Life Just Bounces don't you get worried at all. (A weblog of music and otrogenerica)

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Rather funny: a blast from the past with the Evolution Control Committee

One of the seminal cut-up tracks of the 90s (or ever) today, in the form of "Rocked by Rape" by The Evolution Control Committee, aka Mark "TradeMark G" Gunderson and (i gather) his various alternating associates.

The record mashes up, years before the terms "mash" and "up" put together acted as an air-raid siren to an epidemic of yawning predictability, the backing track from Australian rock grandads AC/DC's seminal "Back in Black" with a barrage of hilarious, doom-laden keywords expertly sliced from the news broadcasts of CBS' then-evening news anchor Dan Rather.

Somewhat disappointingly, CBS failed to see the funny side. They issued a cease-and-desist-or-be-sued (that's its full title) order against the ECC, alleging among other things that "your use of Mr. Rather's voice [...] has created a false impression that Mr. Rather and CBS have endorsed or are connected with the sound recording which is misleading and deceptive to the public".

Hilariously unlikely as that might seem, it's a testament to "Rocked by Rape"'s quality that you quite can easily imagine Rather gravely intoning "dying of a heart attack... dying of breast cancer... dying of a Japanese nuclear bomb... mountains of credit card debt... a mountain of cocaine — tons of cocaine..." as part of a genuine broadcast. Although not necessarily with Angus Young's riff-based support, obviously.

Anyway, The ECC rightly contested their grasp of the concepts of parody and fair use, and, buoyed by support from early web activists and the likes of Wired and Don "Negativland" Joyce, CBS eventually got bored or decided the issue wasn't worth the effort and legal fees, and they quietly dropped it with no confirmation or denial. It is assumed that by now they've let it slip (particularly since, as Gunderson notes, the track "was used at the end of a roast show of Dan Rather himself aired on C-SPAN... meaning that at least once, it's passed his ears. We can only hope he got more of a chuckle out of it than the humorless lackeys of his legal department.")

Well, six years later, the threat seems to be history. The song, on the other hand, remains box-fresh, as both a piss-take of the relentless grimness of Western media coverage and a surreally hilarious bit of Burroughs-esque aleatoric poetry. And in the meantime, one Kenny Hamer has made an excellent video.

(For the record, my favourite part of the whole thing is in the third verse, where Rather gravely intones "low ethics... extortion and murder... a plane crash set an entire neighbourhood on fire", and then the meaty guitar riff kicks back in.)

MP3: The Evolution Control Committee — "Rocked by Rape"

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