Warner Bros. Records announced in April this year that they had signed a new agreement with Prince that, among other things, would “see the release of long-awaited, previously unheard material” including a reissue of his 1984 album Purple Rain. To be fair, it wasn’t promised for 2014 but with the announcement in the spring of the anniversary year, the implication was pretty clear. However since then, not much appears to have changed as far as the purple one is concerned. He has been pleasing himself, having fun with his Hit and Run tour and then releasing two new albums (with mixed critical response). Despite the announcement, it seems that delivering an expanded and remastered deluxe edition of Purple Rain isn’t anywhere near the top of his list of priorities.
Almost two years after being announced, the vinyl and SACD reissue of Roger Waters‘ 1992 album Amused to Death STILL hasn’t been released. In April this year we got confirmation that the SACD had changed from stereo to 5.1 (good news) and the work was apparently in the can, but eight months later the Analogue Productions’ release still has ‘Arrival date to be announced’ on the Acoustic Sounds website.
Okay, it’s probably churlish to complain about a lack of Kate Bush reissues or a new compilation in the year that she finally followed up her 1979 Tour of Life with Before The Dawn, but sometimes you wish she’d just – for once – do what normal artists do. Timing is everything and an updated version of the now 28-year old The Whole Story hits set with a companion DVD would have been a licence to print money if released in September. Fans have long been crying out for it, but did it happen? No. With no new compilation to soak up the public demand people simply bought all the old records and all ten of her studio albums and The Whole Story were in the UK top 50 at the same time at the end of August. Only Elvis and The Beatles have surpassed that particular record. It hasn’t been officially confirmed but Before the Dawn is definitely being issued on DVD/Blu-ray and we can at least expect that at some point in 2015.
What could have been – scrub that – should have been, a fantastic celebration of Cyndi Lauper’s debut album turned into a large and annoying missed opportunity. This seemed to be a case of don’t-let-the-artist-take-control-of-a-reissue with Lauper apparently forgetting about her 40+ male fans with a package more in line with a Frozen pre-teen demographic. It had elaborate packaging with a “reusable sticker set”, vinyl cut-outs of Lauper’s outfits and a “3D fold-out backdrop” of the bedroom featured in the Girls Just Want To Have Fun video. That would have been forgivable if the music has been a comprehensive round up of period remixes and B-sides, but the fact that the standard twelve-inch remix of Girls Just Want To Have Fun was missing tells you all you need to know. In fact one SDE reader listed nine versions of that track that had been issued back in the 1980s and none of them appeared on the 30th Anniversary reissue. To rub salt in the wound, three ill-advised newly commissioned remixes were included. A very nice vinyl picture disc was the only thing good to come out of this fiasco.
The Beatles’ official canon was re-presented four times in 2014, first as the US Albums box, then as the Meet the Beatles Japan set. Autumn brought the mammoth Beatles in Mono vinyl box and this month saw the stereo CDs reissued as Japanese mini-LP SHM-CDs. This is all well and good but it’s ridiculous that 1970 documentary Let It Be is still not officially available almost 45 years after release. The opportunity was there in 2003 when Let It Be Naked was released but if we were to hazard a guess, Paul McCartney doesn’t want to remove his rose-tinted spectacles and promote a warts-and-all document of a band falling apart.
Up there with 1987’s Savage as the Eurythmics‘ finest work (yes, really), 1984 (For The Love Of Big Brother) is best known for the hit single Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-four). The album was issued on Virgin Records and as such was omitted from the 2005 reissues of the RCA material. 2014 would have been a perfect anniversary year to reissue the moody, atmospheric soundtrack to Michael Radford’s film, but whether there is still a sour taste in the mouths of Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox (unbeknownst to them, it turned out that Radford wanted an orchestral score and there was internal wrangling) or the music is just mired in legal issues, a deluxe reissue hasn’t emerged. Even though the extended Ministry Of Love (B-side to Julia 12-inch) is the only commercially released track not-on-CD, one suspects that there’s plenty of unreleased outtakes sitting in a vault somewhere.
Sade‘s Diamond Life is an iconic release from 1984 and launched the career of a certain Helen Folasade Adu. Despite this, no red carpet was rolled out in 2014 and no 30th anniversary celebrations ensued. B-sides like Love Affair With Life, Spirit and Should I Love You are still unreleased on CD along with tracks like the extended Smooth Operator/Red Eye. One suspects Sony would put this out in a heartbeat, so we are left to draw our own conclusions.
If you want to pick up the two-CD version of Neil Young‘s latest album Storytone you can expect to pay around £13 on Amazon UK. If you’d prefer the two-LP vinyl edition you are being asked to part with £75. That’s simply absurd. Amazon UK haven’t just picked that figure at random, the double vinyl must have a very high dealer price and Warner Bros. Records should hang their head in shame – it’s pure exploitation. Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes – also released in 2014 – was a double vinyl set too, which unlike Storytone also came with a CD, and that can easily be bought for less than £20.
George Michael‘s 1984 was STUNNING. He wrote and produced two transatlantic number one singles (Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, and Careless Whisper), had another UK number one (Freedom) and a US number one (Everything She Wants) and then finished the year with a UK number two (Last Christmas) that was such a big hit it perversely outsold all of the previous number ones. Not only is that track the bestselling British number two of all time, only five UK singles in the 30 years since its release have outsold Last Christmas. The Make It Big album also reached number one in the UK and the US – never has an album title been more appropriate. Despite all this, the only release to even acknowledge these arguably unsurpassed achievements in the last 12 months was a US-only Black Friday coloured vinyl reissue of Last Christmas. Who knows what is going on, but someone needs to give George a shake and point out that he should be really proud of that immense 12-month period. He really needs to authorise a expansive archival reissue of Make It Big that takes in all the remixes and variants and perhaps delves even further into the archive.
Oasis’ 1994 debut was reissued as a decent three-CD deluxe edition in 2014, but the super deluxe set was a complete insult. It failed to include rare tracks featured on the cheaper Japanese edition and in addition to the vinyl and triple CD version came with what we succinctly described as a ‘load of crap’ – including ‘tote’ bag, badges, key-ring, postcards etc. It was also priced at £100 or over. Can’t wait for Be Here Now next year…
What were YOUR biggest disappointments of 2014. Leave a comment and let us know…