There are a few thought experiments that are staple in conversations among music fans. One of them is the list of 'desert island' albums you would take. It's a fun experiment, since you not only have to account for what music you love too much to ever be without, but you also have to weigh the rainbow of moods and feelings you will have to account for. It's far more difficult than just picking your ten favorite records. I've already compiled and posted that list, so let's instead focus on the second of these thought experiments; the all-star band.
For this experiment, we are tasked with filling out a band roster with our favorite musicians at each instrument. I'm going to go a step further, and try to make sure that the band I create would also be making the kind of music I would want to be listening to. It's not enough to just list my favorite instrumentalists, the band has to be cohesive enough to be something that would work. So, let's get on with this.
Rhythm Guitar/Vocals - Emerson Hart
It is no secret around these parts that Tonic is my favorite band. As such, it is natural that Emerson Hart would be the cornerstone of my band. As a singer and songwriter, Emerson is at or near the top of my personal lists. He would anchor the band with his solid acoustic and electric rhythm guitar work, while providing stirring vocals and massive songwriting talents. His style is also unobtrusive enough that the band put around him can take his songs and give them a unique spin, and not always recreate the success he has achieved already. My #1 draft pick, in this case, it the perfect choice to get the band off to a flying start.
Lead Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals - Neal Morse
Neal Morse will be the glue that allows the band to flourish. As a multi-instrumentalist, Neal will be the perfect weapon to ensure a diverse musical approach. He can play melodically rich lead guitar, he can form a guitar duo to bring the heavy rock, and he can use his world of musical knowledge to throw pianos, organs, and orchestrations into the music. His progressive chops can take the band into deeper waters, and his songwriting is unparalleled. Between he and Emerson, my band would have a nearly bottomless well of melodic creativity, as well as the voices to pull them off.
Bass - Bruce Thomas
Elvis Costello is a legend, and for good reason. But while Elvis' lyrics and melodies are what made him so, the unsung hero of those early Attractions records was Bruce Thomas. His bass playing was lyrical in its own right, bouncing up and down the neck to its own rhythm. Countless songs were driven by Bruce's bass playing, and he stands out to my mind as one of the most uniquely identifiable bassists in pop and rock. He would be able to provide ample melodic counterpoint to the guitars, and is the perfect choice to make dense, rich music.
Drums/Backing Vocals - Mike Portnoy
Perhaps an odd choice for a band that will be rooted in pop/rock, but Mike Portnoy cannot help himself but play busy. In this case, that is exactly what I want. I am not a rhythm-oriented listener, but when the time calls for it, Mike Portnoy has provided a career of fantastic patterns and fills that show he can play anything, and still sound like himself. Transatlantic is one of my favorite bands, and his intricate work in that group would work well to continue the trend of making music that is simple on formula, but complex on execution.
So that is my band. Would it ever work? There's no way of knowing that, but in my head, I can hear these players coming together well. Their individual talents seem like they would mesh, and create music that would be as close to my definition of perfection as possible. I was able to build a tenable band that includes my favorite drummer, bassist, as well as two of my favorite singers and songwriters. That's a pretty darn good achievement.
How can I go wrong?