Friday, February 23, 2007

Vocal Counterpoint

Gordon Sharp singing with fellow Scots Cocteau Twins
at The Odeon, Hammersmith,
spring of 1983 opening for OMD
(Photography by Mick Mercer)
On the Peel Session recordings of "Hazel" and "Dear Heart,"
Liz has her only vocal accompaniment ever on a Cocteau Twins record
with Gordon Sharp of Cindytalk (along with extra lyrics not featured on the original recording).
"We did our second Peel session recently",enthuses Liz."We're really pleased with it and the new songs came up better than they do on the EP- I shouldn't really say that,should I ? " she chuckles,"but Gordon Sharp,
a friend of ours who used to be in The Freeez (sic) came along and added some vocals,and it came up pretty well".
(Melody Maker March 19,1983)
"THAT John Peel session-a fabulously exquisite tapestry of supreme,breathtaking power..."
(Sounds May 21,1983)
"The original version of Hazel rocks as few other Cocteau tracks do, but the stunning BBC Sessions version manages to surpass it, mostly due to the great vocal contributions by Gordon Sharp, vocalist with Cindytalk.It would seem virtually impossible to compete with Liz on the vocal level, and to his credit Gordon Sharp doesn't try to emulate Liz' parts. Instead he delivers some straightforward but extremely effective background vocals, mostly consisting of the single line "to the outside.... "
The band apparently chose to gradually shift the emphasis between the two vocalists, which works wonderfully well.In the first parts Liz is singing on her own, but Gordon gradually increases his contributions.
Midway through the two have a mesmerizing vocal exchange, and in the final parts Gordon gives a fabulous demonstration of how to end a song with some desolate vocals.The result of all these vocal fireworks is an incredible version of an already great track".
(Eric Roosendal)
"Hazel" hammers the dance floor at reportedly two-hundred-seventy beats per minute (quite fast for that time...very few drum machines could do that) and sounds less dramatic than the BBC version, the nagging guitar sounding more minimal and less important, and Gordon Sharp's (Cindytalk) countering vocal entirely not there. I imagine this sounds great before listening to the BBC version, but once you have heard that, then one cannot think the same again about the studio version of "Hazel" since it feels suddenly lacking.
(Comment by property_two in