Alice in Chains (no band has been that dark while being so melodic)
Beatles ('IF I FELL'...absolute perfection)
Beach Boys (Brian Wilson...nuff said)
The Mamas & the Papas
Good calls, all of 'em. I always thought Alice in Chains' vocals were one of the most most interesting things in rock at the time. I was just listening to Bee Gee's Horizontal album (from their 60s Oz-Beatles period). BB goes w/o saying, of course. But it's great to see the Mamas & Papas listed, their studio stuff had great vocal arrangements. Some of the most enjoyable harmony stuff in pop at the time*... and because they were full on lifestyle hippie troublemakers they actually had some rock crossover fans. Live, they could have bigtime issues but that was an era when no one could ever hear anyone else on stage, for the most part.
*Honorable mention to the Association. I personally never much liked them but they really had the glossy harmony thing down pat. And they were hugely popular. And "Along Came Marry" is pretty damn catchy, too. ("Cherish" gives me the creeps, but that's just me. I have a low tolerance for sweet/treacly stuff.)
Well, first let me say that the Beach Boys and Queen are my two favorite bands of all time. They're more than obvious mentions in this thread.
For a modern group with a great harmony vibe, try Little Big Town. Their last couple albums have a lot of great moments where you can hear that the band is standing around one mic singing those harmonies. They sound fantastic together. Kind of an eagles/fleetwood mac sound with a modern country flair. Good stuff. In fact "I'm so Lost Without You" is chillingly good.
Bee Gees, Simon & Garfunkel, Beach Boys (Brian Wilson mapped out the harmonies like a true composer), Mamas & the Papas. ------------- Also, 2 of my favorite songs of all time have really solid and magnificent harmony singing ... 1) Sail On - The Commodores ... 2) Ventura Highway - America. The 60's and 70's rule when it comes to songwriting skill and vocal harmonies.
Jellyfish, live, smoked any other "in the trenches"/dirty rock club band I've ever seen. No hidden backup singers, no backing tracks, ****ty club PA, ****ty monitors - still amazing vocals.
Ditto. Jellyfish killed it on the vocal harmonies. Along the same bloodline, if you've never checked out Imperial Drag, do so. Thick, lush, complex, moving vocal harmonies. Sweet stuff indeed. And at the risk of getting banned with my first post on Gearslutz, I'm gonna say Enuff Z'nuff. Sure, it's pretty much the same harmonies as the Beatles did, but they sure sounded good.
What, no HOLLIES? To me, some of the greatest harmony singing on the planet. Graham Nash singing in the stratosphere full voice (most of the time). Check out "Carrie Ann" or "On a Carousel" or even the later "Air That I Breathe
I agree the Hollies harmonies are some of the best there is. However by "The Air That I Breathe" was released Nash was long gone replaced by Terry Sylvester. I love Graham Nash's voice and love the old Hollies music with him in there, but personally I think the best Hollies music came after he left. ie: "He Ain't Heavy He's my Brother", "Gasoline Alley Bred", "Air That I Breathe" etc.
Also I love Pink Floyd's harmonies. Some of the stuff on "Dark Side of the Moon" for example is awesome.
Beach Boys and Jackson 5 by far. Eagles a distant second
Little River band. Lots of 70's AM bands like Orleans, Abba, Starland Vocal Group? or Poco
Fifth dimension, even Yes? Like 91025 or even the old 'Yes album' stuff like that.
If they could sing them live that would make them great.
Queen and Boston in the Studio anyway? Beatles had some ok studio trickery too.
same with floyd.
But lots of later rock bands like Journey w/ Perry and Rolie, King's X
Jelly Fish could really sing live. Gentle Giant? good original celtic/english folky harmonies
But as gritty as they were how can you not have Mick and Kieth? It's raw it's mostly
out of tune but it's the **** kickin' rock and roll harmony? root and 5th.......
Also Along with the Jacksons pretty much every Motown group and many disco bands like
Tavares and the BeeGees all had great harmonies.
But Alice in chains was really the last band to pioneer or at least popularize a new 'style' of rock harmony
what was it the 4th? I'm not sure what interval they were harmonizing and maybe they stole
a little from Aerosmith Uncle Salty era but Layne and Cantrell's harmony was truly the last original
unique vocal arrangement. How many bands copied that? 1000? It's still being emulated almost 20 year later now.
Also gotta give it up to Michael Anthony and VH. That is just superhuman
Beatles - listen to the vocal only track they did on Because (Abbey Road). Granted, Sir George Martin helped with the arrangement but those vocals are perfect and the harmony is a 3 parter performed 3 times with all three singers on one mic for each of the 3 passes. Pretty amazing in my opinion.
Peter Paul and Mary - smooth and tight
Those are some of my favorites but there are SO many. Also, there are so many genres of music and each genre has its own style so this could become a long list. I did not read all the posts but has anyone brought up any of the Barber Shop Quartet groups?