Friday, September 05, 2008

The Reissue Game

I'd like to put forward a brief commentary on one of the newest trends in the music industry that has suckered me in entirely.

First off, let me be straightforward. I love capitalism. I love a variety of goods, I love free options, I love the fact that I can buy books and music and beer and tacos. Capitalism is good. It is not a perfect good, and much bad, indeed evil, has been done in the name of capitalism. And I have no stomach for people who talk about a revolution or who maintain that Marxism or communism are the solution, because they are not. I've lived and spent enough time in enough places where there is serious poverty, where capitalism has failed or fallen short, and what people always want is not less capitalism, but better capitalism. But I'll echo the old line about democracy, which I'm sure is Churchill's because Churchill said all the cool shit, and maintain that capitalism is flawed and imperfect and problematic and better than every other option.

That preface is by way of saying, the trend I'm about to bitch about is one I could completely avoid by not buying into it. Free will and all that.

I still buy cd's, which makes me an anachronism. And the latest attempt to sucker serious music fans is the reissuing of great old albums with supposed remastering and a few new songs. This seems especially common among a particular genre, notably post-punk, proto-indie music. Pavement did it a few years back with the reissue of Slanted and Enchanted, one of the ten greatest albums in the history of albums. In addition to the original, with all of the supposed aural enhancements, came a whole slew of rarities, B-sides, demos, live songs and the like. A formula was born. If the album was essential to its devotees, a version costing twice as much with extra stuff -- even if the fans have some or all of that same extra stuff in different configurations -- becomes doubly essential. Especially if the generation of diehard fans now has a lot more disposable income than it did some fifteen years ago.

Now my favorite band of all time, the Replacements, is in the reissue business, having released the first four or five albums with the expected extras and audio enhancements that may or may not be a step up. And of course like Pavlov, I salivated as soon as they rang that bell and immediately bought two of the reissues, Let It Be (the greatest album of all time) and The Replacements Stink, their second album, which pretty much captures the transition from punk to postpunk in one fifteen or so minute burst. And they are great. And I'll buy the others. And I'll fall in love with the Replacements all over again, and with Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville all over again.

But this still seems like a pretty cynical manipulation of the truest fans of a band. The only out I'm giving both the labels (Rhino has taken over the 'Mats catalog, for example) and the bands is that a lot of these bands never became rich. I have no problem with the Replacements making a little more money off of their music given the incalculable amount of joy I have gotten from them. Still, I wish there were some sort of code on each album so that I get a free download of the inevitable re-rerelease of Let It Be in 2018. Sucker me once, shame on me, after all, but . . .


Anonymous said...

i would just like to say i also love the replacemnts. i never knew we had that in common. they are, probably, my 6th favorite band, after
...i always leave this space open, for there are many bands that have just one song which i love just as much as any oasis or blur song.

Anonymous said...

i would actually disagree with your statemnt on dollars for donuts, about how you now more on the CAF, than me. yes, you may know a lot about it, but ater englands leagues, i concontrate heavily on africa.
i though i would post thart info here, becaus ei am not certain if you still read your previous post, or the comment i posted with it

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I by the way 28 years young, and I still have a love affair with CD's. I might want to one day get an I-Pod, but I'm much like you when comes to buying CD's and books. So don't feel bad and no its not anchronistic.By the way...the Replacements do rock. This may be off subject, but who is the Danny guy?

Anonymous said...

i just came across derek a year ago, and i just like to comment on his blogs. Surely this is come one, come all, and not just a select few, but if i am not welcome, all i need is to be told that, and i will go;)

Anonymous said...

DCAT, i understand what you are trying to say, but i was not saying you had no passion in american football or baseball, etc, i was merely stating there is far, far less passion in 'soccer', than there is in britain, for football, therefore giving a reason why football is not very popular in america. i did clearly state that, and would never say there is no passioin in american sports, for i am sure there are.
when i made that mocking statement about baseball, yes is was a bad one, and it was deliberatly a bad one. what i was stating, was that his insults on britain and soccer were so bad, that i did an equally pathetic mockery of one of his sports, showing just how pathetic his origional statement was. however, that was more subliminal, and i can understand how you could misconstrue it. i knew slicer would not understand it, and so i did it. it did not occur to me you would read it and be offended, due to you not understanding what it meant.

''what is it? bottom of the 9th? middle of the 4th?? did he hit the ball, did he run round a square???
ha, sorry, but if you want to call the planets main sport, 'lame(cough)' then i am obligated to comeback.''
that is what i said, a blatently innacurate statement, doing exactly what he did to attack football.
finally, just because his father is a dentist, in no way means british people have bad teeth, ha. However, i am certain you are aware of that, and that yo were joking. i brush my teeth three times a day and floss, and use mothwash, though i am a biased example, for i have an unhealthy habbit with cleanliness. nevertheless, though there are britsh with bad teeth, almost all brits i know have good teeth, and considering the fact there are 300000000 americans, and only 60000000 brits, it is a fact that more americans have bad teeth than brits. yes, i know it is unfair, because there are many more americans, i am just proving a point, i am sure you understand, you yourself must hate stupid things like that ,like when brits call americans unstable, and unorganised, basically pompous, when i know most are not.
also, the fact that there are so many more americans, is the reason to the higher number of attendence at games. but, including all of Europe, we then beat you in that class, though by doing that, we will have 200000000 more people than you. basically, attendence can not be used to decided this, unless population is equal, which it is not.
sorry for the length of this post, if you have survived to the end of it...congratulations.