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Various Artists

Still Wish You Were Here: A Tribute to Pink Floyd

Review by Gary Hill

I generally like things like this where an album is created by taking the track list of a famous album and having different artists reproduce the songs. This one has some amazing musicians, including members of all kinds of prog and hard rock bands along with a guitar hero (Joe Satriani) a punk drummer (Rat Scabies) and more. This is a superstar affair. It's also effective. I would say that there is only one song that really stands as tall as the original, though. Beyond that there are moments in various pieces that shine brighter than others. Still, it's always interesting and entertaining to hear this kind of variation on a known commodity, and I like this.

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Track by Track Review
Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-5)
The lineup on the opening epic is Geoff Tate (vocals), Steve Hackett (guitar), Billy Sheehan (bass), Mel Collins (flute and saxophone), Geoff Downes (keyboards) and Ian Paice (drums). The opening mellow movement gains something with the addition of flute. As it kicks into the harder rocking section later there is a bit of extra meat on the guitar sound at times. I'm generally a big fan of Geoff Tate (he is one of my favorite singers), but I'm not crazy about his sound on this tune. The song works well, but in some degree that's in spite of him. He does have some moments where his vocals work better here, though. I think maybe his voice would have been better suited to "Have a Cigar."
Welcome to the Machine
The arrangement here features vocals (Todd Rundgren), mini-moog (Rick Wakeman) and bass (Tony Levin). The dark and bleak tone of this number is preserved quite well. It feels fresh and yet faithful to the original at the same time. In some ways this feels more faithful to the original. Wakeman really brings something new to the table at times, though. The soloing late in the track is really trademark Wakeman.
Have a Cigar
This time around the lineup is James LaBrie (vocals), Steve Stevens (guitar), Patrick Moraz (keyboards), Rat Scabies (drums) and Jah Wobble (bass). The guitar and organ mix at the start of this is so tasty. The song seems faithful, but also updated as it opens and moves outward. LaBrie's vocals are so strong on this. He really nails it while also making it his own. This is definitely one of the highlights of the set. Everything about this is just about perfect. It's the one song here that rivals the original for me.
Wish You Were Here
Starting just as you would expect, this expands and modernizes the sound as it goes. It's quite strong, but perhaps not as strong in the vocal department as some of the others are. Still, it works better than some here do. The lineup here includes Rik Emmett (vocals), Joe Satriani (guitar), Edgar Froese (keyboards and synthesizers) and Carmine Appice (drums). David Ellefson is the bass player on this song. Given developments since the release of this album in March have made that a bit of an unfortunate thing. However, one could not expect anyone to have known about that in advance, and it doesn't change the performance.
Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts 6-9)
Rod Argent is the singer on this number while Steve Hillage handles the guitar. The rhythm section is provided by Ian Paice on drums and the funk king Bootsy Collins on bass. Some weirdness brings this into being. As it starts to build outward I'm reminded a bit of the Meddle album from Floyd. Eventually it starts to more closely resemble the source material. I dig some of the different flavors we hear on this number. The piece feels at once faithful and yet also expansive and exploratory. The funky bass work later is so cool.
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