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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Heart "Barracuda" Isolated Vocals

If there is a queen of rock, then it must be Heart's Ann Wilson. She truly has one of music's great voices and you hear it in all its glory on "Barracuda," the1977 hit from the album Little Queen. There are some cool things to listen for.

1. The vocal is pretty spot-on tuning-wise, which was unusual for the time. Most vocals of the era had many vocal imperfections, but you'd be hard pressed to find one here. It wasn't until the 80's that producers became more conscious of vocal tuning and took more care, so this song is somewhat unique in that regard. Of course, it again proves what a monster singer Ann Wilson was and still is.

2. There's a nice 71/2 ips tape delay on the vocal that's timed to the track with a vari-speed (which wasn't as easy as it sounds back then) and pretty loud in the mix. This was back before the days of electronic delays so it was still done with a tape machine.

3. The vocal isn't doubled, even in the bridge when sister Nancy joins in with the harmony, which again was somewhat unusual for the time. Once again, a testament to how strong Ann's voice is.

4. In between the vocal parts you can hear some of the isolated guitar parts as well. Listen for the acoustic guitar especially.

If you like these isolated tracks and song analysis, check out my Deconstructed Hits series of books. You can read some excerpts at


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Tim Flanagan said...

Is that tape echo revealing some editing artifacts, perhaps? Punching in segments from different takes? Or do those abrupt entrances and exits represent something else?

Rand said...

Beautiful, intelligent and amazingly talented Ann Wilson.

Absolutely brilliant singer and band. She/they do the best version of Led Zep's 'Stairway to Heaven' apart from LZ themselves.

Literally brought tears to the eyes of Robert Plant at the Kennedy Center Honors last year when they performed it with Jason Bonham on drums.


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