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Zeppelin or Zeppelin cover band?


The original, fluffy-haired foursome. This looks like an ad for Pert Plus.

And speaking of Led Zeppelin - which was the most recent blog post on OTD for way, way too long - sorry about that, dudes, it's been a busy few weeks over here at Phoenix HQ, and we've been mulling over, rethinking, and rewriting our lists (for top albums of the year, not for Santa) - SFJ weighed in on the reunion gig in this week's New Yorker. As you probably know, we don't always agree with what the "There's no black in indie rock" proclaimer has to say, but this week he might be dead-on. An excerpt:

"In November, the English rock band the Cult announced that it planned to tour in 2008 with a band whose name starts with an 'l' and has a 'z' in it, and rumors have floated that next summer Led Zeppelin is going to play at the Bonnaroo Music Festival, in Tennessee. This might seem like a good idea, but Led Zeppelin is a cover band now, covering its own material. Without John Bonham, the band can only sound like Led Zeppelin; it can’t be Led Zeppelin. The band should turn down the money and let its record stand. The failed gigs of the nineteen-eighties and nineties have been supplanted by a triumph, and the band should be pleased to have done Ertegun proud with such a spirited performance. I look forward to any chance I get to see Plant, Page, or Jones play live. But let the songs remain."

It's a solid point - if Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic got together with a new lead singer (Kurt Cobain's long-lost second cousin or something) to play Nirvana songs, it'd be "Nirvana," not Nirvana. Same with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr - if they ever attempted a Beatles reunion, could anyone really call it The Beatles? Yet some bands - Journey, we're looking at you - continue to assuredly identify themselves by the same name, despite shifting band rosters. Which leads us to believe that the distinction between glorified cover bands (with members of the original line-up!) and the real thing is entirely circumstantial - it depends on the band, the frequency at which band members change, and which instrumentalist leaves. It seems easier to classify a band as "authentic" when they have a new drummer, rather than, say, a new lead singer. But that sounds discriminatory (bandist? Anti-drummer?), and we'd imagine that most Led Zeppelin fans would probably argue the opposite, since losing John Bonham was monumental enough to break up the band, and they have never been/will never be the same. But it doesn’t seem to be affecting ticket sales, or album sales - tickets to the reunion gig in London were going for thousands of dollars on eBay, and NME recently reported that sales of Led Zeppelin’s back catalogue have increased by 500% since they announced the show. Maybe cover bands aren't so repugnant?

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