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Saturday Deluxe / 12 October 2019

National Album Day

National Album Day – what does it mean to you?

Today is ‘National Album Day‘. Not sure exactly what this means or what we are supposed to ‘do’ since I would presume that, like myself, most SDE readers already love albums and don’t need reminding that albums are a great art form (when done well).

I guess it’s an opportunity for retailers and interested parties to promote the medium and try and educate ‘the kids’ that it’s not all about streaming a track for 15 seconds before skipping over to the next song. Having said that, if ‘the industry’ as a whole was properly serious about ‘the album’ they would do more than have a token day to promote it.

They don’t love the album enough to stop music fans buying (or streaming) individual tracks from albums, which of course erodes the very idea of the long-player and in turn makes a mockery of the singles chart. They don’t love the album enough to insist that for an album to be eligible for the charts it should be issued on a physical format, something that defined what an album was for many decades.

The facts are undeniable. The music industry sees streaming as its future and streaming inherently does not respect the album. If you accept those facts, it’s hard not to conclude that ‘National Album Day’ is just paying lip service to the idea. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.


Prince’s Sign ‘O’ The Times deluxe repackaged

Fantastic news for Prince fans who were slow of the mark with Turbine Media’s recent super deluxe of the concert film of Sign ‘O’ The Times. That out-of-print set was tremendous (see the unboxing video) but is now going to be made available again, albeit in a new more compact ‘mediabook’ edition. The content remains the same (restored movie, dolby atmos audio, documentary, hours of bonus interviews etc.) the only difference is that this is no longer a 12″ x 12″ large format package and you get a smaller booklet and no poster.

I imagine some of you may actually prefer this DVD-sized package which can slot next to other similar deluxe editions. This ships on 16 December, but just remember it’s still a Germany exclusive and the DVDs and blu-ray are therefore still region locked to regions ‘2’ and  ‘B’ respectively.

Compare prices and pre-order

Easton, Sheena

sign o the times - mediabook deluxe

Currency:

SuperDeluxeEdition.com helps fans around the world discover physical music and discuss releases. To keep the site free, SDE participates in various affiliate programs, including Amazon and earns from qualifying purchases.

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Mathew Lauren

I didn’t know what to make of this at first, so I pondered on it for days.

Here goes:

“Abbey Road,” “DSotM,” & “TAAB”
have taken-up residency with “WYWH,” “TDB,” “CTA,” “Chicago,” “Chicago IX,” Nonsuch,” and “Avalon” surround-sound albums making the recent rounds (as well) into my 4K ALL DISC players @home with “Insurgentes” (5.1) parked in my (legacy) DVD-A over HDMI player — all-the-while “Boston,” “The Cars,” “Abbey Road” “DSotM,” a Jpnse Cd-pressing of the PF compilation: “Collection of Great Dance Songs” and lastly “FM ‘75” (2.0 Cds) have taken up residency in the MBZ disc-changer these last few weeks – along with various 2.0 (only) Steely Dan, Live & STP Cds.

These recordings (Albums) are experiences (memories & moments) that have enhanced my life, no matter the format. Like good friends, I visit them (these Albums) often. Sadly, I never thought the era of inviting actual, human beings (friends) over to share and gush (or not on occasion) over a new pop/rock music acquisition or acquisitions would be displaced by an era of independently streamed, mp3 (single, only) downloads – a solitary, incomplete and unfulfilling pursuit by comparison. I learned the art of sharing music from my elders and just assumed the next generations would carry on.

An era is gone :(

As it is, I miss sharing these recorded, musical experiences with like-minded over a drink or three. Whether it was Aerosmith’s “Pump” on Cd, or Yes’ “Fragile” on Vinyl, there was something for everyone — and although by the time I got a quad set-up, the format was DEAD (with no quad product to share or tout), sharing new (music) albums was still an event (e.g. hearing “So” or “Songs from the Big Chair” for the first time) amongst close friends. Oh, and bye the bye, Pink Floyd’s Water-less return to making albums was huge! As I remember it, that was all we discussed in the dorms that semester.

Maybe by recognising a National Album Day, an era of cultural significance and the music that was its raison d’être will survive and carry on, or even re-emerge for the better in the future, and NOT end up as more, corporate “lip service.”

