Tuesday, 28 October 2008

"Led Zep without Robert Plant" - an oxymoron surely?

So I read in the papers today that Led Zep are to go on tour, but without Robert Plant. But without Robert Plant it's not Led Zep is it?

Which brings me onto another of my favourite pet hates - Queen and Paul Rogers. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Brian May, Roger Taylor and even Paul Rogers. But if you put the three of them together, you do not get "Queen plus" anything. You get Brian May, Roger Taylor and Paul Rogers.

I've heard Brian May say online many times that he's not really interested in touring for the money. That's cool. And that he enjoys playing the old Queen songs - that is also cool. But if both of those things are true, then why not tour as "Brian May, Roger Taylor with Paul Rogers". You can still play the songs, but may not sell quite as many tickets. But if money isn't the reason, then surely that wouldn't matter to them.

In a way, I'm disappointed. At first, the idea of getting Paul Rogers to sing the songs was a novelty. It was good to hear the songs live, and to give Brian May and Roger Taylor the chance to perform with a singer in front of them. But now they've gone on to record a new album (which I've not bought). I do wish someone would take them to one side and say "enough is enough - stop using the Queen name now, please"

I had this discussion with a couple of friends last Saturday night. Black Sabbath without Ozzy is not Black Sabbath. Iron Maiden without Bruce Dickinson is not Iron Maiden. And Queen without Freddie Mercury is absolutely, definitely not Queen!

It's not that in all of these cases, the frontman is the only key member of the band (even with Queen I could argue that's true) but a great band is the sum of the parts. If you take one of those parts away, you don't have the band anymore. A band is not a musical in which the cast may change, but the roles don't. I great band is the coming together of great musicians. And if you take one of those musicians away (and replace them, perhaps) then you may end up with another great band - but it simply won't be the original!

Of course, this leads us nicely onto Pink Floyd. And this is where my argument starts to fall down. A potted history in case you've been living in a cave and never heard of Pink Floyd. The band forms - Roger Waters, Syd Barrett, Rick Wright and Nick Mason. Syd loses the plot a bit (one of the great tragedies of music!) and is gradually replaced by David Gilmour. They go on to record some stunning music in the 1970s. Then in the eighties Roger Waters gets a bit of a God complex and they all fall out. It ends up in court, and the outcome is that David Gilmour wins the right to carry on using the Pink Floyd name without Roger Waters being involved.

Now, at Live8, the "classic Floyd line-up" of Gilmour, Waters, Wright and Mason got back together. It was magical. It was fantastic. It put everyone else that day to shame. But was it actually Pink Floyd. In my mind it was. In my mind, the classic Floyd line-up is the Dark Side of the Moon line-up, and so yes - these guys really could call themselves Pink Floyd. But if you take my arguments from above, then you couldn't actually call this line-up Pink Floyd because it didn't have Syd.

So maybe there is room in my mind for bands to morph through various incarnations. And maybe this latest Queen "thing" is simply another incarnation. Maybe Paul Rogers is to Queen what David Gilmour is to Pink Floyd. (Yeah Right!) Or maybe not.

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