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Old 03-10-2019, 02:23 PM
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Bands with one great musician


Probably not the best title but I will try to explain better.

Try to name bands where one member is a significantly better musician than the rest of the band. Yes it’s subjective and there maybe some “yes he is” “no he isn’t” but that’s half the fun. Let’s have it be true bands and not backing groups for one star.

I’ll start with Winger. I see them as a typical hair metal band with a pretty boy singer and nothing special. But on drums is Rod Morgenstein. He’s an amazing drummer who started with The Dixie Dregs and then with the Steve Morse Band. He’s also a music professor at the Berklee School of Music.

Although I don’t know the band well it seems that Level 42 is similar. A competent pop band but Mark King is a great bass player.
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Old 03-10-2019, 02:33 PM
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Nine Inch Nails is almost literally one guy who brings others along with him. I'm sure all of them are talented, but Trent Reznor plays most(if not all) of the music on the albums.

Soulfly is a similar situation, where Max Cavalera is more or less in a solo band. I mean, none of the band has stayed totally consistent except him.
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Old 03-10-2019, 02:41 PM
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I wonder if it's fair to mention Wings in this context. It's not as though his bandmates weren't good musicians, but Paul McCartney certainly overshadowed them and was the main draw of the band.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:01 PM
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Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:03 PM
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Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
So which one is the great musician?
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:04 PM
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Are we talking strictly musicianship or overall talent?

If it's the latter, John Fogerty was the driving force behind Creedence Clearwater Revival -though not regarded as an elite musician.

He wrote every one of the band's hits, arranged them, sang lead and backing vocals and played lead/rhythm guitar.

Then you can take the above text and replace "John Fogerty" and "Creedence Clearwater Revival" with "Robert Smith" and "The Cure" for answer number two.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:08 PM
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Are we talking strictly musicianship or overall talent?

If it's the latter, John Fogerty was the driving force behind Creedence Clearwater Revival -though not regarded as an elite musician.

He wrote every one of the band's hits, arranged them, sang lead and backing vocals and played lead/rhythm guitar.

Then you can take the above text and replace "John Fogerty" and "Creedence Clearwater Revival" with "Robert Smith" and "The Cure" for answer number two.
Well there are no hard and fast rules but I’m thinking more along the lines of musicianship. What are the bands where one member clearly outshines the others on their instrument.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:09 PM
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So which one is the great musician?
Seriously. I can think of at least three.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:12 PM
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Seriously. I can think of at least three.
So it doesn’t really fit in the thread right? I’ve seen the band live and although I can argue how great they are compared to other musicians, I think the level of musicianship within the band is pretty equal. There is no arguing that Neil is a great songwriter but that’s a whole different issue.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:41 PM
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So which one is the great musician?
Ralph Molina.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:44 PM
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2 bands off the top of my head with great guitarists are Van Halen and Living Colour. The rest of the members in each band are good but not exceptional talents.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:51 PM
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Jimi Hendrix Experience. Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell were not in his league, of course, and toward the end Hendrix was doing the bass parts in the studio instead of Redding.

Geoge Thorogood and the Destroyers.

The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band.

In all cases, the lead musician was amazing and the background group just filled out the sound.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:53 PM
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Depending on which incarnation of the band, I nominate Genesis.

When they were a trio: Tony Banks is a good keyboardist, but not an AWESOME keyboardist. Mike Rutherford is an ok bassist, and a not-so-great guitarist. Phil Collins is an AWESOME drummer.

Go back in time, however, and Genesis doesn't fit, because Steve Hackett is an AWESOME guitarist.

