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Is Greta Van Fleet and The Struts’ derivative rock necessary? 

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If we buy Karl Marx’s dictum of history repeating itself first as tragedy, then as farce, tribute bands and holograms certainly count as tragedy. But should highly derivative “original” bands like Greta Van Fleet and The Struts thereby be dismissed as farce?

Michigan brother-band Greta Van Fleet no doubt deserve much of the scorn heaped on their new album Anthem of the Peaceful Army (Lava/Republic). Their takeoffs on Led Zeppelin are both overt and flat. Singer Josh Kiszka unconvincingly claims to model Joe Cocker and Wilson Pickett, but every note here seems to ape Robert Plant.

Perhaps the band could grow into something more than mere homage, but for now, tracks like “The New Day” are almost inexcusably bad.

By contrast, a boisterous singalong spirit and a comical self-deprecation save showman-singer Luke Spiller and his U.K. band The Struts. If the first Struts album was a mashup of the New York Dolls and early Aerosmith, the second, Young & Dangerous (Polydor), adds calculated doses of Freddie Mercury.

Somehow, this isn’t as annoying as Greta Van Fleet, because Spiller and his mates have such a rowdy time belting out tracks like “Primadonna Like Me” and “Bulletproof Baby.”

But why must derivative original bands resurrect ‘70s styles at all? Nostalgia only takes you so far if you bring little new to the party.

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