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Saturday Deluxe / 25 July 2015

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Bob Marley box confusion

Just as you’ve justified spending over £250 on the Queen vinyl box set Universal Music go and announce another lavish and expensive vinyl box. The Complete Island Recordings is a collection of Bob Marley & the Wailers studio and live albums – so that’s eleven releases and 12 vinyl records.

While you wrestle with whether you ‘need’ this box, a fresh spanner in the decision-making works is that there are TWO versions; a standard ‘rigid board’ box, and a metal box. Both replicate the design of a ‘zippo’ lighter and both contain the same records although with the metal set (known as the Collector’s Edition) you do get an anniversary slip mat and two photos.

The flashy metal box is incredibly expensive. Some would say ludicrously overpriced. It’s £448 on Amazon UK. Although big prices make for big savings for the canny shopper. For example it’s £81 cheaper on Amazon Italy – that saving is enough to get you a Sticky Fingers super deluxe with change leftover.

As was pointed out in the original news post, the two different versions of the Bob box have caused no end of confusion on some Amazon sites. Amazon UK only have the metal box available for pre-order, with the standard set (which should be priced around the £150 mark) ‘Currently Unavailable’. Some of you may have noticed there is a definite issue with many Universal box sets at the moment which should be available for pre-order on Amazon UK, but aren’t. The Jam, Steve Hackett and Queen are three sets ‘unavailable’ for whatever reason. SDE is keeping a close eye on this situation and will update as appropriate.

Across the Atlantic, Amazon US and Amazon Canada have listed the Bob Marley boxes the wrong way around allowing fans to pre-order the Collector’s Edition for the price of the standard set. The US site has now pulled both listings (now ‘Currently Unavailable’) and it will be interesting to see how they deal with existing orders. The Canadian site still has both listings live, with the cheaper box priced at an eye watering $957 CA and the Collector’s Edition ‘just’ $350 CA. Again, time will tell how Amazon deal with this. It is highly likely that anyone who pre-orders the metal box for the cheaper price will get the standard set regardless of how the listings look at the moment.


Art of Noise PledgeMusic project quietly dropped

Back in May it was announced that the Classic Album Sundays team were collaborating with ZTT Records to produce an audiophile box set of the Art of Noise‘s debut album Who’s Afraid of the Art of Noise. The box was being marketed direct-to-fans via PledgeMusic and a 2LP 45RPM ‘audiophile’ edition of the album was being offered, along with a twelve-inch reissue of the Into Battle EP and contemporary 12-inch remixes of Beatbox and Moments in Love (plus a book and and art print etc.).

This project has now been CANCELLED. The message from the CAS team earlier this month was as follows:

“Due to increased production and manufacturing costs and problems locating some of the original master tapes we have decided to cancel this campaign as we don’t feel the Box Set would be of a high enough quality and value for money we hoped to release.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who Pledged and all of those who expressed interest throughout the campaign. CAS will be back with new campaigns and new releases in the near future. Your pledge will be automatically cancelled.”

In reality, there was simply not enough interest in this set from the hardcore fans that CAS needed to attract to make the project work. We can speculate on the reasons, but at £75 it was only £10 cheaper than last year’s celebrated Frankie Goes To Hollywood Inside The Pleasuredome box which offered much more content, including a decent amount of unreleased material.

Also, the team behind that FGTH set had Frankie in their DNA, with Ian Peel curating plus Philip Marshall and Kevin Foakes handling design. They delivered a set which was full of fan-pleasing attention to detail and quirky delights such as the flick-book or the cassette single. This, arguably, wasn’t the case with the Art of Noise project – even the artwork used to promote the box on PledgeMusic wasn’t what most fans would consider to be the ‘correct’ cover of the album. Also, even though it was a PledgeMusic project, the Frankie box benefitted from the experience of having a ‘proper’ record label – Union Square Music – behind it. Their Salvo imprint had issued masses of ZTT releases over the last few years – invaluable experience.

