Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Jimi Hendrix estate wasn't pleased with a Devo video. But what does the Bob Marley estate like?

I'm surprised that I've never told this story in the Empoprise-MU blog before, since it's certainly been top of mind for years.

Several years ago, Devo released a video compilation entitled "The Complete Truth About De-Evolution," covering the period from the band's origins to the Smooth Noodle Maps album. In addition to historical material, the collection includes official Devo videos that were released during the period. Obviously "Whip It" (the band's one massive hit) is included, along with other Devo-authored originals, but the collection also includes Devo covers of songs by others. Some of these covers offer notable differences from the originally recorded versions; Devo's cover of the Rolling Stones song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," for example, brought the band a lot of attention. The collection also includes two other Devo covers: "Worried Man," and "Are You Experienced?"

Well, if you have the original Laserdisc version of the collection, you have all three cover songs.

If you, like I, have the DVD version, one of those songs is missing.

The Rhino Records DVD ... received much criticism from fans of the band ... because of the ... omission of the video for "Are U Experienced?." A comment on the back cover of the DVD addresses this: "DEVO regrets that 'Are U Experienced?' is not included in the program. The current executors of the Jimi Hendrix estate were determined to prove to us the old adage - 'To seek permission is to seek denial'."

However, if you want to see the excluded video, you can go to YouTube.

If you watch the video, you will see some black 80s hip-hop kids who run into a mysterious artifact from the past - a peace sign. The scene transitions to a lab, where four of the members of Devo look respectably scientific. Mark Mothersbaugh, however, wearing the peace sign with a Sonny Bono haircut, goes through strange bodily transformations. The Jimi Hendrix estate presumably took notice when a black hippie, looking like you-know-who, emerged from a coffin and played a guitar solo for some really groovy chicks and dudes.

Or perhaps the estate noticed the line that Mothersbaugh added to the song - something that clearly wasn't in the original:

Not necessarily beautiful, but mutated!

In summary, a perfect Devo-esque sendup of the generation of peace and love - and if you know Devo's creative origins, you'll understand why Devo has this attitude. Gerald Casale was at his school, Kent State University, one day:

As I ran from them I wheeled around in the direction of hideous, mass screaming to see Allison Krause laying on the ground, a huge pool of blood spreading out around her, coagulating in the bright heat of the sun. My mind snaps.

Devo wasn't the only one to turn on peace and love - the National Lampoon crowd did with "Lemmings" also. But Kent State ensured that the 1960s peace and love message wouldn't resonate with Devo's inner consciousness.

Unfortunately, Devo's video take on the Hendrix song apparently didn't resonate with the inner consciousness of Hendrix estate.

Because of this, some Devo fans - well, at least one of them - have been watching the Hendrix estate like a hawk. If the executors object to jokes about the man, exactly what DO they endorse?

While we're waiting on that, another 1960s cultural icon who died early has his own estate managing his family's affairs, and they have come up with an interesting endorsement.

Reggae legend Bob Marley’s name is being used to market an international cannabis brand after a tie-up between the singer’s family and US private equity group Privateer Holdings.

The product will be sold as “Marley Natural” in a deal which Privateer claims will “honour the life and legacy” of the Jamaican behind hits including I Shot the Sheriff and No Woman, No Cry. It will also tap into the Jamaican's “belief in the benefits of cannabis”.

The products are due to come on to the market in 2015 in areas where cannabis use has been legalised.

The messages that I have read from the private equity group concentrate on the healing powers of the herb, but don't delve into the religious significance that the herb held for Marley.

No, Marley didn't just smoke weed because it felt good. Marley was a practicing Rastafarian:

Ganja is considered the "wisdom weed" by Rastafarians, as its use helps one to gain wisdom. Rastafarians use it as a part of a religious rite and as a means of getting closer to their inner spiritual self, Jah (God) and Creation.

Ganja is also seen by Rastafarians as the herb of life mentioned in the Bible. Rastafarians use of ganja is justified by the following Psalms 104:14 that says, "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle and herb for the service of man, that he may bring forth food out of the earth." Rastafarians also say it was found growing at the grave of King Solomon in the Bible.

Recent political initiatives in the United States have provided an environment in which a private equity firm can actually sell marijuana - something unthinkable a mere few years ago. And the Rastafarian religion is connected to this particular marketing effort.

However, there have been other political initiatives in the United States that have gained even more traction - namely, gay marriage. And the Marley estate would be hard-pressed to cash in on that.

If you are Rasta you would not be homosexual, yet if you were homosexual you might 'claim' to be a Rasta

But what of the Hendrix estate? While Jimi was known to partake of a substance or two, the official Hendrix estate merchandising arm isn't selling Purple Haze potions yet. It has stuck to album reissues, calendars, books, and the like.

At least for now.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

So this came up (Taking Tiger Mountain)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bozell's headquarters location is mentioned in a hit song

Louis F. Davis, Jr. was an Ohio native who attended a conference at the University of Nebraska, and ended up getting a job there. The job? To conduct and arrange a version of "Hair" that could be performed in a dinner theater setting. Originally slated to last for eight weeks, the show ended up playing for six months. At its conclusion, Davis made a promise to himself:

[Davis] made himself another promise at the time – that he would try anything except writing country music.