Randy Metro

My doctor AKA shrink told me I am resisting the cell phone generation. Everything is about the phone & earbuds. How does anyone work when they have their nose attached to their cell phone? How does anyone enjoy a movie on a tiny screen? He told me to get with it and adapt. Some people are LPs, singles, CDs, digital & streaming, cassettes (my favored format. I was a mix tape kid, now a mix CD kid). The skip button is not going away. You swipe your love life right or left or meet on Tinder or Craig’s List (yikes!) Doc told me to resist as best I can but also adapt as best I can to the digital cellphone generations based not on a 15 or 20 year cycle but by each new cellphone version. Could age & death be determined by how we like to listen to our music?

Back in the early 70’s, I read a book, Logan’s Run, about adults with a crystal embedded in their hand. The crystal determined when your time was up. What a farce, I thought. 40 years later, I’ve joked about a generation in the future where kids will be born with a cellphone in their hand or at the very least stapled to their hand.

I tossed out my LP’s, cassettes. I don’t buy CDs except blanks or DVDs to backup digital downloads or my mix CDs External drives last 4 or 5 years then buy the farm. I can’t read the tiny print on CDs at my age, so why bother. I can’t get the booklets back in the case without ripping them on those little plastic catches. My last CD purchase was Grace Jones’ Warm Leatherette CD deluxe. Textured paper & a postage sized picture on top of a small box. My cat used the spines of my LP albums as a scratching post. CD’s were nice for car rides, except I no longer work and the rubber thingie around the slot dried up. I had to push & pull CDs in and out. Love the USB plugs now.

Music is my life, kinda. I love the debates about how everyone likes to listen to their music. I look forward to reading Super Deluxe Editions each day, but I look forward more to when my Social Security check arrives each month, which isn’t a physical check but an electronic transfer.

ed

its a shame cassette store day is also on this day as I feel its overshadowed by this

Gareth Jones

I was a student in the mid 90s and loved Britpop and Indie. Blur’s ‘Parklife’ and Badly Drawn Boy’s debut album were particular favourite “journey” albums that l wanted to hear from start to finish. However, there were also plenty of albums released back then which only contained 1 or 2 great songs, and at a cost of £12.99 per CD, l felt ripped off on many occasions. Back then, in a pre-streaming or iTunes age, l often felt l’d wasted my money and wished there was a way to just buy the 2 songs l liked. Yes, l did sometimes discover some brilliant album tracks, but there were still often only a couple of them on a 12 or 13 track album.

Sometimes l would rent an album from the library for 50p a week, listen to it, and if l loved it all then l’d buy it, and if l didn’t then l’d record the 1-2 songs l liked onto cassette! So really Spotfy and downloads have just replaced illegally copying songs on cassette. Nothing has really changed for me. If l stream on Spotify and love it, l’ll buy the whole album physically. If l don’t, l won’t. I took far too many gambles on rather dire £12.99 albums in the 90s, and they’ve ended up somewhere in landfill. I feel streaming and downloads have reduced waste!

Martin Giese

I don’t have to “defend” myself, as my two rooms are full of Vinyl and some CDs plus Box Sets (of course). ;-)
BUT, we all know more than just a few examples, where the album doesn’t hold up to the promise made by the single released as a teaser. Up to the Mid-60s, most albums where just collections of 3 hits plus fillers i.e. cover versions of evergreens (with some exceptions Beatles, Kinks younameit). So not every album is superior to the small piece of plastic that only hold 2 (sometimes up to 4) tracks – and which most of the time changed musical history – from “Love Me Do” to “Cold Sweat” to “Shape of Things to come” to “Anarchy in the UK” to – so many more.
Yes, some albums are vital and almost holy. And of course when buying this format we had the chance to discover a tune that was way better than the single – especially after listening to it for the tenth or twentieth time. Just don’t paint it black and white. Thank you
(Sorry, english is not my first language)

Ryk

I almost exclusively listen to albums. Can’t stand playlists. Greatest hits ‘albums’ are okay. As someone else has said, I hear the next song in my head before it starts playing. Couldn’t imagine listening to the likes of “The Wall” in pieces.

John Pettigrew

I’d just like to give a slightly less-critical opinion on the subject of iTunes, downloads and streaming. Although it’s fashionable to knock such things I honestly believe there is a place for this in most record collector’s lives, living happily side by side with physical product.

For example, paying a monthly fee means I can sample music – indeed, whole albums from say, Paul MacCartney – without purchasing an actual product. If I decide that I’m into him, happy days. If however, I reckon that… nah, he’s not to my tastes then no extra money has been burned.

