The Stamps on You Tube

David Bruce Murray links to some vintage JD and the Stamps from 1967. DBM points out Sumner’s predictable subterranean ending and if that’s your bag you’ll definitely want to see the clip through to the end. But more enjoyable, to my ear, are the early verses. Before all the belching and growling around starts, Sumner lays down some really pleasant tones from his middle and upper ranges, the kind of unremarkably excellent singing that often gets drowned out in our memory of J.D Sumner as the record-breaking low-note singer (listen, for instance, to how he sings the final word of his verses, starting a third above the tonic [a relative minor i-chord in this case] and settled down on it from it above … that’s a classic bass-singer’s ending in ensemble work, but you don’t often hear it used so craftily in solo lines). Plus, he does this thing with his head I’ve never noticed before … where the skin on his skull pivots forward on certain notes … it’s kinda creepy.

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  1. Daniel Britt wrote:

    I noticed the skin/skull technique too. You’re right–it was bizarre.

  2. Sheldon wrote:

    unfortunately all a lot of people will remember about JD is the low notes but his mid/low tones were nice esp. pre 1970

  3. John wrote:

    Sheldon is correct…most people today are only familiar with JD largely because of his appearances with Elvis and the last few years he spent with the Stamps.

    By that time, JD’s voice was mostly shot, and he was little more than a low-note specialist, which, happily for him, was how he was billed, and as so many do in their later years, he became vocally lazy.

    But in his earliest years, JD was not known for his low notes much at all, and it was only after he joined the Blackwood Brothers did he begin to establish his reputation as the “world’s lowest bass singer”.

    Through all that, though, JD was a versatile singer with a fairly wide range and with pleasant tone placement all through it…he was also quite an adept musician as a singer. People who only heard him during his last years don’t know what they’re missing.

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