Green Day are getting some free publicity from Wal-Mart, since the store won't sell their album 21st Century Breakdown without the band doing a little personal clean-up. Of course, this nonsense has been going on for years, with artists offering up "clean" versions of their albums for fans either too unsophisticated to buy the album elsewhere or who like getting the boring version of said album.
I enjoy watching GoodFellas with all the expletives altered. So what the heck?
"Controversial" albums have been with us for a long time. Last I checked, none of them led to people overthrowing the government or becoming serial killers, but then again I'm not the kind of guy who thinks "Helter Skelter" by the Beatles should be held accountable for the Charles Manson murders. I do think the Disney Corporation should be charged with something for giving the world Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.
Here is a random spattering of albums that once caused older people to have their blood pressure medicine adjusted.
10) The Beatles--Yesterday And Today: Pictures of the Fab Four sitting around in butcher smocks with bloody meat on their laps? You can practically feel western civilization declining if this got out to the general public.
9) John Lennon & Yoko Ono--Two Virgins: Personally, I don't want to see these two naked (as they appeared on the album's cover), either. And I sure don't want to listen to their self-indulgent album. But putting it in a brown paper bag only makes it more attractive to people who like to own things in brown paper bags. Have you hugged a wino lately?
8) Nirvana--In Utero: In order to make Wal-Mart happy, Nirvana changed "Rape Me" to "Waif Me." Is this true? They also altered the back cover of the album to eliminate the fetuses that apparently also bother people. I didn't even know anyone looked at the back of an album.
7) Blind Faith--Blind Faith: Young naked girls like the one on this album's cover before puberty wouldn't even be considered OK for album-cover art today. But back in the late '60s and early '70s people were more likely not to care, since there really weren't as many places to fake your "moral outrage" and people were mostly too stoned to care.
6) Jane's Addiction--Ritual De Lo Habitual: One cover was "too controversial" because of nudity. So, the "clean cover" contained the text of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which for those unfamiliar declares we have the right to "bear words" against our neighbor.
John Mellencamp--Mr. Happy Go Lucky: Wal-Mart insisted he airbrush out an angel and demon from the cover of his album. Now we're really talking picky. What next? I" don't like the color of your wife's dress on the album cover. Please have her choose a more suitable hue"?
4) Dead Kennedys--Frankenchrist: These guys went to court over a poster included inside the album by noted artist H.R. Giger. Granted, the artwork in question--that of decrepit sexual nature--might not be to everyone's taste, but I don't imagine anyone who buys an album by a band called the Dead Kennedys is likely to be disturbed by such imagery and may even in fact secretly crave such things. Do you go to fast food restaurants for your health?
Guns N' Roses--Lies: Their debut album Appetite For Destruction (and other ditties) had its album cover replaced due to its graphic sexual/violent nature, but it was this extended EP with the song "One In A Million" that caused quite a stir, since Axl doesn't seem to like foreigners and homosexuals very much. Sounds like a lot of people I hear screaming on AM radio. Which is why I switched to FM years ago.
2) 2 Live Crew--As Nasty As They Wanna Be: They ended up recording "Banned In The U.S.A." because that's exactly what happened. This wonderful album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, was deemed offensive and illegal and a record store owner was thrown in jail for selling a copy to an undercover police officer. Great to see law enforcement being used to protect the people. Now will someone from the police department come over and smack my annoying neighbor?
Sheryl Crow--Sheryl Crow: Sheryl Crow refused to alter this lyric: "Watch our children as they kill each other with a gun they bought at Wal-Mart discount stores" and was subsequently not allowed to sell her album at Wal-Mart Discount Stores. I can kinda see the point here from both sides. People who told me they didn't like my mom were never allowed back into my house. I'm just surprised that anyone at Wal-Mart would even notice such a thing. I bet somebody brought it to Mr. Wal-Mart's attention, unless he was already a huge Sheryl Crow fan, at which point he must've been mighty disappointed that Sheryl didn't share his enthusiasm for gun-selling.