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Saturday Deluxe / 27 Feb 2016

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To Crowded House I offer love

Hooray! It looks like we’ll definitely be getting Crowded House reissues if the reports are to be believed.

There’s plenty of material that could be included in deluxe editions –  from 12-inch extended mixes of early hits like Don’t Dream It’s Over and World Where You Live to non-album tracks like Zen Roxy or I Am In Love from the Together Alone era – although it’s true that the band (and record label)  loved using live tracks as bonus material on CD singles and 12-inch records. I’m not normally a lover of live bonus tracks, but Crowded House live material is often very rewarding.

For me, Woodface and Together Alone are their best albums; the Rubber Soul and Revolver of the Crowded House canon. I suppose it says something about Neil Finn’s songwriting when you are relegating 1988’s Temple of Low Men down the rankings given that it contains CH classics like Into Temptation, Sister Madly, When You Come and Better Be Home soon. That album would be a career highlight for most bands.

Together Alone stands apart though. It’s one of the best albums of the 1990s and is probably in my top ten of all time. The quality of the writing is just outstanding. You’d have to have a heart of steel not be to moved by the line in Distance Sun where Neil sings “I don’t pretend to know what you want, But I offer love” and the ache of Fingers of Love is palpable. I feel very lucky to have seen the band live in London in 1993 when they were promoting this album.

It would have been sensational without it, but Youth’s organic, elemental production takes Together Alone to another level, although interestingly Neil Finn has at times distanced himself from it, wondering if the songs are served better without it. I disagree with this and for comparison you should listen to the album version of Private Universe and compare it to with the (odds and sods compilation) Afterglow version.

I can’t wait for these reissues and whether they disappoint or exceed expectations I know I’m going to enjoy falling in love with Crowded House all over again.


elvis_dream

ChartWatch

After her Brits success, Adele‘s 25 unsurprisingly remains at no. 1, although Best of Bowie is number two and David Bowie‘s Blackstar is still in the top ten (#9) of the UK physical album chart.

It was announced this week that the If I Can Dream compilation which fuses Elvis Presley vocals to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has sold a million copies in the UK. In anyone’s book that’s impressive, although also a bit depressing. I’m sure some of the very good Legacy Editions of actual albums (like Elvis at Stax, or Elvis: Prince From Another Planet) sold only a tiny fraction of this amount, but this very artificial Frankenstein’s monster of a compilation which also features Michael-bloody-Bublé is a major success. Gawd help us!

No too much going on this week. Lots of Bowie still in the physical chart along with the usual suspects who seem to have taken up permanent residency, like Whitney Houston, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Very Best of ELO, Ultimate Paul Simon etc. Phil Collins‘ new reissues are out this week and Warners will be hoping they have more staying power than the first two (Face Value and Both Sides) which stayed in the top 100 physical albums for just one week back in early February. This seems rather unlikely, given that Hello, I Must Be Going isn’t as good as Face Value and Dance Into The Light isn’t as good as Both Sides. 

Personally, I think it’s crazy that they put these deluxe reissues on streaming services like Spotify. Reissues are a different beast to new releases and there should be a window where the physical product is the ‘exclusive’ carrier for all the rare material. Three or six months later you can roll it out if you wish, but surely with everything available online for free from day one it’s no surprise that some of these releases drop like a stone in the charts because anyone outside the hardcore fans has no incentive to buy the physical set.

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73 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 27 Feb 2016

  1. Rob Wilcock says:

    Apparantly the ‘Brits Effect’ had little impact upon sales, Adele and James Bay accepted…

  2. gb says:

    great news. somewhow I never bought any CH albums, so whatever is included will be great for me. I will definitely be getting the debut album and Woodface. always loved ‘Don’t dream it’s over’ and somehow only found out about ‘Fall at your feet’ via a China Drum cd single in the 90’s (great cover too) … and have loved it ever since. multiple variations of either of these songs would be fine for me :) I actually am looking forward to hearing the whole albums, as I only know the 90’s Woodface singles. I know I’ll end up getting all the re-issues too as I know they are going to be something I’ll really like.

  3. joe says:

    like you Paul, I can’t wait for Crowded House to put out vinyl of their albums , I love Together Alone one of the best albums ever. I love Neil to put out the live promo 2 cd set at The Town and Country from the Woodface Tour

  4. JL says:

    Dear record company… Please don’t screw up the Crowded House reissues/remasters. I’m begging you. Please.

    That should work!

  5. Mike the Fish says:

    Maybe the Phil Collins releases could have sold more if they had considered more about what the purchasers wanted to buy rather than what the artist wanted to sell…

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Fair point. The thing is, they are likely never to blame the product, because it’s so easy to pin it on other things. They should stop putting stuff like this on Spotify immediately. I’d like to hear a coherent argument as to why doing this is a good idea!!

      • Paul Kent says:

        I’ve got to agree with this. I gave the first two Phil reissues on Spotify a listen and it has put me off buying them. The additional material is of no interest to me whatsoever. Chances are that, without Spotify, I would have bought these. I’m just hoping that the remastered albums get released as single discs in the future, like the Genesis catalogue.

