Monday, March 28, 2005


I love twisted collisions of music. The early 90s techno mix of Ace Of Spades. The bootleg mash-up that combines the vocal of Hit Me Baby One More Time with the music of Smack My Bitch Up. Rodeohead, a fast-fiddling down-home country medley of Radiohead songs.

So I love Beatallica too. They take the music of a Beatles song, play it in the style of Metallica, and do a lyric that hybridises the two. Tracks include Leper Madonna, For Horsemen, and ...And Justice For All My Loving.

There is the thorny issue of copyright, though parody is allowed, and Beatallica surely qualifies as that. Beatallica saw interviews where James and Lars from Metallica said they loved it, and whilst they hadn't heard from the Beatles camp, they understood Paul and Ringo have a good sense of humour.

But in the murky swamps of the music industry, it's not down to the people who merely wrote and recorded the originals. It's the record company lawyers you've gotta watch for. On February 17th Beatallica got slapped with a lawsuit by Sony, the miserable shitbags.

Record companies always tell us that fileshare and suchlike is 'stealing from the artists' cos they know we can't be swayed by the more accurate 'possibly taking a bit of money from the overpaid cokehead lawyers'.

'Taking from the artist'? Tom Robinson says 'In my last 15 years as a recording and touring musician I would estimate that no more than 5% of my gross income has been paid to me by a record company in the form of royalties for records sold.'

And in Beatallica's case, exactly what the fuck were Sony supposed to have lost out on? Their cease-and-desist letter claims 'substantial and irreparable injury'. But Beatallica gave their tracks away as free downloads. There was no money made by anyone.

And they're metal covers, it's hardly going to detract from Beatles sales. Who would say, 'well, I've downloaded Got To Get You Trapped Under Ice so I don't need to buy Revolver now'?.

There's not one copy of a Beatles record gone unsold because of Beatallica, whereas I wouldn't mind betting a few people have actually got more into the Beatles songs because of it. If anything, Sony should thank Beatallica.

Metallica, to their credit, got their kickass lawyers on to Sony, and whilst nobody's saying exactly what went on, Beatallica have just been told they can put their site back up soon, and forget about that compensation stuff.

Beatallica have promised there'll be a new song when it comes back online in a week or two, with thirteen different versions with vocals done in different languages. Go bookmark their site.

Or, in the meantime, you can find the tracks on lots of P2P filshare programs (my fave is Soulseek). You know, the kind of thing that Metallica sued for sharing music for free.

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