Saturday, September 24, 2011

A "new" U2 record: The Negativland incident

An old friend on Facebook posted this today. I hadn't thought about this in years. I think I used to have the CD and he did have the vinyl at one point. He was wondering how much that would have been worth these days which made me wince, thinking about how much all of my old music would have been worth, including a bunch of old, rare Sub-Pop vinyl... Oh well. It's all just stuff in the end.

Here's Negativland:


Negativland - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "The songs within were parodies of the group U2's well-known 1987 song, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", including kazoos and extensive sampling of the original song. The song "The Letter U And The Numeral 2" features a musical backing to an extended profane rant from well-known disc jockey Casey Kasem, lapsing out of his more polished and professional tone during a frustrating rehearsal which had gone out to many stations as raw feed and was taped by several engineers, who had been passing it around for a number of years. One of Kasem's milder comments was "These guys are from England and who gives a shit?" (U2 was actually formed in Ireland.)

U2's label Island Records quickly sued Negativland, claiming that placing the word "U2" on the cover violated trademark law, as did the song itself. Island Records also contended that the single was an attempt to deliberately confuse U2 fans, awaiting the impending release of Achtung Baby, into purchasing what they believed was a new U2 album called Negativland.

"In June 1992, R. U. Sirius, publisher of the magazine Mondo 2000, came up with an interesting idea. Publicists from U2 had contacted him regarding the possibility of interviewing Dave "The Edge" Evans, hoping to promote U2's impending multi-million dollar Zoo TV Tour, which featured found sounds and live sampling from mass media outlets (things for which Negativland had been known for some time). Sirius, unbeknownst to Edge, decided to have his friends Joyce and Hosler of Negativland conduct the interview. Joyce and Hosler, fresh from Island's lawsuit, peppered the Edge with questions regarding his ideas about the use of sampling in their new tour, and the legality of using copyrighted material without permission. Midway through the interview, Joyce and Hosler revealed their identities as members of Negativland. An embarrassed Edge reported that U2 were bothered by the sledgehammer legal approach Island Records took in their lawsuit, and furthermore that much of the legal wrangling took place without U2's knowledge: "by the time we [U2] realized what was going on it was kinda too late, and we actually did approach the record company on your [Negativland's] behalf and said, 'Look, c'mon, this is just, this is very heavy...'" Island Records reported to Negativland that U2 never authorized samples of their material; Evans' response was, "that's complete bollocks, there's like, there's at least six records out there that are direct samples from our stuff." [3]

"In August 2007, Don Joyce of Negativland provided an audio cassette copy of the original Mondo 2000 interview with Dave "The Edge" Evans to the U2 fan website The interview is freely available from this website.[4]

 "The "U2" single (along with other related material) was re-released in 2001 on a "bootleg" album entitled These Guys Are from England and Who Gives a Shit, released on "Seelard Records" (a parody of Negativland's record label Seeland Records). Negativland may have themselves been responsible for the re-release with U2 giving their blessing; although the Negativland website refers to this release as a bootleg, it is available from major retailers like Best Buy, Amazon, and Tower Records, as well as Negativland's own mail-order business." 'via Blog this'

Here is the Mondo 2000 interview:

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