Protecting himself from such a cruel fate, he ended up accepting a job at an Omaha, Nebraska advertising agency, Bozell & Jacobs (known today as simply Bozell). There he made the acquaintance of the firm's senior vice president and creative director, a man named William Fries. Fries and Davis collaborated on a series of commercials that would change both of their lives. You see, the commercials starred a character named C.W. McCall. Fries described what happened after the commercials began to air:

“As soon as the spots started to air, people began writing letters to the Metz Baking Company wanting to know more about C.W. McCall and Mavis and this little soap opera that was going on,” Fries reminisced. “It was just amazing. Fan clubs were springing up and people were calling into TV and radio stations wanting to know when the spots were going to air.”

The popularity resulted in the release of a limited edition record by the Metz Baking Company that sold 30,000 copies. The record? "The Old Home Fill-er-Up an’ Keep-on-a-Truckin’ CafĂ©."

However, most of us are familiar with C.W. McCall from a record that came out a couple of years later called "Convoy." The record includes a hidden tribute to the town that Fries and Davis then called home. You see, the convoy kept on getting longer and longer, until at the end of the song, the following conversation took place over the radio:

Ah, 10-4, Pig Pen, what's your twenty? OMAHA? Well, they oughta know what to do with them hogs out there fer shure.

Fries ended up in Colorado, and Chip Davis ended up creating Mannheim Steamroller (yeah, them) - while remaining in Nebraska.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Is Amanda Bynes mentally ill...or are we?

Over the last several weeks - no, the last several years - much virtual ink has been spilled over the plight of Amanda Bynes. She's exhibited erratic behavior. She's used Twitter as a worldwide therapy session, ranging from making accusations about various people, to declaring whether she, or other people, are pretty or ugly.

One morning the reality of Bynes was so disturbing that I shut off Twitter and listened to the radio. Perhaps it would be nice to get away from all of the negative reality.

So this song popped up that declared that it's "all about that bass," in an effort to declare that negative body image messages are demeaning. Or, to put it another way, if you're not skinny, that doesn't mean that you're ugly.

This was followed by another song in which the protagonist spent a lot of time hiding in her apartment, binge eating, and throwing up in her bathtub. But then we get to the joyous chorus:

You're gone and I gotta stay
High all the time
To keep you off my mind
Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh

So I went back to the less depressing reality of Twitter - at least Bynes talked about English legal affairs on occasion. (I won't bother to link to the tweet; she'll delete it soon anyway.)

P.S. Since this is a music blog, it's worthwhile to at least touch upon Bynes' musical talents. (No, this doesn't count.) Apparently, some of her younger years were spent on stage in productions of "Annie" and "The Music Man," among others, but I couldn't find a record of the parts that she played in those musicals.

Monday, November 3, 2014

More on Taylor Swift - and Disney - from Daniel Messer

In addition to the points that I made in my recent post - namely, that some artists can make more money from continuous streaming than they can from a single non-repeatable purchase - I ran across some other points from Daniel Messer. The subtitle on his post about Swift's removal of her songs from Spotify? "That'll Stop That Piracy."

Swift herself has been an outspoken critic of music piracy and streaming services, which is funny because my paying for Spotify means I’d never had to pirate a Taylor Swift song. (Not that I’d want to, but if the need was there….)

But it doesn't just end with music services. Messer used to work in a library, where customers could check out popular DVDs - such as Disney's "The Lion King." In fact, customers checked out the DVDs so much that they got worn out. When the library wanted to replace the DVDs, it ran into a little problem.

We couldn’t buy a new copy of The Lion King if we wanted to because it was “in Disney’s vaults” and not for sale at that time. Disney used to pull this in order to create false scarcity and keep the demand, and prices, high for their content.

Messer then posted three sentences. One will bring tears to your eyes. The other two will bring tears to Disney's eyes.

I watched disappointed kids walk away from the desk, being consoled by their parents. “Don’t worry, honey. We’ll just go home and download it or something.”

If you can't get something one way, and you really really really want it, you'll get it another way.

Taylor, somewhere some young girl is crying - and learning what "ripping" is.

So are you listening to Taylor Swift now? (Swift vs. Spotify)

In a post last week, I noted how listening habits had changed over the years, and that people who used to buy records or 8-track tapes now stream their music, paying for the privilege one way or another (either via a monthly fee, or by listening to ads). I also noted that if someone really likes a particular song, then the artist can make more from a streaming model than could be made by buying the song.

Taylor Swift is not convinced.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The Shake It Off singer hasn’t been too keen on sharing her music with Spotify. Swift’s most recent album, 1989, wasn’t on the service, and she initially held off on allowing Spotify to stream her 2012 album, Red. But the 24-year-old, whose music seems to have its own copyright patrol service, had been showing signs that she wouldn’t work with Spotify since July....

Needless to say, Spotify is arguing that Swift made a mistake when she pulled most of her songs off of Spotify.

We love Taylor Swift, and our more than 40 million users love her even more – nearly 16 million of them have played her songs in the last 30 days, and she’s on over 19 million playlists.

TIME estimates that a leading artist such as Swift could make hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in song streams for a new album. That revenue, of course, is now denied to Swift, at least for now. This may be a stunt to get a higher royalty, or perhaps Swift is never ever ever ever coming back to Spotify.

Is Swift's VEVO page next?