Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wal-Mart Theft Index and AC/DC

Steal This Album: AC/DC Meets Wal-Mart

How do you know times are tough? The stuff folks steal from Wal-Mart changes:
In normal times, shoplifters will grab CDs, DVDs, and smaller electronics items, strip them of packaging in the quieter aisles, then walk through security scanners undetected.

But over the past few months, workers are discovering that even thieves are having a hard go of it during this wretched economy. “Now I'm finding lots of things like food, diapers, tampons, over-the-counter pharmacy stuff like kid's cough medicine and insulin.”

Angus Young of AC/DCIf you want to steal the new AC/DC album, you'll have to steal it either from an on-line torrent or from Wal-Mart. The band made an exclusive deal, and the new album "Black Ice" is only available at the home of the yellow smiley face.

It seems like an odd match: AC/DC's self-proclaimed hedonism paired with Wal-Mart's small town cultural conservatism. It was Wal-Mart who pushed for the parental advisory "Tipper stickers" more than any other retailer way back in the `80s. It was Wal-Mart who pressured record companies into offering butchered "clean version" disks, not always clearly labeled as such but sometimes good for unintentional comedy. Even the uncompromising Kurt Cobain, just before his death, gave in and agreed to change artwork and song titles to get Nirvana's "In Utero" into America's largest retailer.

Wally World isn't above politically censoring musicians, either; check with Sheryl Crow on that one. She made a lyrical reference to buying guns at Wal-Mart and got yanked from the shelves.

But AC/DC, for all their rowdy image, aren't truly "controversial," not when "Hells Bells" is stadium rally music at football games. The band is aggressively apolitical, so Wal-Mart's track record on labor, environmental, and cultural issues wouldn't cross their minds. "Come on, come on, listen to the money talk," as they once said.

Maybe Wal-Mart and AC/DC aren't so far apart after all. The alcohol-soaked, testicle-obsessed, nudge-nudge, wink-wink world view of the Brothers Young and Brian Johnson is actually a pretty conservative, non-PC, pre-feminist outlook, with schoolboy-clad Angus Young as The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up.

It goes without saying, of course, that they nevertheless kick ass, even as they age into their fifties.

Enough people still shop at Wally World, now the single largest music retailer and the only shopping option in vast rural stretches, that it debuted at Number One on Billboard's charts, selling a whopping 780,000 copies. That's huge by modern standards and topped the latest "High School Musical" outing by about three to one. Proving that there's more aging headbangers than Disney-obsessed tweens.

Or perhaps it proves what Dennis Miller once said of Steely Dan: all their fans are over 50 and can't figure out how to download it for free.


Anonymous said...

Cobain allowed the changes to In Utero so kids in rural areas would be able access his music. He remembered buying music from department stores as a teen because there was no alternative in a small town. Good read, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Cobain allowed the changes to In Utero so kids in rural areas would be able to access Nirvana's music. He remembered buying music from department stores as a young teen because there was no alternative living in a small town. Good read, thanks.