April 2, 2009

Two websites and a music review


Above: Track from Album Class War, I hate the Rich.

Reading music reviews for me is always futile as words never do justice of describing how an album or song is. I am not one to write music reviews, but on a web page the ability to hear a tune or two for oneself makes me reconsider.

The Dils were a punk band in California from 1978 to 1980. In 2000, the Bacchus archives imprint of Dionysus records released an album (Class War-the title alone says it all) of a live show plus 2 studio tracks. A quote from the Bacchus website, actually old liner notes mentions:"...simply youthfully rebellious. It didn't matter if some members of the band were admitted communists, or that they were outspoken critics of the local scene..." One track, Red Rockers Rule makes it even more obvious. They are noted as opening for the Clash during that bands first North American tour.

For such a short lived band, their songs are well covered. According to a wikipedia article on the band, the song Your Not Blank was covered by the band Dillinger Four, while the song Class War was covered by the band D.O.A.

After the band ceased to exist, the members moved on from punk and politics. But the recordings in Class War are snapshots of a time when the members of the Dils were exactly what the liner notes said: "...simply youthfully rebellious." And I'll add: had the most impact.

if you want to view the track listing and hear track samples click on the link "Class War" above.

Above: a live set from 1978 (not on the Class War Album).



VinylCommunications was a record label that released electronic music. The only reason I mention it is that it used the hammer and sickle in its logo.

This website is actually defunct and an archived page is shown. In fact the entire record label is defunct. I wonder what happened to the back catalogue? Why did it fold? This is a good question given the current debate on copyright and pirating music. Read more on this debate below.


How long will the You Tube links of the Dils above remain active?

You Tomb is a website that documents videos removed from You Tube due to copyright infringement.

It does not keep track of all videos, nor of removal for other reasons. The site is maintained by a student organization at MIT, called Free Culture. More about the site is on its info page. As the debate, or some may say, battle over copyright and its evil outgrowth, digital rights technology becomes more widespread, this site may well be a reference years down the road. Since the days of dubbed audio and VHS cassette tapes gave way to the audio file and movie file, lawyers at the major media corporations have been in a panic at the changing times. Some people have embraced this change and are adapting. Copyleft, Creative Commons licenses, are more common. Net labels have appeared releasing music for free, or donation. So, small labels can exist in a world of file sharing. Other revenue streams can thrive with free distribution and its result: free promotion. Bands like Radiohead have made waves by releasing entire studio albums (In Rainbows) on a donate what you can basis (which can mean: for free). Film maker Micheal Moore released an entire movie for free: Slacker Uprising.

The sharing of music through Napster, which held a massive directory list in central servers, was shutdown after a well publicized court case. However the decentralized setup of peer to peer (P2P) networks like Limewire, has filled the role that Napster once had. In response governments has made tougher copyright and anti-piracy laws to try to shore up the old order of things.

The free software movement, which fostered the Firefox web browser, Open Office word processor, and Linux operating system, is alive and well. No licenses need to be bought to run these software programs, unlike programs from corporations like Microsoft or Apple computer.

The idea of intellectual property as a commodity that can be bought, sold, or leased has been a large part of capitalism. The idea of greed or self interest to make money off one's ideas as a chief motivator in progress is old, but today, patents and copyrights often slow or stop development. Entire genres of music now depend on finding copyright clearances to produce new works. Laws have gone to the absurd extremes: colours, and even life forms can now be trademarked and patented. In Canada, the period of patent protection for new drugs was increased by years. With a longer time to hold monopolies on drugs, the cost of health care has increased and places vital drugs out of the reach of those who cannot afford them.

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