But to make an entire career out of blatantly emulating – actually, I’m going to go with Impersonating – what was already done? Well, I just don’t get. Sure you can go to Vegas, get married by (or even To) Elvis, Have Marilyn Monroe sing “Happy Birthday” to you.. Or even catch a never-aging Beatles as they sing their classic set from the Ed Sullivan show, so many years ago. you can go to your local dive bar, and catch the best Creed tribute band this side of the county.
Maybe I’m having a little difficulty seeing the fine line between art, appreciation & Plagairism?
If I were to go off and grab an ultra-HD camcorder, then film (shot by shot) an exact word-for-word copy of say, “Wolf Of Wall Street” – with different actors, of course (Seriously. How big of a film-budget do you think I’m working with here?), then released it, Charged people to watch it, and called it my ‘tribute’ – What would you think (Other than, I should really not be anywhere near the film industry)..? Am I a genius, a copy cat, or am I simply an artist, expressing my ‘vision’.
See, that’s how I feel about tribute bands. Building a career off of being nothing more than someone who really appreciates somebody else’s work. Pink Floyd may not be able to tour anymore, but for only $40 you can See a bunch of guys who bought their old stage gear & play their tunes just like on the record! WHAT A DEAL!
I guess to a point you gotta go with what sells. People love nostalgia. People love to pay to keep re-living their fondest musical memories. Maybe someone first got laid while hearing “Oh, Darling!” back in the 60’s, and it brings back that warm, fuzzy feeling. Maybe someone took their first drive while “Highway To Hell”, and it makes them feel young again. Maybe they’re a masochist who likes living in their old painful memories while listening to “Wonderful Tonight”. Who the hell knows what drives it, but there’s a reason some of these Tributes can draw thousands upon thousands for a single show.
Maybe I’m just from a different breed. Maybe I just have a short attention span – I would say I’m old fashioned, but that seems to be the crowd that generally supports said bands. I don’t necessarily get BORED hearing the same classic tunes – I by FAR love & appreciate my classic rock (And beyond). However, if I’m about to go pay some random band to play all of my favorite classic songs JUST the way they sounded on the record.. Wouldn’t you think I’d save some $ by just listening to the authentic recordings?
Look, Bon Scott was a great vocalist – Sloppy, but great. There’s a thousand artists out there who can pull off sounding pretty close to him.. But if I want to hear Bon Scott sing “Night Prowler” – I damn sure am going to go off and listen to the “Highway To Hell” album.
Now, on the other hand – if you want to take “Night prowler” and spin it in a way that’s never been done before, but still sounds awesome? I’d bite. I like originality – I don’t like constantly being reminded that “Hey, someone else wrote this so well, we’re going to do the EXACT same thing!” No, no. Give Me something that is out of the box – Not a carbon copy.
Red Line Chemistry recently did this on their album “Tug Of War” with their take on (A very underrated Pink Floyd classic, in my opinion) “What Do You Want From Me?”. They brought a breath of fresh air to a a great song that not too many other artists had. They slowed the tempo down a bit, cranked up the game, and even threw a bit of “Echoes” into the mix.
GUN did this years ago on Cameo’s hit “Word Up”. Great dance club song, But Gun’s take turned into what could have been a rock anthem. Unfortunately, Gun got in the game a bit too late to become anything relevant – The 80’s hair bands were fading away & Seattle had already taken up shop in the yard.. Shame, really.
Or take Marilyn Manson’s famous version of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”. Completely re-invented the song, and it’s become a rock staple ever since (Especially when you need dramatic & creepy rock..)
Or to another extreme, You could have a tribute to a Generation. Germany’s The Baseballs accomplish this perfectly, yet still keep things interesting.. Take today’s pop songs, put them in a time machine & Send them back to the 1950’s Rock scene. The likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, The Rat Pack, or even The King himself. What you get is pure awesome..
Rock Sugar is another good example of how to keep things unique.. Jess Harnell – better known as “The guy that does Wakko’s voice on Animaniacs” – playing the role of the Lead vocalist, takes classic Rock & Pop songs such as Kiss’ “Detroit Rock City” and Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” – And mashes them the hell together into one, awesome track..
Would I pay to see The Baseballs or Rock Sugar? Hell. Yes. Why? What makes THAT so different than going to see Mini-KISS? For one, They’re taller. Two, alright.. Maybe I would go see Mini-KISS..
Now I *KNOW* there’s going to be that one person out there who reads this, and says “But wait! Lots of musicians started playing as a tribute! So does that mean that if you’re inspired to play an instrument because of something you’ve heard, does that make them a copy cat too?”
A good example would be Eric Clapton. He’s said time and time again, that he’s had an admiration for, and has been influenced IMMENSELY over the years by blues legend Robert Johnson & his particular style of songwriting/guitar playing. He’s incorporated many of Robert’s songs into his live sets/albums over the years..Hell, He even did a pair of studio tribute albums for Johnson.
However, If you’re familliar with Clapton, then you know he has a distinct sound in his own play style that can be distinguished from any other artist. A particular tone, A particular way of striking a note that you can feel right down in your very bones. A sound that he incorporates in to those songs, that he still manages to make them his own.
That being said, Has Clapton ever put on a “Clapton Plays Robert Johnson” tour? No. Do you expect to hear him play all of Robert Johnson’s songs at every show on any given date? I’d hope not. Clapton has made a career that was INSPIRED by hearing Johnson’s recordings, but hasn’t made a career out of replicating those recordings..
I suppose it’s all in personal taste.. Some people are of the “Next best thing” mindset. Metallica may be alive & kickin’, But for 10 bucks on a Saturday night you can see some knock-offs play an out-of-tune version of “Enter Sandman”.. Which is the next “Best” thing.
Personally, I’m also of the “Next Best Thing” mindset. Except, I’m not talking “Best” as in the poor-man’s-alternative. When I say “Best” – You DAMN sure can bet your last dollar, that it’s going to be something that’s pretty bad ass.0