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Thread: Tribute bands: how much liberty can you take?

  1. #26
    Member Ten Thumbs's Avatar
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    Pink Floyd: A lot (but not all) of stuff on the live albums and concert videos they did off their last couple tours sound virtually identical to the studio versions. And something like Comfortably Numb, which has a longer ride out solo than the studio version, Gilmour still seems to play the same solo on pretty much every version I've heard.[/QUOTE]

    I would think that Pink Floyd playing live had to be repetitive so as to sync up with their show: films, graphics and lights.
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  2. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Ten Thumbs View Post
    I would think that Pink Floyd playing live had to be repetitive so as to sync up with their show: films, graphics and lights.
    Not necessarily. At least on the '94 tour, they didn't actually use the films very much, just on Shine On You Crazy Diamond, the beginning of Money (the show I saw, they didn't show the film that they used on past tours, which runs through the first half of the song), Great Gig In The Sky, Us And Them, and High Hopes. They didn't use films at all for the first set.

    Lights, you can run manually, you just need to have a lighting guy who knows how to take cues from the stage (say, the guitarist lifting his guitar up in the air and bringing it down to end the song, as one example).

    But even if something like Shine On You Crazy Diamond has to be exactly the same length every time, to match up with the film, one doesn't necessarily have to play the exact same solos each time though. You could change it up, improvise, etc, just so long as you stuck to the same length.

    I remember someone telling me they saw the very first Dark Side Of The Moon show in 94, the one they did in Giants Stadium, I think it was, and apparently when they got to Any Colour You Like, they took the same kind of liberties they did when playing it circa 72-75, though by the time they got to the London show on the Pulse DVD, they had reverted to playing it like it is on the album, mostly. And I think they always stretched during the guitar solo section of Money, not adhering precisely to the studio version.

    One thing I think would be interesting, would be to see a Pink Floyd tribute play the early versions of the songs, before they were recorded. Like say, seeing someone do Dark Side Of The Moon the way it sounds on the Sapporo Japan bootleg from March of 72, or do things like You Gotta Be Crazy or Raving And Drooling. That might be fun, if for no other reason, to mess with the heads of people who've never heard the bootlegs.

  3. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    OK, so that's 3 out of how many other bands?
    Just the first three to come to mind, I'm sure there's others. And I don't know why I didn't include them, but there's also Rush, who are notorious for their general lack of adlibbing in concert. I remember Alex Lifeson even saying once that he was disappointed when he saw bands like Cream not play songs like they were on the record.

    Another good example is Boston. THere are a couple bits of stretching out that are different from the records, but, for instance, that extended instrumental thing they always segue into out of More Than A Feeling, every version I've heard of that (granted, only about three or four, but from four different tours) is mostly the same. And most of the songs are pretty much like the album versions, albeit with sometimes questionable intonation on the vocals.

    Then there's Genesis. There's not much improv there. Most of the versions I've heard of most of their songs are close to, if not completely, identical.

    Oh yeah, and The Eagles. I read in one his Grateful Dead books, where David Gans talks about how he saw The Eagles back in the 70's, and was stunned to hear them play every song exactly like the studio version. He said years later he interviewed Henley, I think it was, and he was like "Oh, yeah, we didn't want anyone to go home unhappy because we didn't play their favorite lick in Hotel California".

    I remember Vince Welnick saying once that when he toured with Todd Rundgren, but not only was every note of the show completely choreographed, but so were Todd's between song jokes!

  4. #29
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Just the first three to come to mind, I'm sure there's others. And I don't know why I didn't include them, but there's also Rush, who are notorious for their general lack of adlibbing in concert. I remember Alex Lifeson even saying once that he was disappointed when he saw bands like Cream not play songs like they were on the record.

    Another good example is Boston. THere are a couple bits of stretching out that are different from the records, but, for instance, that extended instrumental thing they always segue into out of More Than A Feeling, every version I've heard of that (granted, only about three or four, but from four different tours) is mostly the same. And most of the songs are pretty much like the album versions, albeit with sometimes questionable intonation on the vocals.

    Then there's Genesis. There's not much improv there. Most of the versions I've heard of most of their songs are close to, if not completely, identical.

