Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tribute or theft?

Back in 1987, I was a volunteer DJ at a college rock station. And I fell in love with The Ophelias' self-titled debut. The Ophelias were a short-lived college rock band from San Francisco featuring Leslie Medford on vocals. Here's "In America the Other Day," a song from that album:

Fast-forward to 2012, 25 years later. Now I'm a volunteer DJ at another college rock station, but this time I'm doing a progressive rock show. And I'm exploring the genre, listening to lots of progressive rock that I've never heard before, like Van der Graaf Generator, with Peter Hammill on vocals. And I hear this song, "Scorched Earth," from the 1975 album Godbluff:

Certainly, Leslie Medford is a fan of Peter Hammill and Van der Graaf Generator. The similarities, down to the feedback-drenched song endings, can't be a coincidence. I don't know whether to call Medford's vocal style tribute or theft.

When I first heard The Ophelias, I was impressed with the freshness of their sound. It wasn't quite as fresh as I thought, as it turns out. The same could be said for most music, I'm sure.


  1. They're both great! I wouldn't call it a rip off... certainly an homage to Hammill. I only wish more artists were influenced by Hammill.

  2. I agree! Love them both. Thank you for the comment.


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