      • Mike the Fish says:

        You can’t get 5.1 on Spotify.

        • Mike the Fish says:

          Also it seems the first thing they should do *is* look to see if the product is at fault. How could it possibly help them to deny everything until all other avenues are exhausted? It’s like watching an early round of The Apprentice!

    • elliott buckingham says:

      I brought the reissue of face value on vinyl buy not interested in the rest as they ae lacking decent extras like 12″ mixes or non album tracks

      • Neil says:

        There were no 12 inch mixes for any of the singles released from his first two albums or non album tracks so how could they have possibly included them ? The 12 inch mixes started with No Jacket Required and it will be interesting to see if he includes them when it’s reissued later this year.

        • Don says:

          The track list for No Jacket Required has been announced and there are no 12″ mixes on it… only more live tracks and a couple demos just like the other sets. “We Said Hello Goodbye” isn’t even on it!!

          • Neil says:

            Not too fussed about the 12 inch mixes not being on this as i have 12″ers which is a great sounding CD but leaving out the b-sides I Like The Way,The Man With The Horn and even more so We Said Hello Goodbye which was on the original CD is shocking.

    • Saad says:

      Self-indulgence for the artist is a slap in the face for the fans. The only advantage is that we save our money for something worth buying.

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        I’d love to understand the economics behind this Phil Collins deal. Warners make a big song and dance about signing a deal with PC for the reissues, presumably pay him a sizeable wedge of cash, apparently leave him in charge of covers and content and he delivers something which is okay, but not brilliant. They also allow everything to go up on Spotify from day one, handily giving fans the option to *not* buy the product they have invested in. Yes they have a big name on their books, but are they seeing an actual return on their investment?

  6. A.R. says:

    I’m sure I will buy the CH reissues. And agree with Paul that the live material is very rewarding. Just listen to the live cd’s from 2007 and 2010 (Kufala / Concertlive). But I hope the non-album tracks will all be included (I’m a completist).

  7. Don Cooper says:

    Phil C’s autobiography is due October.Would laugh if he added an Afterword dissing Joe Public for poor response to the re-issues…

  8. William M says:

    i have some very special memories of crowded house gigs in the 80’s and 90’s they were superb live, so sad Paul Hester committed suicide, he was always the joker in their videos and live, just never felt the same after that, Their first three albums will always be classics to me and i look forward to these reissues and hopefully they do justice to the material.

  9. SimonP says:

    Another fan of Together Alone. Pretty sure I saw them in ’93, too. I saw them in Hammersmith and recall them doing a few numbers with a large Maori choir. Awesome gig.

  10. RJSWinchester says:

    “because anyone outside the hardcore fans has no incentive to buy the physical set”

    It’s only hardcore fans who buy physical copies of super deluxe editions.

    • dominic e says:

      I wouldn’t say that’s always the case. I’m not a huge Tears for fears or A-ha fan, but I took the leap for their SDEs because the content, ie shedloads of 12″ mixes, and presentation was top notch.

  11. patjoller says:

    Can’t wait to hear and hold those reissues. It was supposed to be a boxset but I hope there’s gonna be a lot of unreleased material such a demos or other unheard songs, but not too much live stuff as they already released at least every songs 3 time.
    Neill Finn already said there will be a version of convent girl and I’m sure we’ll have some of the tunes that are on his kitchen sink compilations.

  12. Craig Hedges says:

    I always thought Together Alone was more similar to the White Album as it felt quite schizophrenic, probably because of Youth’s production. It’s Woodface with b**ls. Black and white boy is amazing, as for Distant Sun…. Mindblowingly beautiful.

  13. Fran says:

    Ahh, and now if we could get some split enz reissues…

  14. Galley says:

    I also don’t understand why Super Deluxe Edition releases and the like are made available on streaming sites on the day they are released.

  15. Saad says:

    Fully agree Paul – that one line from Distant Sun is so simple but so elegiac!

    A Neil Finn lyric is like a reaffirmation of human decency and hope so am confident that the reissues will not let us down.

    Chocolate Cake is still funny and would easily grace a Jasper Carrott album perfectly in a perverse way.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The band deliver “Woodface” to the record company and for the first single they choose Chocolate Cake. Hilarious but also pathetic. Some A&R person who simple wasn’t equipped with the skills to do the job. Thank goodness that wasn’t the killer blow it could have been as far as the album and future singles were concerned.

      • Neil says:

        I have no idea what they were thinking about releasing Chocolate Cake as the first single from Woodface as it’s utter garbage and could have destroyed their career at least they had the good sense to omit it from Recurring Dream.

  16. Stan says:

    Not the slightest bit surprised to see that Together Alone is in your top ten. I, for one, would love to hear what would make up your personal top ten or twenty.

  17. tom says:

    Saw CH in 93 in Nürnberg and I think that they are so close to the Beatles as it can get. Together Alone and Temple Of Low Men are my favorites if it wouldn’t be for Four Seasons In A Day from Woodface. Strangely enough I also liked Paul Young’s coverversion of Don’t Dream It’s Over.Can’t kill a great song. Excited, my wife thinks I’m crazy….just got Beatles Mono Box for $80 on ebay. No Fake. Will spin them CDs later today. Happy Sunday.

