Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rant: Special Edition Tracks

Ok so I'm starting a new section, and if you couldn't tell from the title, it's just going to be me ranting about the world of music. I've had some previous articles that fall under this category and so I've redacted them to follow suit. So sit down, shut up and let me go about my business.

1987 Original
One trend that has been quickly picking up steam over the last two decades is that of the Remastered album; where a 'classic' or otherwise notable album from a band is worked on to make the tracks sound better and to smooth out any rough patches. This is a really good trend, as it helps a younger audience be introduced to these older bands, long-time fans get to hear every bass line that was previous drowned out by the guitars, and it's a good way for a music geek (like myself) to find bands that they would never otherwise be shown. All good things.
What has also occurred - which to me is more of an annoyance then a true negative - is that on most of these re-releases they incorporate extra, 'special edition,' tracks at the end (it's much more annoying when they insert them in the middle, ruining the classic song order). Now if these tracks are a collection of B-Sides or cover songs or something that did not quite make the album, they are perfectly acceptable. It's when an originally thirty minute album (as many albums were in the 70s) is stretched to over sixty minutes, by nothing more then radio edits or remixes or demo versions of songs. This is unnecessary, and and annoying to someone who wants to listen to these albums.

2001 Re-Issue
You see, it's not that I think releasing more songs by lovable bands is bad by any means, it's just that I don't care about a crappier, demo version of a classic song. The same goes with the radio edits or remixes, often these so called 'new' versions have a negligible difference then their original counterparts, and in the extreme cases where the song is noticeably different, it's never better.
With more recent albums being remastered (those from the 80s) there is only one or two of these tracks, and with that I can deal, but with the albums from the 60s and 70s there are almost as many bonus tracks as original songs. The Deep Purple self-titled album re-issue is thirteen tracks while the original is only eight. Uriah Heep's Demons & Wizards (one of my favorite albums) originally had only nine tracks, the 1995 reissue had thirteen while the 2003 re-reissue had fourteen (with a couple being different then the 1995 version). These are just two examples but they are filled with single edits, extended versions (often the same song as the single edit, so you get it short, normal and long), demos, live on stage and for some they have live on radio versions. This is so totally useless it's insulting to the buyer.

1970 Original as Osmium
This whole concept started as a good idea (a way to showcase to a new audience) and got bastardized into a way to make more money off of old products and throw-away tracks. The only way this is a good thing is for the die-hard, gotta have everything, fan, which would buy a box of shit if it came out of the drummers ass. It's pointless and anything more then two songs is annoying. If it was just 'for the music' as some claim, they should release a 'Rare & Unreleased' album as so many groups do, even if you were to release several or some true demo albums, that would be ok because then the fan (die-hard and regular) would know what they were getting, and not fretting about the remix version of Queen's "Liar" by John Luongo and Gary Hellman (whoever they are) off of their self-titled debut (which I actually own).

1995 Re-Release as First Thangs
There you have it, I said my peace and I feel better for it. As I said I don't mind the extra track or two on Carnivore's Retaliation, but the six extra songs of Parliament's Osmium (and they released that album twice under new names, First Thangs and Rhenium, which would be doubly confusing for a fan) are just too much. Live tracks belong on live albums, demo versions belong on demo re-releases, and edits/extended versions and B-Sides belong on Rare & Unreleased collections. Disagree if you want, but that is the way I see it.

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