You need to know your audience and there was a definite question mark here, with the Art of Noise project. The promise of ‘contemporary remixes’ demonstrated that. The majority of the target demographic would not have been interested in new remixes. In fact, most would positively hate the idea, but yet that was one of the key selling points. Also, from a practical point of view you need the multi-track tapes to be available –  and in good condition – and that could have been an issue, given what was said in the official statement.

The doomed AON box set

Another thing to consider is that Frankie were a proper band, with enormous hit singles who had a significant impact on the pop-pickers of the day. Those memories and the fun of that time has endured. The slightly abstract studio shenanigans of the Art of Noise and the one number eight hit single don’t rival this. Or to put it another way, not-enough-people-like-the-Art-of-Noise-to-buy-the-box-set.

But perhaps the biggest death-knell was the fact that there was very little new on offer to generate a real sense of excitement. A simple vinyl reissue of the nine-track album and a twelve-inch of Into Battle – both reissued successfully on CD in the last few years – and some other ‘bits’ ultimately fell a bit flat. Especially for £75.

Despite the disappointment, the PledgeMusic platform has at least allowed CAS to ‘test’ the market without losing a fortune – hopefully they’ll be back with other campaigns that will be fully realised.

If you’re an Art of Noise fan, do you agree with this assessment? Leave a comment and let us know why you didn’t pledge!

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50 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 25 July 2015

  1. Jon Howells says:

    I agree with your take on the Art of Noise box. I had pre-ordered but not with the sense of excitement I had for the FGTH box, and yes, I really wasn’t fussed about contemporary remixes. So all in all I’m glad to have saved £75. Which I put towards the Bowie 5 Years box. Easy come, easy go…

  2. Paul Rymer says:

    Completely agree with what you have written. I considered pledging but there were too many negatives to make me want it. The material was very well covered by the “And What Have You Done With My Body, God” box set and the reissues mentioned. As for vinyl, the original ZTT/Island pressing is fantastic.

  3. Steve Burke says:

    This is the post I made on the Bob Marley FB page and it’s worth repeating here given the complete lack of info in the press release and release deatils on the Bob Marley shop website of the nature fans of THIS site would be looking for:

    Can you please answer the following questions?

    1) What is the source material for each LP
    2) Who did the mastering
    3) Who did the cutting for each LP, if the original analogue stereo master tape was the source material, was each LP cut directly from the original analogue tape by someone with an all analogue chain (ie – Bernie Grundman Mastering, Abbey Road like the Beatles recent Mono set)
    4) Where are the records being pressed?

    Thank you! I have the 1982 “The Box Set” which was all analogue, digital delay cutter heads were not being used yet, and it will be VERY hard to top that but if this set is all analogue from the original stereo masters then I’ll bite.

  4. Gord says:

    I’m not interested in either of those products / artists, and neither are my comments in relation to them specifically, but I have to say at this stage I would welcome a full investigation / report on the actual costs of manufacture (incl. marketing etc) of these ‘Super Deluxe’ boxes. While I understand there must be a market for them, it does seem that increasingly a piece of music is being stuck in a box; chuck in a keyring and few coasters and lets call it £250.00. There’s surely a balance between providing high quality product (especially if time is taken to include a good amount of new or unreleased music) and exploiting the emotional attachment we have to an artist and / or their music. The feeling I have is of greedy companies regurgitating this stuff, providing an endless onslaught of ‘must-have’s’, cynically withholding sought after ‘lost’ masters for future releases etc, and to be fair, why wouldn’t they when we somehow keep giving the message we have a spare £250 in our pocket for a record. For the cost of some of these pieces of music I could buy a small hatchback! As a lover of music and advocate of quality reissues I’d be interested to know where the balance is with such things at the moment.

  5. Thing with AON was they only had 3 songs, Beatbox, Edit and Moments and these 3 tunes were re worked and tweaked over and over again in the ZTT era. I have the reissues as well as the originals but after about 15 minutes you have to turn it off because it gets very monotonous. IMHO

    • Ralph says:

      Exactly my experience, Matthew. It’s for a while, but on Album length it gets rather boring.

