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Who had the biggest voice change, in your opinion?

Elvis had a drastic change in voice from 54-77, though he never lost any of his singing voice.

Plant also had a drastic change from 67-80, of course losing range.

But what is surprising is they both had their most powerful voice from 68-71. Listen to first 4 LZ albums or youtube Robert Plant - Operator. Insane.

And I dare you to listen to the Elvis Comeback Special from 1968. Pure rawness.

This is not meant to discuss who's a better singer technically because clearly Elvis was. Although, Robert from 67-71 was an amazing singer. He never lost his lower range and could always sing very 72-80, just different.

They both had big changes in the sound/tone of their voices. What's your thoughts.

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1 hour ago, Chick-N-Picker said:

Who had the biggest voice change, in your opinion?

Elvis had a drastic change in voice from 54-77, though he never lost any of his singing voice.

Plant also had a drastic change from 67-80, of course losing range.

But what is surprising is they both had their most powerful voice from 68-71. Listen to first 4 LZ albums or youtube Robert Plant - Operator. Insane.

And I dare you to listen to the Elvis Comeback Special from 1968. Pure rawness.

This is not meant to discuss who's a better singer technically because clearly Elvis was. Although, Robert from 67-71 was an amazing singer. He never lost his lower range and could always sing very 72-80, just different.

They both had big changes in the sound/tone of their voices. What's your thoughts.

Elvis lost the rawness of his voice but never the power or the range. In fact, I would argue his voice became more powerful over time when he was not wasted post 72'. There is a video of him from 77' on the piano singing Unchained Melody around May of that year and the power and range he had was incredible, quite possibly the best vocal performance I ever heard from Elvis.

Robert lost both range and power post 72' but regained the power by 77' but not the full range. By 79' and later he was a different singer altogether. 

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I appreciate, research and collect them both. Elvis is generally considered the greatest male vocalist of all time, so it's unfair to Robert Plant to draw comparisons between them. On the other hand, an argument can be made that Robert Plant is the greatest rock vocalist of all time. Personally, the mismanagement of Elvis Presley during his lifetime is almost criminal. There is no question he should have been touring the world and given better songs to work with. 

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Posted (edited)

There was a brilliant BBC show the week after Christmas focusing on the last few years of Elvis's career. Feeling he needed to reinvent himself he took inspiration from a baritone American R&B/country and gospel artist. Sorry I cannot recall his name as he was a new name to me. That approach gave his voice a new texture and working with some amazing musicians (until a certain person put his foot down) was paying off. To compare both vocalists does not work because they are in different genres. Both vocal geniuses.

Edited by anniemouse

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15 hours ago, IpMan said:

Elvis lost the rawness of his voice but never the power or the range. In fact, I would argue his voice became more powerful over time when he was not wasted post 72'. There is a video of him from 77' on the piano singing Unchained Melody around May of that year and the power and range he had was incredible, quite possibly the best vocal performance I ever heard from Elvis.

Robert lost both range and power post 72' but regained the power by 77' but not the full range. By 79' and later he was a different singer altogether. 

Oh yes. I have that show on DVD. Elvis looks awful and can barely breathe, but he sings like a god.

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6 hours ago, SteveAJones said:

I appreciate, research and collect them both. Elvis is generally considered the greatest male vocalist of all time, so it's unfair to Robert Plant to draw comparisons between them. On the other hand, an argument can be made that Robert Plant is the greatest rock vocalist of all time. Personally, the mismanagement of Elvis Presley during his lifetime is almost criminal. There is no question he should have been touring the world and given better songs to work with. 

I blame Parker for that. He had too much control over Elvis in general, it's just sad. He needed Elvis to pay his Vegas gambling obligations. The whole Elvis story from the early 1970's is just sad. He could have done so much better and more interesting things with better health care. Regarding his voice, he was in his prime during that period.

I myself don't think that Plant is the greatest rock vocalist of all time, but he sang in the greatest rock band :D

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15 minutes ago, the-ocean87 said:

I myself don't think that Plant is the greatest rock vocalist of all time

False

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2 hours ago, the-ocean87 said:

I blame Parker for that. He had too much control over Elvis in general, it's just sad. He needed Elvis to pay his Vegas gambling obligations. The whole Elvis story from the early 1970's is just sad. He could have done so much better and more interesting things with better health care. Regarding his voice, he was in his prime during that period.

I myself don't think that Plant is the greatest rock vocalist of all time, but he sang in the greatest rock band :D

Just curious who you would rate as the greatest rock vocalist.

