Sunday, January 15, 2006

Full Album Friday 4 (Sunday Edition): American Edit

Casey Dorrell

Since we're already talking about Green Day this week (that first post, you know, was satire. I didn't hear much laughter), I thought this would be an appropriate album to have.

Dean Gray Tuesday was probably one of the largest protests of 2005. Somehow I missed it. This is mostly embarassing since it was a protest that was all about music, and the main participants were blogs. In my defense, I don't think any of the many music blogs I visit were part of it. Indie snobbery and such . . .

The first protest of its kind came with 2004's Grey Tuesday, held on February 24th, which decried EMI's attempts to ban the now famous Grey Album, a mash up of The Beatles' 'white album' and Jay-Z's 'black album' by DJ Danger Mouse (who rode the publicity straight into a gig producing the latest Gorillaz album).

The latest mass display of electronic civil disobedience came when Green Day's critically lauded 2004 release, American Idiot, was remixed with several other bands. The mash-up called "American Edit" was credited to Dean Gray (a play on Green Day) but was actually the work of two well-known DJs, Party Ben and Team9. According to Wikipedia, the final mash-up "included samples of U2, Aerosmith, Oasis, Queen, Johnny Cash, Ashanti, Bryan Adams, Kanye West, Gary Glitter and Don Henley; other samples used include speeches made by George W. Bush, dialogue from the Daleks, and the Doctor Who theme song remix "Doctorin' the Tardis" by The Timelords."

After the album was posted to the net for free, it was quickly banned by Green Day's label, Warner. A protest of the cease and desist order was held on December 13th. Over 200 Websites offered 'American Edit' for download. Some also made their pages grey in honour of Dean Gray. In all, the official American Edit website got almost 400, 000 hits that day.

So is the mash-up legal? Well, no. Is it ethical? Yes, mostly.

The mash-ups are vastly different from the original songs. They are, in no way, a replacement for the actual Green Day release. It's unlikely that anyone interested in downloading the mash-ups doesn't already have the original songs (whether they got the original "American Idiot" legally is a whole other issue). People that don't, will be more likely, not less, to buy the album afterward. This is the standard argument in favour of the mash-ups, and I agree. With that said, the same argument may not hold as well against copyright claims of the other artists that are sampled in the mash-up. It's unlikely that someone will hear an Aerosmith sample on the mash-up and then buy an Aerosmith album. Of course, it's even more unlikely that someone would decide not to buy Aerosmith simply because they already have a short Aerosmith sample.

Yet, I think this argument misses the point. If I create something which is wholly artistic, rather than functional, it's fair to have the expectation of at least limited control over that creation and its use. But, it should be noted that nothing will be widely sampled unless it's already ubiquitus, meaning the artist has already been nicely paid for his or her work.

Green Day has never officially commented on the mash-up or the protest. Lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong, has been quoted by MTV news saying that the whole thing was "really cool". He also had earlier commented at length about the mash-up song, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, which was the genesis for the rest of the project:
"Actually, I was driving in my car, and I heard a Green Day mashup, with, um, Oasis and Aerosmith. It sounded cool! There's been a little bit of talk about doing a mashup, but I'm not sure who would be the appropriate hip-hop guy yet."
As far as the actual sound of the mash-up, it's ok. It's also arguably the best mash-up made to date. It could be contended that the Grey album is better, but I think that has more to do with half the source material being The Beatles, than it does with technical proficieny or ingenuity. The best known track, 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams,' has been re-remixed with smoother transitions, a new intro, and with Eminem dropped. This is probably the best mash-up I've ever heard, and now it's a bit better still. Other than that, I recomend the song, 'Jimmy the Prankster.' The entire project seems to be to see what Green Day would sound like if they a free-sampling dance group. Most mash-ups do tend toward dance because most high profile mash-up artists are also club DJs. If you're less into dance, download 'Boulevard of Broken Songs' and skip the rest.

Album has been removed, though the newer version of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams is still available here for download. For a torrent of the entire album, go here.

01 - American Jesus
02 - Dr. Who on Holiday
03 - Boulevard of Broken Songs
04 - The Bad Homecoming (Waiting)
05 - St. Jimmy The Prankster
06 - Novocaine Rhapsody
07 - Impossible Rebel
08 - Ashanti's Letterbomb
09 - Greenday Massacre
10 - Whatsername (Susanna Hoffs)
Bonus Track: Boulevard of Broken Songs (Dance Mix)
Cover Art
Back Tray Art
CD Label Art

Green Day - American Idiot

Green Day - Champions No More?

Comments on "Full Album Friday 4 (Sunday Edition): American Edit"


Blogger tree4five said ... (15/1/06 6:07 am) : 

Very interesting reading...


Blogger michele said ... (15/1/06 4:01 pm) : 

Allright already you won talking about greenday ? Congrats


Blogger ESH said ... (4/2/06 11:49 pm) : 

A very excellent album overall. Mashups are the wave of the future and the ultimate creative outlet these days. Cheers.


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