More interestingly, I am a Frankie Goes to Hollywood fan and collector. However, I am not a vinyl collector so I may have missed a trick. And as for the highly collectable FGTH cassingles with their unique and exclusive track listings… Well, there’s no way I’m able to pick up a nice shiny tape in this day and age, is there? Oh wait, hang on – all of the Frankie cassingles and CD compacted releases are available to buy, download and keep (and legally burn to CD for my collection) via the iTunes music store and digital downloads. And only for £3.99 or so for each!

And streaming? Well, far from being the music allows me not just to stream all their music should I wish to but far more useful, it lets me stream MY own music collection sourced from CDs over the years. I can’t stream OMD’s ‘Sugar Tax’ from Apple Music because they don’t have it, but they let me stream my own copy of it which is fine by me!

Brett

Firstly, thank you Paul for your obvious passion and creating this discussion. You bring up many good points, and while they may be your opinions, you should not be derided for sharing them. You should be applauded for your honesty, even if we don’t all agree with every statement.

Secondly, as someone who runs an independent record shop, there are still many incredible albums being made, but the unfortunate aspect is that, instead of being mass marketed by corporations as in the past, it’s up to the listener to actually seek things out for themselves. Recent albums from Angel Olsen, Weyes Blood, Big Thief, Shura, Wilco, Brittany Howard, Nick Cave, Tyler the Creator, Billie Eilish…all play great as albums that are more than the sum of their individual parts. I do still see people buying new things that have some sort of unifying value to them, and while streaming may have some sort of effect on their increased exposure, these are albums that transcend the tracks alone experience still in 2019.

Lastly, not to say HMV (or Amazon for that matter) doesn’t have the right to exist and sell records, but please remember there are indie shops out there with people struggling to make ends meet, many of them providing a more personal experience and being willing to go the extra mile (not ALL, of course). Every time one of these bigger entities hits a wall and goes out of business for one reason or another, it always seems like the smaller stores are somehow expected to jump in and pick up the pieces, while they are also expected to just hang in there during the big shops’ existence. Maybe I should be writing a book instead of sharing life experiences as a retailer here…Feel like I’ve seen it all! Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to express my opinions. Keep up the great work Paul!

Roland K

Paul, do you know there is a young label who is still willing to remaster and release great new wave and electronic music at even the right way? So in this awfull era of the Loudness Wars he is releasing his cds with great dynamic range and EQ. The name of that label is Rubellan Remasters and they released allready great albums of e.g. Visage (their first) and Danielle Dax. After some fight with the big labels the owner is endlessly able to release albums of Universal and he will release soon cds of The Passions and other Visage (second one and that with singles/mixes). There will be a lot more coming!

Maybe usefull for your site?

DaveM

K, very interesting. Keep us posted please.

Stephen B.

Many of my favourite songs are album tracks, in some cases I didn’t like these songs in the beginning. If I had had the option of downloading individual songs instead of purchasing the whole album, I never would have got to hear and eventually love these songs. For me, that is the main reason why albums are essential.

Padraig Collins

Paul, a bit off topic, I read about a new HMV shop that has just opened in Birmingham and claims to be the biggest record shop in Europe. If I was in the UK I’d make a pilgrimage there, but I’m not, I’m on the other side of the world. Is there any chance you could go there and do a review of it? I’d love to read it if you could.

Musicmacca

Here here
As a pom now resident in Sydney i’d also love to see a preview.
Although Melbourne has good Vinyl outlets we are somewhat deprived here in Sydney with a selective few ‘over priced’ stores to choose from.
Last great store I visited was amoeba in LA
Can’t imagine HMV could top that but would love to see.
Hurry up Paul

Alan B

The one track cd version of the new Elbow album released on National Album Day makes it the 4th different cd version available. The album was released on Friday. There is the standard jewel case version, the O card sleeve version, the one track version and finally the Amazon exclusive mint pack (ie card sleeve) version. As there was a signed Amazon version also available there is technical 5 versions available. Can anyone recall so many CD versions being available for a new release?

Quante

Hi Ross,

No is my first thought to your question, followed up with Taylor Swift has just done several versions of the same cd.

My real reason to respond is that I heard Elbow talking on Radio 2 about the single track approach to the new album and groaned. I dislike this approach to a cd – Lovesexy is the other album I have like this. Yes it’s good to play albums in their entirety, but it’s also good to have the option to go straight to a particular song.

Fortunately with Elbow there is the choice as to which cd you want to buy. I got the signed version and well done to Elbow in signing the cd cover and not the leaflet.