 

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4 hours ago, paplbojo said:

False

Well since Elvis is the king of Rock-N-Roll I do think he deserves the #1 spot. Your free to put Plant at second, though. You can debate Plant against anybody for #2 but Elvis top dog singer.

You can really think of #2 as #1 because of Elvis.

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4 hours ago, the-ocean87 said:

Just for those who know Elvis only from his movies:

 

The guys range was ridiculous and I think this video left out some good clips that show him go higher but not in falsetto. 

Honestly, I think Elvis is the only male singer I've heard that sings the way did from 54-77, in all kinds of styles that never hit a bad note. And I've listened trying to hear him mess up, he was human after all. Never heard it, just true talent.

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4 hours ago, tenyearsgone21 said:

Just curious who you would rate as the greatest rock vocalist.

 

Great as in body of work, or overall vocal ability?

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I could be wrong, but I believe insofar as range, tone, tenor, and projection are concerned, Freddie Mercury was / is #1. Elvis may be the King of Rock and Roll and is #2 of my top 3, but I must give the #1 spot to Freddie, the man had it all. Plant is #3.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, tenyearsgone21 said:

Just curious who you would rate as the greatest rock vocalist.

 

It's hard to draw the line between differen genres. In general, I think Elvis was the greatest singer ever in popular music. He could sing every genre with taste, feeling and power. He even could've become an opera singer (Listen to "An American Trilogy" for example). But more important he could sing live even better than in the studio and sang in tune.

For singers that sing mostly rock/hard rock, I can't tell you an exact no. 1. My favourite singers there for live performance AND ability are Bruce Dickinson, Eric Adams and Ronnie James Dio. Singers, who rarely have an off-day (well, Bruce struggled a lot in the 80's but recovered very well form that) and who have a very strong chest voice. Eric Adams is more a metal singer for a spinal tap- kind band, but his voice is incredible. His screams are Ian Gillan like and if you listen to the ballads he sings, you'll hear how much feel he has (Master of the Wind, Courage are examples).

Then there are singers who have an incredible voice but can't sing their studio stuff live in the right pitch. The best example is Freddie Mercury. I would rate his timbre the 2nd best next to Elvis'. Freddie's problem was that he often had voice problems during live performances and sang almost every line that went above A4 different than on the record, because he couldn't hit the high notes live. For example, he usually didn't sing songs like "We are the champions" as they were recorded (with few exceptions). His studio stuff often contained head voice or falsetto, which he very rarely used during live performances (usually only during "Impromtu"). The 5 octave thing is a myth. At best he had 2 octaves in a live context and more than 3 octaves in studio situation.

I also like John Fogerty a LOT. He is over 70 now and lost the rawness and range a bit, but until the early 2010's he used to sing great. Don Henley from the Eagles is another singer I admire. Both are singers that could really sing the songs like they were recorded/composed.

I could make the list even longer. However, #1 belongs to the king himself, the greatest voice ever - Elvis.

Edited by the-ocean87

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It’s a little known fact that Elvis was actually Jimmy’s third choice to be Led Zeppelin’s singer after Steve Marriot and Terry Reid! But colonel  Sanders wouldn’t let him grow his hair . Elvis grew immensely jealous of their success so he stole John Paul Jones watch and faked his death, re-emerging in the early 90’s with his own version of the band “Dread Zeppelin” before he finally packed that in to work down the chip shop.

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3 hours ago, babysquid said:

It’s a little known fact that Elvis was actually Jimmy’s third choice to be Led Zeppelin’s singer after Steve Marriot and Terry Reid! But colonel  Sanders wouldn’t let him grow his hair . Elvis grew immensely jealous of their success so he stole John Paul Jones watch and faked his death, re-emerging in the early 90’s with his own version of the band “Dread Zeppelin” before he finally packed that in to work down the chip shop.

Essentially true, and it was Ronnie Wood who brought Robert Plant into Led Zeppelin.

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WOW!!!! I never expected to find so much utter BS on a Led Zep site. Seriously people go get your hearing tested! or go and stick to pop music! Freddie Mercury??!!! come on people is this a comedy site?

Elvis was an amazing phenomenon there was just nothing around like him at the time, but sorry folks he isnt Robert Plant, and I've yet to hear anyone that even approaches him. Just listen to Zep 4.... listen to his vocals on 4 sticks and then the next track Going to California..... most vocalists dont achieve that differenc in style, pitch, timbre,  delivery, inflection, emotion in their whole career, and thats without even going into the realms of Kashmir, SIBLY, etc etc. Plant may have had a dramatic change from72 - 73 but what he sang on the bootlegs of 73  is just so far ahead of anyone on the planet before or after. He was always more than a vocalist he was the fourth instrument in the band. He could vocalise emotions that we dont even have names for.

