Did an 1980s Australian pub band inspire one of the most famous songs by one of the world’s biggest bands?
That’s the question music fans are debating this week as they listen to Australian Crawl’s “Unpublished Critics” from their 1981 album, Sirocco, and the Gun N’ Roses smash hit “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, which came out six years later.
It something James Reyne fans have long pondered, but the debate flared up again this week after Max TV put up this post, layering both songs over the top of each other.
As Max TV comments: “wow it does it sound similar: the same chugging chord progression, a similarly-sweeping lead break, the verse melody, and the elongated one-syllable vocal in the chorus”.
James Reyne, whose most recent work includes a 2010 collection of Elvis covers, and turns 58 next week, is far more circumspect about the matter, telling one publication that “I’m not about to take on the might of the Guns N’ Roses lawyers”.
Musical sampling was in the headlines in March after a US jury decided that singers Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up” to create the biggest hit of 2013, “Blurred Lines”, awarding the late soul singer’s family $US7.3 million for the copyright breach.
And as another 80s Aussie rock band, Men at Work all-too-painfully know, the passage of time is no defence against accusations of sampling. They were sued by Larrikin Music, which owned the rights to the folk song “Kookaburra”, after quiz show Spicks and Specks asked the question “What children’s song is contained in the song Down Under?” in 2008.
The band lost the case over the flute riff in Australia’s de facto national anthem in 2010 and the court handed Larrikin 5% of royalties from 2002.
Axl, Slash and the Gunners gang have previously pointed to the inspiration they took from two great Aussie hard rock bands, AC/DC and Rose Tattoo, but even so, it’s hard to believe they were sitting around late at night listening to the plaintive cries of Australian Crawl’s “Reckless”, even if a power ballad like “Sweet Child o’ Mine” seems a little out of character with the rest of the band’s oeuvre.
So over to you. Listen up to the two tracks below and decide. Maybe Reyne could get fans to put together a Kickstarter campaign and see what an American jury thinks about this one.
Guns N’ Roses
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