A recent good-humored spat between R.E.M. and Peter Gabriel over the names of their
upcoming CDs may have some music fans asking themselves, "So what's Up with
all these album titles?"
The answer, of course: the word "up."
World-beat rocker Gabriel announced on Friday (Sept. 11) that his long-awaited
follow-up to 1994's Secret World Live album would be titled Up, the same
name chosen by Athens, Ga., rock superstars R.E.M. for their highly anticipated new
A reason for a lawsuit? Unlikely.
The environmentally conscious Gabriel, who has no plans to pursue the matter in court,
said he had for years toyed with the notion of calling an album Up, a title in
keeping with the river theme of the related projects being developed by the artist --
Up the Amazon, Up the Nile and Up the Ganges.
"When I first found out about the R.E.M. album title, I thought that my Up project,
which had always been related to rivers, was now going 'up Sh-- Creek,' " Gabriel said
in a statement issued Friday.
For a while, the former Genesis singer's use of the term was entirely up in the air, but
after consulting with members of R.E.M., Gabriel decided to keep the title.
"I have been living in the Up world for four years now and have no wish to come
down," he said.
Meanwhile, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck was decidedly upbeat about the whole affair.
"We first considered calling our album Peter Gabriel's Up, but decided that just
Up was the way to go," Buck said in a statement. "We hope in the future that all
other bands will also adopt this title in a showing of solidarity."
R.E.M. manager Bertis Downs was unavailable for comment on Friday, but had earlier
said that there were likely a "million reasons" the band chose the name for its album title,
not the least of which was that the group liked the word. The band's 11th album of new
material -- due out Oct. 27 and featuring such songs as "Airplane Man," "Suspicion,"
"Sad Professor" and "Parakeet" -- will be R.E.M.'s first without drummer Bill Berry, who
quit last fall to step away from the music scene.
Buck's notion of an all-Up music community may be closer to fruition than he
realizes -- in fact, R.E.M. and Gabriel are actually not the first to choose the decidedly
optimistic title for an album. New-wave poppers AC released an album called Up
in 1989, and one-hit wonder Right Said Fred got "Too Sexy" on his own Up back
Robert Soran, a Tower Records employee at the South Street store in Philadelphia, said
he didn't think music fans would have any trouble distinguishing Gabriel's album from
R.E.M.'s. "They both have different followings," Soran said.
Gabriel's Up, which so far has no release date, according to the artist's
spokeswoman, Annie Ohayon, will be his first studio album of new material since the
1992 album Us.
Should either Gabriel or R.E.M. start feeling particularly litigious, a good copyright lawyer
would likely turn their case upside down in short order.
Attorney Joseph F. Hart, whose Beverly Hills, Calif., practice deals with
intellectual-property litigation in the music industry, said that a band might have trouble
stealing an uncommon name such as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. On
the other hand, if Tony Bennett released a disc with an everyday title such as Love
Songs, it would be a different matter. "Anyone, I'm sure, could use that title without
any problem," Hart said.
R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe said he found the discussion with Gabriel uplifting.
"We love Peter Gabriel and we are honored to have this association -- great minds think
alike," he said in a statement. Bass player Mike Mills added, "There is no one else we
would rather be sharing a title with than our friend Peter Gabriel."