Most importantly, the new Elbow album is brilliant. Track one reminds me of Peter Gabriel in style and vocal and that’s fine by me.

poptones

I understand your point Paul but I disagree. I just think it’s different today. 50 years ago, artistes ans bandes used to release an album every year. All the way to the 80s it used to be like that. Even short lived bands like Clash and Jam (1977-1983) released 5 or 6 albums. Nowadays they would release just a couple of albums.

30 years ago, bands made money with physical records, they didn’t even bother with publishing rights and copyrights. Now bands ofyen disband because or publishing rights and they mâle money with tours, not physical records or streaming.

When Clash released Sandinista in december 1980, it was priced £5 and their gigs would cost juste about thé same money. Today you can buy an album for £15 but to go to a gig if a succesful band would cost you £40 or £50.

Your point is about fans streaming songs and not albums (and their lack of interest for albums) but I’d say it’s the same for musicians, lots of them make music, singles and albums for publishing rights and to promote a tour. Heck, while they tour they sometimes make more money with merchandising than ticket sales. When I go to gigs fans buy more T-shirts and meechandise than physical media (cds or vinyls).

Ross Baker

How many people choosing playlists, skipping through tracks, etc., were the kind of people whose music collections were largely made up of compilations, singles, and the odd album which they often didn’t listen to all the way through – or even largely listened to the radio? While there are a lot of classic albums that are very much intended to be listened to start-to-finish, the passionate music fans who worship the format and believe it is so important have always been very much in the minority.

I say this from the experience of knowing plenty of people my age (35) and older who skip through tracks and have always done that, and knowing a lot of people younger than me who are heavily into the album format because they’re into underground music. I honestly believe a significant number of the people who are into ‘tracks’ now are the same people who were into ‘tracks’ in the past, they’re just more easily accessible these days.

The album format will remain and won’t go away for a long time. It might diminish in numbers, but all that means is the albums that are left are those that are specifically intended to be enjoyed in a start-to-finish fashion. While we might romanticise these, there’s no denying that there are far, far more albums out there – not only pop ones, but a lot of rock and indie ones too – that are literally just tracks put together. They might start with the big singles and end on a slow track, but the songs make no more sense in context than they do on their own. Until the late ’60s, this was the only way music was consumed. Dance music has always survived on 12″ singles rather than albums. Many pop artists have had bigger selling singles than albums. So the album has never been the be-all-end-all of music.

I admire what Underworld are doing at the minute, which is releasing a track a week. These are combined into ‘episodes’ of five or six, and the whole first year is being released as a single disc sampler or an eight disc box set in a couple of weeks – which they’re calling ‘Series 1’. It’s allowing a lot of insight into their working processes, and they said they’re tired of the ‘album and tour every three years’ format – while at the same time providing something close to an album release at the end of it, to satisfy more traditional listeners. It seems like the best of both worlds, and is the most interesting experiment I’ve seen using the internet as a way of releasing music in new ways.

I’m an album listener, and always will be. I have a hard drive full of odd tracks I like from albums I really don’t like, and they get played once every few months, but 99% of my listening is from CD, vinyl or tape. But I don’t expect everyone to think the same. All the talk of the album being dead is exaggerated, as there is more interesting, progressive, conceptual and brave music released today than there ever has been. It’s not all in the top 10 anymore, but anyone willing to find it will have no trouble at all. And for everything else, I’d honestly take the current model over having every charity shop in the country stuffed to the rafters with copies of Robbie Williams and Westlife CDs five years after they’ve been released.

Shane

How I hate people saying physical or albums are dead. These are half-arsed claims how ignirants who like to make statements for the sake of it. The albums is still very much alive, except that allowing downloads of separate tracks give an out to lazy uninterested or uneducated youth who grew up in the digital age. Im not aware of any artist who is not releasing physical albums except indies without a label or equivalent. Stop spreading lies because some people just read headlines and will eventually act accordingly.

Frank Sidebottom

since the age of about 12…every day of my life has been national album day…so its no biggie for me !…remember my brother buying me Jeff Waynes, War Of The Worlds…game over

stupidactingsmart

There will only ever be one Frank Sidebottom.