Marillion is another one. They've been one of my favorite bands for more than 30 years. They are definitely one of those sum-is-greater-than-the-parts bands; their strongest point is their songwriting, not their musicianship. I've never been under the illusion that any of the band members are exceptional at their instruments... except their bassist, Pete Trewavas. And I don't think I realized how good he is until he started playing with Transatlantic.
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:04 PM
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Jimi Hendrix Experience. Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell were not in his league, of course, and toward the end Hendrix was doing the bass parts in the studio instead of Redding. . . .
Mitch Mitchell was an excellent drummer and highly regarded as such. I don't know who would be in Hendrix's "league." It was kind of a league of one.
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:36 PM
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Mitch Mitchell was an excellent drummer and highly regarded as such. I don't know who would be in Hendrix's "league." It was kind of a league of one.
I’d argue Mitch is in the same league, or close enough. Dude is one of the iconic rock drummers.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:28 PM
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Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols. Steve Jones was an ok guitarist who knew some chords and was good in stealing riffs (and equipment), Paul Cook a decent drummer, Johnny Rotten not a musician at all, but Matlock wrote the songs (that were not covers) and was clearly the musical leader and backbone of the band. When he got replaced by another non-Musician, it terribly showed.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:32 PM
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Oh, and their rivals, the Clash: Strummer, Jones and Simonon were all competent enough for a punk band and clearly got better with the times, but none of them could hold a candle to Topper Headon's drumming.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:43 PM
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I was going to say Neil Young and Creedence. Already taken. As my brother in law once said, "If you can think of it, someone else already has."
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:50 PM
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So it doesn’t really fit in the thread right? I’ve seen the band live and although I can argue how great they are compared to other musicians, I think the level of musicianship within the band is pretty equal. There is no arguing that Neil is a great songwriter but that’s a whole different issue.
I'll disagree with that. I've seen Neil live about 20 times so excuse the "fanboy" bias. But Crazy Horse, as a band, is great. But other than Neil, not great musicians. David Crosby once said, after singing along with them on Cinnamon Girl, that Billy Talbot was making mistakes - "After 30 years, he still doesn't know it!"

But it works.

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Old 03-10-2019, 07:53 PM
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2 bands off the top of my head with great guitarists are Van Halen and Living Colour. The rest of the members in each band are good but not exceptional talents.
I’m definitely with you on Van Halen. Living Colour I have to think about. I think they’re all pretty good.

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Marillion is another one. They've been one of my favorite bands for more than 30 years. They are definitely one of those sum-is-greater-than-the-parts bands; their strongest point is their songwriting, not their musicianship. I've never been under the illusion that any of the band members are exceptional at their instruments... except their bassist, Pete Trewavas. And I don't think I realized how good he is until he started playing with Transatlantic.
I’m definitely going to have to disagree with you there. When ever the topic of underrated guitar players comes up I always say Steve Rothery. I put him up there with David Gilmour for having great melodic phrasing during solos. I don’t know a lot of their recent work but his guitar playing on the old albums with Fish was fantastic.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:57 PM
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I'll disagree with that. I've seen Neil live about 20 times so excuse the "fanboy" bias. But Crazy Horse, as a band, is great. But other than Neil, not great musicians. David Crosby once said, after singing along with them on Cinnamon Girl, that Billy Talbot was making mistakes - "After 30 years, he still doesn't know it!"

But it works.
I agree about the band. I’m saying Neil isn’t a great musician. He’s a much better acoustic player than electric. And nobody plays a one note solo quite like him. But in pure musician skills he’s nothing special. His strength comes from the songs he writes not for how he plays them. In fact in the question I posed I think CSN&Y fits. Stills is clearly the best musician of the bunch. Of course that’s muddied up a bit because throughout the years in different incarnations they’ve always had excellent musicians behind them as well.
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:24 PM
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. . .David Crosby once said, after singing along with them on Cinnamon Girl, that Billy Talbot was making mistakes - . . ..
Really? The auteur of Almost Cut My Nose Hair said that? Devastating!
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:27 PM
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We R.E.M. fans didn't realize just what a musical wizard Bill Berry was until he left the band. Sure, he's an OK drummer, but he was also the band's honest-to-goodness songwriter, as evidenced by their early vs. later material.

And then there's Nirvana. Who thought, back in the early 1990s, that the DRUMMER was really the band's true heart, soul, and TALENT?

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Old 03-10-2019, 08:34 PM
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I agree about the band. I’m saying Neil isn’t a great musician. He’s a much better acoustic player than electric. And nobody plays a one note solo quite like him. But in pure musician skills he’s nothing special. His strength comes from the songs he writes not for how he plays them. In fact in the question I posed I think CSN&Y fits. Stills is clearly the best musician of the bunch. Of course that’s muddied up a bit because throughout the years in different incarnations they’ve always had excellent musicians behind them as well.
I think he is a great musician. Not by technique. But by how it sounds. Cortez the Killer*, Like a Hurricane, and his acoustic playing.

