Saturday, January 14, 2012

Roseanne Cash - "Seven Year Ache" (forgotten song)

This has been driving me crazy for quite some time... Katy Perry songs are featured regularly at the Y (about the only place where Danette and I hear pop music). Although it makes me a little ashamed, I have to admit Perry writes some strong hooks, with her 2010 single "Teenage Dream" probably being my "favorite". But the thing that always struck me was part of the song reminded me of what I thought was a 70s song; specifically how she sang the following lines, first occurring at 2:27--2:43 and repeated again at 3:23--3:40:

I'ma get your heart racing in my skin-tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight
Let you put your hands on me in my skin-tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight
Last night at the Y I think I figured it out: I believe I'm thinking of "Seven Year Ache", the country/pop cross-over single from the 1981 LP of the same name by Roseanne Cash. Yeah, so 1981 isn't quite "70s", but it is close enough. I'm not claiming a copy or ripoff, just similarity: listen to the phrasing and structure of lines like (0:32--0:48):
Girls in the bars thinking who is this guy
But they don't think nothing when they're telling you lies
You look so careless when they're shooting that bull
Don't you know heartaches are heroes when their pockets are full
as well as the chorus:
Tell me your trying to cure a seven year ache
See what else your old heart can take
The boys say when is he gonna give us some room
The girls say, God, I hope he comes back soon
and then compare to the Perry lines. Danette confirmed that they were similar and said it was a good pull, but she may have just said that so I would shut up about it. Anyway, I think I've uncovered the similarity that's been a pebble in my shoe every time we'd hear this song while working out. And while it has been probably 10 minutes since you've heard a Katy Perry song, when was the last time you heard a Roseanne Cash song?

Roseanne Cash -- "Seven Year Ache"
Katy Perry -- "Teenage Dream"

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Negativland - "U2" (LP Review)

Where would Negativland's career be without "U2", the 1991 two song EP that took aim at Casey Kasem and the band U2? On one hand, the resulting legal firestorm from Island Records (U2's label) and SST (Negativland's label) nearly ruined the band financially. On the other hand, the accompanying attention greatly increased the profile of the band, as well as giving them a nearly limitless source of future material. Perhaps the wreckage was the inevitable conclusion for the band that invented the term "culture jamming".

Island Records claimed that the cover art was intended to confuse buyers, who would think it is a release from U2 entitled "Negativland". Negativland countered that the band U2 doesn't have exclusive rights to the letter U and the numeral 2. Island was also unhappy with the extensive sampling of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". Negativland countered that this was covered under fair use. The fight is documented in an LP and magazine from Negativland, but here's the short version: Island has a lot of $, and Negativland and SST don't. Island wins.

The EP was withdrawn from SST's catalog (surviving copies can bring big $) and hastily replaced with the EP "Guns", whose cover art continues the commentary on the situation. The two songs themselves are freely available on the band's web site, and in 2001 the band re-released the songs (along with live versions and other situational commentary) on the LP "These Guys Are From England and Who Gives a Shit" (the quote is from Casey Kasem's abusive and profane rant about the "death dedications", the band U2, and Kasem's confusion about Ireland vs. England; the shock value is much higher for those familiar with Kasem, American Top 40, and their squeaky clean image). As far as I know this LP (released on Seeland Records, Negativland's own label) generated no controversy; I guess Island and SST no longer thought it worth their while. You owe it to yourself to get TGAFEAWGAS, but in the mean time you can find the two original mp3s directly from the band. Lost in the story about these songs is the fact that the songs themselves are quite entertaining.

Standout songs: "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (1991 A Capella Mix)" (, YouTube); "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (Special Edit Radio Mix)" (, YouTube).

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final score: 9/10. Snuggles.

Bonus Link: A YouTube playlist of Mark Hosler at the 47th Ann Arbor Film Festival, talking about Negativland. I'm going to eventually review some of their full-length LPs...