  18. spaceboy says:

    Looking forward to the CH reissues. Already have all the originals so hopefully the amount of bonus content will make it worth buying them again. Please don’t screw this up, guys!!

  19. ken says:

    I saw Crowded House on the Temple of Low Men tour in 1989 at the fantastic Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto sitting in the second row. I still have the clipping from the news paper about the show. It was such an intimate show. I think that’s why Temple of Low Men is my second favorite album by them. That plus the fantastic songs of course.
    I am so looking forward to these releases. Neil I am sure will not disappoint us and make them very special.

  20. peter chrisp says:

    That’s a good point, i guess when these artists put their music on spotify, i am not sure if i am a fan or not but it gives the artist more “exposure,” and as a fan it gives us an opportunity to listen
    first before buying the special edition. In regards to Phil Collins’s reissues i am with Paul K i wasn’t overly impressed with what i heard, as at one stage i was looking forward to buying Face
    Value but it looks as though there wasn’t much value in buying the new edition. As it all differs with the buying public i am all for 5.1, 12′ mixes anytime as it always adds that extra clout, at times whether they’re any good can raise eyebrows. Judging by what Paul has said about the rest of the reissues that are due soon there won’t be much of offer hmm, in other words not much “Face Value”.

  21. Simon Carson says:

    Totally agree with reissue bonus tracks argument. They shouldn’t be on Spotify or any other streaming sites until long after the physical release. This sort of thing is what contributed to killing off physical single releases. Very disappointed also with the Phil Collins bonus material especially for No Jacket Required.

  22. Paul Hillier says:

    If they include unreleased material I’ll be ecstatic. If they master them like the last couple of album (i.e., modern mastering) I’ll be mortified. This will be something I love/hate.

  23. Kevin says:

    I agree, Paul. Together Alone is probably the band’s best album and definitely one of the best of the nineties. Can’t understand why Neil would distance himself from Youth’s production. I think it provides a nice sonic environment for the songs and serves them well instead of outshining them.
    Personally, the only thing I care about with any reissues is getting the (re)mastering right. Grumbling about what is or isn’t included as bonus material is secondary to getting the songs on the album proper digitally well preserved, sonically speaking. I also have to concur with you on being less of a fan of live material included as part of the bonus discs. Although, I much prefer it to any, any demo material. I always felt that was a bit of a cheat with the Cure deluxes, frankly.

  24. Eberhard Hische says:

    Well said,Paul.I’m with you…

  25. Darren Briscoe says:

    One of the best concerts I ever saw was December 31st Darling Harbor in Sydney Australia. . Crowded House AND Split Enz.

  26. Rogerio says:

    Paul, I’ve just read your week in review, and I’d like to offer my point of view. I live in Brazil. I don’t know if you’ve visited us sometime in your life, but record companies here don’t care much about deluxe editions. It’s almost impossible for a Brazilian album, no matter how “classic” it is, to be re-released as a double-edition, with demos, b-sides, live versions and the like. I’m talking about Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Tom Jobim etc. They don’t get the deluxe treatment. Whole-discography boxes, at the most, for artists who spent their entire career in one label.
    When it comes to international releases, things don’t change much. Paul McCartney Archive Series with books? We didn’t get them, only the double editions of SOME of the albums – oh yeah, labels like Universal and Sony Music give up releasing a series like Macca’s Archives or Dylan’s Bootleg Series only to return inexplicably three or four volumes ahead. Pink Floyd’s Immersion boxes? No way. Led’s super deluxe boxes? Of course not.
    The only option for Brazilian collectors is to import. One of the best options is Amazon UK – since the US site charges import fees on the check out, doubling the price of your purchase, and the British site doesn’t. The Super Deluxe Edition of Sticky Fingers, for example, would cost me £68. As it reaches Brazil, I’ll need to pay 60% on fees – adding up to £108. Convert that to Brazilian Reais and it would cost me nearly R$ 750 – which is A LOT. Oh, and normally packages from Europe get here in two or three months, when they do, since there’s no tracking number and things get lost in the mail quite often. On the other hand, paying only R$ 14,90 a month for a Spotify account, I can enjoy the audio portion of the box on the same release date of the physical version.
    I understand that you and I, as collectors, want value for our money. But just have in mind that there are a lot of us who can’t even choose between the physical and the streaming version, like people in Europe or the US can. I wish I could.

  27. WJC says:

    I kind of agree. But some points you’re missing –
    There are no longer bricks and mortar shops. As dismal as this is in London,New York etc, picture the situation in every little town. Not a chance of stores. So were limited to Tesco top 20. Box sets are niche products and will not be stocked by supermarkets due to poor sales and big shelf space and poor returns.

    Secondly,the box set window has pretty much ended. I don’t mean in terms of new products. But in terms of origins I think it’s mostly done. 80% of the sets on your site are 60s-80s. The 90s are represented somewhat, the 00s less so and so on. There’s nostalgia in a deluxe physical graffiti. But in 20yrs time are we gonna have the 20th deluxe of Calvin Harris ..? I somehow doubt it. The brand of album covers is even devalued by downloads.
    So I don’t think the 18yr olds of today will be scrambling to fork out for box sets in 2030 of albums released in 2010.