*three note solo. Many years ago I was having this same discussion with a friend. We were listening to Live Rust, and I made the point that he was not a great technical guitarist but I loved this playing anyway. And I said he was only playing three chords. My roomate, who had a room upstairs, shouted down, "But they are the right three!

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Old 03-10-2019, 08:36 PM
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We R.E.M. fans didn't realize just what a musical wizard Bill Berry was until he left the band. Sure, he's an OK drummer, but he was also the band's honest-to-goodness songwriter, as evidenced by their early vs. later material.

And then there's Nirvana. Who thought, back in the early 1990s, that the DRUMMER was really the band's true heart, soul, and TALENT?
Someone said, 10 years from now, Nirvanna will be remembered as Grohl's first band. Not sure if I agree with that but he is immensly talented.

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Old 03-10-2019, 08:39 PM
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Someone said, 10 years from now, Nirvanna will be remembered as Grohl's first band. Not sure if I agree with that but he is immensly talented.
Grohl's great, but I far preferred Kurt's songwriting. Both immensely talented in their own ways.
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:48 PM
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The Eagles were a bunch of guys and the inestimable Joe Walsh.
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:54 PM
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Someone said, 10 years from now, Nirvanna will be remembered as Grohl's first band. Not sure if I agree with that but he is immensly talented.
There's that long-running urban legend about some kid seeing a Beatles album and proclaiming, "I didn't know Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings!" Yeah, well, there are a lot of kids who are finding out that Dave Grohl was in a band before the Foo Fighters.
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Old 03-10-2019, 09:00 PM
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The Eagles were a bunch of guys and the inestimable Joe Walsh.
This is the one time I have to disagree with Lewbowsi. I like the fucking Eagles.

I also like "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul. My friends always grown when I play it, as they do for "Borderline" by Madonnna

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Old 03-10-2019, 09:13 PM
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Ten Years After with Alvin Lee and some not as talented musicians.

Ten Years Later with Alvin Lee and ???

The White Stripes with Jack White. Meg White's simplified drumming fit perfectly into the scheme of things, but in terms of skill on her instrument, she had a fraction of Mr. White's talent.

Most bands backing Johnny Winter.

Any band backing Roy Buchanan.
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Old 03-10-2019, 09:20 PM
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I also like "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul.
That is a great pop song. Always loved it. Hell, I had that album, and enjoyed almost every track on it, but "Straight Up" was the stand-out by far.
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Old 03-10-2019, 09:31 PM
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Dire Straits.
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Old 03-10-2019, 10:31 PM
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One might reflexively pull up Jethro Tull, except, for most of their tenure, lead guitar was handled by Martin Lancelot Barre, and while the rest of the band was rather fluid, almost all of them were excellent musicians (Jeffrey was sub-par while he was in the band, but good enough, I guess). Ian had a talent for attracting the cream of the crop for his BaRock music.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:31 AM
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One might reflexively pull up Jethro Tull, except, for most of their tenure, lead guitar was handled by Martin Lancelot Barre, and while the rest of the band was rather fluid, almost all of them were excellent musicians (Jeffrey was sub-par while he was in the band, but good enough, I guess). Ian had a talent for attracting the cream of the crop for his BaRock music.
Along with Rothery the other guitar player I will always bring up as being overlooked is Martin Barre. Some of the most pleasing guitar solos in history.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:36 AM
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I think he is a great musician. Not by technique. But by how it sounds. Cortez the Killer*, Like a Hurricane, and his acoustic playing.

