Friday, March 06, 2009

Fair Use.

Here's an addendum to the previous post.

Tim Jarrett wrote this comment: "A 'who's who' of illegal audio sampling, including a version of Negativland U2 track that replaces the U2 samples with synths and kazoos, is available for download on the Illegal Art page. "

And he's right: that page is terrific, and there is one of the tracks. But then I got to thinking about another track I recalled from the original 1991 EP, so I went digging through my trove of cassettes, until I found one where I had copied things from the WXYC library. (I still have wet dreams about that library. . . .) Anyway, both tracks are called "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," and they are distinguished by their parenthetical markers: "(1991 a capella mix)" and "(Special Edit Radio Mix)." The track on the Illegal Art compilation is, as best as I can tell, the actual "(Special Edit Radio Mix)" as it appeared on the original EP. In other words, this track had the synths and kazoo originally. The things coming out of Casey Kasem's mouth rendered this track unplayable on the radio station, though I believe some DJs probably played it late at night. . . .

The other track, the "(1991 a capella mix)," also has Casey Kasem introducing U2 to a wider public: he keeps repeating "The letter U and the numeral 2." And then there is a guy with a dorky voice speaking and playing around with the lyrics to the song, and making them sound completely ridiculous. After a while, the whole thing gets very surreal, and transitions into more samples of Casey Kasem talking about what he can and cannot say on the radio.

That both of these tracks both discuss what can and cannot appear on the radio, and that we were not allowed to play them, and then that the whole EP was recalled were ironies not missed on us at the time.

Then, of course, the lawsuit became the basis of a lot of thinking and writing about sampling, fair use, intellectual property--and these issues are obviously still alive today.

Anyway, it turns out I was wrong when I said you could not hear these things anymore, because Negativland in 2001 released a new (legalized) album that includes both these tracks. Whereas the original EP was called "U2"--which was part of the problem as far as Island Records was concerned--the new one is called "These Guys Are from England and Who Gives a Shit," referring to one of the derisive comments Casey Kasem made about the Irish band now known round the world. And that new album is in surprisingly wide distribution.

So now will you excuse me? I need to go order my copy of the new CD.

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