Oct 202012

Has any group of dedicated group of backing vocalists added more to a song than the Pips do behind Gladys Knight on “Midnight Train to Georgia”? Their performance is essential to the song. If you must throw studio backing vocalists and band members who sing background vocals as well as play instruments into the discussion to make it a challenge, go for it with the knowledge that I’ll be tsk tsk-ing you for taking the easy way out. If I weren’t playing the “bigger man” you’d be fed up with me for my silly exclusions and seemingly on-the-fly rules.

I’m not the world’s greatest fan of backing vocals, but when done so when and when arranged as such an essential part of the song I can’t help but be dazzled. Whoo-hoo!


  5 Responses to “Best Performance by a Dedicated Group of Backing Vocalists”

  1. You set the bar pretty high there. The Pips had done it before on “Friendship Train”. Essential yes, but Gladys is wonderful on both tunes.
    I’ll throw in the Crickets on “Not Fade Away. “Tumbling Dice” is not the same without Venetta & Clydie’s “let me roll you” (see the Montreux rehearsals). Finally the uncredited “what’s her name ? Ooh.” bvs on Ernie K-Doe’s “Certain Girl” make the song special.

  2. I forgot about “Friendship Train” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-i5wHVfEHU)! Your contenders are excellent as well. The BVs and the entire coda on “Tumbling Dice” are the payoff moments in an already satisfying song.

  3. gus whitney

    Great Gladys Knight video. I also love this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v78-ftcqpNw

    And especially the parody by the cast of Tropic Thunder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGnevibVwa0

  4. Yes! That Stiller-Black-Downey Jr video isn’t working on my end. If anyone else is having trouble with it, gus referred to this (hope this link works):

  5. The job done by the Pips on “Midnight Train to Georgia” is one of my absolute favorites.

    It isn’t often where you can have more fun singing along with the backup singers than the main vocal.

    Here is the other one that I always loved. Couldn’t find a good live performance, but here are some vocals someone has conveniently isolated…


    – Glenn

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