Did Mercedes-Benz Swipe GOD's 'My Pal'?
News posted Thursday, October 25 2012 at 01:00 PM.
It’s the ultimate ode to teen alienation and self-loathing, a default Melbourne anthem and the last song played as a particular era of The Tote came crashing down in 2010.
But when Joel Silbersher penned ‘My Pal’ as a teenager in the mid-80s, he probably never envisaged it’d be soundtracking a commercial for a $70,000 Mercedes-Benz coupe 25 years later. The ad for Mercedes’ new “Safety In Numbers” finance program features a track that bears a striking resemblance to ‘My Pal’ by Silbersher’s teen punk band GOD.
Released on the legendary Au Go Go label in 1987, ‘My Pal’ was recorded on an eight-track at the Abbotsford studio of Melbourne producer/engineer Simon Grounds. It went on to sell out its initial pressing of 500 copies; no mean feat for a bunch of teens making noisy rock’n’roll well before ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ hit the mainstream. The track has since been covered by the likes of Magic Dirt, Bored!, Violent Soho, The Drones (with Silbersher at that infamous Tote gig in 2010) and Bonnie “Prince” Billy.
Licenced through Universal Music Publishing, ‘My Pal’ was recently used with permission in the Julian Assange tele-movie, Underground, and has also appeared in an episode of Underbelly. While the band have declined to comment, former Au Go Go Records boss Bruce Milne said he was unsure whether the track had been licenced to Mercedes. “Well, that explains why I’ve seen Joel driving around in a convertible Merc coupe,” he joked.
The situation brings to mind a recent case in which a variation on John Butler Trio’s ‘Zebra’ was used without permission in a commercial for Dannon’s Oikos Greek yoghurt. The matter was settled out of court.