Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Fitting Tribute

Last time I wrote, it was about covers of single songs. There are also bands whose sole purpose is to play other bands' music, or another band's music. The former are called cover bands, and play in bars and clubs all over the world. The latter are called tribute bands, and they play clubs and, sometimes, even theaters.

A certain amount of fanatical devotion (and expenditure) is necessary to precisely replicate a concert for a group of people perhaps not yet born, let alone able to attend the original. Matching, and rewarding, that devotion are the people who record these concerts. That's right - you can get a recording of a show by a tribute band that duplicates the original show, of which you can also get a recording.
In fact, some tribute bands study those earlier recordings and mimic every bit of them, and the band members dedicate their careers to "being" the other band as much as possible. For those who couldn't see the original show, it's a stirring experience.

There are other fields to plow in the tribute band world, though, recontextualizing material to provide a fresh look at its roots, or disregarding them entirely in favor of just doing whatever the new band damn well pleases. Blue Floyd are just such a band. They "endeavor to deconstruct the classic compositions of the legendary Pink Floyd, into their primal, elemental form." What does that mean? Well, the band members are late of The Allman Brothers, The Black Crowes, and Phil Lesh and Friends, so it means lots of jamming.

Post-DARK SIDE Pink Floyd were very disciplined when playing live. The timing of films and sound effects saw to that, especially on THE WALL. Blue Floyd take it in the other direction, applying the early Floyd methodology evident on UMMAGUMMA and concert recordings through the early 70s to later-period songs from WISH YOU WERE HERE, ANIMALS, and THE WALL, extending them by adding jammy sections and solos, extending the music more organically than the original band could.

Though it might seem hard to believe, Pink Floyd regularly played blues jams. Blue Floyd find the residue of blues in songs like Have A Cigar and pull it out through endless meditations on the main riff. If you find unstructured playing annoying, this is not for you, and their hit ratio is somewhere around 60%, but it's refreshing to hear classic rock songs as starting points, not waxworks.