    As it stands if we want to buy a box set, we no longer peruse virgin,Hmv,tower, independent to get the best price. We either buy from Amazon or we don’t.
    How long will this last?
    U2 are more likely to sell physical product from their own site in future. Or bands sell through record label site
    The 40+ are the last generation who’ll LOVE and treasure physical product.
    Lack of demand will eventual kill supply

    Until then let’s see a super deluxe of who’s next.
    And let Queen make a box set of each album like led Zeppelin did..!

  28. Dean says:

    In short – No. Not workable, Paul.

    For a start, the physical release will hit nefarious web sites within hours of release. You cannot stop music going digital. So you have to put it out there in that format, and take the money.

    The way to make people buy physical product is to make it worth owning. Good packaging, good booklets, and a good price.

    Personally I’m still scratching my head wondering why people have gone gaga over Vinyl again. I grew up in the 70’s, and have owned thousands of albums on Vinyl between then and now. Buying Vinyl today is a step backwards, imo. But people see to like it, and are willing to pay over-the-odds for it, so it exists.

    I’ll keep buying physical product – but the record companies need to keep offering good value. They do that, and we’ll be fine.

  29. Erick Haight says:

    Well said as usual, Paul. I don’t think a “retail window” (much like the period between a movie’s physical and digital release) is too hard to understand and/or implement, especially w/r/t catalog content.

    And while I’m here, why do the vast majority of vinyl manufacturers not include FLAC files? Different issue, of course, but it’s yet another example of a profound lack of understanding of the older, more financially flush customer. Same as it ever was, I suppose.

  30. Johnathan says:

    Came here to comment on your letter in the Week in Review email, Paul, wishing to unequivocally co-sign. And I still do, though the reality of what WJC wrote rings all too true re: physical retailers and an aging audience for these releases.

    But even if online retailers like Amazon are largely the only outlet for these, I still can’t square how labels invest in these deluxe editions while simultaneously making day-of-release streaming available — it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which streaming measurably recoups the costs involved. I think the ‘delayed window’ suggestion is a good one, and I’d liken that delay to how we often find these sets further discounted many months down the line or later reissued as more budget-minded editions (e.g. Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ box).

    It all seems so simple a strategy, doesn’t it? Serve the primary audience first: Compile and design these expanded/deluxe editions with artists’ most-loyal fans in mind (particularly of a certain age) and make these sets a must-buy. Then market to casual fans or place on streaming for ‘discoverability’ down the road.

  31. Wayne Klein says:

    The music industry has constantly miscalculated on how to provide their product for years. From deliberately decideding to eliminate the CD single to under estimating the impact of file sharing, they live in a world where they have no u der standing of their own market dynamics and continue to do,so.

  32. Imogen Bebb says:

    I’m 17 years old, and I agree with every word you say about the loss of the physicality of music in recent years. To be able hold the CD- or even better, the record- upon which you can play your music is all part of the experience. Yes, downloading or streaming music is easy, instant, and often cheaper than buying CDs (though I will stress the fact that this is not always the case), in a few years time, what will you be left with? When you have physical music, you have something to look back on, something to take with you, a CD case with scratch marks on the cover that reminds you of all the places it’s been. When you stream music, however, you listen to a song…and that’s it. Neil Young once said that he is thoroughly in disagreement with downloading music, not only because it means that people can simply pick and choose the songs they want from an album that an artist has spent so long compiling the track listing for, but also because he greatly pities the listener that loses out on being able to keep and treasure that music.

    Like yourself, this is a subject I feel very strongly about, and, whilst I will occasionally download the odd iTunes single, it is my CDs that I know I will always treasure the most. Long live the CD box set!!

  33. Ray C says:

    Hi Paul,
    I totally agree with your comments on Deluxe reissues and I never understand how they don’t take the opportunity to include all 12 inch mixes as is the case with Phil Collins reissues, if you don’t the like 12 inch mix you can skip. Off the Wall another missed reissue.
    I think they have the younger generation creating the reissues and they don’t understand what the customer wants and that the CUSTOMER will pay if you give them what they want.
    Lets see if they leave the 12 inch mixes (Don’t Dream It’s Over) off the Crowded House reissues also some of the DJ only mixes used in their day. I’ll keep on buying, have a great day.

