When I was purchasing Karajan's arrangement of Beethoven's Ninth
, I also picked up a copy of Prokoviev's Peter and the Wolf
, because it was only three quid and it had Willie Rushton doing the narration.
I love Peter and the Wolf
. My love for Russian composers aside, I used to listen to an LP version of this every Saturday when I was six or seven. It's Classical Music For Dummies without the dummies. It's aimed at children from an age when you could talk to children without being fucking patronising all the time.
It also gets funny when you listen to it after a twenty-year hiatus. The frequent references to ``Peter (our hero)'', as if we might have forgotten who was in the title, serve only to amuse, although they may have helped the
child with the low attention span to engage with the story... and ooh, look, a squirrel
. The plot, in as much as there is one, is along the lines of ``something almost happened, but it didn't. Here's some music''. And the music is gorgeous enough to carry it.
Willie Rushton, when he does the narration (I must find out who narrated the version I used to listen to when I was younger), has just the right kind of plummy, story-telling voice to carry it off, although he does occasionally go a bit Cockney for no good reason. Sometimes I wonder whether he's not being too ironic, but then I suspect that I'm taking it too seriously. After all, this is my childhood we're talking about.
And he does exactly the same voice for the Cat that Eric Thompson did for Buxton in Dougal and the Blue Cat
***END LENGTHY ASIDE***
Remember the good old days when legal disclaimers were clearly distinguishable? I've got one here, conveniently from the aforementioned 1977 recording of Karajan's (Glorious) Ninth. It reads, around the edge of the disc, so that you have to strain to read the whole thing: ``All rights of the producer and of the owner of the work reproduced reserved. Unauthorised copying, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting of this record prohibited.
' Then it says the same thing in German, for good measure.
We'll come back to that bit about ``lending'' in a moment. No, wait, fuck it, let's do that now. ``Unauthorised
[...] [is] prohibited
'', it says. We're not allowed to lend our CDs to people? Let's stay away from the fact that this is an item of merchandise that I bought, and that I own, and have every right to dispose of as I choose, for a minute, and concentrate on the WHOAH SHIT I've been a criminal MY ENTIRE LIFE.
...enough dwelling on that. Let's just move on and hope the Police aren't reading this. (I mean the police, like the Lothian And Borders Police, not The
Police. Although they might be annoyed if I'd been contravening copyright laws with any of their records, I definitely don't want to annoy Sting. He was the template for John Constantine, and he was Feyd in Dune
, and I certainly
don't want to annoy him. He will
kill me!... or something.)
On my new copy of the 21st-century, enlightened version of Peter and the Wolf
, we see the 21st-century, enlightened version of the same copyright notice:
Thank you for buying this disc and thereby supporting all those involved in the making of it.
Please remember that this record and its packaging are protected by copyright law.
Please don't lend discs to others to copy, give away illegal copies of discs, or use internet services that promote the illegal distribution of copyright recordings.
Such actions threaten the livelihood of musicians and everyone else involved in producing music.
Well, suddenly we're much nicer and more friendly. We're prohibiting the same random shit (that everyone does anyway) as has been done for thirty years or so, but now we have an obligation to explain just what you're doing to the economy, you bastards
. This is the caring, sharing 90s, when the iron boot of oppression is wrapped in the velvet glove of consideration and harmony! ...and, yeah. I should drink less when I'm constructing LJ rants. I know this.
Patronising tone aside, the text goes on, it doesn't stop, it goes on: ``Applicable laws provide severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorised reproduction, distribution and digital transmission of copyright sound recordings
''. See, there's the stick we were waiting for. Now we've got the considerate Nineties bollocks out of the way, they can start brandishing random threats in the full knowledge that they've already made their case politely once. Anything extra might as well be underlined by blue flashing lights in the street outside, the neighbours tutting and twitching their curtains, and a uniformed constable telling you that you have no need to say anything. You're already guilty, you music-stealing or music-considering-stealing fucks, so shut up and listen to our COPYRIGHT JUSTICE.
And yet (this being the caring, sharing Nineties) it doesn't end there. They offer you a way out; absolution for your filthy cassette-lending (once, when you were fourteen) sins. Here it is: ``To find legal downloads, visit www.musicfromemi.com
EMI have gone to all this trouble to set up a website for us. It's only fair that we patronise it. So I did. Stop me if I'm wrong, but no downloads are available on the site in question, just a list of propaganda reasons why music downloading is bad---and any attempts to explain why
music downloading is bad appear to get blocked by my Firefox; either that or the explanations never existed in the first place.
This is just like the buggy-whip manufacturers protesting about
I'm not going to talk about the buggy-whip manufacturers. That's a point that has been made many times before, often better than I could have done it.
I didn't really have a point, now I come to think of it, except to observe that the recording industry people have now resorted to pleading
 For those young'uns reading this, an LP is one of those flat black plastic things we used to listen to music on. This was round about the time that I was listening to a lot of Jeff Wayne's version of The War of the Worlds
, so I can feel slightly justified in being patronising to the young'uns. Recall that I'm still not, quite, twenty-six yet.
 I'm often similarly patronising to Jehane, who's something like fourteen months younger than I am, about major cultural events of which I tell her ``you're too young to remember this''. I'm usually right, but this is often because I got my
enculturation from records ten years after the event. Records were just coming into vogue, and I got an extra ten years of knowledge from my family being behind the times and my own hurry to catch up: this is probably why I consider the 80s fascinating, because I had to rush past it perfunctorily on my way.
 I still maintain that there is no better way to grow up than by Dire Straits 48s played at 75rpm so that they ``sound like Pinky and Perky
''. Such was entertainment in my house in the mid-eighties.
 Give me a break. It's a sight more advanced than telling stories around the fire or complaining about rationing.
 I'm reminded of the DVD extras to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
where the kid who plays Draco turns out to be this quintessential little Essex wide-boy, telling us that ``me an' `Arry... we 'ave this little wand fight, right''.
 I have no idea what ``wide-boy'' actually means. I suspect I don't want to, either.
 Another time I would have a complete LJ post about the patronising tone alone. This isn't one of those times.
 `Nineties' looks like a really stupid word when I type it. Am I doing it right?