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31 minutes ago, Victor said:

WOW!!!! I never expected to find so much utter BS on a Led Zep site. Seriously people go get your hearing tested! or go and stick to pop music! Freddie Mercury??!!! come on people is this a comedy site?

It's almost as if not everyone on this site has the exact same tastes that you do. Shocking, I know.

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This is a rather enlightening discussion so far. Especially since my three favorite singers of all time (Elvis, Freddie Mercury, and of course Plant) have been brought up. Here's my two cents:

If I'm judging based purely on emotion, I'd give the vote to Elvis. The man may not have been the most technically gifted singer, but DAMN if he didn't know how to use his voice to move people. He could sing a gospel song and move non-believers to tears. In this clip, a man perfectly sums it up. Even if you knew nothing else about Elvis, you can tell how much he believed in what he was singing. Consider also how he was in terrible shape at this point, yet as IpMan said, his voice was still strong as ever:

Now, I'd agree that on a pure technical level, Freddie would probably win. He was sometimes shaky live, but he always nailed it in the studio. I'm no vocal expert, but I love how he had a clarity and tone in his voice that made it so that he could go from imitating Elvis on Crazy Little Thing Called Love, to soaring highs like Princes of the Universe. Also, like Elvis, he never lost his voice. On The Show Must Go On, he could barely walk due to the progression of his illness. And yet, in one take, he delivered what may very well be his greatest vocal performance ever:

He opera collaboration with Montserrat Caballe shows another side to him as well, and I think it proves that he could have easily had a career outside of rock and roll if he wanted to:

However, when I think of a rock vocalist, I don't think of Elvis or Freddie. I think of Plant. From 1968 to mid 1971, he had an incredible power and energy to his voice. He really was the fourth instrument of Zeppelin in every sense of the word. He had a raw sexual energy that was pretty much unmatched. Remember in TSRTS during SIBLY when that woman in the crowd is gazing at Plant utterly transfixed? He just had that power over people. Now, as we all know, his voice began to change in late 1971, but I think he adapted to it rather well. By 1977, he found a way to sing the songs again without straining his voice. I think he could have even done Immigrant Song if he really wanted to. In other words, I think he became a "smarter" singer. Hell, my favorite vocal performance he ever did in the studio with Zeppelin is I'm Gonna Crawl.

Ultimately, I love all three, but really it's apples and oranges. They all have a unique appeal, and to try to objectively rate one as "the greatest" is pointless. Music, and indeed all art, is entirely subjective.

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1 hour ago, Victor said:

WOW!!!! I never expected to find so much utter BS on a Led Zep site. Seriously people go get your hearing tested! or go and stick to pop music! Freddie Mercury??!!! come on people is this a comedy site?

Troll detected.

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33 minutes ago, ZepHead315 said:

This is a rather enlightening discussion so far. Especially since my three favorite singers of all time (Elvis, Freddie Mercury, and of course Plant) have been brought up. Here's my two cents:

If I'm judging based purely on emotion, I'd give the vote to Elvis. The man may not have been the most technically gifted singer, but DAMN if he didn't know how to use his voice to move people. He could sing a gospel song and move non-believers to tears. In this clip, a man perfectly sums it up. Even if you knew nothing else about Elvis, you can tell how much he believed in what he was singing. Consider also how he was in terrible shape at this point, yet as IpMan said, his voice was still strong as ever:

Now, I'd agree that on a pure technical level, Freddie would probably win. He was sometimes shaky live, but he always nailed it in the studio. I'm no vocal expert, but I love how he had a clarity and tone in his voice that made it so that he could go from imitating Elvis on Crazy Little Thing Called Love, to soaring highs like Princes of the Universe. Also, like Elvis, he never lost his voice. On The Show Must Go On, he could barely walk due to the progression of his illness. And yet, in one take, he delivered what may very well be his greatest vocal performance ever:

 

I have to agree with that. Freddie was maybe the greatest studio vocalist ever. The songs he recorded from 1986 until his death are some of his best vocal performances ever (and maybe some of the best ever made in popular music).

On the other hand, Plant didn't brink his best in the studio on some songs. Some songs he sang better live than on the record, because the studio recording was out of tune at times (like "That's the way).

Re Elvis: I think he was very gifted technically. Otherwise he wouldn't be able to sing songs like "An American Trilogy" or "My Way" live the way he did.

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Elvis is in a league of his own.