Steve B

Really daft question I’m sure but how do I order in German Amazon site? As I can’t read German

S burge

Thanks Paul

Francis Maher

Ok gang . A single is/ was a marketing tool for an album unless it was a stand alone . An album on vinyl was a.statement by the Artist of where they were at that time . 2 / 4 sides of vinyl limited the time available so get your message across . CDs made more time available and artists went the other way and filled in the TIME . AN album back in the day * was important and awaited with heightened anticipation. I think artists were better ( mostly ) because of this discipline . You took time to listen to Tracks that were not immediately accessible and appreciated the album as a whole . My friends and I would take the TIME to listen to the whole album . With a physical product we could meet ,.listen , discuss , pass around ( swap ) , I know , no need for that nowadays , but a statement by a Artist in a defined format is worth your time exploring , and a physical , in your hand , standalone item let’s you concentrate on that . A luddite I may be , but I like the Album as a whole . When one track ends I can hear the next one in my head before it begins ( after repeated listens )
Anyway that’s my shout out for physical product , be it cd or vinyl .
(*70s/80s)

StevieB

For anyone who visits the new HMV Vault in Birmingham (and I wish it well and will be calling in there sometime next week), please walk another 200 yards or so round the corner to Dalton Street and drop into Swordfish Records, Birmingham’s excellent indie record shop, new and second hand vinyl, CDs, Box Sets etc.

Chris Squires

Swordfish- The Spiritual home of The Lilac Time of course. I remember having a conversation with a guy in there in 1987 and he said he had a lot of the original Duran Duran tapes with Stephen Duffy on lead vocals. Only cassette tapes from their few live performances, but still it would be wonderful to hear, won’t ever happen of course but I hope they still exist somewhere.

Kevin Aston

or even better still The Diskery in Bromsgrove Street 15 mins walk away, great bunch of guys, great welcome, established in 1952 I believe and you might even get a cuppa

Chris Squires

Christ, is Diskery still there on the corner? Brilliant. I can tell you the exact day I was last in the Diskery. It was the day we beat Germany 1-5 in Munich. 1st September 2001. I listened to the game on the way home. Almost Crashed. I bailed out of my Wife’s cousin’s wedding so I could go record shopping…. It was worth every second of the grief I got.

Who hasn’t done that or at least weighed up the odds of Grief vs. reward?

Paul Taylor

Well, I spent today at Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh, the location of my nearest HMV. By happy coincidence there was a record fair in the centre. I walked away with an excellent Alice Cooper bootleg that is reminding me of his gig in Aberdeen last week I was lucky to attend. I also got a couple of the ‘exclusives’ in HMV (U2 & Lizzy) as well as Liam’s picture disc.
I am in agreement with other posters about the ‘fraud’ of album tracks being released individually and by default being classified as ‘singles ‘. An album should be a journey and the ones I got today by and large meet that criteria. The most recent album I felt that did this brilliantly was Suede’s The Blue Hour. It is, unfortunately, one of the rare exceptions. Gone are the days of your DSOTM, WYWH, even ELO’s Out If The Blue is best enjoyed by being listened to in full.
It is encouraging though that there are still artists who believe albums are a ‘thing’, unfortunately in all too many cases how it is delivered is out of their hands.
For me, as long as there is a physical format I will choose this every time

Bogdan

Nick Cave’s latest album, Ghosteen, is another great example of the album-as-journey concept. It is a magnificent work and I can’t wait for the LP to be released (until then, streaming is the only option).
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-album-reviews/nick-cave-ghosteen-album-review-896760/

Martin

I agree that it will in essence become a Record Store Day 2 – The limited releases are novel and I will admit some of them appeal but most are just opportunistic record co releases to cash in – Picked up a coupe from HMV and will value them so I guess that is what it is designed for but at my heart I just think cash in. It is becoming similar with the RSD releases on Black Friday – If not careful it may end up switching people off

AndyHaines

I’m not sure if this is a worthy exercise or not. Trying to convert those who’ve grown up without an interest in a physical format to sit and listen to a whole album, (God forbid the need to get up off your lazy arse to turn the damn thing over), is probably counter productive. A lot of people can’t get their head around me wanting to sit with a brew or a glass of wine, pop my headphones on and listen to album after album in entirety. I couldn’t envisage Dark Side, Hounds of Love, Brain Salad etc as peacemeal selected tracks. They don’t work for me like that. I love to put stuff on for my children to listen to and I’m always playing something. I’ve just bought a Little Mix vinyl album for my 9 year old daughter. I’ll copy it to CD so that she can listen to it in her bedroom, but the vinyl copy is here to listen to as and when. I also have a copy of Pink Floyd’s RSD See Emily Play to give on her 18th birthday to do with as she pleases. She was named after this track. It could have been worse. I could have been listening to ‘Several Species’ …….

