The Song Remains the Same

“We’re here to arrange your flowers…”

The Song Remains the Same

I’m waiting for the reinterpretation of the reinterpretation.

Imagine, if you will, four young musicians.

Three of them are siblings growing up in a household full of KISS, Alice Cooper, and Cheap Trick vinyl. Their parents would spin the discs nightly. Everyone would be jamming to KISS Alive! and Cheap Trick at Budokan whenever there was a family road trip.

The siblings decided to start a band. They add a family friend who loves monster movies and science fiction―Godzilla and Star Wars.

It was only natural the group gravitate toward theatrics, and they’d experiment with make-up and pyrotechnics.

They name themselves Kabuki Theater and dress in costumes and create stage characters. They wear platform boots.

They have songs named “Love You to Death,” “The Green-eyed Monster,” and “Shoot for the Stars.”

The singer sounds like Paul Stanley. The guitar player moves like Rick Nielson and plays like Ace Frehley.

Their influences are obvious to anyone familiar with KISS, Alice Cooper, and Cheap Trick.

They record an EP. Their debut single, “Lovin’ You,” tops the Mainstream Rock and Active Rock charts for five weeks. They do a club tour. They go on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live.

“We’re here to arrange your flowers…”

Critics call them the return of glam rock.

What would you call them? A rip-off? Unoriginal?

Now replace KISS, Alice Cooper, and Cheap Trick with Led Zeppelin, and you have Greta Van Fleet.

I really, really want to like Greta Van Fleet. I just can’t. I can’t get over their complete and obvious rip-off of Zeppelin.

I get it, though. Plant, Page, Bonzo, and Jonesy did their best to rip off Muddy Waters and the rest of the blues they grew up with as well. Except… they added a thunderous backbeat, crunched up the Les Paul, and let a screaming banshee of a singer cut through it all. Yes, we understand their influence, but they made it their own thing. Zeppelin practically invented hard rock. Vocalist Josh Kiszka, guitarist Jake Kiszka, bassist Sam Kiszka, and drummer Danny Wagner of Greta Van Fleet aren’t really doing anything but hero worship.

There is no shame in wanting to be your idols, and make no mistake, these kids have watched The Song Remains the Same hundreds of times. Just watch the band rip through their alternate reality Led Zeppelin tune “Highway Tune” as their lead singer does the Robert Plant floppy wrist thing and hit the exact same “Ohhhh mama” lines. The problem is he’s parroting and parodying Plant. It’s annoying. He’s smirking like we are all in on the joke, but it’s not funny. It’s actually boring.

So far, these kids aren’t really improving on Led Zeppelin (can anyone really?), and there’s little reason to pay attention when a fan can crank Led Zeppelin IV and get the real thing.

I really, really want to like Greta Van Fleet. I just can’t. I can’t get over their complete and obvious rip-off of Zeppelin.

I appreciate that these kids can do a pretty faithful Zeppelin tribute band, but that’s all it is. The original songs that broke them are mostly not original, and frankly, that’s a problem. Greta Van Fleet can’t take their influences and make something unique, at least not yet. I’m waiting for the reinterpretation of the reinterpretation.

I will admit their new album, The Battle of Garden’s Gate, which came out yesterday, is better at not sounding like their heroes. Maybe these kids will eventually find their own sound.

Again, I can understand the need to want to be your favorite band, but at some point, you have to find your own voice, your own style, and your own sound. Somebody hand these kids a copy of Rock Star.

I wish them good luck. If not, they’ll become Kingdom Come.

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