? Who did he influence. How impactful was he in regards to popular music, and what did he contribute to the overall sound of the group? One problem with groups featuring more than one lead singer in the same era is that usually it's just one lead singer who is associated with the overall sound of a group. With the O'Jays it's Eddie Levert. With The classic Temptations, it's probably Ruffin moreso than Eddie...but both were quite influential.
    Last edited by StuBass1; 06-02-2012 at 06:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    Very good singer. The questions to be asked for inclusion onto this list would be...How unique was his voice? Who did he influence. How impactful was he in regards to popular music, and what did he contribute to the overall sound of the group? One problem with groups featuring more than one lead singer in the same era is that usually it's just one lead singer who is associated with the overall sound of a group. With the O'Jays it's Eddie Levert. With The classic Temptations, it's probably Ruffin moreso than Eddie...but both were quite influential.
    All I have to say in Walter Williams defense is "She Usta Be My Girl", "Darling, Darling Baby" "Forever Mine" and "Love Train"! Just to name a few.......

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    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    All I have to say in Walter Williams defense is "She Usta Be My Girl", "Darling, Darling Baby" "Forever Mine" and "Love Train"! Just to name a few.......
    Sorry walter didn't make the cut. A few off the top of my mknd who appear deserving..."Sweet" James Epps [[Fantastic Four), Archie Bell [[The Drells), and George Williams [[The Tymes)

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    Quote Originally Posted by smark21 View Post
    Yes,it is way too modern. Where are the 19th century singers?
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    We are all entitled to our own opinions. I don't begrudge you yours. I realise that few if any other posters here agree with me, That's their right. Most people prefer most the music of their teens and twenties. I'll admit that many people continue to like new music, and don't stop listening to new music like I have done.

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    Jean Terrell should have made the list. She was awesome.

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    Hey robb i dig where you're coming from about some lead singers in earlier groups,for instance you could throw in[gene chandler-the dukays]or[jerry butler-the impressions]but i guess what the list is about is a lead singer's longevity with one group,oh and let me throw out the name of[mark green-the moments].

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    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    The list clearly states that it's focus is "secular" groups' thus eliminating Ligon for eligibility. Earth Wind & Fire were a band, not a vocal group' thus eliminating Bailey and White from consideration. Levert, I suppose an argument could be made, and the Dramatics guys...just how influential were they? Archie Bell and George Williams..also missing which I men.tioned to the author.
    Considering this is TOP 100, rather than Top 20-10, I’m sure there’s room for Dramatics somewhere – as somewhere there’s someone influenced by “In The Rain” or “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get”.
    Last edited by Ngroove; 06-03-2012 at 05:13 PM.

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    Great to see Levi Stubbs so high in the list. What a great voice so ably demonstrated, IMO, on Just A Little Love [[Before My Life Is Gone).

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    First of all, Stubass1, I'm sorry... I said that Little Sonny don't appears and really did, thanks for correct me. I should be glad as Eddie LeVert, Little Sonny, Levi Stubbs, Marvin Junior who are among my top 10-20 lead singers, appear on a 100 singers list made by a prestigious music expert. But about The Dramatics, i repeat it and I'm 100% agree with Ngroove [[good point about the rain effect so imitate), The Dramatics got the plus value that they are unmistakably despite the fact they have had many line-up changes, something only comparable with The Temptations. They saw how Wilkins made his own version of The Dramatics after his departure [[after renamed Dramatic Experience); LJ Reynolds left for Chocolate Syrup and returns years later; Wee Gee started a solo career [[i only knows his solo cover of In The rain)... But RON BANKS where always a distinctive voice and in the most relevant stuff, LJ Reynolds was also prominent like the bass voice of Willie Ford, also, IMHO very unmistakably.

    Anyway, this discussion is very rich and we can take it as "simply" a pretext like some other for talk about recognized or underrated lead singers, the undisputed seminals and some "not influentials"...

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    No problem Manny...Yes it's an interesting discussion which is why I posted this list.

    As for The Dramatics lead singers...Being a native Detroiter I too appreciate The Dramatics vast discography. I knew many of the original Dramatics and performed with them going back to my high school days. I knew Lenny Mayes quite well, and Lenny was working out for the record label [[Velgo) I was the bass player for in the house band during his pre-Dramatics days. That said, while I suppose an argument can be made...the only Dramatic who would be close IMO would be L.J. and I just don't see the influence, impact or even uniqueness there...but that's why these things are discussed.
    Last edited by StuBass1; 06-03-2012 at 07:43 PM.

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    Hey stu,great post my friend i have a question,you mention influences which is right but i was wondering did the ahthor mention lead singers with unusual voices such as[little sonny-clarence paul-gerhard thrasher]?

  48. #48

    Stubass1

    Quote Originally Posted by arrr&bee View Post
    Hey stu,great post my friend i have a question,you mention influences which is right but i was wondering did the ahthor mention lead singers with unusual voices such as[little sonny-clarence paul-gerhard thrasher]?
    Hey Stubass1
    You are on the money..I think the people didn't read the Criteria on this list.These lead singers were chosen and ranked based upon the popularity of the songs they sang lead on, their influence on other lead singers, their uniqueness and level of innovation, their longevity, and the importance of their lead singing as a part of their group's overall sound. Only singers who led secular groups were considered for this list.
    Please consider the statement above....I can understand the list.Some had bigger records ,some had worldwide records over other artists in the same gene. I do understand this list..yes a few can be changed ,However remember the Criteria......

  49. #49
    RossHolloway Guest
    Michael Jackson is way too low on this list.

  50. #50
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by arrr&bee View Post
    Hey stu,great post my friend i have a question,you mention influences which is right but i was wondering did the ahthor mention lead singers with unusual voices such as[little sonny-clarence paul-gerhard thrasher]?
    Hey arr&bee...As I mentioned...Little Sonny is on the list. I suppose you'd have to define "unusual". Certainly, some of the singers listed have unusual or distinctive voices...Tony Williams voice was quite distinctive [[even when Fred Sanford did his best TW imitation). Jay Black has a pretty unusual voice, as do several others. Obviously, an unusual voice alone will not gain an artist standing on this list, which probably explains the absence of Larry of The Floaters lol.

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