I found something amazing on YouTube yesterday. Someone posted the audio (no actual video, just a static picture) of ONLY the lead vocal tracks from the 1976 Boston hit, “More Than a Feeling.” I’ve have always been a huge fan of lead vocalist Brad Delp (may he rest in peace), and to be able to hear what he sounded like without all the music on a song I’ve known most of my life is a real treat.
But the thing I wanted to point out was the sound of a “doubled” lead vocal. I talk a lot about vocal doubling in both of our courses, “The Newbies Guide to Audio Recording Awesomeness 1 and 2.” It was pioneered in pop music by the likes of Les Paul and Buddy Holly as a means of making a single voice sound richer and “thicker.” It was also something the Beatles did a lot in the studio, to the point that an actual process was developed by Apple Engineer Ken Townsend at the request of “the lads” so they didn’t have to actually sing a part twice. (Trying to match the timing of the original track can be time-consuming.) That new process was called automatic double tracking, or ADT for short. I still think the original method of just singing a second track along to the first track – singing the lead vocal part twice – is a great (not to mention cheap :)) way to double a vocal part.
In the video below, you can hear what vocal doubling sounds like on Brad Delp’s voice. The recording also has the harmony parts on it, and those are not what I’m talking about; I am referring only to the “apparent” sound of Brad’s voice singing alone on the verses without the harmony – for example, “I woke up this morning and the sun was gone,” etc.
I cannot say with absolute certainty whether this recording was made by having Brad sing twice or if it was done via a doubling effect, but IF I had to guess, I’d bet he sang twice. He was used to singing along with his own voice, since all those harmony parts were also sung by Brad Delp. You didn’t think Boston had that many actual singers did you? :). Actually, they would sometimes hire extra singers to sing the harmonies in the live shows.
Without further ado from me, listen for yourself below: