I admit it — I don't like cover bands. In fact I've never heard a cover band that can substitute for the original record. My wife tells me I can't appreciate cover bands because I don't dance, and she's right on that score; every time I attempt to gyrate, I feel like either a geek or a freak.
But honestly, when you're closing in on your fifties and you're still cranking out covers of "Satisfaction" and Billy Joel tunes, what does that say about your musical trajectory? Two words: prolonged adolescence.
Don't get me wrong. I have no problems with older musicians (I'd never knock B.B., Mick, or Macca!) or anyone attempting to integrate an occasional well-chosen cover into a repertoire comprising mainly original material. The Beatles, the Stones, Springsteen — they've all covered some classics. The difference was a distinctive style and the musicians' ability to put their own spin on the material.
Because I'm not one to criticize without offering some suggestions, here are a few tips to help enhance your artistic integrity:
1. For chrissakes, learn some new songs! And please, drop "Play That Funky Music White Boy" from your set list. It was a crappy song to begin with. It isn't getting any better with age.
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2. Try a different spin. The 18 Wheelers stand out because they've got a country connection. Or take a tip from the Fabulous Shuttle Lounge. This act sets itself apart with the band members' outrageous getups, a reputation for wacky and risqué stage shows, an irreverent and self-deprecating sense of humor, and an overall attitude that teeters on a fine line between music and mayhem.
3. Show some ambition and write some songs of your own. Those lounge lizards of Mr. Nice Guy recently released an album of original material. Very nice, guys!
4. If you're a lead singer, don't prance about as if people are there to see you. You didn't write that Doobie Brothers song; you're only attempting to sing it. And don't start your intro with "C'mon, babies!" We're not your babies and nobody's claiming to be your offspring.
Just remember: This is merely a good-natured nudge. Whatever you do, don't go running for covers.