Author Topic: James Labrie vocal change (video)  (Read 2849 times)

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Online gzarruk

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James Labrie vocal change (video)
« on: December 30, 2017, 09:34:38 AM »
I found this very good video compilation of James' vocals through the years. It's intended to showcase the evolution of his voice after all these years of singing/touring.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0W8wHA1WxM

They've done the same kind of videos for other singers like Fabio Lione. I think it's really cool.
It sounds like, "ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk." Instead of the more pleasing kick drum sound of, "gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk."

Offline SeRoX

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2017, 09:51:47 AM »
Informative video for sure.

There is a really different vocal style between Winter Rose - Awake which seems really strong change for James. Then again, with FII coming out he went with I&W-ish style. Scenes also has some operatic style while SDOIT and ToT came close to Awake style vocally. I mean, he fit just perfect but this seems to me very risky changes for a singer. These changes are not minor.

After BC&SL I don't recognize major changes in vocal style. In short, I never think food accident is the major reason that he is inconsistent live vocalist through the years. (he is always great at studio). There is noticeable vocal style changes too that may cause inefficacious live performances.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2017, 11:09:33 AM »
In short, I never think food accident is the major reason that he is inconsistent live vocalist through the years. (he is always great at studio).

That's been my impression as well. I'm sure the event happened, but he already started struggling with the material live before the event, and afterwards it was a gradual decline, not cataclysmic as people claim it was.
What never gets mentioned is him trying to sing with more grit, I suspect that that had way more influence. To my ears, the grit never came natural to his voice, so if he forced it night after night, that will take its toll.
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Offline Evai

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2017, 11:26:32 AM »
His gritty vocals are a lot better now though, I bet if they did the Master Of Puppets thing again, it would be more listenable. Just his clean vox have suffered for it
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Offline TAC

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2017, 12:02:20 PM »
In short, I never think food accident is the major reason that he is inconsistent live vocalist through the years. (he is always great at studio).

That's been my impression as well. I'm sure the event happened, but he already started struggling with the material live before the event, and afterwards it was a gradual decline, not cataclysmic as people claim it was.
What never gets mentioned is him trying to sing with more grit, I suspect that that had way more influence. To my ears, the grit never came natural to his voice, so if he forced it night after night, that will take its toll.

There are some brutal I&W boots out there.
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Offline Herrick

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2018, 10:27:04 PM »
In short, I never think food accident is the major reason that he is inconsistent live vocalist through the years. (he is always great at studio).

That's been my impression as well. I'm sure the event happened, but he already started struggling with the material live before the event, and afterwards it was a gradual decline, not cataclysmic as people claim it was.
What never gets mentioned is him trying to sing with more grit, I suspect that that had way more influence. To my ears, the grit never came natural to his voice, so if he forced it night after night, that will take its toll.

Agreed. The Grit was never his thing. Not sure if outside influences were responsible or if it was internal or both.
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Offline Mladen

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2018, 03:06:58 AM »
Looking at the video, I'm so happy I was around from 2011 up to 2014.

Offline Evai

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2018, 06:14:30 AM »
Agreed. The Grit was never his thing. Not sure if outside influences were responsible or if it was internal or both.

Judging from the Making Of Systematic Chaos (around where this style started), the band were very specific in exactly what they wanted JLB to sound like. I don't doubt that they made him sing every line and try to make it grittier and edgier each time
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Offline Renzo

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2018, 08:18:06 AM »
In my opinion James did the best vocal performance on Awake followed by IAW  :metal

Offline Mladen

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2018, 08:22:24 AM »
Agreed. The Grit was never his thing. Not sure if outside influences were responsible or if it was internal or both.

Judging from the Making Of Systematic Chaos (around where this style started), the band were very specific in exactly what they wanted JLB to sound like. I don't doubt that they made him sing every line and try to make it grittier and edgier each time
I think his harsh, edgy singing on Systematic chaos is great. It's even more impressive on Static impulse, which is his solo album, so it doesn't make me think he never wanted to sing with grit. In fact, he wanted to sing Images and words harsher but was held back - that's why the bootlegs from that tour feature edgy singing. That also probably allowed him to peform the Awake album with so much grit.

Offline ToT-147

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2018, 06:11:05 PM »
Agreed. The Grit was never his thing. Not sure if outside influences were responsible or if it was internal or both.

Judging from the Making Of Systematic Chaos (around where this style started), the band were very specific in exactly what they wanted JLB to sound like. I don't doubt that they made him sing every line and try to make it grittier and edgier each time
I think his harsh, edgy singing on Systematic chaos is great. It's even more impressive on Static impulse, which is his solo album, so it doesn't make me think he never wanted to sing with grit. In fact, he wanted to sing Images and words harsher but was held back - that's why the bootlegs from that tour feature edgy singing. That also probably allowed him to peform the Awake album with so much grit.

