Friday, May 11, 2007

Through many years I wait.

Most true music fans have a common pet peeve.

The REMASTERED REISSUE!!! of an album they already own. Record companies are so privy to sell a record nowadays, they'll celebrate the 10th anniversary of any album it seems -- and yes, I will fight you on this, there is NO WAY that Stereophonics' Word Gets Around deserves a 10th Anniversary Edition. Maybe Performance and Cocktails. That's it.

The problem is that it's frustrating to buy an album you already own, but it's also inherently frustrating to know that you now own the "inferior" version of the album. For the few remaster editions I do have, all I can really tell is that they turned the general volume level of the album up a couple clicks. Then they tacked on a bonus disc of demos and outtakes, which, for completists, drives you even crazier, because one - if you're a true completist, you already have most of the demos on bootlegs anyway, but now they've been "touched up" by the record company, so you might not have as much of that annoying ass tape hiss that rests on your CD-R copy, and two - they have ONE demo or outtake that you've never heard before, and now you're essentially buying a two-disc set for ONE F*CKING SONG.

You can tell I've been frustrated by this before, no?

Granted, MP3 blogs have rectified the situation quite a bit - it's now pretty easy just to swipe that ONE track in question now after perusal of the Hype Machine or, but I still haven't entirely made the switch yet to getting all my music online. I'm getting more of it than I ever thought I would, but I still go into Best Buy and spend a good chunk of time in the music aisles... and I still love little indie shops like the B-side here in Madison.

Anyway, I've been burned before by buying the "remaster" edition for that one previously unheard outtake, because 9 times out of 10, you realize why it was an outtake in the first place. But once in awhile those outtakes come along where you scratch your head as to why the songs weren't included or weren't pursued. Obviously the answer is, "To benefit the 10th, 20th and 30th anniversary reissues of the album."

So for May's edition of the Friday Five, we present five of those such gems.

The Friday Five: Songs That Made Investing in the Deluxe Reissue Edition of the Album Totally Worth It.

Frank Sinatra - The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else)
Capitol got into rereleasing all Sinatra's albums in 1998 when someone (was it Capitol?) named Sinatra the "Entertainer of the Century." For whatever reason, they only released "the indispensible" albums, and overlooked the less-popular but just-as-classic albums like No One Cares and Point of No Return. They rectified their mistake in 2002 and put the rest out, and this was tacked on to No One Cares. The fantastic blog Locust St. told the story of this song's exclusion from the original LP just a couple weeks ago: ""The One I Love" was cut from No One Cares for technical reasons. In the early days of stereo LPs, sides had to be short due to the broad groove width needed for "optimum separation of channels." So "The One I Love," though it was the best track on the album, was dumped and forgotten, surfacing at last in 1973, when the Longines Symphonette released a mail-order Sinatra compilation. With the recent CD reissue of No One Cares, the track's finally back where it belonged."

George Harrison - I Live For You
Included in the 2001 "30th Anniversary Edition" of Hari's classic All Things Must Pass, this song is just charming as all hell and hits you like bucket of cold water in its "cleanliness" after listening to the first part of the album's heavy/muddy Phil Spector production. Could be that Spector never got around to getting his hands on this track or that the basic track was laid down and it was decided that it wasn't worth pursuing the wall of sound ornamentation. Either way, it's an absolutely beautiful track and actually made me quite happy I picked up the 30th Anniversary edition of All Things Must Pass, as the 2000 remake of "My Sweet Lord" that was also included was a total let down.

Ian Dury - Something's Going to Happen in the Winter
Fuel 2000 snatched up the distribution rights in the US to remastered versions of Ian Dury's landmark late 1970s and early 1980s albums, all of which included non-LP singles that were released around the time of their respective album and a bonus disc of demos and outtakes. As New Boots and Panties!! had previously been rather difficult to track down in the US on CD prior to this issue (my only version was on LP, and I actually bought that in Madrid, Spain), I was quite happy to see a proper rerelease of the album. This is from the bonus disc, and is obviously left in rough demo form - with only Ian Dury and Chaz Jankel playing the instruments and singing. Their voices don't mesh all that well here - it sounds like Jankel's laying down a falsetto guide vocal, and Ian overdubbed a vocal take just to get timing down, but then it was never pursued. Probably for the best - this might have sounded a tad out of place on Panties!!, but it's still a shame that it never was retried. It's a terribly sweet song. Just listen to lyrics - "So if you want to break your heart, be all I need."

Jeff Buckley - Forget Her
"Forget Her" was the most legendary unreleased track in Buckley's canon. It was supposed to be included on the original version of Grace and Columbia Records even had designs on making it the lead single, but then Buckley recruited Michael Tighe on guitar toward the end of the sessions, they had a jam, "So Real" was born and Jeff said it would replace "Forget Her." The label was pissed, feeling "So Real" wasn't half the song "Forget Her" was, but Jeff stood adamant. Written about a breakup he had recently been through, it's believed Buckley felt the song was just a little too personal to put out, much less as a single to be strewn all over popular radio and MTV. Buckley's mother Mary abstained from releasing the song for years after his death, but when the time came for a Legacy Edition of Grace, well... there was only one track that could justify a bonus disc and it was this. The bonus disc, as it turns out, actually has a host of great stuff, but it's great to hear this in non-bootlegged clean, glorious form. Even though it probably turned Jeff over in his grave.

The Kinks - Lavender Hill
"Lavender Hill" had already made a showing on the "unofficial" bootleg, The Great Lost Kinks Album, but had never seen a proper release on CD, or one authorized by the Kinks themselves. Really strange, considering the quality of the song - it is quintessential Ray Davies at his mid-1960s peak, and it's believed that it might've been tipped to be the follow up single to "Waterloo Sunset." As it turns out, my all time favorite Kinks song, "Autumn Almanac" was finished off instead and won that honor (tells you how incredibly prolific Davies was at the time), and "Lavender Hill" sadly got shelved. It could've easily fit on The Village Green Preservation Society in terms of style and theme, but Davies instead wrote 15 other gems to make up my all time favorite Kinks album. I had the album on LP, CD and import CD (with the 12-track mono edition tacked on), so when Sanctuary released the "Ultimate 3-Disc Version" in 2004, I was peeved to have to buy the album again, but that third album of outtakes is entirely worth it. This is the best moment, but there are several others that are just as good.



Anonymous scott beadle said...

I agree with your REMASTERED rant. I bought Wire's Pink Flag on CD a few years ago and was delighted to find the "Dot Dash" single tacked on as a bonus, making it worth the import price. Just recently, I noticed a REMASTERED new version of Pink Flag CD at my library, so I took it out and digitized it, and compared it to my existing digital tracks, and the NEW REMASTER sounds flatter, bleaker. What was the point? AND it didnt even have Dot Dash!

2:34 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

It's a strange world, isn't it? I mean 'The Village Green Preservation Society' has probably seen about five different versions released on CD alone, and yet we're still waiting for a proper release of Dennis Wilson's "Pacific Ocean Blue."

9:25 PM  

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