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Sultanas of Swing, Eric Clipton, and Mick Jugger

Bootleggers... Oh so much to answer for

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by Joe Ambrose, Literary Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: December, 2007
I saw, for fifty Dirhams, an MP3 CD containing Eric Clipton's last fourteen albums

Billabong, D&G, and Burberry are august fashion brand names whose reputations are currently taking something of a trashing at the hands of intrepid Moroccan bootleggers. I saw a vile tracksuit yesterday that'd just appal Burberry's marketing people.

Street vendors do a roaring trade in illegal DVDs. For fifteen Dirhams I bought copies of American Gangster, Larry Clarke's Wassup Rockers, and Paranoid Park. Admittedly Wassup Rockers turned out to be in Spanish and without subtitles. Once in a while you get a camcordered first row of the stalls job but mostly these are perfect digital duplicates complete with color photocopies of the sleeves providing all the important details.

Music sold around Marrakesh on bootleg CD usually comes from within genres like rai, hip hop, or reggae. Bryan Adams, Cat Stevens, and Kenny Rogers are also popular. (In England everyone calls him Yussef Islam but here everyone calls him Cat Stevens.) There is a big audience for some pretty slushy maudlin homegrown tunes.

Last week I saw a Dire Straits greatest hits compilation called Sultanas of Swing. Another time I discovered, and bought, Mick Jugger Love Songs. Today, in the fascinating Da Under World Music in Marrakesh's chic Gueliz district, I saw, for fifty Dirhams, an MP3 CD containing Eric Clipton's last fourteen albums.

Surely it is a good day when Mr. Clipton and his ilk are being done out of their royalties while poor ghetto boys walk the streets of Africa decked out in the finest of loose fitting, gaudy, loud, eye-catching Billabong bootlegs.

Photograph of Joe Ambrose in front of Da Under World Music, Marrakesh, by Robbie Ambrose

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Joe Ambrose
Literary Editor

Joe Ambrose has written 14 books, including Chelsea Hotel Manhattan and The Fenian Reader. Joe is currently working on his next book, Look at Us Now - The Life and Death of Muammar Ghadaffi, which is an expanded version of a story first published in the anthology CUT UP! Visit Joe's website for all the latest info: JoeAmbrose.co.uk.

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