      • Straker says:

        If I had my way the government would pipe Moments in Love into all public areas all over the country on a 24 hour loop and we’d all be better people for it!!!

    • Matthew McKinnon says:

      That’s not actually true. Those songs were reworked endlessly – and the reissue barrel-scraping versions from the cutting room floor only enhance that impression – but Into Battle and Who’s Afraid had a lot more different ‘songs’. They were proper albums.

      I can’t really see how this box set would have any appeal, after the CD reissues of the last 8 years or so have comprehensively covered the ZTT years. And yeah, the concept of contemporary remixes is a total turnoff.

      It would be nice, however, to look at getting a lossless compilation together for Blu-Ray. That I would buy.

  6. Ralph says:

    … it’s FUN for a while … (sorry, this one word got away)

  7. Lee R. says:

    I love AON, but I didn’t pledge because:

    1. I’m in Canada, they only took UK orders
    2. They ran out of their ‘exclusives’ very early and didn’t appear to offer anything else, having only reached 10% of their funding.
    3. For what they were offering, it wasn’t enough to justify such an expensive box ($150 in Canada, if it was available)
    4. I’m still annoyed at the AON/ZTT camp that I never received a reply about what happened to the In Visible Silence deluxe release.

    • Ian Gilchrist says:

      Ian from Salvo here; did you email us directly, or ZTT, to ask about In Visible Silence?

      Basically, it seems that many felt some sort of ‘announcement’ about the release of this and the other two China era AON titles was made, but that was not actually the case. Research was done, inquiries with Warners were made, and that was as far as it got. With our parent label USM being acquired by BMG late last year, Salvo’s focus has shifted to concentrating more on BMG owned content and new content that we are acquiring on an ongoing basis.

      I do undertand that these have been released digitally recently, which I realise is not quite as satisfying as DEs. Perhaps Warners will release them themselves at some point.

      Ian

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        Thanks for clarifying that Ian. As far as I remember, I think Ian Peel may have mentioned something about this casually in a tweet, but no official announcement as you say.

      • Lee R. says:

        Hi Ian – I tried to find my original email from years ago, but can’t – I went thru the authorized AON site, and they replied saying it was “definitely in the works,”. with a possible release of 2012.

        I understand they never promised and no official statement was made, I was just disappointed it never materialized.

        Since then, I found a copy of the original CD for $6, so I’m happy. :)

  8. John Pettigrew says:

    I’m a huge Art of Noise fan, collecting the records back in the day but these days I’m only interested in CDs and downloads.

    This mooted release offered absolutely NOTHING of interest to me.

    The most eagerly anticipated material for future Art of Noise rereleases/deluxe editions would have to be the China years. It feels as though everything of merit from the ZTT vaults has been released.

  9. Paul B says:

    I did pledge on this project and was looking forward to it particularly as I was lucky enough to secure one of the signed test pressings, having missed out on the FGTH signed stuff. Just a shame the test pressing couldn’t be sold on seeing as they exist.

  10. Darren says:

    “You like Bob Marley? You want a box set?”

    “Oh yes please… how much is it?”

    “It’s £150. But wait a minute… for an additional £300 we’ll throw in a Bob Marley slipmat and two prints”.

    “Yeah OK, go on then. I’ve got mug tattooed on my forehead, so why not?”

    • Simon F says:

      No one’s making you buy the metal case box. Personally I’d rather see the original Zippo Lighter sleeve for Catch A Fire reinstated. Ironically originals of that are now changing hands for as much as this metal box!!

  11. Mike the Fish says:

    Yeah, there is not a huge amount of missing gems in the ZTT AON catalogue it seems, mainly many variants of a few ideas/constructed pieces. The box held no interest for me. I couldn’t see how an album with such lofi samples would benefit much from a 45rpm cut. The Townhouse cutting engineers (I’m looking at you in particular Tony Cousins) were excellent back in the day, anyway. On top of this, an audiophile slipmat seemed to be an oxymoron. Virtually no bonus content. The record companies must see some profit in these extravagant sets, but there’s only so much one can afford, and the quality of the bonuses have to count. I can’t be the only one who has been disappointed by various super deluxe editions.

