Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Cover ... Tribute ... Exploit?

A while ago I went to see one of those Classic Albums Live shows.  You know, the ones that are advertised as "note for note, cut for cut".

The schtick for these shows is that they are not a tribute band.  No lookalikes.  No dress up.  No picture show.  Just a collection of good musicians recreating an album in its entirety.  Quite a challenge when you're trying to recreate the work of studio wizards like Pink Floyd (which is what I saw).

Anyway, it was well done.  They did a good job, and it was interesting to watch as you're thinking, "How are they going to do this?" and so on.

I have to say I enjoyed it, but the whole experience was more than a little unsettling.  It was like I was watching a tribute band.  Like I was cheating.  I felt a little guilty somehow, and couldn't feel fully satisfied.  This is the way I feel when I see a tribute band.

Don't get me wrong, I admire the musicians who can do this sort of thing.  I mean, I have the tab, and I've played Hideaway about three million times, and I'll never get it to sound like Eric Clapton.  So it's impressive.  But it just feels wrong, somehow.

It's all rather creepy.

Like, what is going on exactly?  You know you're not getting the real deal, but somehow you're supposed to behave like you are, or pretend that you are?  Are we exploiting the band's ability to copy, or are they exploiting our need to feel/remember/simulate/fantasize about the real thing?

A credible cover of a great song?  Absolutely!

A recreation or simulation of an experience or memory?  Feels weird.  Enjoyable, but ...

And don't even think about the new breed of lame "musicals" that string together a bunch of pop/rock songs with a feeble excuse for a plot.  That's a whole other level of sickness.

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