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Rants and extended reads

The Cult of the Reissue needs to die off

record crypt

Press release from Too Underground For You Records:

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We are beyond stoked to announce the deluxe reissue of Dust and Cobwebs’ sole album ‘Lost in the Mire’.

It will be released in all the usual formats including deluxe quintuple vinyl disc reissue featuring vinyl inlaid with pubic hair from singer Cory ‘The Shrieker’ Jones. This version also includes extensive liner notes from Cory, a Dust and Cobwebs branded box of condoms, a signed tea towel and a picture of his mum he found down the back of the sofa. It will cost 999.99 dollars and is limited to 5 and a half copies. It can only be purchased during a full moon and paid for in gold teeth stolen from your elderly relatives.

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OK, obviously that’s all a bunch of horseshit I made up to provide a punchy opening to this piece, but…. well…. I advise people to look into Poe’s Law here. The reason for this article? I want to complain about the unending and completely pointless desire some labels apparently have to re-release every forgotten EP/demo/logo-designed-on-the-back-of-a-beermat  from the 80s. And, at the other end of the spectrum, completely ridiculous and overpriced reissues of records from famous bands that everyone already owns a million versions of.

Let’s get on with the whining about the first point: most of the bands that did not progress beyond the demo/EP stages back then did not do so because…. well…. because they were shit. Not because they were unlucky, not because they were ahead of their time, not because they lived in the wrong place and not one of several other reasons given for band X not making it big. They were piss poor. We all look back on the golden period of the 80s as the genesis of so much truly amazing metal. And quite rightly: great pieces of art were created that continue to cast a shadow over what came after like that one smug friend who actually achieved something with their life and loves to remind you about it every time you see them. But for every great release, nay: for every good release even, there were countless turds contaminating the pool and making everyone do that face you do when you smell a really bad fart.

Part of the problem seems to be that these reissue-based labels are convinced that the next reissue they put out is “really going to be, like huuuge, man, you know? I can feel it,right? THIS band is definitely going to go places this time”. All the while staring too hard at you, with too much pleading in their eyes. They seem to think that the collective bottom-of-the-wardrobe shoebox of junk of the metal world is full of bands that will be the next Morbid Saint, the next….fuck: I cannot think of another, previously unknown, thrash band that achieved a decent level of success after being ‘unearthed’. The labels then present these reissues as religious artifacts that must be coveted and drooled over. Held up and worshiped, in glowing golden light for all eternity.

Then you actually sit down and LISTEN to these records. ‘You love Exodus,right!?!?’ shouts the advertising, ‘well here’s the 14,675th band playing thrash that sounds like Exodus! ISN’T IT GREAT!?!?!?!?’ Um….no…..no it’s not. And please stop shouting at me: I’m getting a headache reading so many all caps sentences…. Sloppy songwriting, badly played instruments, screechy annoying vocals and generic and boring arrangements are too often the order of the day.

Next we have the super-hyper-mega-deluxe reissues of famous releases:

Metallica’s Kill ‘em All and Ride The Lightning recently got truly ridiculous reissues: 4 records, 5 CDs (6 for RtL), a DVD, a book and probably a restaurant napkin Hetfield once wiped his mouth on. All for the low, low price of $150 each. For that price alone, they can sod right off. Reading through the contents of each release, one has to wonder how much of this stuff has any real value to it. Who will buy this thing and others of it’s ilk? Middle aged record collectors with an AWOL sense of the value of anything, trying to recapture their past glories as they attempt to pull on their original 1986 Master of Puppets tour shirt over their slowly expanding stomachs one last time, maybe.

And no one else.

Ever.

Seriously: At the time of writing this, both are still available on the Metallica online store despite being released over a year ago. If even Metallica nerds are not attempting to shove fistfuls of used notes into their computer screens in an orgy of capitalism, then something has gone wrong.

We must also consider how many people actually have good enough stereo equipment at home to make these uber-high fidelity releases discernable from any other version. Not many, I’ll bet. I certainly don’t. Also, vinyl pressing is apparently a difficult process with surprisingly inconsistent results across the board. You never know: the overpriced reissue you just got your hands on may actually sound worse than an original.

And then there’s mistakes made by individuals involved with a given record. Take,for example, what Satyricon have done with the Nemesis Divina reissue: The levels have been brickwalled, removing much of the dynamic range of the original recording:

http://nwnprod.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=53642&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=90

The fact that Earache Records, no less, is making a big deal of releasing reissues using Full Dynamic Range (that should have been done IN THE FIRST PLACE) tells you a lot:

http://bravewords.com/news/earache-records-closes-chapter-on-loudness-war-with-full-dynamic-range-vinyl-reissues

Relapse Records messed up the reissue of Num Skull’s Ritually Abused LP by getting playing order wrong, despite still having the original track list on the sleeve:

http://www.deathmetal.org/article/num-skull-ritually-abused-re-issue-has-fatal-flaws/

Finally, did the reissue take the audio from an original source? Some cash-in ‘reissues’ simply take the audio from a later, inferior quality CD press. And these shitty versions are often reasonably difficult to differentiate from actual high quality versions to us normal folk.

Aside from the above, what is my own personal problem with this ridiculous reissue culture? Well, the money being thrown at this crap could be put to much better use. In an age where unsigned bands struggle to get any sort of exposure and have to resort to begging and pleading through indiegogo, kickstarter and all those fundraising websites, imagine what a difference a professional label could do if it picked up one of these great new bands and nurtured them, give them some kind of proper career start, even for just a single album. Imagine the knowledge that could be gained. How becoming part of an existing network could bolster said band’s career chances.

Given that history moves in circles, could the unsigned new band that didn’t get their big break now become the undiscovered gem of 10 or 15 years time? The way things are going, probably. And then we start the whole sorry cycle over again….

So, please: don’t let that happen. By all means: pick up the reissue of that much loved but hard to find gem. And there ARE some gems to be found. For example, from my collection (and a couple of extras):

  • I recently bought the Messiah Force reissue: F I N A L L Y an official CD (No Remorse)
  • Heavy Load are getting decent CD versions of their albums. (also No Remorse)
  • Arbitrater have both their albums up for preorder (Divebomb Records)
  • Warrant’s (Ger) speed metal classic ‘The Enforcer’ was finally released on CD 25 years after the original release. (Pure Steel/Kill Again)
  • Glacier got their rare-as-fuck EP released on CD (Cult Metal)

But be sensible. Remember that there are great new bands who deserve your money too. Probably more so than many of the older defunct acts. Who knows: the metal world loves to argue about who will be the *drum roll* Next Big Thing and you could help in the creation of that band.

asshole.jpg

– Spike

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