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The Issue with Reissues

 
By on Thursday, 8th March 2012 at 11:00 am
 

Reissue! Repackage! Repackage!
Re-evaluate the songs
Double-pack with a photograph
Extra track, and a tacky badge

“Best of!” “Most of!”
Satiate the need
Slip them into different sleeves!
Buy both, and feel deceived…

(excerpts from the Smiths – ‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’, 1987)

Rather conveniently, the day after Blur performed on the 2012 BRIT Awards last week, we heard the news from the Guardian that producer Stephen Street is in the midst of remastering the Britpop giants’ entire back catalogue for the band’s intention to reissue all of the albums sometime in the future. Of course, reissuing and remastering is not a new idea at all in rock. Let’s take for example two of the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll of all time. Jimmy Page famously went to task on overseeing the remastering Led Zeppelin’s master tapes in order to provide higher fidelity sound quality in the early years of the CD for the ‘Remasters’ release in 1990. The Beatles Anthology released in 1995-1996 were three CD sets that culled supposedly rare early recordings, outtakes and live versions of songs from the Fabs’ musical history. So what’s the issue with reissues?

As you’ve read in perfect clarity at the very top of this article two excerpts from Morrissey’s lyrics in the Smiths’ ‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’, most times the purpose of reissues is crass commercialism. For myself, I know I’ve bought doubles of and/or different versions of albums or unusual and rare singles simply because being a fan, I wanted to have them in my collection. (This explains how I have UK, Australian, Japanese, and Taiwanese versions of albums I already own in US formats and why I am rapidly running out of storage space. Yeah…)

Surely, the only limit to your music shopping habits is your own wallet. I’ve drooled in private at Talking Heads’ ‘Brick’, all eight of the band’s studio albums remastered in Dual-Disc format and available at a price out of my budget, just like I’ve balked at the price for a leather bound, signed copy of George Harrison’s I Me Mine. Luckily, I have some willpower…and definitely some prudence.

But I’m not a completist by any means. So when reissues or remasters are announced, I rarely jump out of my seat, unless there’s something new and really great on the new versions. Do record companies really expect long-time fans of a band to fork over change on an album that already own and know by heart? And they think old skool types who still favours physical releases will buy these in droves? Are they anticipating young people to suddenly think to themselves, “ah yes. Blur. That band in the ‘90s that the bloke who fronts Gorillaz used to be in. I should buy these!”

While I concede that record companies are trying every way possible to combat illegal file-sharing by trying to put out releases like reissues that they think are going to move by the thousands, they appear to be barking up the wrong tree in most of these cases. There is no easy solution to this problem; illegal file-sharing will continue as long as there’s an Internet. But surely there has got to be other creative ways to promote an artist’s work than simply rereleasing something that’s already been out before.

Interestingly enough, Stephen Street also has a hand in the reissue of Morrissey’s first solo album, ‘Viva Hate’, which will be reissued on the 26 of March. Moz has chosen to delete ‘The Ordinary Boys’ and replace it with an outtake from that era, ‘Treat Me Like a Human Being’. Which has already been released as a B-side to ‘Glamorous Glue’ when that single was reissued by EMI last year. Follow all that? Street is not happy about the tracklisting change, but I’m not paying attention to that. I‘m a Morrissey fan and I own ‘Viva Hate’ on CD and vinyl. Will I be buying the reissued version of ‘Viva Hate’? Not likely.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uxP8h0SZRw[/youtube]

Header photo of Blur’s performance at the 2012 BRITs from Who’s Jack

 

Video of the Moment #109: Girl in a Coma

 
By on Sunday, 23rd August 2009 at 6:00 pm
 

Girl in a Coma is made up of three girls from Texas. As their name suggests, they are Smiths fans (but then again, who isn’t?) and the first time I saw them was as the support act for Morrissey’s American tour in late 2007. It must be intimidating for a band to do a support slot, and even more so if you’re opening for El Moz, but they held their own, rocking Constitution Hall satisfyingly with their brand of girl punk.

Their new video for the not-so-punk song ‘El Monte’ feels like a nod to the film version of ‘Grease’ – watch it below and see if you agree. If you’re a girl, I’m sure you can relate to the song’s sentiment.The band’s singer Nina Diaz, with her big brown eyes, will mesmerize you. Check out their new album, ‘Trio B.C.’, now out on Blackheart Records.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHc4_kB_9hM[/youtube]

 

MTV’s Greatest Album Ever: Results

 
By on Thursday, 9th April 2009 at 1:10 am
 

MTV Greatest album (side)We introduced a few weeks ago MTV’s hunt to find “The Greatest Album Ever“. It raised a fair few questions, and a lot of angry responses from you guys as you listed your favourite bands who weren’t included.

