Cathedrals Stacking Vocals on “There is a Fountain”?

Yesterday, I was listening to one of my favorite Cathedrals projects, You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet. It was released in 1979 and was either the final or one of the final projects recorded with Roy Tremble and George Amon Webster.

The Cathedrals sang the first verse of “There is a Fountain” acapella to start the project, and another verse acapella to close it. George Younce sings the melody, and the rest of the parts are inverted above him. What I didn’t notice until yesterday is that while George Younce’s voice is unmistakably on lead, it sure sounds like there is a bass harmony part beneath it. That sounds like Younce’s voice, too. (Plus, the song is keyed in G, and the bass part goes down to a D–few baritones could hit that note the way it was hit here.)

The thought occurred to me that Younce may have done the two leadoff notes for each line before handing off the melody line to someone else and slipping back down to a harmony part. But especially on the choruses, where the bass part is also audible, it’s unmistakably his voice on the lead.

Does anyone know if he overdubbed his voice onto a second part for these tracks?

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18 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Of course George stacked the vocals. The Cathedrals were just as guilty of that practice as anybody. Nevertheless, it does sound pretty cool on that song. I prefer that one over the later verson in the 90s.

  2. I’m not asking it with the assumption that it was wrong or anything. I was just trying to confirm if my ears were hearing correctly.

    Also, can anyone tell whose voice, if any, is missing? I am pretty sure Roy Tremble is singing tenor, but I’m not sure if it’s Glen Panye or George Amon Webster singing baritone (or if one of them has a fifth part.)

  3. It sounds to me that Tremble and Amon were singing octaves. I can clearly hear Glen in that mix, and that IS George on the low D’s.

  4. Thanks! I have a hard time sometimes picking out the baritone part.

    Interesting arrangement, for sure!

  5. It is rare…nigh impossible to find a Quartet that does not stack in the studio…as needed…when needed.
    Only a few groups that stayed away from it almost entirely…The Stamps were an example of a group that resisted the practice…at least during JD’s years.
    Might be part of the reason he was known to carry an extra bass singer.

    Some producers really like it…usually more than the artists.


  6. Greater Vision did it on “He’d Still Been God”.

  7. I believe JD Sumner carried an extra bass singer so he did not have to travel/sing all the time actually. Believe it or not.

  8. This was not the only time George threw down the octave below his line as a stack. If you listen to the original version of “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” on “Voices in Praise” he does the same trick on the end of the 2nd chorus and then on the tag at the end of the song. It just adds a little depth to the song when done Acapella.

  9. JD Sumner hired Richard Sterban in 1970 to sing bass with the Stamps. I’ve seen some footage from around 1971 with only him on bass with the Stamps. My understanding is that JD wanted to focus more on the business end of things, kinda like Eldridge Fox did, but when Elvis hired the Stamps to do backup, he wanted JD to be singing on stage with him. After about a year or so of singing “second bass,” Richard took the bass gig with The Oak Ridge Boys, and the rest, as they say is “oom papa mow mow” history….

    By the way, if you watch Gaither’s two-disc DVD on Elvis’ Gospel music, you’ll see footage of both Richard and JD singing bass.

  10. George did it several times on their “Worship His Glory: Acapella” album. Listen to the remake of “There is a Fountain” on some parts he sings the same note, just an octave lower.. I’m guessing they did that for full sound!

    The Cathedrals do something interesting on “Ride That Glory Train”, but this time it’s Glenn. Listen to the third verse… at the end he comes in on himself for the chorus! I didn’t notice it until he cut out that last word when it was recorded live on “Alive! Deep In The Heart of Texas”.

  11. As for stacking vocals… Gold City’s “Preach The Word” is another example. On the very last chorus Steve is singing the melody, but also is singing the high echo part at the same time!

    He does it again on “When Jesus Saves”……….

  12. #11- On the same CD, on “I’m Rich” when Jonathan is singing the improv part, you will also hear him singing the chorus with the rest of the group.

  13. Stuff like that, overdubbing adlibs on top of an existing “straight vocal,” has been going on for years across all genres. Fill in the harmonies first, then go back and add the ad-libs, echoes, etc. Sometimes groups will just drop that person’s harmony part when doing the song live (as Gold City did with “I’m Rich,”), while other times, they’ll drop the ad-libs and just sing the straight chorus (Duane Allen did this with “Write Your Name Across My Heart” when the Oaks took it to the stage).

    One thing I always thought was cool with the Oaks it that if there were an instance where a harmony vocal needed to be filled, the band members would fill that part. The first time I noticed it being done is when their bass player at the time filled in the fourth part while the lead singer sang the verses on top of the backup harmony.

    The Cathedrals would usually drop the bass line and have George move up to baritone and adjust the rest of the parts accordingly if a part needed to be filled.

    The problem now is, with using tracks, groups can overdub all they want, and when they hit the stage, leave those overdubbed harmonies on the track (or in some cases, leave all but the solo vocals on the track to “enhance” the performance). I personally HATE this practice.

  14. Honestly, I’m not particularly big on stacking vocals in the studio (though it’s more excusable than live stacking). But to me, it just takes a lot of the fun out of an acapella number in particular when I can tell there’s extra layering going on. For example, take EHSS’s acapella rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” I literally recorded the live version and put that into my Christmas mix instead of the studio version. The stacks were *so* heavy on the studio version that I vastly preferred the spontaneous, authentic feel of the unstacked live performance—which still sounded great. Makes me wonder why they felt like they even needed to stack in the studio. (In all fairness, I understand the Cats did the exact same thing with that carol arrangement, so this is nothing against EHSS personally.)

  15. I don’t know if this has been said yet, but on “One At A Time”, Roy Tremble sings “Forever Is A Long Long Time”, and it is clear that Roy is singing both the melody and harmony to the song.

  16. This is another half step discrepancy, Daniel. I am pretty sure that they did the song in Gb which made George’s low notes Db’s, Funny enough, when I first heard this version, it was obvious Younce was on lead, but there were a bass part. A friend of mine saw the Cathedrals for the first time when Webster and Tremble were in the group. He heard Webster do a sound check and come out and sing a low note and thought “that is a pretty good bass” then Younce came out and dropped it an octave. 😀 Knowing that story, I had wondered at the time if perhaps Webster was doing the bass part, but I doubt it now. I would have to listen again as it has been a long time since I heard it. (Maybe 15-20 years.

  17. Interesting…on the Cathedrals Worship His Glory version, I always thought there was something wrong with that song’s recording….almost like George started the song in the wrong key, or the group joined him in the wrong key, something like that.

  18. What ya’ll are talking about is not stacking vocals. Stacked vocals are just like it implies. Each part is recorded, then, and it all depends on the producer and engineer, they go back in and record all of the vocals a second time on different tracks OR the engineer will just duplicate each of the tracks. All they’re doing in these cases are making sure all of the parts are covered. If George sings lead, who is going to sing the bass part? The idea behind stacked tracks is to give the song more volume (I don’t mean volume like sound level, volume like making it fuller), giving it more body. The second reason it is done is to pull those stacked tracks back in the final mix when their sound tracks are made, then they use these tacks to perform with to give that same voluminous sound. I have recorded and worked with numerous groups that only stack tracks on certain songs…the more “power” songs, it helps drive the songs across. There are groups out there that stack tracks when they record and some that don’t. The Inspirations do not. There are groups that stack tracks for a recording but refuse to use them when they perform, other choose to use them for performance as well. I draw the line at the performance level. Doing it on a recording is okay, doing it when you perform, well, in my “opinion” it is wrong.