Steven

…’like myself, most SDE readers already love albums and don’t need reminding that albums are a great art form…’

One of the things 20-year-olds (etc) getting into vinyl are appreciating. Also … Well done us. :)

David Cornyn

Wow, a lot of people commenting here who seem to have completely missed the point about SDE and the love of physical music. Why bother? Jeez…

In a way, I admire Paul for entertaining these different views, especially when they are of no merit, but guess that’s democracy in the Brexit era. Paul would be a “fascist” for not publishing them, even though they are facile and vacuous…

Much love to all the lovers of physical product and the art form that is the album!

RJS

The article specifically asks “What are your thoughts? Leave a comment”. It doesn’t say “Leave a comment if you love physical media”.

Rolf

I for one am a self confessed Luddite. I cherish the CD / Album & listening to the whole album experience. For me it’s essential. I’ll go on You Tube to see a new video ( if there is one …) & live performance but ultimately for me, it’s about the CD! I don’t give a flying toot about downloading / streaming. No interest whatsoever! , I want the actual product in my hands, with the booklet & if I can find the time to listen to a whole album in one go, cranked up on my surround sound system I’m happy. I had the 2 new A-ha reissues delivered yesterday & they look great. I loved reading the booklets, seeing who wrote what, details about the artwork, crack open a cold one, turn it up, pure anorak pleasure! If & when the album dies, part of me dies! To accentuate the point, Nick Cave released an album on download the other day, couldn’t give a f**k, I want the CD delivered, I want to sit down & put it on, crank it up, read the booklet & take it all in. That for me is what the recorded music experience is all about & long way it continue! Thank you Paul for your continued passion for this amazing part of life!

Dean

The album is a dead format, sadly. I ONLY listen to albums. And since CD is my preferred format, I’m talking about always playing entire albums. I’m a little hardcore about this, I don’t like anthologies, Best Of’s, Greatest Hits and the like either. I want the albums as released.

Still, streaming is the thing. I recently bought the Anniversary set of Alan Parsons Eye in the Sky. In the liner notes Parson’s says that it’s very difficult to get people to listen to entire albums these days. It’s just not done very often. I agree with him, we’ve moved to a period where it’s going to be about individual songs, and ever shorter attention spans.

This all started with the Loudness Wars, when record companies stopped caring about quality, and moved to focus solely on numbers. The industry has destroyed the market for CD’s. They did it by mastering them poorly, and so frequently, people began to believe you simply couldn’t get decent sound on CD. Today I played the original CD release of The Talking Heads album, Fear of Music – and man that sounds glorious. What a shame it was butchered later.

I’ll end with a question – can you name a single time, a single instance, where the music business set the agenda and it benefited music lovers? No, me either. They get it wrong time and time again. The instances are legion. They can have streaming AND have CD sales. CD sales are falling, as you’d expect when a new technology comes into the picture, but it’s not a zero-sum game, and doesn’t need to be. I think we all know what they’ll do.

I love music. I hate the industry.

DaveM

, totally agree with you on the Loudness Wars. Just last night I played a recent album and had to take it off after four tracks, absolutely muddy. Then I put one of the recent Elton John mini-LPs from Japan, which are not compressed and it was like a blanket had been taken off the speakers. Most of the new stuff is not worth listening to on a HiFi. My nephew came round for a listening session a few months back, he streams what he likes and listens on his phone. I stuck on Lindsey Buckingham’s Out of the Cradle and he sat with his jaw dropped throughout and thought it sounded marvellous. It made me realise two things, one that clarity and detail can still work for his generation and two that if CDs had continued to sound like that, then maybe all this other shite would be less predominant.

Tom Walsh

Not long ago, there was a massive crisis in TV because reality shows and celebrity toss was dominating and little new drama was being produced. Now we are in probably the greatest ever era for new , high quality TV dramas. I think the future will be fine, just different . It wouldn’t surprise me if more physical music ends up being released because it will become easier as people naturally innovate and look for new ways to release it.

Jurg

I will celebrate my national album day tomorrow by going to a record fair. I buy vinyl (because there are albums, 12” singles etc. that never got a CD release or a remastered release) and CD (when remastered right it sounds really great). I don’t believe in the end of the album. Some bands or artists will continue to make it. I don’t believe in the end of physical releases. So I still buy them.

Stephen K.

When multiple popular bands release a deluxe package with only 1,000 units pressed, it’s a sign that we who have an interest in these things are among the few.

I have a feeling that when labels claim a reissue was “successful”, it means they sold the 1,000 units they pressed and didn’t lose any money.