*three note solo. Many years ago I was having this same discussion with a friend. We were listening to Live Rust, and I made the point that he was not a great technical guitarist but I loved this playing anyway. And I said he was only playing three chords. My roomate, who had a room upstairs, shouted down, "But they are the right three!
Just my opinion of course. If you want to be considered a great rock star all you need to know are three cords. If you want to be a great musician you better know all of them. I love Neil Young I love his songs but put him up against someone like Steve Morse? Neil is good at what he does but instrumentally it is limited. He’s a rockstar. He’s one of the greatest songwriters of all time. He is not great on his instrument. But since he’s writing the songs and his parts he doesn’t have to be.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:56 AM
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The other members of the Doors certainly weren't slouches, but Ray Manzarek was playing two instruments at the same time (organ and synth bass) live on stage, and easily outshone Krieger as the lead musician in the band.
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Old 03-11-2019, 03:12 AM
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Dire Straits.
My first instinct would be to agree but if you saw them live it was clear that Pick Withers was an excellent drummer.
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Old 03-11-2019, 04:13 AM
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...
Then you can take the above text and replace "John Fogerty" and "Creedence Clearwater Revival" with "Robert Smith" and "The Cure" for answer number two.
It must have been over 20 years since I read it, so no cite I'm afraid, but I remember an article describing Robert Smith as the first (Post)-Punk guitarist who could really play guitar.

Coincidentally, I was listening to some Siouxie and the Banshees last Saturday and was reminded that for a couple of years around 1984, Smith was that band's guitarist in parallel, with being The Cure's leader/songwriter/lead guitarist. That's pretty impressive as both bands were very active at the time.
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Old 03-11-2019, 04:20 AM
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That is a great pop song. Always loved it. Hell, I had that album, and enjoyed almost every track on it, but "Straight Up" was the stand-out by far.
I'd go as far as saying that it has one of the catchiest choruses of the whole 80s. And that groove... Great song, really.

Borderline is also good. Not as good but good.
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Old 03-11-2019, 08:33 AM
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Depending on which incarnation of the band, I nominate Genesis.

When they were a trio: Tony Banks is a good keyboardist, but not an AWESOME keyboardist. Mike Rutherford is an ok bassist, and a not-so-great guitarist. Phil Collins is an AWESOME drummer.

Go back in time, however, and Genesis doesn't fit, because Steve Hackett is an AWESOME guitarist.
As much as I would love to bag on Tony Banks (in my opinion he's the primary reason Hackett left the band) I have to disagree with you here. Banks is an amazing keyboard player, not to mention he wrote or co-wrote about 75% of the songs in the early post-Gabriel era. When they were a trio, Banks and Collins we're pretty much equals talent-wise, with Rutherford a distant third.
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Old 03-11-2019, 08:34 AM
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These may not all exactly fit the OP's "one great musician" criterion -- some of these are more cases where a band's instrumental virtuosity is heavily tilted towards one musician.

Drummers:
Stewart Copeland, The Police
Danny Carey, Tool
Gina Shock, The Go-Gos
Terry Bozzio, Missing Persons

Bassists:
Les Claypool, Primus
Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Billy Sheehan, Mr. Big (by a mile)
Larry Graham, Sly and the Family Stone

Guitarists:
Slash, Guns N' Roses
Terry Kath, Chicago
Craig Chaquico, Starship
Warren DeMartini, Ratt

Keyboardists:
Keith Emerson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Ron Argent, Argent
The aforementioned Ray Manzarek, also by a mile

...

If Prince and The Revolution counts as "a band" ... well, that one would be obvious

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Old 03-11-2019, 08:58 AM
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The other members of the Doors certainly weren't slouches, but Ray Manzarek was playing two instruments at the same time (organ and synth bass) live on stage, and easily outshone Krieger as the lead musician in the band.
I'm a keyboardist/pianist, and what Ray was doing is what any competant keyboardist would be able to do in terms of technical ability. Just because he's playing two separate keyboards doesn't make it harder, and organists/pianists are used to playing bass in the left hand. I mean, that's what we do. The bass parts he played often (I would say always, but I'm hedging here in case there's a song I'm forgetting) were very simple parts, as well.

That said, I would agree that he was probably the musician most responsible for the sound of the Doors. I think Krieger was the better instrumentalist, though. Certainly, overall as musicians, I'd put them on par with each other; actually, I may rank Krieger higher.

