Saturday, March 3, 2018

Music-Related Comments Elsewhere: At the Audiophle Man, on Vocalists

It began like this: I was following an image search to chase down the truly remarkable Roger Dean album cover for Topographic Drama - Live Across America, the recent Yes live album.

And I came across a review which when boiled down basically said that, even if it opened up the possibility of playing material from Drama, firing Jon Anderson had probably been a mistake.

Nice cover or no, I'll probably never listen to the album, but it *is* a sentiment I probably agree with. Jon Anderson is pretty irreplaceable if you're the band Yes.

But the blog host (who seems like a good bloke) went on to suggest that in pretty much all cases it's the vocalist who is irreplaceable if somebody splits.

And Jim Morrison & Layne Staley, or no, this I could not abide:

The list of bands who have had commercial or artistic success after changing their singers is a long one, and only begins with Genesis. I think of Van Halen, who did it *at least* once. No disrespect to Michael Anthony,, but that band is Eddie and Alex and whoever they want to play with.

I think of Anthrax, who fired an iconic lead singer in Joey Belladonna, hired a reasonable but hardly exemplary replacement in John Bush, and went on to make one of their best albums.

I think of Black Flag. Some people think that the band was best before it hired their longest serving vocalist.

Or if you want me to get back to prog, how about Can? Their recorded output is just about split in half when you file either by vocalist Marvin Mooney, or vocalist Damo Suzuki.

Thinking about it, I’d say that often in a band there is an irreplaceable link, without whom the band loses its identity, no matter how much the remaining members might wish it were not so. Sometimes that band member is a vocalist. Sometimes it’s not.

Beyond that, I am a little surprised at the romanticization of Jon Anderson in the article and in the comments. Iconic voice, sure, and you can argue that he is the irreplaceable link–he might be. But the whole ‘I won’t sing Drama songs’ [thing] was childish and to the touring band’s detriment. I think that his firing was sort of poetic justice after he tried to run the band as an autocrat for so many years, after he fired so many keyboardists 🙂