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Production Review - Backing vocals... what do these guys have to smile about?

There are some strange smiles on the guys from Travis singing backing vocals. Do they know something about singing that the rest of don't?


Watching Sgt. Pepper - It Was 40 Years Ago Today, it was very apparent that some bands are more professional than others. In this recreation of classic Beatles tracks at Abbey Road studio some bands struggled, while Travis excelled.

You could see attention to every detail, even the comb and paper noises in 'Lovely Rita' were given very close attention.

But it's the background vocals I'm interested in here. Look at those guys smile, and there's another band member with a similar ear-to-ear grin completing the trio.

And you can hear the results here...

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Clearly very good work. But why the smiles?

The answer is that for many singers, if you smile as you sing it sounds better. Words are articulated more clearly, the pitching is better, and the overall effect is much improved. Try it the other way and sing with a frown - you'll find the opposite is true too.

Now I do have to say that this doesn't always work. Particularly with very good singers there might not be much of a difference. But in my experience it has always been worth a try.

Hey - it costs nothing, and if you can spend the whole session with a smile on your face, that will be a reward in itself!

If you get the chance, Sgt. Pepper - It Was 40 Years Ago Today is essential viewing for anyone interested in recording. Perhaps you could encourage the production company (Hart Davies Television) to release it on DVD!

By David Mellor Thursday November 30, 2006