Small Craft on a Milk Sea

Small Craft on a Milk Sea Limited Edition Box Set

When do you mind contradicting yourself? I am about to now, right here in print, on the topic I discussed/ranted about in my last column: ultra expensive editions of music. I bring this up as I just read a release for the latest Brian Eno album, Small Craft On A Milk Sea, to be released in November. Surf over to and take a good look. You will find that there are going to be THREE different releases of the music. Well, sort of. First there is the CD, which you can pre-order for $14.99. The CD comes packaged in “an 8 panel digipack,” and your money also buys a digital download of the music. Next up the price chart there is the “Limited Edition Box Set,” which retails for $99.99. This set is housed in a “rigid, Birch paper-covered slipcase with printed and foil-blocked cover and spine” that contains an 180g heavyweight, double LP in a case-bound 12” cover. “Lined in crimson stock with foil block” too, apparently. You also get the CD release along with a SECOND CD containing 4 extra tracks. This is also contained in a 12” book to fit snugly alongside the LPs and the high quality 12” square lithographic print of new Brian Eno artwork. Top that all off with two different AUDIOPHILE downloads (in 24-bit WAV and 320kbps MP3) and you’ve got a pretty nifty package. But wait! That’s not the crème de la crème! No! For 450 smackeroos you can (try to) buy one of the 250 copies released worldwide that comes with an “entirely unique and customized 12” square silkscreen print” by Eno. Signed, and numbered by Eno himself IN PENCIL! (Pencil!?) The package also comes with a “real” copper plate etched with the title and edition number on the spine. Wow.

Wingless Angels

Wingless Angels Limited Deluxe Edition

Not to be outdone, take a look at In 1997 Keith Richards released a Nyabhinghi roots record titled Wingless Angels. It fell out of print. Well folks, Wingless Angles 2 is coming out in style in 2010. $9.98 apiece will get you either record (I or II). Your choice of Apple Lossless, FLAC or 320kbps MP3 to boot! $18.98 will get you the double CD set, which also includes a high quality download. Both options also come with a download of Wingless Angels—the Short Film sized for both the iPod AND the iPad. Keef is forward thinking as it turns out. If you praise Jah and have the green you can make one of two other options. There is the $249.98 edition, a package wrapped in hemp, hand stitched with the Lion of Judah on the front. You get the CDs, a 32-page book about the music, a Lithograph print of Keith’s “index-card-and-market sketch of a wingless angel,” an instant digital download, a download of the film (sized for the iPod and iPad) and a DVD of the film, sized for your TV. Finally there is the Signed Deluxe Edition, where for a mere $499.98 you can try to get one of 100 boxes signed by the legend himself, the ultra-rich Keith Richards.

Neither of these ultra hoi polloi releases ticked me off like the Stones’ recent Exile on Main Street re-releases. When I sit and think about it, I feel that to be due to the very clear-cut choices offered by these two very different releases. In both cases you can get the music in a physical form (CD) along with a download for a reasonable price. If you want more, you can get more. Of the two, the Eno is a better “bargain” while Wingless Angels offers more unique content. Ultimately they are each offering something new—a new bit of music from Eno and a new collection of music in the case of the Wingless Angels. Neither effort is peddling old news, classic or not, neither is clouding the waters of retail by offering a lot of redundant product. When the CD was first introduced labels treated the format as a cash grab, a chance to resell copies of catalog to the same consumers again. That trend continues with reissues to this day. The “definitive” Experience Hendrix reissues of 1997 have made way for the “definitive” Experience Hendrix reissues of 2010. The catalog of Elvis Costello has been released on three different labels three times. Raw Power by the Stooges just got another reissue release, this time restoring the horribly tinny Bowie mix that was erased by Iggy Pop’s motherfucker of a remix in 1997. When the product is old, a reissue, the notion of different versions of a release smacks of a rip-off. This is nothing new and it affects every artist. When the Beatles reissues hit stores last year you had three options: individual CDs, the Stereo box set and the rare Mono box set. Three months later Apple released all the Stereo music on an USB stick in the shape of an Apple. For a mere $279.99 you could actually fulfill a music fetish with a USB stick. Reissues appeal to the ravenous collector, easy marks to take money from. Fancy packages offering unheard music and gratuitous bonus items fulfill a record hound’s compulsion to feel that they have found something rare and to be kept it safe like a prize jewel. The thrill of the unknown that awaits every new release is intact and in that excitement one might not mind paying a little bit more to further their enjoyment of that new release. But when you are re-buying something for the third time that enjoyment is gone and all that remains is a crass attempt to get more money out of your pockets. Do I want these records? Or course I do. Would I like to get the über-limited editions? Of course I would. Will I? Of course not.

One Response to “Super-mega-ultra-deluxe”
  1. wallernotweller says:

    soooo much money for that lot… but i want it… just can not afford it, looks so damn pretty too.

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