My reaction when I heard Greta van Fleet for the first time was: “Get the fuck out of here! Are these guys for real? Am I the only one that think they sound exactly like Led Zeppelin?” Well, they sound almost like the ground breaking 70’s British band credited with inventing hard rock.Almost but not 100%.
It is scientifically impossible to emulate the late great drum master John Bonham AKA Bonzo. Not that Greta van Fleet’s drummer sucks, but God only allows one Bonzo per Eternity to be born. Even in an infinite parallel number of universes, there will only be one Bonzo. Anyway, apart from the drumming department, the rest of the bands sounds like Led Zeppelin to a tea.
My next reaction to Greta van Fleet was: “Please, can’t you guys be a bit more original? Hello, this is 2018.” Then I listened to their debut EP “From the Fires” purely out of morbid curiosity and to my own surprise I quickly became a fan. I mean what constitutes originality in 2018? Dumb auto-tune tune songs about butts and hoes? Boring navel gazing indie folk pop? Banjos, ukuleles and shit? Greta van Fleet is a breath of fresh air. This is damn good rock music. Like God or … erm… rather the Devil intended. Obviously not as good as “Led Zeppelin II” but it is a way better Led Zeppelin album than “Coda”.
In a way, I find it ironic that there is a band out there that sounds so much like Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page and pals were not shy of stealing other bands music themselves and there are numerous copyright controversies surrounding the Led Zeppelin body of work. Maybe it is Karma paying them back – a type of poetic justice.
Then again, artists using other artists’ works as templates for their own is not a new trend and it is nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, there is this undercurrent of Artistic Ubuntu that has progressed the Arts throughout the ages. Cultural cross-pollination is what gave birth to all the great genres of music from Classical music, Jazz, Blues, Rock to Metal.
The trick is, to be a good artist you have to be as crafty as a South African politician. Like Picasso once famously said: “Good Artists copy; great artists steal.” Greta Van Fleet has all the potential to be great. If your vocalist sounds exactly like a young Robert Plant, your guitarist knows how to make his Gibson SG howl and your rhythm section is as tight as South Africa’s budget you have all the right ingredients of a killer band.
Time will tell whether they will carve out their own idiosyncratic sound or whether in a year from now we will say “So long and thanks for the Led Zeppelin tracks”. For now all I can say is this: Greta van Fleet is just like vaping. We still have to wait and see whether vaping is good for you in the long run but at least it is getting people off cigarettes. We still have to wait and see whether Greta van Fleet will become great, but at least it is getting the kids off Electronic Dance Music.
If you’re not familiar with their music, crank up their song, “Highway Tune” below:
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Musician. Music Lover. Rocker. From Pretoria.