  34. Phil Cohen says:

    But, I also resent the opposite scenario: a record company spends money to remaster and remix previously unreleased material, then offers it only as a download (sometimes only lossy MP3 or AAC download), then decides to not offer the material on CD, even in Japan or Germany, where consumers overwhelmingly prefer “Physical Product”. Universal Music takes this download-only approach with archival material by The Beach Boys and various artists Motown collections.
    Recently, “7Digital”, a company that offers lossless FLAC downloads of most of those Universal Music titles, started selling to U.S.A. consumers, so I gave them a try. The result was disasterous. The company could not successfully transmit the initial data that would precede the start of the download, and the download stalled in a “Pending” state. I got a refund and later found the music in question through an unofficial site. That unofficial site had, for me become the only possible source of a lossless version. Subsequently, I noticed in the “Help” pages (on the site of 7digital) that they have a technical problem that may cause larger FLAC downloads to not begin downloading. A 28-song/77 minute album is obviously one of those larger files. 7digital’s view is that consumers should deal with that technical problem by purchasing the songs individually. Unfortunately, that would cause the price of the album to nearly double from $20 to $38.
    It’s good that I ultimately found the download for free. Track start points were assigned inaccurately for two of the songs(for those songs, the start of the song is part of the file for the previous “track”). If I had purchased the download, that fault would have annoyed me. There were perhaps five more download-only albums that I wanted. If they don’t turn up on unofficial sites, I’ll simply do without.
    But, if the albums in question are someday offered on CD somewhere in the world, I’ll buy them.
    I’ll continue to support the industry, by purchasing CD’s, SACD’s, DVD-Audio, Bluray Audio and vinyl. I have found, consistently that official download sites are less reliable than their unofficial counterparts. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.
    I don’t see the point of renting(hiring) music. I’ve been collecting for nearly 50 years and I have a huge collection. and I won’t risk the survival of my music collection on a box of circuit chips, such as a computer or music server. Recently 15% of my(15000 song) iTunes library disappeared, though the songs are still listed. Luckily, more that 99% of my iTunes library was derived from my CD’s, and my few purchases from the iTunes store were backed up to CD-R. I didn’t lose any music.
    I want music on physical product, and I want to obtain it without hassle. I’m nearing 60 (in June), so I’m set in my ways, particularly with respect to my musical tastes. But my old ways are good ways. Give me more music from the “Good Ol’ Days” and I’ll buy it. I’m a collector. To me, files have no collectors value.

  35. Sid Ceaser says:

    Ahhhh, Together Alone. How I love thee.

    I picked up the limited 2-cd edition when it came out in 1993 with the live tracks. But that album – man, I played the hell out of it when it was released. Such a good good album.

    And “Don’t Dream It’s Over” is such a fantastic pop song. I hope the re-releases have all kinds of remixes and stuff. I used to have some 12″ remixes and I’d just play that song over and over when I was young.

    Cheers,
    Sid

  36. jsd says:

    I totally get where you’re coming from, Paul, but I don’t see a problem with releasing the deluxe editions online day and date. I think they serve totally different markets. Very few people who would be willing to splash out $50-$100 on a deluxe box are going to say, “you know what, I was going to get this deluxe physical product, but nah, the streaming version is fine.” And conversely, someone who is into streaming is not going to say “wow $100 for this box set, that sounds like a great idea.”

    I grew up in the age of physical product, but now I am all in on streaming, unless a product comes out that really speaks to me. (Hello, Kate Bush or Scritti Politti box sets…). The recent Mike Oldfield reissues are a great example. Discovery is far from my favorite album of his so I was happy to just listen to the deluxe edition on Apple Music. There was zero chance I would have bought it physically anyway so it doesn’t really count as a lost sale. At least this way Mike gets his $0.000001 from my streams.

  37. John says:

    I don’t know if this is relevant here but when I was thinking of upgrading my hifi recently one of the options could have been a high quality streamer, with all the built in DAC tech and a Spotify already on board. But then it occurred to me that if I was going to go this route a vast quantity of my current CD collection would be redundant, unnecessary etc.

    Having everything at a single tap is good eh? No. Not for me.

    I would MISS those hours spent idly browsing in music shops, market stalls, that for me is part of the joy of music… finding a bargain, or a release from years back that triggers happy memories, music that means something or even releases that mean nothing but you are beguiled by their artwork or packaging. I am not ready to give that up. I don’t want to. It is part of my experience.

    I do stream sometimes but I don’t feel the same connection or investment (literally) as I do with something I can open, take out, examine, read etc etc. I don’t think I ever will. Who agrees?

  38. Leemer says:

    I really loved Crowded House and Phil Collins for that matter. I saw CH on their Woodface tour with Richard Thompson opening. It was a fantastic show. I look forward to their reissues and hope they do them right. As for Phil Collins’ reissues, I am not sure I like his curated approach, I am more a complete contemporaneous releases and demos kind of person. But I can see how some might enjoy compiled live, although I prefer a single show or same tour kind of approach. But each to his own. As for the subscription audio services, I am a subscriber of Google. I like the fact that they really do have the full sets. You can choose from the 2012 reissue with all those extra tracks or the 2015 reissue with only the original tracks, or whatever. That said if I really like the artist, I will buy their physical media. I still buy new vinyl and CD’s when I am moved. I will even buy those funny colored vinyl releases from time to time, even though I already have the plain licorice colored one. Not sure about kids today…

  39. I am a big proponent of not only lossless audio, but high resolution audio. Certainly Spotify and similar services don’t provide high quality listening. For me Spotify is a platform to review albums, but my attitude is changing on this in two ways. I agree that Deluxe reissues should have a delay factor before being added to the Spotify library. However, I am also becoming a believer that Spotify is really just like a radio station and thus should only have the HIT song as provided by the label. Thus, any album would only have one or two songs available on Spotify and a fan must buy the album to hear all the other great music. This is what I did when I was younger, and letting music go effectively for free is just killing the industry.

