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Artist:The Mamas and the Papas
Desc:One of the perfect pop songs.
Category:Music Videos, Pop
Tags:The Mamas and the Papas, cass elliot, michelle phillips
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Comment count is 7
rural - 2018-10-16
Can someone please explain to me the effect that they achieved with the vocals on this track? It just doesn't sound like four voices, but many more- are they getting that just with reverb, or did they redouble the voices on a backing track and sing over it?
Maggot Brain - 2018-10-19

Maggot Brain - 2018-10-19
okay, this song came out before that but they did have multi track recording by the mid 1960's

Old_Zircon - 2018-10-22
It's called "everybody sharing one microphone" or "the way it actually sounds when people sing in harmony" or "blending."

It's happening acoustically in the air between the singers and the microphone, and it's physically impossible with multitracking or any other studio effect (the closest might be to put multiple speakers into a nice sounding room with a single microphone and play each of the individual voices in a multitrack recording through their own dedicated speaker, and record that to a single track or stereo pair.) It had a bit of a revival in late 60s San Francisco when they were all obsessed with early country music for a while but you mostly don't hear it because unless you have some experienced, skilled singers it's cheaper to just double track one singer or throw some chorus on or something.

If you like that sound you should probably go listen to The Blue Sky Boys (or the Carter Family, although I much prefer the former), because the High Lonesome Sound is kind of like this but more raw, and they were masters of it. Until the second half of the 60s, this is how everything sounded.

Old_Zircon - 2018-10-22
Actually this is the studio version, so it's a combination of multitrack AND vocal harmony - it sounds to me like they recorded in two or three passes with everyone singing together in one room on each pass, and then the whole thing ha a HEAVY does of plate reverb on it.

If you like plate reverb you'd better either learn to weld and live in an apartment that can accommodate a 12 foot long, acoustically isolated box that weighs over 1000 pounds, or try Valhalla Plate (which is so far the only convincing software emulation I've ever heard, and also happens to be one of the least expensive).

Even clicking through to Youtube to watch a video barely works on 73q (and the video didn't play in the embedded player) so I just assumed this was the live performance in the preview image.

Old_Zircon - 2018-10-22
Also this is the stereo mix and like most mid 60s records the stereo mix is a complete mess, they didn't start really understanding stereo mixing for a couple more years, and also since only rich people had stereos all of the time was spent on the mono mix and then they'd just toss off stereo versions as quickly as possible,often with the original producer and artists not even there (sometimes by just dubbing the mono mix to a stereo tape with the left and right EQed differently and some added reverb - all the stereo Beatles and Donovan records before 67 or so were done that way which is why they sound like shit).

Either that or this is a later stereo mix don for a reissue, in which case anything is possible. I'm just listening on laptop speakers and haven't heard the old stereo mix in at least a decade so I couldn't really say one way or the other, but those are all factors that could be making it sound the way it does.

badideasinaction - 2018-10-25
Well, this is pure studio audio, so they get benefits. The backing lyrics starts with just two voices for

All the leaves are brown/and the sky is grey

And then breaks into four part harmony from there.

Also the main lyrics also go into four part for parts as well; you can hear it when they actually sing "California Dreaming".

So you're hearing from anywhere from one to eight people at a time singing in there with some heavy reverb. They hide it well by keeping the guy parts prominent on the main and girl parts on the backing but there's definitely extra voices tucked in there.

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