May 25 - May 31, 1995


BREAKING THE CHRISTIAN CODE: It's hard to believe, in this Republican-led era of enlightenment, that "naughty" words can make life in the music business tougher than it needs to be.

It can be more difficult than you might think to get a CD made. No, not the playing, recording or mixing of the music in the studio. We're talking about what happens when all of the artistic stuff is finished--simply sending the completed master tape off to a company that presses the little discs of plastic and aluminum and getting boxes of CDs back.

An interesting example of some of the machinations of the music replicating business is found in the interaction between Crash Landing Productions, Inc. (an independent studio and label in Tucson) and Cassette Productions, Inc. (a Salt Lake City company that presses CDs and makes copies of videos).

Phil Stevens, owner of Crash Landing, contracted with Cassette Productions to replicate an album his label was putting out late last year by local musician Kevin Bowman (When A Dead Horse Turns Over). He had some problems getting the finished CDs back on time from Salt Lake City and somehow Cassette Productions chopped the first two seconds off the first song on the disc.

But those problems weren't so great that Stevens didn't agree to have the company press copies of Chris Morrison's Bargain Town disc early this year. (Stevens says it's hard to find replicating companies that will press compact discs at a reasonable price.)

Stevens sent Bargain Town to Utah on February 1 of this year so that he could have it back by the end of that month.

"I absolutely, absolutely have to have it by the end of February," Stevens says he told the representative at Cassette Productions. "No excuses, I don't want to hear about your factory going up in flames--I want the product."

About four weeks later he got a call from the company.

"It was a new person from Cassette Productions with whom I'd never spoken before," Stevens recalls. "He said, 'Mr. Stevens, I'm sorry, we won't be able to replicate your CD.' I said, 'What happened, did your plant burn down after all?' He says, 'Well, we listened to it and we heard four-letter words in there. We have company policy--we can't duplicate anything that contains profanity or sensitive material.' I said, 'The hell you can't.' "

Stevens had a lawyer call the president of Cassette Productions, Inc. and work a little legal voodoo on him.

"(The president) responded and let us know they were going to do it (duplicate the album) after all," Stevens says.

Maybe not. When we contacted Greg Anderson, president of Cassette Productions, he said that his company's no-obscenity policy would have prevented them from doing the contracted work with Crash Landing. Anderson says the album was pressed by yet another company.

"We have a number of clients that we have signed contractual agreements with that prohibit us from duplicating or having in-house masters for things which would be considered obscene or vulgar," Anderson says. "It's simply a protection or a safeguard for their company that there would be no possibility that the masters would get put out of place and that their Christian-based customer would receive something inappropriate."

Anderson says the policy is simply a good business move.

"We made a business decision because we had a large Christian-based clientele and they said 'In order for you to do our work, you can't have material that would be objectionable to children in your house (factory).' That's a warm and fuzzy for them and they like it. It's a niche of the market that we've been very successful in and it's the type of business that we seek."

Stevens argues that Cassette Productions agreed to do business with him without revealing their warm and fuzzy side first.

"The sales guy I talked with initially never informed me explicitly that they had this policy," he says. "I had assumed Utah was still part of the United States and the First Amendment was enforced there as it is here and if they didn't like what was on the CD they could turn the volumes down on their speakers while they were doing (the duplication)."

It's clear that Cassette Productions wants to have it both ways. They like their lucrative Christian business but they don't want to scare off other potential customers by being upfront about their "obscenity" policy. When they hear potty words on a tape then they try to back out of agreements they've made with companies like Crash Landing, and if push comes to shove, they'll ship the work out to another company in order to fulfill their contract. (They never told Stevens they were sub-contracting his work.)

We hope you've enjoyed this tawdry tale of religious zealots attempting to exert their frosty influence over art and the integrity of artists. Have a nice day.

MEMORIAL DAY FIREWORKS: Club Congress is having a holiday weekend blast as big as the whole outdoor parking lot next to the venue.

It starts Friday night with a concert on the outdoor stage featuring Al Perry, Scenic (see Quickscans for a review of their new album), The Richies (Deutschen Ramonen-Joey lebt!), Liberty School, Weird Lovemakers, The Resonars, Greasy Chicken, Porktorta and Helldriver. Admission is three bucks to hear all nine bands.

The music continues Saturday evening with outside performances by Blackmoon Graffiti, The Splendor, Sty (formerly Cosmic Boogie Tribe) and Joe Rush. Again, admission is $3.

The weekend party ends Sunday night with a show featuring Giant Sand, Rainer, Fuzz, The Satellites, Skinny Jim and Greyhound Soul. It's a free, all-ages concert at the club at 311 E. Congress St.

LAST NOTES: Berky's On Fourth, 424 N. Fourth Ave., is beginning an experiment with original rock and roll on weekday nights. That means if people show up, the music will continue at the new club on the avenue. If you stay at home watching the tube, groups like Greyhound Soul and Star Crunch (playing Thursday, May 25) will wind up at home staring at the telly, too.

Admission is just a buck.

--Michael Metzger

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May 25 - May 31, 1995

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