Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fogerty and Courtney- giving their devils the due

Along with warring sides in South Africa, Ireland and Palestine declaring at least temporary peaces, another moment that no one thought they'd live to see was when it was announced that John Fogerty would be with Fantasy Records again. Fogerty's long-term fight with the label has led to dirty deals, bad blood, family disputes (brother Tom Fogerty swore allegiance to the label shortly before he died), attack songs (JF's "Zanz Can't Dance", directly at labelhead Saul Zaentz) and lawsuits (including a beaut against JF that his solo work was copying his Creedence work).

In statements, JF sounds all nice and ready to reconcile. And really, he must be somewhat relieved after all this time. He's playing Creedence songs again, as he always should have been. After all, some bands that ended with a lot of band blood managed to reunite years later- The Sex Pistols, Pixies for instance. The reason for that is usually (what else?) moola. Most likely, that was going through JF's head. He'd fought his former label for years and probably figured that it was pointless by now. He could have kept holding out on principle but that usually doesn't get you very far in the entertainment biz, sad to say. At the very least, let's hope he can start to work out an equitable royalty deal with his old/new label.

This brings to him another recent label-artist battle- Courtney Love vs. Universal. In a pretty gutsy, unprecendented move, she decided that she wanted out of her contract. Another her reasons were a problem that many artists faced- their label would get bought and sold to larger companies who didn't know anything about music or A&R. At an SXSW interview, she insisted that she would be the Olivia de Havilland of the music business- ODH was the actress who sued her movie studio (Warner Bros), won after a decade long battle in the 40's and effectively ended the long-term indentured servant system that held actors and actresses tied down to a studio. Similarly, Love said she was determined to break the record labels' seven-year contract system that kept artists tied down to one place.

But one year later, Love settled with Universal, bragging that she got a pile of money for her trouble but no word about the principal behind her suit. At stake was a huge chunk of change (i.e. Nirvana royalties) and with pricy lawsuits being filed against her otherwise, she understood that she had to be practical. Yes, I was among the people who was disappointed that she didn't keep taking her stand, especially because the outcome might have been similar to Havilland's suit. Similar campaigns for fairer artist contracts (Recording Artists Coalition) tried to make strides but why did many of these same people file a friend-of-the-court petition to overturn court decisions that shielded tech companies from copyright lawsuits (aka the Betamax decision)?

Wasn't it Jello Biafra who said ""If there's gonna be a revolution, you better hope it's not led by musicians"?


Blogger Perfect Sound Forever said...

Earlier this year, Fantasy was sold to Concord Records (the same people that did the blockbuster Ray Charles album Genius Loves Company. With Saul Z effectively out of the picture, is it much of a coincidence that Fogerty is ready to return to Fantasy...?

1:51 PM  

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