Apparently, people are making a big deal about the Australian rock trio Wolfmother, hailing them as the return of ’70s rock and praising the band with comparisons to legendary bands. Personally, I don’t think that ’70s rock needs any help from the rockers of today.
Wolfmother’s self-titled album begins with a shout from lead singer Andrew Stockdale that made me jump. It was unexpected. The first track, “Dimension,” is reminiscent of Black Sabbath, with vocals that sound eerily like a bad Robert Plant impersonator. Song lyrics range from strongly influenced by The Doors (a trippy venture into the desert) to Jimi Hendrix (they actually use the term “purple haze” in one song).
This is common throughout the entire album, where I was reminded of classic songs I’ve known since my childhood. More than once, I looked up and said, “I know that tune (or riff, melody, etc.),” and realized that it was a Zeppelin riff. The song “Love Train” begins with familiar bongos, almost instantly recognizable as the beginning of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” The guitar riff of Wolfmother’s song “Joker and the Thief” (don’t get me started on the title/lyrics of that one) is Black Sabbath’s “Into the Void” with a sped-up tempo.
I could go on, but I’m getting a little queasy. In an interview for Rolling Stone, Stockdale says that all the influence is unintentional, and that every riff is completely their own. His claims remind me of that Harvard chick whose first novel was pulled out of bookstores after she “unintentionally” plagiarized two Megan F. McCafferty novels. We won’t be lucky enough to have this album pulled off shelves, though. Instead, Wolfmother are praised for “borrowing liberally” from ’70s greats. Yuck.
When I told my mother about Wolfmother and their apparent influences, however, she was excited. “Oh, how cool,” she said, telling me that some of the great classical composers did the same thing as an homage to musicians they admired. I guess I wouldn’t be so appalled if Stockdale had simply come out and said, “Yeah, that’s Black Sabbath’s riff. They totally rock and I wanted to pay homage.” It sounds more credible than completely denying the similarities.
If you are curious to hear Wolfmother, I suggest that you instead listen to Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Doors, older Rolling Stones or even The White Stripes (Stockdale’s voice at times is very Jack White). You’ll get the gist of Wolfmother’s music from the original composers.