    Oh yeah, and The Eagles. I read in one his Grateful Dead books, where David Gans talks about how he saw The Eagles back in the 70's, and was stunned to hear them play every song exactly like the studio version. He said years later he interviewed Henley, I think it was, and he was like "Oh, yeah, we didn't want anyone to go home unhappy because we didn't play their favorite lick in Hotel California".

    I remember Vince Welnick saying once that when he toured with Todd Rundgren, but not only was every note of the show completely choreographed, but so were Todd's between song jokes!
    Even when artists play that 1 big hit the same way every time, like The Eagles with Hotel California as you mentioned, or Santana with Smooth, it's because that's all audiences want to hear. With the deeper cuts however, they'll take far more creative license.
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  5. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    Even when artists play that 1 big hit the same way every time, like The Eagles with Hotel California as you mentioned, or Santana with Smooth, it's because that's all audiences want to hear. With the deeper cuts however, they'll take far more creative license.
    Really? I had the impression The Eagles play their entire set that way. But then, I've never really listened to their live stuff. I just remember David Gans using the Eagles as an example of how "most rock groups operate", versus the Grateful Dead's improvisational approach.

  6. #31
    Member progholio's Avatar
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    Man, I don't know where to start on this one, but as others have mentioned - the sky's the limit and whatever you like is cool.

    For myself where is the line between good tribute and the real thing? I prefer the type where they stretch things out a little and take chances where it feels more like a live band rather than a photo-copy.

    I got free tix to see the Australian Pink Floyd and another time some Floyd Tribute from Chicago who's name I don't remember and they were absolutely the most boring shows I've been to, mainly because they concentrated on exactly duplicating the greatest hits you've heard a million times, not much risk taking, nothing to see here.

    I've seen several Beatles tributes that are pretty much the same - wigs, costumes replicating the Ed Sullivan show and Sgt Peppers and various other things. Some better than others, very schtickey but for some reason i'm able check my brain at the door have fun.

    We have a local Beatles tribute that does their own interpretations which I give them high marks for the effort but they sound like an average bar band, so meh.

    We have a local Rush tribute that could take on all comers, they are brutal at reproducing that stuff and I've seen them more than I care to admit. Basically it's like having Exit Stage Left and All The Worlds A Stage and maybe Live In Rio performed in front of you for 10 bucks, I have a weak spot for that stuff.

    Steve mentioned a reggae Zep tribute which I believe might be Dread Zeppelin, if so they are hugely talented and entertaining, highly recommend them if they still get around. Something that takes chances and pays off huge.

    I saw The Musical Box at Nearfest only because I traveled 900 miles and was sort of a captive audience type of thing. I didn't think I was going to enjoy them but the painstaking attention to detail down to the left handed drummer it was hard not be impressed? I put that in the same category as the high production Beatles tributes. Would I see them again? Probably not.

    We have a local group that goes by the name Petty Cash Junction, you guessed it, all Tom and John covers done brilliantly, (usually ends up Cash opening and Petty headlining after the break). This band is made up of local luminaries that are in dozens of other hugely talented bands, hard to miss on this one. (on a side note most of the guys also play in highly successful Stones, Zep and Floyd tribute bands I've never seen but people rave about, a good business it must be!)

    Then there's the matter of those pesky legacy acts with one or two original members (I won't mention any names) that have the rights to the name, so is it legit or just a tribute?

    I will say if the Queen Extravaganza were anywhere in a 200 mile radius I would be there in a heartbeat.

    YMMV
    Last edited by progholio; 02-15-2019 at 07:16 PM.

  7. #32
    We have The Analogues which is a Dutch Beatles tribute, specialising in playing the studio-albums live, as close to the original versions as possible. They use all original instruments. Not the ones played by the Beatles, but the same making. They go to great lenghts to get everything they need.




    Weird part is, they also have released live-CD's, which I don't really get.

  8. #33
    I do an acoustic thing, playing a few Zeppelin acoustic songs - I try to do my best to sound like Plant, though my guitaring is never going to be anything like Page. The songs seem to go over well, when I stay true to the singing. Most people don't realize I'm butchering the guitar. I myself like to hear music that sounds similar to the original, though because it is live, it doesn't need to be perfect. I recall in the 80's we played high schools, and sometimes we would set up and play at lunch - just a few songs to pique interest in the dance. We were once accused by some of the kids of just playing to a recording of Tom Sawyer.. I swear... Talk about the ultimate compliment!


