October 8 [10:00 EDT] -- Last week, we carried a report in which Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft complained that one small, barely audible sample from an old Rolling Stones-related track had cost him 100 percent of his royalties for the current Verve hit "Bittersweet Symphony."
However, it seems that the definition of "barely audible" may be up for some serious debate.
The old track Ashcroft sampled is an orchestral instrumental version of the Rolling Stones' classic "The Last Time," from a 1960s album by then Stones producer Andrew Oldham.
On the new Verve album, "Urban Hymns," the credit for "Bittersweet Symphony" reads "performed by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, lyrics by Richard Ashcroft, produced by Andrew Oldham." There's also an additional production credit for Chris Potter, who worked on the rest of the Verve album.
Last week, Ashcroft complained to MTV News that the sample was only a small part of the background,
but could not be easily removed. "I was in a position (where) if I took it out, even though it's subliminal, this subliminal can be important, so I was in a no-win situation."
The Verve's label also told MTV News the sample Ashcroft used was "barely audible."
However, after tracking down a copy of the Andrew Oldham original, it seems that the sample is not quite as minimal as Ashcroft made it out to be.
Onetime Stones manager Allen Klein's company Abkco, which owns the publishing on many early Stones tunes including "The Last Time," says that the Verve's use of the orchestral "Last Time" was in fact licensed, through the Stones' old label Decca which owned the actual recordings.
However, getting permission from the publisher for the rights to the music is a different ballgame, and Abkco plays hardball. George Michael had to turn over some of his royalties on his song "Waiting For That Day" because he quoted the Stones lyric "You Can't Always Get What You
Want." Janet Jackson had to give up part of her copyright for "What'll I Do" for using the "Satisfaction" refrain "Hey hey hey, that's what I say."
"We are not in the business of allowing samples," says Abkco.