I play generally older mainstream music in a cover band. I like playing "jam" songs like Blue Suede Shoes, Johnnny B. Goode in which everybody plays whatever he feels is appropriate. It's fun to create (and regularly experiment/change) your own part. On other songs (perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of them), however, I really like to work my butt off and figure out and imitate exactly what the bassist is playing on the recording. I also usually figure out all vocal harmonies (since I also sing) and drum parts too. I feel that this work (which is sometimes a ton of work) has been of enormous benefit to me. My "vocabularly" has increased a lot over the years and now I can usually pick out details quickly. Problem is, my bandmates put only modest emphasis on critically listening to recorded parts and sometimes don't even attempt to emulate recorded parts that I feel are worthwhile. Thus, imo, rather than capturing the cool, unique qualities of some of the songs and providing lots of interesting contrast throughout the night, we tend to sound a little homogenized. I might add that not all of our songs are early rockers. We play a few blues tunes as well as some 80s and 90s rock and modern country as well. Any other cover band guys or gals feel like I do?