Negativland Provides Tracks for Infamous Single, Asks Fans to Remix

Part of the cover for Negativland's "U2" EP

Part of the cover for Negativland's "U2" EP

In the wake of Casey Kasem’s death this past Sunday (Father’s Day), Contra Costa County’s own Negativland has made the multi-track masters of their infamous “U2” single available for free download and is inviting fans to make their own remixes.

The single, released in 1991, featured two covers of the hit U2 song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” that could be best described as being just plain ridiculous. The more notable of the two tracks includes an expletive-heavy audio recording of Casey Kasem having a meltdown while trying to record one of his famous song dedications.

NSFW: A video for Negativland’s “The Letter U And The Numeral 2.” WARNING: Profane Language.

The single, which featured artwork that made it look more like a U2 release than a Negativland one — the cover had U2 in big type while Negativland was in much smaller type at the bottom — brought significant attention to the group after they were sued by U2’s label, Island Records. The ensuing legal battle lasted four years, led to the pulling of the record from stores and resulted in another lawsuit between Negativland and its label SST, which ended with the two severing ties.

Cover of Negativland's "U2"  single
Cover of Negativland’s “U2″ single

On the FAQ portion of Negativland’s website, the band answers the question “What’s the deal with the whole U2 thing?” with the following reply:

“The U2 incident was an elaborate hoax on the part of U2 themselves to see how easily manipulated media manipulators like Negativland can be manipulated. It worked like a charm, and everyone’s still laughing about it many years later.”

Below is the band’s full statement regarding the online offering of the masters as well as links to the files and where to post the remixes.

YOU, TOO – MAKE YOUR OWN: One of the most beloved voices in music radio, Kemal Amin “Casey” Kasem, died on Fatherʼs Day 2014 after a long illness, and also a very public family squabble over his continuing care. Negativland pays tribute to this broadcasting legend by reaching into its vaults and presenting what is perhaps Kasemʼs best-known work, on Negativlandʼs long-unavailable “U2” maxi-single, offering up for public consumption (and now, for creative reuse) what has been hidden from view for 23 years.

In 1991, Negativlandʼs “U2” single had one of the shortest releases in music history, squashed like a bug after less than ten days on store shelves, under legal fire from the Irish rock band U2ʼs music publisher (Warner/Chappell) and then-record label (Island). The history of this fracas was detailed in Negativland’s book and CD release, Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2 (Seeland 013).

Now, instead of merely reissuing the “U2” record itself, Negativland presents, for free digital download, the original un-mixed studio multi-track tape “stems” for re-mixing, re-purposing and re-inventing in whichever way the listener may choose. Negativland encourages the re-contextualization of this seminal work for whatever reason, whatsoever. In keeping with the working methods and philosophy of Negativland, and the Fair Use provision in U.S. Copyright Law (Section 107,http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html), the group offers up this raw material in the hopes that entirely new versions of the work are created and disseminated.

*** Download the files here: http://www.mediafire.com/download/x7hjlbc77djjcja/Negativland_U2_multitrack_master_.zip ***

Listeners / remixers are encouraged to post their creations at www.negativland.com and https://www.facebook.com/Negativlandland. The original record as briefly released in 1991 may be listened to here: http://negativland.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=64.

More Information: For more on the U2 lawsuit and Negativland’s storied history, listen to Jake Fogelnest interview Negativland’s Peter Conheim on the podcast “The Fogelnest Files.”

Author

Kevin L. Jones

Kevin Jones is an interactive producer for KQED Arts. A graduate of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, Kevin reported on news in the Bay Area at KTVU.com for six years before pursuing his dream of covering the local creative arts scene. In his spare time, he is an unabashed record geek who plays/records music whenever possible i.e., when he's not spending time with his wonderful wife and daughter.

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