It’s the weekend! Time for SDE to put a dollop of jam in its porridge and kick back with some stories and updates from the past week, along with gossip and news from the weeks to come…
Causing a commotion
“Excuse me, where did you get that promo photo? I don’t have one yet & thought we were officially announcing at the end of month.”
So tweeted Lloyd Cole to your correspondent on Wednesday this week. Awkward…
Ever since Cole had announced to his Facebook followers late last year that a Commotions box was in the works, I’d had my ear to the ground (on your behalf) trying to stay abreast of developments. There had been various updates from the man himself, so the box was hardly a ‘secret’ and a key development in the last seven days was Universal themselves posting both an packshot of the set, along with quite a few details around the content and the ability to pre-order it. Amazon UK listed it early on Wednesday morning, so with the release was well and truly in the public domain, up it went on SDE.
‘Tagging’ Lloyd Cole in the tweet that promoted the SDE post, clearly gave the game away, and it was at that point that his firmly worded query came in! When he said he thought “we” were officially announcing it at the end of the month he is clearly referring to an arrangement between artist (him) and label (Universal). SDE was never on a conference call or sitting in a meeting when this was agreed so was hardly part of the “we”. And given the fact that the label half of the “we” ignored the agreement and posted it for pre-order on their website in early April (now removed!), SDE proceeded with a clear conscience.
Thankfully, when I pointed out to Lloyd that the ‘promo photo’ was published on Universal’s website he was magnanimous and even agreed to SDE’s request for an interview to discuss said box set. Watch this space!
But what all this shows is that the game has changed over the years and in a world that has a ‘blogosphere’, newsgroups, chat rooms, forums, Twitter, Facebook and the like, record labels simply do not have the same control they once had over the flow of information. They can either view blogs like SDE as some kind of ‘enemy’ (slightly ridiculous idea) or embrace the enthusiasm and passion for physical releases from both contributors and readers alike. As far as I’m concerned, as an online publisher, if I agree in advance to an embargo with a PR company or record label then that should be (and will be) respected, but if no approaches you about a forthcoming release and you find out about it from your own volition then that’s a whole different ball game. I’d be very interested in your thoughts on all this, so do leave a comment.
Full details of the six disc box set can be found here.
Good ‘nite’ to eighties compilations?
Compiling ‘various artists’ compilations in the ‘old days’ surely must have been like rolling off a log. Back in the late eighties, CBS released a ‘soulful’ compilation called Nite Flite and sold over 600,000 copies. Whoa! The compilation only had 16 tracks and they didn’t even bother to license from other labels. When they ran out of CBS artists they just doubled up. So Alexander O’Neal appeared twice (If You Were Here Tonight, and Criticize). They had to pay for some TV advertising, but relatively speaking it was easy money. CDs were still sexy and desirable at this point and let’s state the obvious, there was no way to create such a thing by yourself. No CD burners, no iTunes ‘playlists’. The best you could do was the create a ‘mixtape’. Alison Moyet, Paul Young, Sade, were regulars on these kinds of collections because they were all CBS artists.
I mention this because the same company will in a couple of weeks issue a 53-track synthpop compilation (called, er, Synthpop) which contains over ten number ones and over 45 top ten hits and has been roundly criticised by SDE readers for containing the “usual hodge-podge” and having a “lack of imagination”. Just goes to show how much the market has changed and how great the challenges are to “monetise” catalogue music for physical releases. It’s over thirty years since the first Now That’s What I Call Music set (which coincidentally had a similar number of chart toppers as the forthcoming Synthpop) and it seems that, at least for the discerning listener, bunging some ‘80s hits on a few CDs just isn’t good enough anymore.
If we’re going to part with our cash and actually play a ‘various artists’ compilation, then there needs to be an angle. We want 12-inch versions – the rarer the better – (although even that is started to get a little tired) or tracks that haven’t appeared on CD before. DJs/producers like Blank & Jones or Ben Liebrand have been putting together creative and fan-pleasing sets like this for years and really have a good understanding of what will appeal. And that isn’t bog-standard versions of Relax or Don’t You Want Me.
Deals for the Weekend
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Jethro Tull / Minstrel in the Gallery 4-disc / £22 from Amazon UK
Paul McCartney / RAM deluxe book 5-disc / £57 from Amazon Italy
Paul Simon / Graceland super deluxe / £45 from Amazon Germany