    Good live music is rare where I live, so I am always happy to hear anything decent. I usually have to leave when most live bands around here play.
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  9. #34
    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yodelgoat View Post
    I do an acoustic thing, playing a few Zeppelin acoustic songs - I try to do my best to sound like Plant, though my guitaring is never going to be anything like Page. The songs seem to go over well, when I stay true to the singing. Most people don't realize I'm butchering the guitar. I myself like to hear music that sounds similar to the original...
    I actually take the opposite approach: if I feel I cannot interpret the song for myself and bring something new to it I drop it. Similarly, I don’t like hearing any performer try to sound like the original. To me there’s no point in doing that although I understand why others would find it more entertaining.

    From my experience the original artists are also interested in seeing new interpretations of their music far more than a recreation.
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  10. #35
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Really? I had the impression The Eagles play their entire set that way. But then, I've never really listened to their live stuff. I just remember David Gans using the Eagles as an example of how "most rock groups operate", versus the Grateful Dead's improvisational approach.
    Even bands like The Eagles who repeat themselves today were far more creative in their heyday. The difference is their older audiences are nostalgic, but were actual music fans when they were younger. Older audiences don't want to hear new music period...they only wish to relive the past.
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  11. #36
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    Older audiences don't want to hear new music period...they only wish to relive the past.
    .

    True. For me anyway. I fantasize about playing thundering bass in a power trio tribute band. Play everything from Cream to Motorhead. The possibilities would be endless.

  12. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    Even bands like The Eagles who repeat themselves today were far more creative in their heyday. .
    The David Gans anecdote I repeated was about seeing The Eagles back in the 70's, not on any of the reunion tours (in fact, I think the book where he mentioned this was published before the first reunion tour).

  13. #38
    [QUOTE=Yodelgoat;881585]
    We were once accused by some of the kids of just playing to a recording of Tom Sawyer.. I swear... Talk about the ultimate compliment!
    You must have had one hell of a drummer, if he could emulate Peart's playing that well. I know Neil himself said that's a hard song to play, even for him.

  14. #39
    I've seen Dweezil twice and he sticks pretty close to his dads stuff can't say I was disappointed by that decision.. the only other "tribute" band I've seen would be The Machine they play old and the more recent Floyd stuff pretty close to the original as well and again I always leave satisfied..

  15. #40
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    I'll chime in here but take the discussion in a somewhat different direction.

    I've seen some bands in concert who played their album tracks EXACTLY as they sounded on the LP. Gotta say, I was usually very disappointed by that. If I want to hear the album, I'll just play the album. I much prefer a band that takes the recorded version as a jumping off place and throws in all sorts of variations and improvisations, both to keep the musicians on their toes and to give the audience something they haven't heard before.

    Tribute bands, and "reunion" bands, that's a different story. People go to casinos and cruise ships to hear some musicians recreate exactly what they remember, with no room for variance. For an original band member of a one-hit wonder band, there can be no worse hell than playing the same damn song every night.

    "Cover versions" again is a whole third thing. When I hear a jazz musician covering a Beatles tune, I want them to bring something new and unexpected to the party. Otherwise why bother.

  16. #41
    Okay, time to take on The Musical Box. They're very good at what they do, but I question whether it's worth doing. (Same way I feel about ABBA, actually...) When I went to see their "Lamb" show about 15 years ago I was enjoyed myself, and was very impressed by their presentation and musicianship, but I was disappointed to hear them basically do the album note-for-note and repeat Gabriel's "Rael" story and other speeches word-for-word and tone-for-tone from recordings. Musicianship, yes, but creativity? Not so much...
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  17. #42
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    I was disappointed to hear them basically do the album note-for-note and repeat Gabriel's "Rael" story and other speeches word-for-word and tone-for-tone from recordings.
    Maybe they were lip-syncing...