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Old 03-11-2019, 09:01 AM
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As much as I would love to bag on Tony Banks (in my opinion he's the primary reason Hackett left the band) I have to disagree with you here. Banks is an amazing keyboard player, not to mention he wrote or co-wrote about 75% of the songs in the early post-Gabriel era. When they were a trio, Banks and Collins we're pretty much equals talent-wise, with Rutherford a distant third.
Of the prog rock bands (which, admittedly, I'm not the biggest fan of as a genre), Tony Banks is by far my favorite keyboardist. I think he was an excellent musician.
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Old 03-11-2019, 09:20 AM
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Being one of my favorites of all time, it pains me to say Blue Oyster Cult. Buck Dharma is a guitarist's guitarist that any band would envy. Everyone else in the band are mere working professionals. Bouchard does pull out some tasty bass lines, but still isn't on that transcendent level.
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Old 03-11-2019, 09:43 AM
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These may not all exactly fit the OP's "one great musician" criterion -- some of these are more cases where a band's instrumental virtuosity is heavily tilted towards one musician.

Drummers:
Stewart Copeland, The Police
Boy, I don't know about that. Andy Summers is a brilliant guitarist. In the Police, though, the music didn't allow him to shine because it was more rock/ska than his native jazz. Finding success that way might make him seem less than Copeland - who was brilliant. His hi-hat work is astonishing - but it's just a quirk of what brought them both to prominence.
  #46  
Old 03-11-2019, 10:27 AM
pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance View Post
Boy, I don't know about that. Andy Summers is a brilliant guitarist. In the Police, though, the music didn't allow him to shine because it was more rock/ska than his native jazz. Finding success that way might make him seem less than Copeland - who was brilliant. His hi-hat work is astonishing - but it's just a quirk of what brought them both to prominence.
I had thought of the Police initially as well, but Summers made me rethink it and then disqualify it (at least for myself.) I dare say, though, as much as I dislike Sting, I’m not sure the Police would have worked as well as they did with anyone else. So that was another point not in favor of nominating them for this thread.

For drummers, I also thought of Smashing Pumpkins, but Billy’s songwriting and general musicianship also disqualified them for me. Plus I do love his guitar parts. That said, I would put Chamberlin as one the greatest rock drummers of all time, but I’m not sure I’d put Billy on a greatest songwriter or guitarist list. Still, I’m hesitant, because while Jimmy has great chops and feel, Billy’s songwriting put him in a position where it fit very well and could be showcased.

Last edited by pulykamell; 03-11-2019 at 10:29 AM.
  #47  
Old 03-11-2019, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond View Post
These may not all exactly fit the OP's "one great musician" criterion -- some of these are more cases where a band's instrumental virtuosity is heavily tilted towards one musician.

Drummers:
Stewart Copeland, The Police
Danny Carey, Tool
Gina Shock, The Go-Gos
Terry Bozzio, Missing Persons

Bassists:
Les Claypool, Primus
Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Billy Sheehan, Mr. Big (by a mile)
Larry Graham, Sly and the Family Stone

Guitarists:
Slash, Guns N' Roses
Terry Kath, Chicago
Craig Chaquico, Starship
Warren DeMartini, Ratt

Keyboardists:
Keith Emerson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Ron Argent, Argent
The aforementioned Ray Manzarek, also by a mile

...

If Prince and The Revolution counts as "a band" ... well, that one would be obvious
Gotta disagree on Primus, Chili Peppers, and ELP. All three have amazing drummers, right up there in musicianship with the member you listed.

Slash/Guns 'N Roses is the perfect call, though!
  #48  
Old 03-11-2019, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by GESancMan View Post
Gotta disagree on Primus, Chili Peppers, and ELP. All three have amazing drummers, right up there in musicianship with the member you listed.
Carl Palmer has an excellent reputation, to be sure. It's not that the other players are lousy or even "less than great" IMHO ... it's that Claypool, Flea, and Emerson are just that good. Same for Copeland vs. Andy Summers and Sting ... though I cop to unfamiliarity with Summers' jazz work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GESancMan View Post
Slash/Guns 'N Roses is the perfect call, though!
Especially in the Appetite for Destruction line-up. Matt Sorum was not on Slash's level as an instrumentalist but Sorum was a major step up from Steven Adler, who was losing a battle against heroin addiction at the time.
  #49  
Old 03-11-2019, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by GESancMan View Post
Tony Banks is a good keyboardist, but not an AWESOME keyboardist.
Them's fighting words.
  #50  
Old 03-11-2019, 12:02 PM
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The Doors. Robbie Krieger was a great guitarist
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