  12. Darren Briscoe says:

    As a music fan I love deluxe editions if they provide previously unreleased material but I draw the line at the expensive box sets that just include extra posters and coasters and stuff. It feels like an insult to us fans that we are being pressured to buy yet another version of the same album just to have a complete set. My biggest gripe is the pricing. ….most of the time its an absolute rip off. Finances are very tight at the moment and the simple fact is that items like the queen box which I would love are just not in my budget.

  13. Daran says:

    @ Gord / Darren

    Agree with that sentiment totally, and I think there is a trend developing of ‘Super’ SDE’s becoming like Swiss watches. They are known to have mark-ups of 20x (2000%) over production costs (when you buy from a high street retailer). Surely there can be no reason for 12 LP’s to cost £450! That’s insane. I don’t know if they started the trend, but at least the U2 Achtung Baby Uber box from a few years back had a ton of stuff in it, but even then a price of £350 was too much. That is the only expensive box set I have ever considered. But an extra £100, for even less content….

  14. colm47 says:

    I commented on the original Bob SDE article re courier delivery from Universal for the boxes:

    I live in Dublin, so these were the delivery charges:

    Rigid box: 179.99 euro + 161.26 courier delivery.
    Metal box: 474.99 euro +198.79 courier delivery.

    How about that for crazy courier charges!

  15. Lazlo Nibble says:

    The Pleasuredome box was very clearly a labor of love—a by-fans-for-fans tribute not just to Frankie and the Pleasuredome but the entire aesthetic that made so many of us fans of ZTT in the first place. The AoN box was, from all outward appearances, purely a construct of commerce, and an eye for the finer details was not required in order to distinguish between the two.

  16. claudio says:

    …i really do not understand why AON 3 albuns (in visible silence, in non sense, below the waste) hasn’t been reissued by now…

  17. bob says:

    Be careful of those tin boxes. I remember when the Abba CD singles boxes were released, there was a thick sturdy cardboard box which replaced the initial batch that came in a tin box. The tin ones looked cheap and crappy and even the display copies has dents in them.

    • Darren says:

      Bob, that’s just your opinion, not fact. I have the ABBA tin. It’s perfect with no dents and looks fantastic

      • bob says:

        Well maybe yours is ok but in the Virgin Megastore London they had about 12 on display, and all but one was dented.
        Yes of course its just my opinion, but I saw what I saw.

  18. AudioDile says:

    It’s highly doubtful that I will spend any more money on any of the AoN material that has already been released multiple times in multiple ways. Release the deluxe China reissues or stop wasting our time. It feels like everyone involved just wants to pass the buck vaguely to someone else. The demand for these sets was immense. And record companies wonder why fans see them as clueless.

  19. Simon F says:

    Concerning the “nonavailability” of box sets by Queen, the Jam, Bob Marley, Small Faces et al, you could always go to Universal’s own site. They are all there ready for pre-order, and no I do not work for Universal.
    But I have bought a number of Super Deluxe sets from Universal including two by Nirvana and two by the Jam. That way I know that I’m going to get superior packaging over Amazon’s chuck-it-in-the-biggest-box-we-can-find-and-then-shove-in-a-mass-of-screwed-up-brown-paper-and-hope-for-the-best even if I have to pay a bit extra for it.
    Amazon’s packaging for these type of box sets is absolutely appalling. A few years back I bought Whitesnake’s excellent Box Of Snakes from HMV which arrived in mint condition having been very well packed and protected.
    My brother then asked for this set for his birthday. Unfortunately by then HMV had sold out so I was forced to use Amazon. The set arrived in their usual rubbish packaging with the top left hand corner on the back of the box absolutely smashed to pieces as if someone had attacked it with a sledgehammer! Of course it went straight back for a full refund. I’ve never trusted Amazon since when it comes to these type of sets. Oh yes, we finally secured a copy of Box Of Snakes from ebay.
    So don’t shun other outlets just because “it’s easier/cheaper to get on Amazon”.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      See coln47’s shipping charge comment.