Any territory can release physical stock, and we have an opportunity to to get it shipped wherever we are, even if it has to go through a few third parties first.

With digital only downloads, what I have seen is that one country will ‘sell’ the contents, but you will be in another country where the contents are ‘not available for sale in your region’. And unless you do some world travel on holiday, open a foreign-based credit card, and purchase these downloads while you are visiting that specific country for the week, you won’t have a way of getting that digital content.

Long live physical media!

Gorecki

Only being able to sell 1,000 copies of an already very popular album might also just be an indication that many listeners are still quite happy with the CD or vinyl copy (copies) they already have and don’t feel a deep need for a second, third, fourth, etc. copy. Most people who buy an album just buy ONE copy, then they listen to that. The group of people desperate to hear demos, marginally different Peruvian single mixes (‘if you listen closely you can hear a single triangle ding that’s missing on the Ugandan single mix’!), or the Mongolia only extended Oakenfold remixes are now, and always have been, ‘the few’.

Gisabun

Many bands are still producing full length albums because their fans want them. Whether it is Tool, Marillion or Bon Jovi. These are bands that release full length albums.
The pop side of things [Drake, Taylor Swift, etc.], they can get away with digital only tracks if they want. That’s what their fans like.
Back to albums, was vinyl made just to bleed the fans dry? Seriously. On purposely releasing a regular black vinyl at a semi-decent price and then a limited edition version [or 2 or 3] in whatever color vinyl and charge an arm and a leg.
Unsure if it is still valid, but why back when [in the 80s] non-black vinyl releases tended to have sound issues.
Meanwhile, there has been enough rumblings of bad pressing of some of these limited runs. Take for example the 7″ vinyl for Personal Jesus from Def Leppard’s latest compilation. Multiple complaints of defects.
When was the last time you heard of a defect in a CD?

Normand

I am 64 years old, and my son is 24. When he was a little boy, I educated him listening to album music (pop, jazz, classical) and also listening to hit songs of my younger years and of his time too (so Elvis, Beatles, Cream, ELP, Genesis, Depeche Mode, Oasis, Björk, Muse, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Weather Report, Claude Bolling, Diana Krall, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler, Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev, Messiaen, Pärt, and so on). So I firmly believe that taking times with our children to listen to music is as important as making sports. This is what I call « education at home ». It allows you to have an open mind and this can be seen today. His two favorite albums of all time: Relayer of Yes and Black Holes and Revelations of Muse. His two favorite artists are Eric Clapton and Flume. And his two favorite composers are Bach and Maurice Ravel. Ah yes, and he is a young pianist… performing contemporary music. And none of this prevents him from streaming from time to time. It must be of his time. But he knows and loves all the music at home. And he always finds new ones without my help now. So, a National Album Day? Why not! I’m going to listen to one right now … like almost every day.

Joe Mac Pherson

In reading so many of these comments, I wonder if I’m an anomaly. I own more than 3,000 music titles, as albums and singles. All, in the CD format. Also, so many, many deluxe box sets. To put this in perspective, I’m 65. My CD collection, which starts with 1960, has albums by Mary Wells, Martha & The Vandellas, The Ronettes, The Beatles, The Pretty Things, Chad & Jeremy, The Zombies, Sandie Shaw, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Scott Walker, The Yardbirds and more. The 70’s music includes Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Nico, Procol Harum, The Moody Blues, John Cale, Roxy Music, Bowie. The 80’s? The Associates, The Lotus Eaters, Virginia Astley, Ultravox, The Teardrop Explodes, Heaven 17, Spoons, Romeo Void, The Motels, The Dream Academy, Japan, Carmel and more, more, more. Of course I have the 90’s, and the last decade.
From 2010 – NOW, I have C. Duncan, Jamie Woon, Temples, Blossoms, Lykke Li, Small Black, TV Girl, Amen Dunes, Fontaines D.C., Dylan LeBlanc, The Helio Sequence, The Boxer Rebellion, Night Moves, Boxed In, Foals, Roosevelt, Keep Shelly In Athens, Editors and a lot more. The point is, I’m 65. Music I care about didn’t stop with a particular decade. Plus, there are recording artists like Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, The Church, Claudia Brucken, Duran Duran, John Foxx, Pet Shop Boys, creating music of quality for decades. I still go to live music concerts. I buy the physical product, on CD. The only time I also buy an album in the vinyl format, is when I’m sure I’ll meet the band after the concert. So often, I also meet them before, because they stop and greet me while I’m in line. I get those signed LP covers professionally framed.
Honestly, you’d be amazed to see my walls. As Sonny & Cher once sang, The Beat Goes On.
I’m seeing Temples, in concert, Monday evening at the Echoplex on Sunset Boulevard in L.A. I bought my ticket as fast as it went on sale, some time ago. I’m so ready to rock out, again.
Paul Sinclair, you’ve been a vital reason why the quality of my music library continues. Thank You, most sincerely. AND, I only listen to music on CD!!