  40. sven says:

    Hi Paul
    I absolutely agree.

  41. Paul Martin says:

    Paul – Great and culturally important discussion. I read your week in review piece, and I agree with most of what you wrote there. But to take the example you make of your friend’s 18 year-old son who only ever streams music; you have the wonderful example of Imogen Stubbs (above) who at 17 has the same aesthetic values about the physicallity of music as 60 year-old Phil Cohen, just below her. I take this as a sign of hope. My wife is a year head in 14-18 Academy. Many of her A-Level students (Imogen’s age) also buy vinyl and certainly CDs for the same reasons. Vinyl is seen as ‘hip’ and fascinating.

    Contemporary artists might release their latest album on a limited vinyl edition as well as any other format and non- format. I believe vinyl in this sense is a way of ‘buying in’ to the artistic legacy of popular music; it’s a statement of that artist’s legitimiacy as a serious musician and not just this week’s X-Factor or Pop-Idol winner. So although vinyl may never regain its former sales figures, I do not see it as something that will die with the last generation to grow up with it as the dominant format.

    CDs as you mentioned in your piece Paul, have a much greater hold in other countries like Germany and Japan. I can never really equate the media reportage of declining sales figures of CDs against downloads in Britian while there are such great quality box sets and varients of the CD format being made and designed abroad (SACD, SHM CD, Blue Spec etc) . There’s enough of these and SDL sets both as reissues and indeed from contemporary artists as well to keep me going for life. I have never bought a download and don’t ever intened to, it’s a false logic, but it’s what you grow up with I guess.

    Why are SDL sets available to stream on the day of release? Well, one thing that occurs to me, re your example of all the effort put into them, is that the marketing of such products is not down to the same people who made the slog through the tape vaults and researched the whole project. The final decision on how to sell the end result is up to the suits I guess and they just look at all and every media platform for turning a profit or exposing the product to as many people as possible irrespective of who the box set is principally aimed at. It’s not that different to the old days when record labels just used to churn out anything that was pitched to them on a 45 and hope some of it might stick. I guess they know how many physical units they need to sell to make a profit, hence why expenive SDL boxes suddently become available for half price a couple of months after their release so often. Many of the so-called SDL boxes vary in quality as we know. Some are full of great music and quality presentation whilst others are full of tote bags and fresh air, so maybe there’s more millage in streaming them in some cases anyway?

    You also have to think, why are there no new musical sub-cultures out there, no 2016 innovations to equal punk, acid house / Madchester, Britpop etc? Is it because they’re all on line or busy re-inventing those sub-cultres that have aleady gone before? Mod seems to be an ever present and in-flux sub-culture for instance, or am I just too old to notice they do exist?

    Anyway, I see the glass as being half full, I know it’s not just old crusties like me that are into all this. I get the point about the cost (BMW driving middle-aged men v impoverished students etc), but like the two excellent Tears For Fears sets fo 2013-14 for instance, there’s always a budget version that encapsulates the main body of music that is affordable at a ‘Deluxe’ level if the ‘Super Deluxe is out of reach.

  42. Salamander says:

    Dear Paul,

    You make a point that seems persuasive, but once the music is ‘out there’, it will be up on illegal file-sharing sites within the day upon release. Releases on Spotify at least reduce the urge for the material to be file-shared. Keeping content exclusive to physical formats is simply not feasible anymore. In fact it is no longer about content, it is about the context in which the content is fixed. Deluxe reissues should therefore contain all the content that the collector may be interested in, but it needs to be presented in a lavish form, an experience that cannot be reproduced through streaming. Plus, the audio format needs to be multifaceted; multichannel mixes and remasters. So, this may be nice MFSL releases (SACD/CD combos), gold discs, blu-ray hi-res combos. My favourite issues nowadays come from people like Steven Wilson. I am happy to fork out more money for his wonderful book-style releases. These are not even re-issues, but initial releases! Also, nice vinyl releases whet my appetite. Third Man records release some beautiful material and have set the template for many to follow. No wonder vinyl is becoming more popular. In short, I can fully understand why record companies would release the content on Spotify; at least it is a ‘legal’ release as far as they are concerned. As for grumbling collectors, if all would not file-share … if all would keep the contents of the deluxe release exclusive, it would remain so …

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I don’t really agree with this, since I think content still finds its way to illegal sites, regardless of whether it’s on Spotify or not. I also think that the 40+ something target market largely haven’t got the time / inclination / technological skills to bother to track down illegal stuff anyway.

