The most observant amongst you would likely notice that I haven’t posted anything in almost a year. If I was applying for a job and this blog was my CV you would probably ask me to explain what I’ve been doing with my gap year? The simple answer is that I’ve had no internet access other than limited 3G on my mobile phone.
As it says on the run out groove of The Smiths The Queen is Dead LP; “them was rotten days.”
Wired for Sound is back. And as much as I hate the phrase, my mind has just been blown. (Suggestions for alternative, less wanky phrases are welcome!)
So what’s going on today then? Now that I’ve been reunited with broadband and Spotify, I’ve just been listening to the bonus tracks from the latest Rolling Stones re-issue of Exile on Main Street (2010) and I am astonished to hear some very familiar music indeed. Listed as ‘So Divine’ by the Stones, this previously unreleased out take has already hit the ‘shelves’ (arguably), in the form of Aladdin’s Story by Death in Vegas: a semi-soulful gospel jangle, as found on The Contino Sessions (1999).
Now, this plagiarism may not be news to you, but I’ve heard this song a hundred times before and until now I have never seen or heard anything that linked the song to the Stones. Even in The Contino Sessions inlay the Jagger/Richards name is nowhere to be seen (see below.) The song is actually credited as being ‘written by Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes and Unknown’.
THE CHEEKY GITS!
I’m not saying that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards could use the royalties, but they were certainly ‘known’ to DiV as to being the true source of the song. Have a listen for yourself.
A band as big as the Stones not being credited as the source of the biggest piece of plagiarism I’ve ever heard is truly astonishing, especially considering the legal wrangle that faced The Verve under similar circumstances: http://recycledbeatz.tumblr.com/post/4783151146/landmark-case-rolling-stones-v-the-verve
A GQ interview with Mick whilst promoting the Exile re-issue offers little explanation of how Death in Vegas got away with it:
GQ: There are a lot of bootlegs and outtakes from the Exile period floating around. Is there stuff on this reissue that fans who’ve sought out the bootleg material will have heard? MJ: There are a lot of tracks floating around, but not with the current vocals on them, because they didn’t exist. We tried to use tracks that hadn’t been so heavily bootlegged. I did find one of the tracks, “Aladdin Story”—that was actually recorded note-for-note by some other band. I was really surprised to find this outtake—someone got the bootleg and they just recorded it. I can’t remember the name of the band. [It was Death in Vegas.]
The following uncredited excerpt of a Death in Vegas interview however, is just as succinct as Jagger’s take on the subject but may well be all the information that we really need:
How did the Rolling Stones feel about you appropriating ‘Aladdin’s Story’ off one of their 70s bootlegs?
I shouldn’t think they were that fussed actually. I think if they were we would’ve heard from their legal department by now. We actually in touch with their publishers and they said ‘we know it’s a song by the Stones but it’s never been declared as a song so we don’t own the publishing so you can do whatever you like’. So we did. The opening guitar riff sounds like it could be the opening to ‘Paint it, Black’ as well.
So that was the reason for the ‘unknown’ credit rather than Jagger/Richards?
Yes, that’s right. Even though we know (laughs).
Alas, this may well be old news, but to me it was a surprise. As Scorsese named his Stones concert movie, Shine a Light!