Exactly.. Actually, that style starts in Elements of Persuasion, which is before SC, and in the same year than Octavarium, in which he clearly doesn't use it.. I also think is how he prefers to sing, or preferred to sing in those albums, rather than "they make him sing like that"..
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Offline Light_in_black

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2018, 08:28:53 PM »
James' voice works best singing a bit lower, those high pitched screams are painful to listen.
I wouldn't be surprised if DT starts tuning down to suit his voice in future.

Offline Adami

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2018, 08:31:39 PM »
James' voice works best singing a bit lower, those high pitched screams are painful to listen.
I wouldn't be surprised if DT starts tuning down to suit his voice in future.

They already tune down I&W songs

I believe it's only 1/2 step though which doesn't make a ton of difference.
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Offline Madman Shepherd

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2018, 09:51:10 PM »
Looking at the video, I'm so happy I was around from 2011 up to 2014.

Me too.  Honestly I think those were LaBrie's best years.  Obviously he couldn't hit those stratospheric notes like he could in the early 90s but he was still incredibly consistent at hitting the high notes and the lower register stuff he did with more emotion and grit than at other points in his career. 

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2018, 11:26:45 AM »
I like his vocal style or should I say his styles on TA.  Nothing sounds forced yet his versatility is all over this album. My fav DT album vocally,  and JLB sounds so natural and in his element.  If I remember correctly, the band let him sing all the parts they way he wanted to. It shows because he really shines on this album. Nothing forced, nobody telling him how to sing or to push limitations. It worked out great! I hope it's done that way on the rest of future DT albums.
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Offline LCArenas

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2018, 12:24:29 PM »
His overuse of those gritty styled vocals was never going to end well. You do that year after year and your voice is eventually going to be affected by that. Shame he started to do that way before his vocal injury, like in the Live in Tokyo performance. He didn't have to do that! SeRoX summed it up pretty well:
I never think food accident is the major reason that he is inconsistent live vocalist through the years (he is always great at studio). There is noticeable vocal style changes too that may cause inefficacious live performances.

His voice has changed a lot: As time went by I noticed that he started to use open vowels (a-e and to a certain point o) more often that closed ones to secure his key and projection until it got to the point that he sings every vowel as an open one in the high notes. This is a lot more noticeable in the 2000-2017 Spirit Carries on video. In the Silent Man comparison, when the notes aren't that high, he seems much more close to the past version even if his voice tends to be a bit weaker on the closed vowels. It doesn't help that most of Images and Words and Awake's songs are HARD AS A MOTHERFUCKER TO SING, and that his voice in those years was unmatchable. That's a bar too high to reach, even for yourself :lol

This is why he really stands out on The Astonishing: He's in his most natural vocal range and he can experiment with his voice again any way he wants to, all to great results.

He really has ups and downs in the post Vocal Injury Years as well: I recall 2000-02, 2005-07 and 2011-13 as his better years. Glad I got to see DT in 2012, he was amazing that night.

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2018, 01:36:11 PM »
I think part of it is because of all the heavy touring they've done through the years. Hope this current resting period helps James' voice and he returns stronger than ever to the studio for DT14.
It sounds like, "ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk." Instead of the more pleasing kick drum sound of, "gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk."

Offline Madman Shepherd

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2018, 04:59:58 PM »
I think part of it is because of all the heavy touring they've done through the years. Hope this current resting period helps James' voice and he returns stronger than ever to the studio for DT14.

I'm a huge JLB fanboy but I think he finally hit a wall, as every vocalist does as they age.  Most vocalists hit that wall in their forties.  James somehow made it into his 50s.  Even now, that wall is only apparent on the hard as hell songs to sing. 

Hell, even Jeff Scott Soto was modifying some vocal melodies at the show I saw and most SoA songs have a much smaller range than the average DT song so it happens to everyone.

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2018, 06:23:12 PM »
I can think of two vocalists that are now in their 70's and haven't hit a wall. Jon Anderson and David Gilmour.
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Offline Madman Shepherd

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2018, 07:03:34 PM »
I can think of two vocalists that are now in their 70's and haven't hit a wall. Jon Anderson and David Gilmour.

Not familiar with Jon Anderson.  Moderately familiar with David Gilmour and what I've heard is nowhere near as challenging as anything James does.  You're right in that he does sound good still. 

Even Alice Cooper hit a wall around 2000.  That dude doesn't even have a huge range or a great voice but even he needs to tune his songs down and use raspy voice to compensate the change.  He still sounds pretty good but there is a noticeable difference. 

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2018, 08:04:43 PM »
Glenn Hughes is 66 and still sings like he’s 20, but everybody is different, so I agree with James hitting a wall. Might be wrong, and I’ve never seen DT live, but I think, from what I’ve seen, he tries too hard to reach the high notes and the overall performance suffers from it.

Guess we’ll have to wait for DT14 and the subsequent tour to see how he handles these things and if they’re going to include any super challenging song for him on the set. My bet? No IAW songs or maybe just one.
It sounds like, "ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk." Instead of the more pleasing kick drum sound of, "gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk."