  43. Nicholas Dawson says:

    I hear you in relation to wanting the physical item, be it vinyl ,cd, cassette etc. For a long time when cds came along, they were all i wanted, now I am back to vinyl, especially if the album comes with a physical cd or download. The effort some put into re releases as well as new is excellent. I feel a bit cheated with just a download or streamed. Your idea about holding back for a few months is sound, but should go further in just releasing the standard edition on free streaming sites with re issues and deluxe having to buy physical copies, albeit then with a dowload code for the bonus tracks etc.The problem is though that despite many people calling out about the prices ,which have gone up, especially here in the UK, record companies could do themselves and their artists a favour by reducing prices on physical products. If some groups, artists can and do release albums at a reduced price,Blackberry smoke and Black Star Riders last year or even for free, U2 and recently Rhianna, and dont knock it, its free, and legitimate, and yes I went on and bought the vinyl of U2. The mp3 being an advert as such. Theres the rub, people want anything for free, but for a lot of people having the real thing brings more pleasure. I would be interested in say ten years time, to see the buying habits of those same people who only buy mp3 downloads or stream music now. And what would happen if your preferred streaming -on-line library went down, out of business, at least I have the physical copies.

  44. Marco says:

    Re. the streaming/Spotify issue, it’s funny you should mention Phil Collins’ ‘Hello I Must be Going (Deluxe)’ cos that’s *exactly* the kind of album I will listen to on Sport-ify, without having to lash out money on an expensive piece of plastic which would get played probably once and then put on the shelf to collect dust. I too am in the same predicament of having a young daughter who has never bought music in her life (save for birthday presents for dad!) but she sort of introduced me to the streaming sites. I’m a 50-something who has spent a lot of hard-earned income on everything from LPs, to cassettes, to CDs and all the rest of it, and helped to making a lot of artists the rich people thay are today, but I’m also a firm advocate of the streaming services, which you have to pay money for anyway. Having all that music literally at the touch of a button is almost a utopia come true. (How long will it last?)

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I think having all that music at the touch of a button, sounds like a great thing at first, but it’s too much choice. It doesn’t make life or enjoying music better. Having less music, in a physical collection and picking, selecting and savouring it on a decent hi-fi system is what it’s all about for me. There is one exception and that is streaming is very handy for when you are out and about or travelling – the sheer convenience can’t be beaten then.

  45. Joseph says:

    Really had little idea Crowded House were so highly regarded. I obviously missed that boat. I am one of those who may do some streaming and see where it goes from there. I appreciate the inherent subtraction of fidelity when not listening to physical media on a proper system, will take into account as I dip my toe in. As mentioned, labels are compelled straightaway to stream digitally or else others will do it for them. Fact of life nowadays.

    I may be in the minority to say “Hello, I Must Be Going” (my favorite Phil LP) was a step forward from “Face Value” (which was also very good). Both are definitely preferred to the mid-80’s overblown production which came barreling in with the all-out hit-making efforts of “No Jacket Required”.

  46. Dan says:

    Interesting article Paul and I agree with its sentiments in general.
    The problem for me is, and has always been, record company greed which in my opinion led to music streaming in the first place. A CD in general is very cheap to produce (vinyl was and is more expensive apparently) and whilst the initial investment in CD technology in the early 80s had to be clawed back by the big record companies, now, many many years after CD’s inception, prices are still way too high.
    I am a few months shy of 60 and have been collecting CDs and vinyl since I was 13. It really scares me to think how much I’ve spent on the record industry in that time, but between £50k and £100k would not seem an unreasonable estimate. I thought nothing of spending £30 on a japanese import CD at Tower Records in Piccadilly and on one occasion in the early 90s, I spent £79.99 on a 4-CD japanese import box set by 10cc. The industry’s in general has done pretty well out of me. Don’t get me wrong – I regret not a single penny of it as it’s given me a lifetimes love of contemporary music, but now it’s pay-back time. I just cannot afford to buy everything I want, so streaming for me has been a godsend. Yes, perhaps not CD quality, but it’s damn close. (A remastered MP3 file is significantly better, to my ears anyway. than an original CD release particular from the 90s and before).
    I now subscribe to Spotify, i-tunes and Google Music and can get about 85% of the music I want. The rest I buy. I use Audacity free software to record these streams, and then by downloading the album artwork, I have the very next best thing to the physical entity, and it takes up infinitely less space too.
    I wouldn’t have dreamed about going down this route had CDs been £3 or £4 each. Easily achievable by today’s economies of scale. So, as I said before, this whole scenario has been brought on in the first place by the record industry giants’ greed. By the way, prices for example of CDs in official outlets in the Far East are typically $7-$8. Still too high in my opinion, but proof that record companies can sell for less and still stay profitable. (See the high court case of BPI vs CD Wow from 2003 to see the scale of this particular chestnut!) .

    Marillion, taking just one example, make music by their fans pledging money for their next commercial release. This enables the band to pay in advance for their living wage, studio time and CD production costs. On completion of album, it is sent to those who have ‘given’. A very neat idea that seems to work well.

    No, you know the really strange thing about all this is I don’t even feel in the least bit guilty about what I’m doing. Music will last in its many forms regardless of what consumers and record companies do because that’s just the nature of us humans and our love and need for music, but it most certainly will be reshaped by us all. Its future though may look very different from what we have right now.

