SIGNED, sealed, delivered – does an autograph mean anything, anymore?
One of the big announcements of this past week, was the 50th anniversary reissue of The Beach Boys Pet Sounds. Or at least it should have been big, but from the comments and reaction here on SDE I got the distinct impression of Pet Sounds ennui. Just how many times can you reissue the same album? One SDE reader counted eight or nine issues of the 1966 long-player, over the decades, with a mono LP version of the album licensed out to Analog Productions only last year!
Despite The Beatles catalog being regularly reworked, remastered and represented, it’s interesting to reflect that none of their individual studio albums has really ever been reissued as a deluxe edition or an expanded set in the way that Pet Sounds has. The Yellow Submarine ‘Songtrack’ and the Let It Be Naked sets are probably as near to this as they’ve come, but the mouth waters at the thought of a Revolver ‘sessions’ box set.
Perhaps Capitol/Universal were a little bit aware of this and as a result they’ve given the Pet Sounds box set a bit of a promotional push on their uDiscoverMusic store while restricting availability in the UK on channels such as Amazon. One of the limited edition bundles includes the box set, a 50th anniversary Pet Sounds beach ball (yawn), a beach bag (not much better) and lithograph of the album cover signed by Brian Wilson (now you have my attention).
I must admit, I ordered this because despite all that other crap, for less than £100 getting the new box set and the iconic album cover print signed by the music legend seemed a good deal. Although not everyone seems to share my enthusiasm. Am I a sucker, and is this, as someone suggested, going to be signed by some kind of ‘machine’? A Brian Wilson droid whose task it is to spare the REAL Brian Wilson the hassle of signing one hundred prints? We all know the Fab Four didn’t sign all their own stuff back in the 1960s, although I’m pretty sure they didn’t employ a machine. And anyway, does a signature actually ‘mean’ anything unless you also have the experience of nervously going up to the person, ‘autograph book’ in hand and seeing them do it. I once got Darth Vadar’s autograph in the late 1970s when he made an appearance in Collinson’s toy shop in Harrogate. That is an experience the 8-year old me didn’t forget, although I’m pretty sure Dave Prowse wasn’t the man under the mask!
How much do we really value signed items any more? Does anyone even WANT an autograph in these selfie obsessed days? There are so many artists now trying to flog their wares ‘direct-to-fan’ that signed items are rather devalued, are they not? The Manic Street Preachers sold 1000 of their forthcoming Everything Must Go box in less than a day. At least we have evidence that they did this themselves and it wasn’t a bunch of Welsh replicants. But it’s not just artist stores, even Amazon are getting in on the act, flogging “Amazon Signed Editions” of CDs from the likes of Bat For Lashes and Weezer. I suppose if you’re not paying a premium, then why not? I’d rather have a CD with Natasha Khan’s signature on it than not. Actually, the signed Bat For Lashes CD is £1 more than the standard CD, which perhaps tells you all you need to know. Amazon value the autograph, at one English pound!
But as much as I love Bat For Lashes, I do think Brian Wilson’s signature ‘trumps’ Natasha’s. In fact, on the uDiscoverMusic store invoice I was sent, Brian Wilson’s scrawl has a line item of £30, but that includes the lithograph, so let’s say £20 for the autograph. Assuming it’s actually HIM (can someone from Universal clarify?) that’s a fantastic deal. Let’s put it this way, how much would you pay for Paul McCartney‘s autograph on a Revolver lithograph? Exactly.
I’d love to know your thoughts on signed items, so leave a comment and let me know.
Congratulations to Iggy Pop who has a very strong chart debut this week with his 17th studio album, the brilliantly titled Post Pop Depression. It enters at number five on the album chart and number three on physical sales (just behind James who enter at number two on both charts with Girl At The End Of The World).
Primal Scream‘s new album Chaosmosis sneaks into the top ten physical sales this week (number nine) although is stalled at number 12 on the ‘normal’ album chart, which combines physical with downloads, streams etc.
In terms of reissues and the like, a-ha‘s Time and Again: The Ultimate a-ha compilation is the 39th best selling physical release of last week which isn’t bad. It might actually move up the chart next week as a result of the publicity resulting from Thursday’s performance from the BBC Radio Theatre (you can watch that here) and the UK tour.
The mammoth Elvis Presley Album Collection impresses. It’s a new entry at number 68, outselling Elton John‘s recent album, and, er, Alexander ‘Pointless’ Armstrong. Not bad for a 60CD box set costing £170.
Finally, call me Paul ‘clairvoyant’ Sinclair if you will, but as I predicted last week Stevie Wonder‘s Songs In The Key of Life, does indeed re-enter the chart thanks to the publicity generated as a result of the announcement about him playing the album in full at the British Summer Time weekend at London’s Hyde Park in July.