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Hear and Now

This week on the music beat

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KLEIN SWEEP The Verve’s ”Bitter Sweet Symphony” may be in heavy rotation on MTV, but the song’s success is a decidedly, uh, bittersweet victory for the band. Because ”Bitter Sweet Symphony” samples an orchestral arrangement of the Rolling Stones’ ”The Last Time,” ex-Stones manager Allen Klein has demanded — and is getting — all of the publishing royalties, 70 percent of which goes to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Klein, who owns the copyrights to every Stones song from 1963 to 1971, sees nothing unusual in the deal: ”The income on ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ is handled in exactly the same way as any other Mick Jagger-Keith Richards song. The Verve don’t just use a small portion of ‘The Last Time’ — they use the whole song.” The Verve, who signed a contract agreeing to Klein’s terms, still feel he’s getting too much. ”A 50-50 [split] should have been okay,” grumbles bassist Simon Jones. As for the band’s future plans for sampling the Stones … well, this should be the last time.

SQUIRRELLY BEHAVIOR Can squirrels and mice coexist peacefully? The Squirrel Nut Zippers — those zany zoot suit-era revivalists who made waves this summer with the novelty hit ”Hell” — are off to a rocky start with their new paymasters at Disney. Last June, in a move that surprised watchers of the family-values firm, Mickey & Co. acquired the alt-rock-heavy Mammoth Records (for which the Zippers record) for a reported $25 million. One of the first synergistic products of the Mammoth-Disney alliance was a Zippers remake of ”Under the Sea,” an intended bonus cut on the soon-to-be-rereleased soundtrack to The Little Mermaid. But neither the Zippers’ remake nor the video footage shot for the song met with the approval of the band or Mouse house bigs. According to a Disney spokesperson, the song ”lacked the charm of the film.” The band, which was fresh off the H.O.R.D.E. tour, felt it was a rush job. ”They had just come off the road and had only two days to lay it down,” says the group’s publicist. ”If they’d had a week, maybe they would have gotten it right.” (And we always thought squirrels were speedy little buggers.)

DEAD MAN SQUAWKING If you thought the double-CD opus Life After Death was the last word from the Notorious B.I.G., think again. Bad Boy Entertainment CEO/sample Svengali Sean ”Puffy” Combs plans to oversee yet another posthumous release from the late rapper. Combs has described the album, tentatively titled Born Again, as ”a documentary” about the B.I.G. man’s life that will include narration from Combs and B.I.G.’s mother, Voletta Wallace. The disc will likely include early demos as well as a few stray tracks the rapper left behind; Combs is shooting for an early ’98 release date. HMV Records buyer Marvin Andaya predicts demand for even a cobbled-together B.I.G. album will be high: ”It should do quite well. I’m sure Puff Daddy would add enough to it so that radio would play it. It does seem like a bit much, but it would still be Notorious B.I.G. — in a way.”

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