For your tireless service on behalf of good, you have been given the power to replace the weak link in any band, past or present.
You need not be bound by practical considerations; you’re free to ignore the fact that (say) Peter Criss was the only one who could properly apply the KISS makeup. For example, you can replace Liz Phair (the singer) while keeping Liz Phair (the songwriter). How do you use this power, and why?
My answers under the fold.
Rolling Stones: Replace Mick Jagger with Otis Redding. I’ve never been a big Stones fan, largely because of Mick Jagger’s vocal style. I guess you love it or hate it.
From my perspective, virtually every Stones song would be improved by replacing his vocals with Otis Redding. Otis Redding was just dripping with passion, up and down the register. He could do howling rock better than Mick Jagger, he can do quiet better, he’s just a better singer. Plus, it might have kicked off a pattern of high-profile collaborations between soul and rock musicians.
The Minutemen: Replace D. Boon (singer) with Mike Patton, the singer from Faith No More. The Minutemen were a terrific post-punk group, but their funky stop-start style was undermined by their irredemably square lead vocals. Mike Patton is much more flexible and talented a rock singer. They could have been huge.
The White Stripes: Replace Meg White (drummer) with Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer). Meg White is a very simple drummer. I had a drummer friend point out why- she doesn’t seem to to able to separate her left arm pattern from her right arm pattern very well. Hence the long string of BOOM THWACK BOOM THWACK eighth notes on many of the White Stripes songs. It often works in context. But in a band with such minimalist sound, I’m disappointed that the drummer isn’t adding more.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, like the White Stripes, have one great guitar player, one vocalist, and one drummer. But Brian Chase fills out their songs in a way Meg White doesn’t approximate. Maybe I’d hate the result in real life, but I’d love to hear him try the same thing with a few White Stripes songs.
The Dave Matthews Band: Replace LeRoi Moore (saxophone) with any other professional saxophone player. So mediocre. Every music major at my college could play rings around the guy. Life’s not fair, I know.
Madvillian: Replace MF Doom (MC) with Rakim. This is a bit unfair, since virtually any hip-hop group could be improved by replacing the MC with Rakim, but I’ve noticed it especially with Madvillian. MF Doom has a deep voice and a non gimmicky style that occasionally fades into monotony. To my ears, he sounds a lot like Rakim without the drama.