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Kroq-ing The Waters With Beasties

April 05, 1987|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

Remember the ruckus last fall when ATV Music, the Michael Jackson-owned publishing company that owns the Beatles music catalogue, refused to let the Beastie Boys cover the Fab Four hit "I'm Down" because the rap-brats' new version featured a host of new--and allegedly nasty--lyrics?

The song never appeared on the Beasties' huge hit album "Licensed to Ill," which just finished five weeks at the top of the charts. But guess what tune is one of the most requested songs on KROQ-FM last week?

You guessed it--a bootleg cassette tape version of the Beasties' "I'm Down."

"When I was at the New Music Seminar in New York last fall, someone working with the Beasties passed out a tape which had the song on it," said KROQ-FM Program Director Rick Carroll. "I must admit, I didn't even listen to it till the station moved to Burbank a few weeks ago. I found it when I was unpacking some boxes and I liked it so much that we put it right on the air. Our fans really love it."

Carroll said he hasn't heard from the Jackson camp or CBS Records, which distributes both Beasties and Jackson albums. "There haven't been any complaints from CBS or anyone else. So until we do, we're going to keep playing it."

But perhaps not for long. Jackson attorney John Branca termed the KROQ hit an "unauthorized" recording. "We haven't made any firm decision yet, but we're considering the possibility of taking action, because it is clearly an unauthorized version of the song," he said.

Oddly enough, a rival rap group, the Fat Boys, has received permission to cover another Beatles song, "Baby You're a Rich Man," which also contains a host of new, rap-style lyrics. Branca acknowledged that the Fat Boys have permission to release their version, but refused to comment on why one group's version was authorized while the other was not.

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