East Anglia Music 2005

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The debate about bands that only play original music versus covers bands has been one that has raged for some considerable time.  There are those that say original music is the only way forward and it is what keeps music developing.  This may be true, but covers bands fall into a number of categories and they are not all to be dismissed so readily. 

In my opinion, it is important to make a distinction between tribute bands and those that seek to place their own interpretation on existing numbers.  Tribute bands make no effort to be original.  In fact, an original tribute band is a contradiction in terms as they obviously set out to be as much like their heroes as possible.  Such bands are often very clever at reproducing the look and sound of the originals and make it possible for a much larger number of people to see and hear the songs of the famous, even if they don’t have the opportunity (or money) to see the originals. 

However, there are some bands that set out to produce their own interpretation of existing material and this has its own artistic merit and validity.  Jurassic Rock, a band I had the pleasure of hearing at a fund raising event in support of Cancer Research UK in Colchester Town Hall at the weekend, are a case in point.  They play a lot of music from the ‘50s and ‘60s and retain the vibe of the original to create a really great atmosphere, but the interpretations are their own.  Tony Eaton, guitarist and singer, says that they achieve this in a number of ways.  When learning to play a song, they often do not refer to the original, but think of what the song means to them so that they come up with their own variation.  “Sometimes this doesn’t come easily”, says Tony, “So we will listen to a number of different interpretations and take something from each to come up with our own version”.  He continues, “Although we put our own slant on each song, we make a big effort to retain the original feel so that it is still recognisable”, adding, “Our interpretations tend to have a lot more “balls” than the original”.  He concludes, “After all, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley didn’t write their own songs, but no one has ever questioned their artistry”.  He has a point!

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