  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by happytheman View Post
    I've seen Dweezil twice, and he sticks pretty close to his dad's stuff - can't say I was disappointed by that decision.
    The problem I have with that is that he does the jokes - which were often improvised, based on the latest within-the-band stories or that day's news - exactly the same as on the record. Now granted, Dweezil has nothing like Frank's talent as a stand-up comedian. But still, references to "Chester" and "Ruth"? Incidentally, I consider ZPZ the best FZ tribute band, because they're so accurate to the original, and the Ed Palermo Big Band the second best, because they're nothing like the original.

  19. #44
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    The only tribute band I've seen is Project Object, several times. They keep it fresh and humorous without rote aping of what FZ/MOI did.

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    The David Gans anecdote I repeated was about seeing The Eagles back in the 70's, not on any of the reunion tours (in fact, I think the book where he mentioned this was published before the first reunion tour).
    I dunno. Their live album from 1980-ish is pretty much exactly like the studio recordings on every single song - even the Walsh covers.
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  21. #46
    re: The Eagles

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Bails View Post
    I dunno. Their live album from 1980-ish is pretty much exactly like the studio recordings on every single song - even the Walsh covers.
    Exactly.

  22. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    The only tribute band I've seen is Project Object, several times. They keep it fresh and humorous without rote aping of what FZ/MOI did.
    I've seen a few over the years:

    The Musical Box: Seen them a few times, I think three times they were doing the Selling England show, a couple times they did the Lamb show, and once when they did the A Trick Of The Tail tour. I thought they were fantastic every time. I'm reasonably certain an actual Genesis reunion would not sound that good.

    The Grandmothers: A Zappa tribute, I saw them about 7 or 8 years ago, they had Don Preston and Napoleon Murphy Brock with them, and a drummer who studied with Ruth Underwood (!). I believe they said the tour I saw was the first time that the Burnt Weenie Sandwich material they did had been played live in the US (apparently, Frank and the Mothers only played those pieces in Europe, before Frank pulled the plug on the band). And they did a fantastic version of More Trouble Every Day, with a perfect recreation of that famous fill that Phil loved so much (trying saying that three times fast!).

    Zappa Plays Zappa: saw them twice, the first time they had Ray WHite with them, and they did Dumb All Over, accompanying a video of Frank doing the vocal. They did some stuff off Absolutely Free (during one song, Shelia Gonzalez donned a blonde wig and assumed the role of a cocktail waitress), and I also remember they did What's New In Baltimore?, though it was the vocal version, as on Does Humore Belong In Music. Still, it was cool to hear. And for a show that took place literally down the street and around the corner from my house (I was home inside of a half hour), there was nothing to complain about.

    The second time I saw ZPZ, I don't think they had any guests, and I actually don't remember a whole lot about the show, in terms of what they did, but I do remember it was a really good show. And Dweezil signed autographs afterward.

    The Waiting Room: Another Genesis tribute, saw these guys about three times, I think. The first time, they were playing at a music fest in, Rochester, I think, and they actually did the whole of Marillion's Misplaced Childhood, then did a short set of Gabriel era Genesis stuff. The other two times I saw them, here in Cleveland, they did a set of Gabriel, and a set of Genesis. I remember the keyboardist was amused to see me doing the thing with my hands that Gabriel does in the In Your Eyes video during the pre-choruses. He also got a chuckle ouit of me air playing the orchestra bells at the end of Apocalypse in 9/8. Good shows each time. One of the times, they did Stagnation.

    Almost Queen: Saw these guys twice circa 2005-2006, and I would have seen them a third time, but they were playing here the same time as NEARfest weekend. Anyway, they did a great show, played lots of cool stuff, and sounded awesome. They even had a drum riser that sort of emulated the drumkit on the back cover of Live Kilers, with the lights built into the steps. The guitarist played a Red Special copy (and appeared to be plugged into an AC-30), and the vocalist did a great impression of Freddie. He kinda looked more like the circa 1981 Freddie, like on the cover of the original Queen's Greatest Hits album, but his demeanor when speaking to the audience seemed to reflect the sort of mid 70's Freddie's...e.g. "How are you doing, darlings?! It's nice to see you all again!". There's a couple different anecdotes I could tell about these two shows. They were great shows, and assuming they're still doing it, I'd love to see it again.

