Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bands and Reunions: When Is A Band Not A Band?

Bob, Tommy, Chris, and Paul; The Replacements

Sunday, August 25th will mark the return of my all-time favorite band, The Replacements. Or will it? Over the years, I have heard people say that there are no reunions without the original members of a band. Recently, I have been hearing the rumblings that Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson getting together is not The Replacements. I guess I understand that stance, but if you start saying that a missing member of a band negates that bands existence, then there are a lot of bands, past and present, that should hang it up or feel like they have been living a lie. 

Are the Rolling Stones not the Rolling Stones because Brian Jones died in 1969? If not, then they have been pulling the wool over our eyes for decades, but it sure does sound like the Stones when I hear "It's Only Rock N Roll" or "Some Girls". Wilco is down to only having Jeff Tweedy and John Stirrat as band members that were there from the start. Are they no longer Wilco? 

Perhaps defining what makes a band who they are would help. For me, the creative elements have to be there and the stage presence has to be in the mix. If the main creative forces of a band are there, along with the personality I have a tough time throwing the towel in. I think Wilco is Wilco and will be as long as Jeff Tweedy is there. I think the Stones are the Stones unless Mick, Keith or Charlie hit the bricks. The Who is the Who so long as Townsend and Daltrey are there (apologies to the great Keith Moon, but he left way too soon). Led Zeppelin could still be Led Zeppelin so long as Page and Plant are involved. As with those bands (and as a hardcore fan), I don't have any problem with Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson calling themselves The Replacements. They were the main creative forces every step of the way. Tommy embodied the attitude, even after they booted his brother Bob, and Paul steered them artistically. It's their band and their band is The Replacements. Sure, it'd be sweet to see Chris Mars and Bob Stinson with them, but Bob is dead and Chris is a painter. Slim Dunlap and Steve Foley? Well, if you are against reunions that don't include original members, those guys are out. Well, they are out anyhow as Foley is dead and Slim suffered a major stroke. If you could accept them as The Replacements, then why have a problem with a couple of great musicians (drummer Josh Freese, and guitarist David Minehan) that have backed Paul in the past coming on board as members? 

I will say this in defense of those who cry foul over reunions; there are definitely times where a band isn't really a band anymore, no matter what they call themselves and even saying that I'm sure someone will be able to refute me and I'm not saying that they would be out of line. For instance, take a band like Journey. Journey without Steve Perry rings false. He and Neal Schon were the faces of the band. Are they REALLY Journey if one of them isn't around? Pink Floyd? That is another band that I just can't call by their name (despite going to see them without Waters....sue me). When Roger Waters left, I just don't see how they could go on using the name Pink Floyd. It'd be like the Beatles without John Lennon. In my opinion, the Beach Boys are not the Beach Boys without Brian Wilson. Queen without Freddie Mercury? Come on, really? I can't imagine the Beastie Boys touring without Adam Yauch and still claiming to be THAT band. 

Unless I meet an untimely demise, I will be in Chicago to see The Replacements in a few weeks. Yep, I'll be seeing The Replacements and I'll be damned happy to be there!

This will do, but I really wish Saturday Night Live had not pulled their "Bastards of Young" performance from You Tube. Tremendous and kick ass.