This is a little cheesy anecdote about a small, idealistic record company, and their fight against evil major labels. Some of you may have heard this story, some of you surely have not, and even more of you most certainly doesn't give a fuck. Anyways.
Lots and lots of years ago, there was a kind of music born in the city of Detroit
. Later, it was called techno
. Since then, it's grown, changed, evolved, and mutated to more or less hideous forms. That old school of techno is now called Detroit techno
, but that's another story. In the beginning of the 90s, three guys started a record company. Those three guys were Mad Mike
, Jeff Mills
and Robert Hood
. All three of them are well-known techno icons
and are musical geniuses
. The name of the record company was Underground Resistance
. Maybe a bit pretentious. Anyways.
In almost ten years, they only released about fifty records. The music ranged from classic vocal house
electro so mean and hardcore
, it makes little children start crying. I've seen it happen myself. All while keeping up a high social consciousness, spewing out anti-commercial propaganda. Being raised in Detroit with Reagan
running the country, you can guess the opinions and views of the gentlemen. You could call them an electronic dance music version of Public Enemy
In the fall of 1999, they released UR-049
. An EP by DJ Rolando
, under the alias Aztek Mystic
. On the record was a tune called "Knights of the Jaguar
". That track became one of the greatest crossover
s in dance music history. You heard it on every damned club floor, from high school proms to elite
unlisted techno clubs. If it had been in supply, it would have sold five-digit numbers. If it had been marketed in any way whatsoever, it would have sold six-digit numbers. Scooter
, Fatboy Slim
and their kin of so-called dance music "artists" would have keeled over and died out of pure fear. In short, the track is a masterpiece.
UR pressed 500 vinyl copies. No more. No less.
In December, Sony
decided to do a cover
version. They hook up two euro techno
puppies from Frankfurt
and let them do a note-for-note trance cover with the usual mindless, soulless, but unexplainably popular trancey sound. They call the song "Jaguar". They call the artist "Knights of the Underground".
In no way is this the first time something like this happens. The difference this time, is that Sony made no effort whatsoever to try to cover their tracks, legally. No modification of the tune, nothing.
Strangely enough, the underground
community starts to make some noise. Normally, people just shrug and say something grumpy about punter
s being idiots and the music industry sucks, but this time people started quite a ruckus
. The whole story even got a tiny bit of media coverage. So late December, a mail from Sony arrives at UR. They justify their actions, and explain that they did the cover without getting permission since UR's opinions about major labels are so well known. Wonderful logic. "We know you don't like us, so we steal your song without you getting involved, or getting compensation. Aren't we nice?"
After lots of legal threats and dealings, Sony finally issues an indignated statement saying that they "will not work any further on the Jaguar cover".
And then promptly sells the cover to BMG
, where it is released now.
The story goes on. But the original song is still available, even on CD - UR:s second and last one, URCD-049. I'm gonna wrap this up with an open letter from Mad Mike
And kids, don't take a pill to feel the funk
Underground Electronic Music Community
From: Mad Mike/HNIC@ Underground Resistance Detroit - USA
Re: All Punk
Motherfuckers Stealing Rolando's Record "Jaguar"
UR would like to acknowledge the swarm
of digital killer bee
s that is emerging from the shadows to protect and defend the hive
Unfortunately at this particular space in time, the beginning of their new millennium
, the year 2000, when music the lifeform of sound is looking forward to a future filled with intelligence
it has to instead look into the now of reality and find itself struggling, surrounded by greed, false prophets, lies, deception and treachery, the old familiar tools of the programmers
that have destroyed civilizations, cultures and environments over the centuries. Some of you stand by and watch as they slowly put their fingers around the neck
of the music you love! What chance will music have when an "industry way of thinking
" allowed human life to be sold on an auction block?
Can you see them now? Maybe a little clearer? A battle over a recording may seem insignificant, but is it really? Learn as their sequence
grinds on its predictable culture robbing loop
as they must control everything, even your Vinyl Soulfood
! This is an opportunity for you to analyze the matrix
you live in.
As we do battle for the soul of the sound we ask the spirit of the Jaguar and our ancestors to keep giving us the power
to defeat the programmers.
For those who know
, stay low, stay strong, stay ready, stay underground
For those who don't, learn
For those who "Stole the Soul", live in fear as the spirits will track you into your next lifetimes and beyond. Nothing good will come to you
And for those who don't believe in spirit, then what is it exactly that these note for note cover
s are lacking?
Consider hostilities at "Condition Red" - the Jaguar will have its revenge!!!
a voice from the past
- Mad Mike
Ed. Note - The cover version of Jaguar was eventually released by the artist "Type". The Jaguar 12" is still available from the distributor Submerge, who keeps everything in print unless the master is GONE. May the spirit of the jaguar bless your dancefloor. --mkb