    Floyd Droyd: A Pink Floyd tribute from Indiana, I believe, who played up here in Cleveland (actually, they played Euclid Ohio) about 8 or 9 years ago, I think. Great performance, they showed video clips from the animated film version of Animal Farm during whichever song from Animals it was they did, Sheep I think, though I can' tremember now. The thing I do remember was during Echoes, as the music was starting to rise up out of the seagulls section, I noticed the keyboardist playing something that was most definitely not part of Echoes. So after the concert, I go up to him and I say, "During Echoes, toward the end of the seagulls section, did I hear you playing a little bit of A Saucerful Of Secrets". He smiled and said, "You're the first person who's noticed that! YES! I was playing the end of A Saucerful Of Secrets!".

    Blue Floyd: An interesting band: Southern rock vets (including two former members of the Allman Brothers Band, plus the son of a third), playing sort of blues/rock oriented versions of Pink Floyd songs. It was a really interesting show. One thing was finding out that the late Allen Woody could play guitar like that. I assumed, initially that he was going to be playing bass, because ya know, that's what he played in the Allmans and Gov't Mule. Then at the start of the set, the band come one by one, and first I see Berry Oakley Jr come on and strap on a bass, and I'm thinking, "Wait, what's Woody going to do?". Then WOody comes out with a guitar, and I'm htinking "OK, he's gonna play rhythm guitar, right?", but he and Marc Ford were trading solos back and forth on several songs. And on one tune, I think it might have been Cymbaline, Woody also played mandolin. Really, really cool concert. Funny story: before the show, I had WOody sign the Gov't Mule live album I had, I think it's called Live With A Little Help From Our Friends, and he says to me "You should have Marc sign this, because he played on it too". I thought that was a nice gesture from him, to remind me to get Marc's autograph.



    OH yeah, and then there's Cleveland's own Sun Machine, who only played a handful of shows in the mid 90s', but they were basically a Hawkwind tribute, the only one I've ever even heard of. I'm sure there's gotta be scores of them in the UK, but Stateside, I'd not be surprised if this was the only one. I think I saw them twice, and both times they played long sets with lots of cool songs. But I think they stopped doing it after just a year, because the musicians wer espread out too far, geographically speaking, I think, and also, so I was told, they "didn't want to rip off Dave Brock" or something to that effect, so it was never more than just a fun thing for a bunch of musicians into Hawkwind did for a little while.

  23. #48
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    If I understand correctly, a "tribute band" tries to not only sound like the band they're paying tribute to, but to look like them too. I've never been in one of those bands, but I've played in some specific artist/band cover bands. One of them was a Steely Dan cover band. Like the real one, we usually improvised the solos, but the band leader (bass player) felt that some of the solos were "iconic" and should be played verbatim, note for note. While it was kind of fun to learn solos by Elliot Randal, Larry Carlton and Skunk Baxter, I'd have preferred to improvise all solos, like the real Steely Dan did in their live concerts.

    But it all depends on the artist/band that's being paid tribute to. If there are improvised sections in the original music, I feel they should be improvised by the tribute band. I for one don't like when even the original band replicates their studio album, especially if it's music that gives the impression that it's largely improvisation based. Joe Satriani comes to mind; I don't want to hear him play the solos he did on the album, like he often does. I suppose there's fans that want to know, "can he pull it off live?" but I want to hear if (and how good) he can improvise. It's one thing if it's a pop band that has some 4 bar instrumental solos in their tunes that people have come to think of as an integral part of the tune. But being in a tribute/cover band that did that would bore me to tears.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    As far as they need to.

    One of the guys in that duo (Steve Million) is a buddy of mine; I play a jazz gig with him every other month. I love that album!

  25. #50
    Here's the real answer. If a tribute band wants to make real money, they will play the music as close to the original as humanly possible. That's what the general public wants. Nothing wrong with that. I've certainly seen tribute bands that I've enjoyed.

    But, overall, I prefer that they do something a little different with the source music. (Heck, I feel that way about a band playing their own music too!) At the very least, play some songs that the original band rarely or never plays. Bands like The Bad Plus often do cover songs as part of their shows. It's fun to hear a song that you know but done in a totally different way.
    Last edited by roylayer; 02-23-2019 at 01:12 AM.
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