Use of vibes in pop music

I am presently involved in a recording project with a singer/songwriter. The producer is a friend of mine and suggested to the artist that he include vibes as an integral part of the background palette throughout the recording. That's where it got interesting; when he first talked to me, he asked me to send him a list of well known recordings using vibes in that way so he could pitch it to the client. I came up with a handful off the top of my head. In the end, I got the gig by knocking out a rough of what I could do for him on one track.

It inspired me, though. I should be more ready in the future, so this is a project for the vibe hive mind. I want any additions to this list that are helpful, especially if they are examples where the vibes are used differently than these examples. Besides, it's good for us to all know how to play in this manner. Here's what I came up with on short notice:

Baby Love - the Supremes
Sing this All Together - The Rolling Stones
What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
Let's Get it On - Marvin Gaye
In the Book of My Mind - Beach Boys
California Girls - Beach Boys
Til I Die - Beach Boys
Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word - Elton John
Will to Love - Neil Young
Razor Boy - Steely Dan
Love Will Save the Day - Whitney Houston (this may be a MalletKAT... it's Roy Ayers and a LOT of processing)
This Close to You - Luther Vandross
Ooh I Love It/SalSoul Hustle/It's Good for the Soul/Chicago Bus Stop/Love Letters - SalSoul Orchestra (AKA Vince Montana)

I know there's a bunch more. I remember some psychedelic rock tunes that had it, but can't think of their names. I'm not looking for jazz tunes that got popular like the theme to the Frazier Show... Also, a lot of the stuff on Motown had it, but it was overwhelmed by the fact that there was a layer of glockenspiel on top of it (Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson, for instance). I'm looking for "sounds-like" tracks that we can cite when pitching ourselves to clients as percussionists.

Ideas??? What am I missing. I am sure there are some obvious examples.


Access: Anonymous


I would expect John Keene to be able to add to this list if anyone can.

I just found one more, but from a familiar source.

"Suspicion" The Originals (another Motown recording, so likely more Jack Ashford)

Mike Maineri discography?...Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Mark Knopfler.
Gary Burton with kd Lang.

I’ll search those… thus far, the only Zappa I found was Lumpy Gravy which, while being really excellent (I actually still own a copy on vinyl… I LOVE Zappa’s music), didn’t really seem like pop music.

I search for the other stuff. Thanks!

P.S. it’s a purely academic search at this point. I got the gig; recorded the tracks last week. They were very much looking for a Jack Ashford approach. I want to be more ready next time.

I don't think that presenting a list of songs 60 years old is going to sway any producer to using vibes on a project.

In terms of pop music and practical approach to bringing mallets to a songwriter's perspective, I think vibes players are hired based on who they are and the trust level the songwriter and producer have in the individual player. I commend Randy for selling himself for this gig, but I also think the trust in Randy's ability to bring something viable to the project was equal to the list presented.

Fortunately, in this case, I didn't have to sway the producer. He called me because he wanted help swaying his client. It worked. :)

I want to sort of build a list anyway... I might learn things in the process. I like the idea of knowing the different ways that vibes have been used in a pop music setting. Check out the suggestion in the thread of the French tune! And the stuff Gary Burton did behind K.D. Lang was also really unique.

If I were asked to provide a sample of contemporary vibes playing in a song-driven format, I'd say the link below to Steely Dan with Bill Ware on vibes is a great one. It shows vibes in a support role that really fleshes out the songs. PLus, Bill plays a nice vibes solo at one hour three minutes on "Home At Last."

This tune made a very big hit some years ago in France, and what people remember about it after the very good lyrics is the use of vibraphone...

Very useful for this purpose. Also a great tune and great recording. That's a keeper for the list. thanks

Hi .-)
Sally Oldfield had some Vibe-loaded tunes on the 'Celebration' Album... The approach is a little different, more melodical lines instead of chordal playing...

A more 'lyrical' approach on Mike Oldfields 'Incanatations' (starting at 10:40)... These 2 minutes with Pierre and Benoit Moerlen made me pick up Vibe playing back in 1985 !


Vibes get a little intro and arpeggiating spot-lot on this one, which is fairly recent. Sound and Color by Alabama Shakes:
All Music credits a vibraphone was used on the recording by Ben Tanner, although live it looks like they opt for midi keys vibes sounds from what I can see.

Hi Randy
This is an interesting project, looking for non-classical, non-jazz tunes that feature the vibes. I just wanted to make a small point that though Jack Ashford was certainly one of the three main percussionists (as opposed to drummers) that played on all those Motown hits, most of the vibe work was done by Jack Brokensha, a short energetic muso from Adelaide, Australia. I am conducting research into the history of the vibraphone in Oz and was fascinated to learn about Brokensha, who played vibes (and other percussion) on most of the Supremes' etc, hits. Within the Funk Bros group, they were referred to allegedly as Black Jack (Ashford) and White Jack (Brokensha). Apparently years later he was introduced to Quincy Jones who said 'You're the guy who invented rock-'n'-roll vibes'.
Best wishes with your project.

There was a point a few years ago when I was looking for a Deagan Imperial that I almost bought Jack Brokensha's axe. It was on eBay being sold from a location in Florida, of all places. Here in Philly we raise up Jack Ashford because he was a local guy before he moved to Detroit... also, he's a great player.

Hi Randy,
Moonlight Feels Right Starbuck
Keep Truckin' Eddie Kendrick 1973
My Favourite Things Tony Bennett with Lady Gaga
Under My Thumb Brian Jones plays marimba, Rolling Stones

Congrats on the gig!
I hope all is well with you!