'Bitter Sweet' Resolution, The Case Against R. Kelly, UMG, YG, John Fahey, New Music Friday...
Matty Karas, curator May 24, 2019
quote of the day
Of course there was a huge financial cost but any songwriter will know that there is a huge emotional price greater than the money in having to surrender the composition of one of your own songs. Richard [Ashcroft] has endured that loss for many years.
rant n' rave

The next time someone asks to pay for your song or your live performance with "exposure," be thankful you aren't the VERVE, who received nothing but exposure—and maybe some grief—for their signature song through 22 years of radio play, album sales, streaming, commercials, TV and movie syncs and all other manner of moneymaking activity. No one seems to know exactly how much money RICHARD ASHCROFT and his band forfeited to the ROLLING STONES and their camp for "BITTER SWEET SYMPHONY" over the years, though Ashcroft angrily calculated it a few months ago as "god-knows-how-many-million dollars." But it's all over now. On Wednesday, Ashcroft announced, and the Stones confirmed, that MICK JAGGER and KEITH RICHARDS have signed all their "Bitter Sweet Symphony" songwriting royalties over to him and have removed their names from the songwriting credits. The Stones expressed empathy. Ashcroft showered them with compliments and gratitude. Thus ended one of the most infamous and costly sampling/plagiarism (for this was a case of both) disputes of the past 25 years. It started long before that, with one of the first great Jagger/Richards compositions, "THE LAST TIME," whose chorus the Stones brain trust appropriated, in the time-honored folk/blues tradition, from an old gospel song they'd heard via the STAPLE SINGERS. It's a song that "goes back into the mists of time," as Richards once put it, romantically, mythically and somewhat incorrectly. Trying to figure out who actually wrote that chorus somewhere in those cloudy mists is something that just wasn't done at the time. Shortly after the Stones recorded it, their manager/producer, ANDREW LOOG OLDHAM, oversaw the recording of an instrumental version for an album credited to the non-existent ANDREW OLDHAM ORCHESTRA. It's a wonderful recording, radically different from the original, that few people heard and that probably would have been forgotten in the continuing mists of time if it hadn't caught the ears, three decades later, of Richard Ashcroft. The Verve frontman had permission to sample a few notes of a string hook from the Oldham version in exchange for half the publishing of "Bitter Sweet Symphony" (mull that lopsided deal, which everyone on all sides agreed to, for a moment). And then he and the Verve, let's say, overdid it (which is itself a time-honored tradition in the worlds of rock and pop and hip-hop and you-name-it). "Bitter Sweet Symphony," musically speaking, is basically a cover of Oldham's "The Last Time." It's also one of the great rock songs of the '90s. And if five or six notes were worth half the song, well then. Oldham's and the Stones' reactions were understandable, even if they, too, were, let's say, overdone. The Verve song, a Britpop classic, paid Oldham handsomely in actual exposure but, as we have learned, that's never enough. Rolling Stones management/publishing instead took the whole damn song. And now the two principals, having enjoyed the best 20-plus years of royalties the song will ever see, have kindly returned it (or, at least, their individual shares of it). I have sympathies for the devils and angels on both sides. I'm glad for the happy ending. I can think of ways it could have been easily avoided two decades ago. But as a wise man once said, you're a slave to money and then you die, so who even wanted those millions of dollars in the first place?... ECHO IN THE CANYON, longtime music exec and first-time director ANDREW SLATER's documentary on Laurel Canyon folk-rock in the '60s, opens today. It's filled with lots of great inside stories, lots of JAKOB DYLAN (here with FIONA APPLE) and lots of men and women in LA and London freely lifting/borrowing each other's hooks and melodies without anyone getting sued, or even hurt. A helpful reminder... Business idea: Let's take one of the awful things about air travel and apply it to concerts... It's FRIDAY and that means new music from YG, FLYING LOTUS, MAVIS STAPLES, STEVE LACY, AMYL & THE SNIFFERS, BILLY RAY CYRUS, JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, BEAST COAST, CATE LE BON, NCT 127, HUNDRED WATT HEART, MONEYBAGG YO, CHRIS ORRICK, BLACK MOUNTAIN, STRAY CATS, STING, MORRISSEY, NOCTURNUS AD, EARTH, MISÞYRMING, LUCKY DAYE, LUKA PRODUCTIONS, $UICIDEBOY$ X TRAVIS BARKER, HAYDEN THORPE, PETROL GIRLS, SKINNY PELEMBE, SHAY LIA, HONEYBLOOD, FAYE WEBSTER, BILL CALLAHAN, SEBADOH, JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN and the ROCKETMAN soundtrack... RIP JAIME WEXLER and SOL YAGED... MusicREDEF is taking a long weekend for Memorial Day. We'll be back in your inbox Tuesday morning with the Song of the (First Workday of What Is Generally Accepted to Be Even Though It Isn't) Summer.

Matty Karas, curator

May 24, 2019