I think in rock music it has to be Freddie. Somebody To Love is beyond compare. My next tier would include Robert Plant, Paul McCartney, Steve Winwood, maybe Bono. My next tier would include people who had great character voices such as Roger Daltrey, Jim Morrison, Steven Tyler, Ronnie James Dio. Totally underrated are Billie Joe Armstrong (from Green Day) and Derek something (from Sum 41).

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I think Plant is the greatest studio vocalist of all time. Bar none, and none come close.

I think it is easy to be too influenced by his live shortcomings in later years (esp '75), but I have never heard anyone so great, so effortlessly otherworldly, as Robert Plant on Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin III, and the Fourth album. And of course, he'd have equally excellent moments on HoH (I think he once said he considers The Rain Song to be his finest vocal performance), PG, and ITTOD. 

He lost his voice because he gave us moments like this:

The GOAT.

 

Pavarotti is the only other guy who has that otherworldly feel to me.

And don't misunderstand, Elvis is one of my favorite artists ever, top 5.

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2 hours ago, Victor said:

WOW!!!! I never expected to find so much utter BS on a Led Zep site. Seriously people go get your hearing tested! or go and stick to pop music! Freddie Mercury??!!! come on people is this a comedy site?

Elvis was an amazing phenomenon there was just nothing around like him at the time, but sorry folks he isnt Robert Plant, and I've yet to hear anyone that even approaches him. Just listen to Zep 4.... listen to his vocals on 4 sticks and then the next track Going to California..... most vocalists dont achieve that differenc in style, pitch, timbre,  delivery, inflection, emotion in their whole career, and thats without even going into the realms of Kashmir, SIBLY, etc etc. Plant may have had a dramatic change from72 - 73 but what he sang on the bootlegs of 73  is just so far ahead of anyone on the planet before or after. He was always more than a vocalist he was the fourth instrument in the band. He could vocalise emotions that we dont even have names for.

Last I checked, taste is subjective. It's people's opinions. No one is right or wrong. Just what they feel. Yeesh, calm down.

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Elvis' voice changed less over time for sure while Robert systematically destroyed his voice through abuse (smoking, drinking, performing while sick as hell, not sleeping, ect.), but adapted to the changes by becoming a more versitile singer.  Elvis' music is not as damaging to the the pipes as zep; the heavier side of the zeppelin catalogue is destructive as hell to sing at full volume to the human voice over time.  Look at the vocal ranges on the albums...singing the songs on anything post pg is much easier; even though the songs are some of their best, the top range sung on them is significantly lower than on the earlier albums at least to my voice and ear.  In my opinion the boots I have available support this timeline as far as live performance goes.

I watched the black and white Danish TV special from 1968/69 and then listened to a 1980 Brussles show off youtube and the difference in Robert's overall range is quite obviously reduced and often uses the aid of some miserable first gen octave effect on the early tunes to make up the difference.  Robert did and has adapted to these changes very well and is still one of the best singers around without a doubt; not being ableto sing something the same way your 20 year old self wrote it 50 years later is not something to be embarrassed about it is just a fact of life.

Also, Elvis didn't smoke and took pills rather than drink to excess as his chosen vice, and while still terrible for the body pills do not directly jack up your larynx like Robert's 10 year + assault on his voice box with whatever passed his way did.  Singing every night with an infected throat while still puffing it all is going to change your voice for the worse too.  Let's say Robert came out of 1973 still with the strong push behind the pipes, but the pipes were a bit dented and jammed up so they didn't quite resonate the same way as before. I feel Robert is and was an great enough musician to recognize the changes in his range and then adapt his singing to them in a style that was even better than before, since Presence is f'n amazing! 

Sadly, Elvis was a lounge act during his last years and was in residency in vegas as far as I am aware; as such, he wasn't dealing with the same rigors of the road and madness that someone on a Zeppelin tour would have undergone.  Imagine how exhausting that sort of endless and raging nomads's lifestyle must have been...

Finally, since some of this thread has turned into a bit of a "list your favorite vocalists" I will throw that in as well here for S&G's.  I think Elvis is the best rock vocalist who came out of the 50's (although Little Richard could scream better than anyone at the time for sure), Robert Plant is the best who came out of the 60's, and Freddy Mercury (yes, the obviously undeserving Freddy Mercury!) is the greatest who came out of the 70's.  Late 80's and 90's goes to Mr. Mike Patton of Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, Fantomas, and countless other band's fame.  The guy has soul, is absolutely crazy, and has a six octave range...of course, obviously I am impressed by vocal range; others may be more into a soulful style, gutteral grunting in time to a double kick drum, or a country twang (hopefully not!). Of couse this is all my opinion so there you go...

 

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