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Have Gun, Will Trammel

Moby gives new meaning to alternative rock

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MTV viewers are accustomed to blurred brand names and bleeped words, so few would be surprised to hear that onetime techno star Moby altered the lyrics of his current single, ”That’s When I Reach for My Revolver,” after the network objected to the song’s gun imagery. Fans, on the other hand, might not expect the adamantly uncompromising artist to radically alter the song’s lyrics in a bid for MTV’s approval.

”I have a kind of flexible attitude toward things,” says Moby, who substituted the tamer ”That’s when I realize it’s over” for the original chorus. ”It’s a shame,” he says, ”but when you’re reaching out to millions of people you have a certain strange responsibility.”

Compromising artistic integrity to reach a larger audience is not uncommon and it’s hard to begrudge Moby his shot at mainstream success. Problem is, it’s not his song. Originally recorded by ’80s post-punkers Mission of Burma, ”Revolver” was an alt-rock classic long before Moby got his hands on it. So how does the band feel about his PC tinkering? ”I have to absorb the MTV thing,” says Burma bassist and ”Revolver” author Clint Conley, who last year gave Moby the okay to change the lyric for a U.K. TV appearance but had no idea the edit would end up on MTV. ”I suppose I thought the damage was going to be contained.”

MOB guitarist Roger Miller is less diplomatic: ”Changing the lyrics to the video is totally disgusting and contrary to everything I believe in.”

Another rocker seems to have few such concerns about the techno pioneer’s judgment. Axl Rose and Moby are discussing collaborating on Guns N’ Roses’ comeback album. Hey, where was Moby when GN’R wrote the famously offensive ”One in a Million”?