Rather unsurprisingly, Michael Jackson topped the poll, having announced his sensational run of London shows between the announcement of the show and the results. Almost one in three of all votes went to the crazy American. In a shock move, Craig David was number 2 in the poll, and has been deemed more popular than Radiohead and Nirvana, receiving more votes than the Oxford based quintet and Seattle grungers combined. Surely that’s got to be some kind of mistake?

Over forty thousand votes were cast, which gives a pretty good perspective of what people think. Many in the comments of the previous post asked about some pretty seminal albums, however it should be noted that these are the best albums since 1981 – when MTV began, so many classics (Pink Floyd, Smiths, Who etc) aren’t eligible for the list. However, as Thom so rightly commented…. no Libertines? Crazy, no?

Speaking of wacko Jacko’s win, Trevor Nelson commented

I don’t think there’ll ever be another album like it ever in the history of music. There will never be a marriage of producer and artist and song writing and pop sensibility – it just won’t happen again. And also, due to the way people buy records now, there’ll never be an album that sells as many copies – and that’s the thing that will keep it at number one.

Interestingly, Zane Lowe didn’t agree with Craig David’s high ranking, commenting

The guy was hugely successful and there’s no denying that album is a great listen from start to finish as a pop record. It probably stands up as the greatest British urban pop record of the last twenty years. Still no one’s really topped it – apart from Winehouse. Should it be number two in The Greatest Album of all time? No, in my opinion, but I’m not going to begrudge anyone’s success, and if his fans voted for it then what’s encouraging for me is that they still consider that record to be an important part of their lives and that’s what music is.

After the jump: the complete list of albums
Continue reading MTV’s Greatest Album Ever: Results

 

MTV’s Greatest Album Ever

 
By on Thursday, 26th February 2009 at 3:42 pm
 

MTV Greatest album (side)It seems every awards season we have another “Greatest album” survey, most of them from one random source who have basically surveyed their friends to see what they like best that day.

However, when MTV do a survey you know it’s going to be the right choice. They’ve just launched their hunt to find the “Greatest Album Ever“, after they crowned Duran Duran’s Rio as having the “Greatest Video Ever” last year.

In conjunction with music industry experts, MTV’s flagship music channels VH1, MTV Two and MTV Base have each collated their top ten greatest albums since 1981, the year MTV launched. The debates to select the albums were chaired by channel presenters Edith Bowman (VH1), Zane Lowe (MTV Two) and Trevor Nelson (MTV Base).

Suggs (of Madness fame) was one of the key contributors to the shows, talking about Amy Winehouse’s decline and then subsequent rejuvenation:

It’s great to see her looking marvellous again. There was quite a gap between her first and second album and I used to see her around Camden a lot, and when you see someone regularly its harder to notice their demise. I’m so glad she looks well again. It was fate putting her together with Mark Ronson for Back to Black, and was so good for her putting her voice right in the middle of it.

Meanwhile, as only MTV can, Pete Burns gave us an, erm, “intriguing” insight into his friendship with Morrissey, who failed to make the top 10 for any of his solo albums, but whose Smith’s classic “The Queen is Dead” appeared in both VH1 and MTV 2’s top 10’s:

I knew him personally back in the day, he gave me a copy of this album. I loved it from track one. He has a very unique sense of irony and humour. As a person he’s very difficult and awkward to get on with. He stopped talking to me over a fur coat, and still to this day he holds a grudge about it!

Personally, I’d love to see REM get the award. All the others are great, but people seem to underestimate the consistency of REM. Plus, Michael Stipe is a legend in my eyes. Either that or Human League, but I can’t see them beating the big boys – can you?

Voting for the top album is now open over on MTV’s website. Each channel’s review of the top 10 albums can be seen this weekend, with Trevor Nelson presenting the MTV Base run down Saturday 28 February at 9pm, followed by Edith Bowman presenting VH1 and Zane Lowe MTV Two both on Sunday 1 March at 9pm. The final winner will be announced on Sunday 12th April.

After the jump, check out the top 10 albums chosen by each channel.
Continue reading MTV’s Greatest Album Ever

 
 
 

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