    • Julian says:

      Crowd funding is the only way I see artistes & projects surviving now – Marillion paved the paved the way as you say. But it’s also valid for projects such as the Jess Roden set I bought a couple of years ago, and the Chris Wood (Traffic) set that is in development now – in both cases a couple of enthusiasts are putting their own time and money into mastering and packaging archive material, hoping beyond hope that in true “build it and they will come” style it will somehow break even. All of which means £3 or £4 for one of those CDs will never be the case – streaming is creating a world where the only way of funding is really via pre-ordering of hand crafted and boutique recordings paid for by those who care and want them.

  47. Mike the Fish says:

    Also so many mistakes get made with box sets (Universal = great ideas, at times poor execution and miserable attitude to acknowledging/fixing issues) and they can be so expensive so it’s good to be able to check it out first. I’m not sure there’s any reason to cry a river over record companies and millionaires that don’t seem to acknowledge the people that got them there while trying to get them to buy product again.

  48. Dan Yesindeedy says:

    On a Different note,I hate when a Band or Record Company prevent people putting up whole albums on Youtube. I don’t know how many hundreds of CDs I have bought! By listening to and falling in love with them on Youtube first (and I always source out a Deluxe Edition when I Buy).
    Anyone else here do the same?

  49. Rob Maurer says:

    I am a proud collector of “physical media” – over 3000 CDs/DVDs/Blu-rays, hundreds of boxed sets. I also download FLAC and/or high-bitrate mp3 files of product I can’t otherwise get on CD. (Vinyl is a last resort for me…)

    But, I also am a Spotify Premium subscriber. And it is invaluable to me.

    I have discovered so much music through podcasts and blogs I never would have otherwise found, and virtually all of it is accessible on Spotify – anywhere I want it, at any time. I do seek out physical versions of the stuff I really like, because I do like to “own” it. The one downside of Spotify (and other streamers) is you never know if you’ll wake up one day and find a particular album or artist gone from the site.

    I disagree that Deluxe content should be held back from the streaming services. If not for Spotify, I would have just blindly purchased the new Phil Collins sets. Instead, I got to hear for myself what garbage those bonus tracks are, and save some cash and shelf space. Not 90 second, 64kbps samples, a real-world taste. And it goes the other way for me as well, where I hear it on Spotify and have to own it. If I had access to a service like this when I was a kid…

    Let’s meet in the middle…maybe restrict the Deluxe content to the paid/premium level subscribers. But I can’t agree with you on a wholesale banishing of Deluxe content from all levels of steaming services.

  50. Julian says:

    Like you I grew up with physical products and (unlike you) I deplore the situation we find ourselves in now. Sure my home is over full with vinyl and CDs and I am guilty of buying o few of my favorite albums x times over as remaster sand bonus content has appeared (and as I have aged and crap hearing I don’t appreciate the extra kHz of crystal clarity they bring – but I do enjoy the out takes and so forth that the archivists and curators of Island etc etc bring us.
    Which brings me onto today – streaming and non ownership of new releases – quite simply everyone expects music to be free to access or almost free at best with a few £s or $s paid for a monthly access … It’s flawed and it means artists revenue streams are weakening at best and non existent as pretty much the norm now. Boo hoo cry the punters who get stung for concert tickets – because record sales don’t fund loss leading tours anymore for major touring artists … so where does that leave the “normal” artists – the artistes who I grew up listening to the vinyl and CDs that I paid money for – some of which found its way back to them and their record labels and meant at best they stood a chance of covering costs – and better still maybe even supported the creation of another album.
    In today’s world of music for (next to) nothing would we see the growth and development of artistes like Tom Waits, Little Feat, Jess Roden, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, John Martyn, Robert Palmer, David Bowie (pre Ziggy – it took a long time to get there !!) … It’s a joke – in no other field of art or business do we expect to get things for free – great art galleries and museums allow us to see great works – but only because they have been funded or donated by those who at some point in the past funded them. We have the treasures of the natural world available for us to visit – but unless we are lucky to live around the corner from the Taj Mahal or the Grand Canyon or The Lake District or … we have to pay in some way to get there.
    We live in a society where we (generally) barter, trade or exchange cash for food, drink, goods and services – and we bring our children up to expect to do the same and not beg, borrow and steal … So why should we make an exception when it comes to recorded music ?
    I remain unconvinced and generally confused. A case of maverick behaviour occurred during the early adoption of the Internet when ripping and bit torrent etc enabled the free distribution of music (benefiting those telcos and ISPs who enabled the traffic to flow and charge for great bandwidth and storage) … but this soon become “expected” behaviour … by which time the record labels woke up to realise they had little or no comprehension of the technology that surrounded them and has now removed most of their revenue stream and now means they have little or no purpose. Some may say good riddance … but I come back to my confusion about how will new and struggling artists now get the funding and support to enable them to record.
    I’ll stop now – I have plenty of great music I have paid for and I’ll surely die before I have time to listen to it end to end again … So I’ll sign off in the hope that somehow great music will continue to be made and heard in years to come.

  51. AZ Will says:

    Personally I would be in favor of an even longer period, say 1 year, before the full-blown versions of the music would be made available for streaming. This would provide additional incentives for the purchase of the in-store product, and result in more revenue for both the labels and the artists.

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