    • Darren says:

      Don’t let one bad experience put you off. I’ve bought loads of box sets from Amazon and they usually arrive fine. I have had one or two that arrived damaged and I got them replaced without any fuss.

  20. Neil Hunt says:

    Regarding Universal Music preorder items not being available on Amazon UK, it would be helpful to know why there is a problem, and whether it will be resolved.

    I ordered some expanded All About Eve 2CD sets a few weeks ago and for the last couple of weeks they have shown as unavailable. I then noticed that this was the same for many forthcoming new releases on Universal and connected label names. It is very frustrating if I am unable to order new releases – I just spotted a new Mission Singles compilation but can’t order it.

    As long as Universal don’t cancel any of these releases due to lack of preorders on Amazon!

    • Darren says:

      Neil, where did you hear about The Mission singles collection? I can’t find it. I hope they finally have the 12″ version of “Stay With Me” on it.

      • Neil Hunt says:

        Darren, Search for The Mission Singles in CDs and vinyl on Amazon UK and you’ll see it listed as unavailable. Overseas amazons list it as a double CD titled Singles A’s & B’s.

  21. Skies says:

    Agree, nothing of interest here for me. Really really hoping for a deluxe edition of ‘In No Sense? Nonsense!’ Which is a very fine LP, possibly their most complete listen from start to finish. Love how it captures that shift in atmosphere between early and late 80s sound. The artwork is also very enigmatic and beautiful. One of my favourite albums of all time.

  22. baward says:

    I only really like mid-period AON (China) before they went all Debussy on us.

  23. Robert says:

    I have this AON material so it is of no interest to pay an expense on something I don’t need.

  24. Gary C says:

    If you’re around FOPP CX in London they have one copy of the Waters 5.1 CD single on display right now, not bad for a Frdist release, and it’s numbered in the low 100’s

  25. Tom says:

    Bob Marley’s estate are mashing up Babylon again, I see.
    ZTT = biggest money grabbers in musical history.

  26. RJS says:

    I know this site is dedicated to box sets and deluxe editions but reading the comments it increasingly seems that a lot of people are only buying these box sets for the sole reason that they’re just that, box sets! It seems that the quaility of the music and indeed the artist(s) involved are secondary considerations. Very perculiar – I only buy something if I’ll enjoy the music.

  27. Daran says:

    Talking of which….. Just been back to Amazon UK to see that the Uber box set of U2’s Achtung Baby is listed with a headline fulfilled by Amazon price of £648! Is that a record for a box set? I would have 2 of them from Amazon but sadly there is only 1 left in stock. I will have to take my chances with the non-Amazon sellers.

    • Mike the Fish says:

      Fulfilled by amazon isn’t sold by amazon, per se. Still a third party seller.

      • Daran says:

        I know that, but it still is quoted as THE Amazon price by means of it being fulfilled by them, as opposed to Amazon stating they are out of stock and only listing other 3rd parties new and used.

  28. Adam says:

    Into Battle completely changed my idea of what music could be, and Who’s Afraid was a cornerstone of my self-taught musical education. I know each of these records by heart down to the last sample. But even I thought the box set was not good value. And even though I highly rate King Britt, I don’t think new remixes belong on a historical box set.

    I believe that the goals of CAS were too different from what fans of this album would have wanted in a historical box set. This was never going to work.

    Look at At The End Of A Century. Lots of unreleased material for an album that most AoN fans, I would guess, appreciate but don’t LOVE, and it was terrific. I bought a copy as soon as I could get my hands on it. No need for vinyl, necessarily, just a solid package.

    Also, I call BS on the “problems locating some of the original master tapes” nonsense. No way CAS even starts thinking about this project without those. It was just not enough interest in the package on offer, simple as that.

    I’m going to remain happy with my Daft SACD.

  29. Heinz says:

    Now both Marley-boxes are called “Collector’s Edition” on Amazon
    and the pictures shown are now identical and show the standard-box…..

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