Offline Madman Shepherd

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2018, 10:07:35 PM »
Forgot about Glenn Hughes. He hit the wall when he was in his 30s....and then managed to destroy it and hit his prime (which is still going on).

Anybody hear his bootleg's from when he was in Black Sabbath?  Bad news. 

Offline Kattelox

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2018, 10:14:48 PM »
There's one for our lord and savior Timo Kotipelto too, among others. I really dig this channel. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #23 on: February 22, 2018, 10:41:56 AM »
Glenn Hughes, Freddie Mercury (before he passed), and Corey Glover are all freaks of nature who sound (or in the case of Freddie, sounded) better as they got older than they did when they were younger. But they are the exceptions, not the rule.

James is a fantastic singer. Like many who performed operatic vocals for metal bands while in their 20s, doing it in their 50s and 60s after thousands of performances is not realistic. I know a lot of singers who say that as long as you don't abuse your voice, and work it out, it should be fine over the years. I don't agree. Just like anything organic, the older something gets, the more it degrades. And the muscles controlling the voice are no different.

From a live standpoint, James' voice has been hit and miss, even he'd admit that. But fans come into a show with lofty expectations, without remembering that X song was written and recorded 30 years ago. That's a lot of years and miles. It is NOT easy to sing that stuff. The best thing Dream Theater can do to support James, is tune everything high down, and if it just loses its dynamics, drop the song. Even if it is something classic. Maybe rotate one or two songs as an encore, and leave it up to James whether they do those older songs or not based on how he feels during the show.

I was at the I&W show last year in Oakland. James had a rough night, even with stuff being downtuned a half-step. Shit happens. But the effort was there, and you could see it, so it didn't bother me. I am sure James is hard enough on himself without guys like me ranting. We all get old. But as long as the effort to maximize what you have is there (and James makes that effort), it is what it is.

I just hope DT really takes some time prior to the next tour to prioritize downtuning and making sure when they do that, songs still sound right. Tesla fully downtuned for Jeff Keith, and a bunch of their older stuff (Edison's Medicine comes to mind) sounds downright terrible downtuned. But they still play it. That's a big mistake. DT needs to experiment with it, find what works, both for the band and James, and go with it.

But James LaBrie will always be a great singer. He has great technique, and he puts in the effort. Age is a bitch for all of us. He gets a ton of respect from me for going out and giving his all night after night. It has to be humbling when it just isn't there at times. And he soldiers through and gives his best.  :tup :metal

Offline Madman Shepherd

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2018, 05:58:38 AM »


I was at the I&W show last year in Oakland. James had a rough night, even with stuff being downtuned a half-step. Shit happens. But the effort was there, and you could see it, so it didn't bother me. I am sure James is hard enough on himself without guys like me ranting. We all get old. But as long as the effort to maximize what you have is there (and James makes that effort), it is what it is.


I agree completely. The I&W show I saw was one of the best DT shows I'd ever been to despite the fact that he struggled through part of it. He worked his ass off so the effort was there.

The other half of the show he sounded great on. Those were the songs more in his natural range.

Offline shaneandheather2010

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #25 on: August 10, 2018, 11:18:05 AM »
James' voice works best singing a bit lower, those high pitched screams are painful to listen.
I wouldn't be surprised if DT starts tuning down to suit his voice in future.
I just read and interview with JM, and he said they tuned down 1/2 step for the I&W Anniversary tour so it would be darker  ::) so perhaps the new album will be tuned down too?

Offline Madman Shepherd

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #26 on: August 10, 2018, 02:38:21 PM »
James' voice works best singing a bit lower, those high pitched screams are painful to listen.
I wouldn't be surprised if DT starts tuning down to suit his voice in future.
I just read and interview with JM, and he said they tuned down 1/2 step for the I&W Anniversary tour so it would be darker  ::) so perhaps the new album will be tuned down too?

Eh, kind of nice of him to not call out his band mate. 

Offline PMA

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2018, 01:19:21 PM »
I was at the I&W show last year in Oakland. James had a rough night, even with stuff being downtuned a half-step. Shit happens. But the effort was there, and you could see it, so it didn't bother me. I am sure James is hard enough on himself without guys like me ranting. We all get old. But as long as the effort to maximize what you have is there (and James makes that effort), it is what it is.

:tup :metal

I was at the Oakland show and agree that James did not sound good that night.  I was also put off a bit by him trying to embellish his own melody lines on those tunes.  Trying to add to already difficult vocals may have contributed to his bad night.  I've seen them many times now and it's really hit and miss with him.  Even though many don't like TA, that was by far his best live performance that I've ever seen.  Maybe because many of those tunes are softer and in his more natural range but he was just stellar on that tour. 

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Re: James Labrie vocal change (video)
« Reply #28 on: August 29, 2018, 03:01:14 PM »
Yeah he was stellar in Seattle on TA tour!   :coolio
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