Let’s Get Physical (not what you think)

Kinks-ArthurI recently made a comment on Facebook regarding my enthusiasm for the new slew of “Deluxe Edition” reissues of the Led Zeppelin Catalog (coming this June!), and a good friend of mine commented, “Ever get the feeling you’re being cheated?” The quote, of course, is from the mouth of John Lydon at the end of the Sex Pistol’s 1978’s US tour (at the Winterland Ballroom, I believe). My friend was commenting on the greed of the recording industry and poking fun at the fact I am an absolute, unrepentant purchaser of these repackages/reissues, and spend and/or trade way too much for something I have bought at least 3-5 times before. A lot of these so-called “Deluxe Editions”, the most interesting ones anyway, are albums that were originally released in the ‘60’s or ‘70’s, which means I have most likely purchased them on vinyl, cassette, CD, probably CD again (I’ve lost a LOT over the years), ‘90’s re-mastered version and finally the “Deluxe Edition”. I’m too young to have purchased any 8-tracks.

My friend, cheeky bugger that he is, ain’t afraid to call “bullshit” on me from time to time (now that’s a good friend!) and is, unfortunately, right at least 50% of the time. We have very similar tastes in music and are equally addicted to the auditory arts, devouring books, blogs, music sites and movies on the subject as often as possible, and as our families will permit. We needle each other about guilty pleasures, poke fun at the horrible purchases we made/still make, share successes and turn each other on to ‘the good stuff’ whenever possible. It’s a rare and wonderful thing that has continued, on and off (family, life in general and 4,000 miles between us has gotten in the way) for about 25 years.

 He still buys physical music, but he’s more of a purist than I, preferring to purchase very select vinyl occasionally; I, on the other hand, snatch up as many of these CD reissues, box sets and Deluxe Editions as possible. His comment, as they often do, made me take pause and dissect why I am so afflicted. I came up with the following reasons why, and while he and others may see the following as severe denial I see them as validation!

1. The packaging is almost always far superior to the original CD pressing. The Deluxe tri-fold (in some cases quad(?) fold) Digipacks are my favorite, and the booklets, about 80% of the time, come complete with essays, vintage and rare photographs, lyrics, anf a veritable cornucopia of minute details.

2. The sound is usually vastly improved. Yes, the occasional “loudness war” casualty aside, these CD’s sound infinitely better than the ones I own.

3. The second (or third, or fourth, or even fifth) disc. Bonus tracks (demos, B-sides, remixes, BBC Sessions, etc), full concerts and DVD’s are a few examples of the extras one gets when one invests in these special editions. It’s great to have them all in one neat, little (and oftentimes gorgeous) package. Some are better than others, and some are just plain awful, but on average the bonus stuff is far from superfluous.

4. They’re cheap! Only if you wait a while, or buy them used, on Amazon or the artists own site. If you wait too long the price may go up, especially given the weird price aggregator Amazon and Ebay utilizes; just check out select Saint Etienne or Kinks Deluxe Editions for proof.

5. They reinvigorate my passion for artists who have all but disappeared from my playlist. I don’t like to admit to this, but I get bored easily. A lot of albums I absolutely adored have wasted away on my shelf for years, and sometimes decades, due to over familiarity. These Deluxe Editions, etc, give me an excuse to fall in love with old friends all over again. They also keep my collecting bug warm and well fed, and has on many occasions rekindled my desire to keep seeking out new bands, instead of simply turning into those old fogies who I used to swear I would never turn into (“music was soooo much better when I was a kid!”).

What about you folks? Any opinion on the subject?

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