HELIX' Brian Vollmer - "Has AC/DC Lost The Common Man's Touch?

October 3, 2010, 12 years ago

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HELIX mainman Brian Vollmer has issued the following update:

"About a month ago I started putting together a Best Of 2000-2010 CD entitled Running Wild In The 21st Century. One of the songs I intended on adding to the disc was 'It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock And Roll'. To do so, I did the honest thing, which was to try to obtain the mechanical licensing for the song and pay the fees required before going to press. I first had to find the publisher, not an easy task when it comes to AC/DC songs it seems, as they have different publishers in different territories. I first went to the U.S. publishers., and after not hearing back from them, eventually contacted the Australian publishers, Albert & Sons. Here is the email which I sent to them:

To whom it may concern,

Hello, I am the lead singer of the group Helix. I've tried to contact Albert & Son publishing several times about publishing on an AC/DC song 'It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock And Roll' and no one has gotten back to me. We would like to use the song (re-recorded by Helix) as a bonus track on a CD we'll be putting out soon called Running Wild In The 21st Century. This is for the territory of Canada and does not involve digital downloads.

I cannot proceed with my project until I know whether or not I can use our version of this song. We plan on pressing a small run of 500 units to start; more if there is a demand. Helix is a platinum selling act in Canada but as you know, CD sales over the past several years have fallen dramatically. We cannot press until we pay the mechanicals and we can't pay the mechanicals until you get back to us.

Bonn Scott wrote in this song about how hard the music business is and how frequently you get screwed. I've been doing this for 36 years now and I can relate. Please let me know one way or another if I can use this song. That's all I'm asking.

Thank you for you time.

Brian Vollmer

When I returned from our gigs up north in Thunder Bay and Kenora, Lynda (Vollmer) informed me that there was a lawyer who had phoned me from N.Y.C. by the name of a Mr. Prager, and that he wanted me to phone him immediately, so I did. He came on the line and in a very rude voice informed me that I had got his company '…in trouble…' and '…what the hell did I think I was doing…?' I told him my intention was never to get anyone in trouble; that all I was trying to do was the honest thing-paying the mechanicals-and that if need be, I would apologize to whomever I supposedly got into trouble. He asked me what I wanted to use the song for and so I explained it to him, to which he replied, '…well, find another song! I don’t care if you’ve just recorded the greatest version in the world! AC/DC doesn’t like anyone to record their songs!' As I was asking him again whom I should phone to apologize to, he slammed the phone down on me.

Well, first off, his statement that '…AC/DC doesn’t let anyone record their songs…' is a bunch of hooey. Tom Mathers of Perris Records released a compilation cover CD of AC/DC songs a couple of years ago and I know THE MUDMEN had a version of Long Way on one of their CDs on Capitol/E.M.I. Sean Kelly, whom I work with, told me that he had played on a cover of an AC/DC song as well. Lastly, I don’t need some hotshot lawyer from N.Y.C. trying to brow beat me over the phone. Maybe the guy should just try doing his job. Bon Scott must be rolling in his grave knowing an asshole like Mr. Prager from N.Y.C. is representing him now that he’s gone. Nuff said.

Now that we can’t include this song on the compilation CD, we’ll probably go in and record a new original to add as a bonus track. We have several written; it will just take a little time to get one recorded as we’re extremely busy with recording an acoustic CD of all the Helix hits (as yet un-named). Realistially, Running Wild in the 21st Century will now be delayed until spring 2011."

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