Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Best Ultimate Definitive Greatest Essentials

I see that yesterday's post fired up a few people. I thought I'd take it a bit further.

Reader SOUNDSOURCE commented, "Don't get me started on Rhino Handmade."

For those unfamiliar with Rhino Handmade and the Universal Music Group's equivalent Hip-O Select, they are boutique sections of the labels, that released limited edition versions of lost albums in limited quantities for a premium.

You had the opportunity to purchase say...The Complete Aretha Franklin Live At The Fillmore with King Curtis. This 4 CD, $79.99 version had everything, including the complete King Curtis sets. You had to act fast, though. Rhino threatened its extinction as early as the pre-order e-mail blasts. So the collectors and the fans, did just that. And sure enough, it sold out. You can get a used copy for $125, if you want it. But the real issue is that soon after this "limited edition" was gone from inventory, Rhino Handmade released two separate CDs, an expanded and remastered version of both Aretha and King Curtis' set for $15 a piece. So for less than half the price of the 4 CD set, you could have had all the music, less a few alternate takes, which I imagine were intentionally left off the 2 CD sets just so Rhino could save face.

Hip-O Select practiced the same odious policy, only they stuck it to the fans deeper by offering iTunes downloads. Hardly limited or exclusive for the premium.

My favorite reissue fan "fuck you" is UMG's continuing series of anthologies. Almost every artist on the label has a "Best Of," a "Greatest Hits" and "Anthology" and "Ultimate" and a "Defintive" collection on CD, each peppered with either a different b-side, remix, or new track, just so the fans won't kill themselves.

I wrote the liner notes for "The Best Of Eddie Money" on Sony, a 16 track collection that I also helped compile. A few years later "The Essential Eddie Money" was released on Sony, which contained 15 tracks. I still laugh when I think that Eddie's "best" is one song longer than what Sony thought was "essential."

I will share SOUNDSOURCE'S sentiment by adding, "Don't even get me started on The Who reissues," which brings me to my question.

What umpteenth reissue was the one where the majors finally went overboard and made you say, "I've had it?"


William Repsher said...

No one reissue, but I'm thinking Elvis Costello and David Bowie catalog. Each reissued a handful of times on different labels. Costello's reissues were especially galling in that the original single-disc Ryko reissues at the time were thought to be definitive ... then a few years later, Rhino puts out two-disc reissues of each album with liner notes by Elvis C himself. I doubt I was the only one who was hoodwinked into buying BOTH sets of complete albums!

Also getting that vibe now with The Kinks -- these new reissues vs. the Castle series that came out in the 90s. I haven't bitten yet, although the new ones look attractive enough. I'd be doing it purely for the sound quality ... and the sound quality of the Castle reissues are fine by me (despite Steve Hoffman Forum uproar to the opposite effect).

I've pretty much got off the reissue merrygoround because I can see it never stops spinning.

Anonymous said...

I think what really got me was Bruce releasing The Promise on the Tracks sampler and not putting it on the box set. Well the label did this but Bruce gets the blame. This happens also too frequently when a hit is re-released with additional tracks. How about those being an added value download? It's no wonder people steal music.

anakelea said...

How many different reissues of "My aim is True" do I need? I mean, I love Elvis. He got my through high school. and I used to pride myself on being a completist (I even had the red vinyl 45 of "My Funny Valentine). But...

FD13NYC said...

Exactly! Reissues of The Who, Beatles, Stones, when does it end?

If people have the money to splash around for such product over and over, bless them. They don't have to count their shekels like most of us do.

I must admit, I impulse purchased The Beatles mono box from someone on Amazon a long while back for an amazing cheap price, sealed.

But I for one must confess that I haven't bought a CD or paid for an mp3 in ages. If it's out there for free, grab it I say. Call it criminal but free is free.

Great posts Sal for yesterday and today, a lot of truth. Now excuse me while I go on the search for the new Fountains Of Wayne. Thank God for the Internet, a savior for us struggling music loving poor.

Anything Should Happen said...

For me it was Bowie.

However, I did get well pissed off at the numerous greatest hits or best ofs by too many to relate that had two rarities added and within six months both were released as singles with additional rarities.

Anything Should Happen said...

Oh and the numerous singles formats each with one song you hadn't got.

In the UK we at one stage had 3 cd singles, a 7 inch, a 12 inch and the odd cassingle all with an added or alternate b side.

The other rager was the live album spread over three two part singles, 3 tracks on each.

Anonymous said...

I think the new Kinks reissues will be the breaking point for me. Enough is enough. I will not steal/illegally download them, I just will do without.

vanwoert said...

Anything by RCA dealing with Elvis Presley. I think "Having Fun With Elvis Onstage" was even released before he died.

Big Jim Slade said...

Yeah, I'm still not sure how many versions of Live at Leeds there have been. Mine has a lot of songs and rocks, so good enough. Otherwise, Bowie and Elvis Costello are prime candidates, but at least EC has about 150 extra songs that can be thrown onto anything. It's not so worth it when it's just a few extra tracks that are demos of the songs that are already on the album.

The thing that pissed me off was when a good fan (ie, me) went out and re-bought something I had on cassette or vinyl when it made its first appearance on cd, only to have a remaster with bonus tracks come out a couple years later. I always wanted them to accept an exchange where your earlier cd was worth 50% of the new item - or something like that.

William Repsher said...

The more I think about it, drilling down with Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True:

- once on vinyl in the 70s
- once on cassette in the 80s
- once on Ryko reissue
- once on Rhino 2-disc reissue
- while I didn't buy the whole thing, I nailed down digital demo tracks on Emusic from that more recent 2-disc reissue

All total, five separate purchases related to one album! The champion before that was Cheap Trick's Heaven Tonight (eight track, vinyl, cassette, original CD, CD reissue) -- actually, I guess that still holds the crown for most times I bought one album.

By the way, kudos on the Eddie Money appreciation! That guy's music has aged well with me.

Anonymous said...

The latest Elvis re-re-re-re-releases were also the ones that did it for me. And from one of the guys you'd most expect to be looking out for fans.

Bruce H.

Jerry Lee said...

I agree with Big jim, there should be a discount when you exchange the original CD for the remastered version.

Remember back in the day when CDs first came out and record companies rushed to issue their back catalogs of "classic rock" bands like The Doors and Jefferson Airplane? They used 2nd and 3rd generation tapes, didn't bother to look for the originals until after they made a ton of money, then realized they could sell remastered versions to the same people. This is why I have no sympathy for the major labels crying poormouth these days and trying to stop free downloads.

I was very P.O.'d when I bought Elvis Costello's British 45's for the unreleased B-sides, then Colombia put them all on one LP!

draftervoi said...

For was Springsteen not putting "The Fever" on the 4-cd boxed set, forcing me to buy the superfluous "18 Tracks" a few months later. I mean, REALLY?

Anyone willing to sort through four CDs of outtakes shouldn't be forced to buy an entire new CD just to get the three tracks you left off the boxed set, PARTICULARLY when you trade on your "man of the people" image. I love your music, Bruce, but just wrong.