It's a story that's probably as old as recorded music; just because somebody writes and maybe even records a song doesn't mean they own it. In the early days of popular music unscrupulous white producers would pay black writers a pittance up front only for the musician to discover later that he had signed away ownership of a song by accepting that cash. As the years went by they'd have to watch as other people made money off their creations while they lived in poverty. Even in later years when you'd think things would have improved, musicians can still wake up and find their music being sold without them receiving a penny in return.
For Richard Hell, former lead singer of the New York City punk band the Voidoids, it was a recording he released in 1982, Destiny Street. Not only had he been unhappy with what had been released, but he had to spend most of the 1990s and early part of this century watching as an illegal copy of the recording was being sold worldwide without him receiving a cent in return. For once this story has a happy ending as not only was Hell able to regain ownership of his music in 2004, he's also been able to rectify what he saw as the mistakes of the past by re-issuing a version of the album that's more to his satisfaction.
Destiny Street Repaired, on the Insound label, goes on sale September 1, 2009 and can be purchased either directly from the label or from Hell's site (see link above). Taking a two track recording of the original rhythm tracks, Hell has re-recorded the vocals, hired guitarists Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Ivan Julian to lay down new leads, and then mixed it down with Robert Quine and Naux's guitar, Fred Haher's drums, and his own bass work from the 1982 sessions.
Now this might seem like a lot of fuss to make over an album by a band that only released two albums in total anyway, but Richard Hell and the Voidoids struck a chord with a lot of people with their first album, The Blank Generation. The title track became a type of nihilistic anthem for those looking for some sort of philosophical justification for knocking themselves silly dancing to music and shooting up. In an effort to distance themselves from the "hippies" of the previous generation, many punks thought it was cool to act like they didn't care about anything. What was the point, you couldn't make a difference, so fuck it — that may not have been what Hell had intended the song and the album to communicate, but a lot of people took it that way and started to refer to themselves as being part of the Blank Generation.