Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Guardian Spanks AC/DC

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap?

Just out today is a scathing new opinion piece on AC/DC's deal with the devil (Wal-Mart) by Ian Winwood of the Guardian. I don't normally print articles in their entirety but this one deserves a full airing.

Rock'n'roll damnation - Wal-Mart style

AC/DC are the latest band to sell their album exclusively in Wal-Mart. Are they helping to sell rock down the river?

Back in 1979, AC/DC managed to shock America's religious right with a song so delicious that no normal person could possibly resist it. Highway To Hell still makes the shortlist for both the world's greatest riff and most irresistible chorus. The album that spawned it displayed "schoolboy" guitarist Angus Young sporting horns and a tail. Not amused, the barmy armies of the Bible Belt burned the LP in the streets.

Twenty-nine years later, AC/DC might actually be on their way to Hell. The group have revealed that their forthcoming album will be available in the US only at branches of Wal-Mart. No independent record shop will carry the CD - in fact, no shop at all will sell it. The only place the thing will be available is at an outlet that is the very enemy of music itself.

If you don't know, Wal-Mart is a chain of stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap megastores, often found on the outskirts of US towns and cities. The company has a litany of employment-right lawsuits stacked against it, and their stores are usually surrounded by high streets, deserted by businesses that could no longer afford to compete with the chain's cheap prices.

You could say that this is just business, but if you do plan to defend Wal-Mart, you need to first wrestle with their music policy. The company refuses to carry any album that features a parental advisory sticker denoting explicit content. The chain will stock "clean" versions of albums, which means either bleeping or fading out "offensive" words. If you find "censorship" to be an offensive word, tough shit luck.

It's disgraceful that a company neck-deep in questionable business practices dares to take a stance on artistic morality. But what's really amazing is that AC/DC should choose to be party to it. They don't need the money - with 22 million copies sold, Back in Black is the fifth best selling album in US chart history - and they don't need the exposure.

That a band who once sang For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) should now sell their fellow artists down the river denotes a very cold day on the highway to hell.

The Guardian


Bryan Burke said...

I refuse to believe that Wal-Mart is getting AC/DC's new album exclusively. Neither Wal-Mart, nor AC/DC's huge web sources (ACDC.com or ACDCRocks.com) have mentioned anything about exclusivity. I do work for Wal-Mart, but I am also 17, so I am not getting boned like a normal Wal-Mart employee would be. But, even if this deal is true, who cares? If you are a true AC/DC fan, buying their new record at Wal-Mart shouldn't be a big deal and it will be under 10 bucks most likely. Add this as well, since when has AC/DC put anything explicit in their music? And when they do like "Ain't No Fun..." where "fuck" is used in it, that is not bleeped out. Same for "shit" on the High Voltage record with "Rock n' Roll Singer".

Anonymous said...

Selling out . Well I beg to differ . When the record companies only pay you pennies for every album you sell and wal mart cuts you a much better deal in return for exclusiveness and alot more bang for your buck. After all these guys are probably close to there last tour ever. yes wal mart does like to censor parental lyrics and this is bad . But what would you do in there situation? I for one would sign with wal mart, make more money,cut into those damn record company profits by cutting them right out of the picture. they have taken more out of the music industry than they have ever given. Ride On AC/DC I will be the first one in line at my local wal mart to get this album and I am not sharing it with you jon !

Pangaea said...

Gotta say I totally agree with this. It's outrageous a band like AC/DC, who before have written songs critical of the music business, now make deals with perhaps *the* worst corporation.

As the article correctly states, Wal Mart has been, and are, in a series of workers' rights issues.

I would never think AC/DC would support such a horrible company, and hope something can be done about this. It will certainly do AC/DC no honour, and can only serve to alienate them.

As I fear this is AC/DC's last album and tour, it would be a horrible way to end a fantastic career. You start up by being critical of the music business' "one size fits all", and then end by sucking up to the worst act of them all.

If Kiss did the same we'd be all over them like vultures. We shouldn't treat AC/DC any other way when they are in the wrong. Double standards will get us nowhere.

Please come to your senses Malcolm, and undo this (if you can).

Vera Talley said...

I don't see what the big deal is about the boys dealing with Walmart. It's a better deal for us. I shop at Walmart because they do have better prices. I don't believe for one minute that stores like Macy's and Nordstram's don't treat their employees like crap too. I know they do. I worked for a high dollar department store from 1977-80, and made minimum wage the whole damn time. If anyone got a raise it was only 10 cents an hour. Until other stores sell only U.S. made products and treat their employees more fairly will I stop shopping at Walmart. If the CD were sold at regular outlets like Best Buy and others, the price would certainly be higher, and who's making that extra money. Probably not AC/DC.

Ciaran said...

Back in Black may be the 5th best selling album of all time in the U.S but its the 2nd Best Selling Album of All Time in the WORLD!
AC/DC are the greatest Rock band ever to stride this planet and if you American Gimps have a problem with them behaving like capitalists in a country whose religion is the almighty dollar, take a look in the mirror!

Anonymous said...

Screw that. ACDC is awesome. i dont care where will it sell, but ill guy it.

Anonymous said...

What remains to be proven is whether Walmart is the great evil everyone says it is. It is as if no discussion is needed about it, it is just a self-evident fact, everyone knows it.

I see absolutely no censorship here whatsoever. I see private citizens and private companies voluntarily trading with each other. Where are the guns?

Only the government can enforce censorship. When I see a gun drawn, I'll be the first to yell.

In other ways censorship is creeping out from Washington more and more ("hate speech", campaign finance laws anyone?) but nobody says a thing. The government is our friend, but Walmart will hurt us. What the hell planet do I live on?

And besides that AC/DC have always had their own standards by which we can judge them. And the latest verdict isn't until October when we hear the record. They don't give a goddamn whether Snoop Dogg is losing his ability to say muthaf**** 50 trillion times. They care about their music, their way, that's all. If you are there for any other reason, get out. Go buy a Neil Young record.

If it is not an AC/DC record, then they have sold out.

Now, who thinks that is going to happen?

Gyan said...

Heh. Well, I'm not too concerned. If WalMart cut them a good deal, heck, good for them.
The only thing worth worrying is the censorship. Good god, the last thing we need is some watered down ACDC. eek.
In any case, this makes me glad I don't live in the US.