Tuesday, April 23, 2019

"Unsung" Heroes

On the AM radio program, we highlighted the exceptional performance of two "unsung” vocalists, Clare Torry and Merry Clayton. "The Great Gig in the Sky," is the emotional outlet for an album that is otherwise perfectly contained and restrained. As the Guardian put it, Dark Side of the Moon is "like one long sigh" (I disagree, but I get it). Clare Torry's defining contribution was an afterthought as Alan Parsons, the LPs engineer and producer, brought in an unknown; someone who was not even a Floyd fan.

In the studio, Torry stepped up and asked the band, "Well, what do you want?" She says, "they had no idea." The instrumental mix found here (replete with Apollo 17 transmissions) could have been the final version. It's not terrible, but Torry brings it to life adding a new counterpoint melody that ultimately led to her receiving a co-writing credit. When Torry put on the headphones, she heard an even more stripped-down mix and was given no other direction than "We don't want any words." You know as well as I do that Clare knocked it out of the park, creating what this writer views as the single most superbly emotional vocal in the history of rock music.

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