Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Record Vault – Bob Marley

I bought this CD back in the day because my wife wanted to listen to “Is This Love” from Bob Marley and although I was looking for a studio recording, the record shop only had this live album of songs recorded in Europe.

Such a large difference to how music was acquired once upon a time.

And my wife listened to just that song a few times and then moved on, because that is what the casual fan does. They get their fix and move on. They are fans of songs, not artists.

But for me, the album came in my life at a time when I was in a rut musically and sinking my teeth into Marley’s Reggae was the perfect antidote. And the lyrics about life, injustice, racism and society brought back memories of the lyrics I liked from the 80’s artists.

And I knew of Bob Marley from the covers that other artists did of his songs, like Eric Clapton’s take on “I Shot The Sherriff”.

“Exodus” is a great song. Musically it’s a funky like reggae feel, but the lyrics.

Open your eyes and look within:
Are you satisfied (with the life you’re living)?

Truth in such a simple statement.

We have so much control of our lives, but we need to be brave to seize it. And Marley sings about letting equality rule and breaking down oppression. There is hope and belief in his voice that it is possible.

And that section when the drummer just plays a stock beat and the crowd claps along, it’s simple but powerful.

“Stir It Up” is laid back and powerful at the same time.

“Rat Race” has an intro that sounds so bluesy with a distorted tone adapted from The Spinners 1974 track “Since I Been Gone” .

The song is about how the U.S treated Jamaica and the low wages they paid and the lands they took in the name of capitalism.

When you think it’s peace and safety
A sudden destruction
Collective security for surety, yeah!
Don’t forget your history
Know your destiny

Oh, it’s a disgrace
To see the human race
In a rat race, yeah

“Concrete Jungle” is one of my favourites. The groove laid down is perfect for Marley to sing about how suburbia changed from houses on the street to concrete jungles where the sun doesn’t shine and there is no difference between day and night because of the shade and darkness, that concrete jungles create.

“Is This Love” is basically a blues song. If you don’t believe me, play that riff with distortion and you’ll hear the pentatonic notes of the blues scale.

And I don’t have any other Bob Marley tunes, but via streaming, I have heard em. Also, Marley is another artist that has been ripped off by the labels in the name of copyright.

Remember, Copyright was put into law to help the creator have a monopoly on their works for a limited time, so they have an incentive to create more works.

And on death, the creations should have become part of the public domain.

Marley died of cancer in 1981 and by then Copyright Law had been hijacked by the corporations. So it was death plus 70 years.

Universal Music Group (UMG) still owns the rights to his five albums recorded between 1973 and 1977. And UMG is still exploiting his works and getting paid. It looks Copyright was meant for the corporations to rip off artists.

The family tried to seize control of Marley’s works but UMG argued that the albums were created under a works for hire agreement which the judge believed. And it’s this same argument that the labels are using for artists who want to terminate their copyrights after 30 years. The battle continues for these other artists.

And the song “Rat Race” just came to mind.

Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Stupidity Incorporated

Stupidity just doesn’t seem to go away these days. Last month the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) promoted it’s World Intellectual Property Day with a slogan from a Bob Marley and the Wailers song called “Get Up, Stand Up”. WIPO’s theme was “Get Up, Stand Up. For Music”.

Did you know that a judge ruled against Bob Marley’s heirs a few years who sought to regain control of Marley’s copyrights from Universal Music claiming that Marley wrote the song as a work made for hire and thus Universal could keep the copyright, and not give it back to the Marley Estate.

Now “work for hire” means that an artist was commissioned to write a song to the exact specifications of the record label. Wikipedia states “work for hire” in the following way;

A work made for hire is a work created by an employee as part of his or her job, or a work created on behalf of a client where all parties agree in writing to the WFH designation.

I can’t believe how a judge would seriously believe that the record label at the time “Island Records” would have given the song titles to Bob Marley and told him the theme of what the song should be about.

Anyone involved in music knows too well that is not the case for at all. “Get Up, Stand Up” was written after Marley toured Haiti and the poverty that he was confronted with in that country.

As the Techdirt article points out, you have an organisation so dumb and out of touch with culture that it using a song from an artist that has been hijacked by the corporations who push for stronger copyright enforcement.

As far as I’m concerned, Bob Marley’s copyright MUST be in the Public Domain upon death. The public is meant to be the beneficiaries here, not the heirs and not the record labels.

Which brings me to the “Stairway To Heaven” court case.

You see I am not a fan of the heirs of an artist inheriting the copyrights of the artist once they die and I am definitely not a fan of the heirs of an artist suing others for money. We can all hear that Jimmy Page lifted the riff from the Spirit track “Taurus” and to be honest made a better derivative version of the Spirit track. For whatever reasons Spirit guitarist Randy California was cool with it and nothing happened. However the heirs are now challenging that.

What a sad state it is when a court has to decide on this and whichever way the court rules, the court is putting out the idea that one track is so original and the other is not. As a musician, trust me when I say that no song or riff is created in a vacuum. Each piece of music that comes out is a sum of our influences.

One final thing to add to my rant. When can the artists get it right when it comes to the music industry and recording industry references. Check out this quote from Ron Bumblefoot, the current guitarist in Guns N’ Roses.

”The music industry started to see their customers as their enemies and everybody suffered for it. Congratulations record industry – you’ve made a mess and you still don’t know how to clean it up.”

I always state over and over again, that the music industry is not the recording industry. They are two different entities. You see, the music industry didn’t see their customers as enemies, nor did they sue them, it was the recording industry that did that.