Darren

I admire the attempt by HMV to launch the Vault but until the way they handle product in their stores they will ultimately struggle. I went to the only branch in my area last night to purchase the OMD 3 vinyl Greatest hits and the Specials half speed remaster.

Both copies of the OMD were damaged one looked like it had been dropped on a corner and the other was creased in the top corner with the flimsy shrink wrap torn.The Specials was also creased in one corner.

The OMD set was £7 higher in price than Amazon and The Specials was a ridiculous £30. I don’t mind paying slightly more to get what I want straight away but not in that condition. Every dealing I have had with an on line store has seen everything delivered in perfect condition. I know that’s not always the case but I can only speak as I find.

HMV have recently bought these one tier wooden fixtures to display vinyl but they pack the vinyl in so tight its no wonder the sleeves get damaged like the above comment when you can’t clearly see what album you are looking at.

I wish them luck but I’ll stick to on-line retailers….

Carlos

Sheryl Crow recently released her latest album (a collection of collaborations) and she stated it will be her last since in the age of streaming it’s a waste of effort, but will continue to release tracks. This is what she said to Rolling Stone: “I’ve loved making albums, I’ve loved growing up with albums, [but] I don’t think people listen to albums as a full artistic statement anymore,” she explains. “They cherry pick and make their own playlists or you’ll only hear a song if comes up on a playlist. For me to make a full artistic statement with a beginning and a middle and an end, and to put the emotion and the money and the time into it only to have it not be heard that way? It seems slightly futile.”

Dan

Funnily enough, I’m in a playlist mood today. Got an Ultimate 90s playlist on. I usually always have an album on.

Wax Monster X

Last week visited my daughter at university and while driving around she wanted to play her 80s spotify playlist. Lots of good stuff I was surprised to hear. A few 70s trax in which dad pointed out the error ( with the suggestion of a NEW playlist). And then lo and behold she is singing along to Silver by Echo And The Bunnymen. OMG! The day I have waited 18 years for. And of course I had to, actually demanded, that while this was a great track she must listen to the album as a whole, start to finish, as it is one of dad’s absolute favorites and works as a complete set of trax. Yesterday I got the call that this was done and she loved it. SO when an album is good it IS the superior format for listening. Too bad so few are these days. The argument is not the formats it’s the quality of music and ideas. P.S. Apple is the devil and ruined everything.

DaveM

Having listened to some of Radio 2s themed 21st Century albums which is tied in with this National Album Day hobby horse I can say I am not surprised the concept of the album needs promoting. If they were the highlights, I would hate to hear the whole thing in most cases and no doubt it is all compressed for the ear bud jockeys. I do buy new music, but it is mainly American and has been for the last twenty plus years.
I also had to suffer Spotify at the wife’s parents house, which they had set up to play Beatles for me, knowing how much I love them. Wow, the random playlist was a mess, repeating the same track over and over but using different versions. It drove me nuts and I sneaked into the room it was playing in and turned it off.
At 55, to quote Genesis, I Know What I like and it’s none of the above – now for an evening of real albums. Old fart at Play.

Trevor Pugh

You summed it up beautifully, Paul. Good albums aren’t just thrown together. It takes skill to choose which track works best next to another plus which is best as an opener and which is the perfect finale. On that note, l shall go back to my newly remixed Abbey Road, an excellent example of the genre…. George Martin, a darned genius, l say!

David B

Er excuse me . .but why not a love the single day ?? Weren’t the Stones “Satisfaction”, “Jumping Jack Flash”, Beatles “We can work it out”, “Hey Jude” “All you need is love” all SINGLE tracks only .. and more besides . I think music lost a lot when the single died ..

andrew R

Ihad long thought that we take all these wonderful box sets that keep getting released
(and discounted) for granted and Colin Harper’s “letter” on the parlous state of the industry
makes you realise that like fish in our overfished oceans one day there might be none to buy .
Just because we want physical product ,it doesn’t mean it will always exist. So buy it now.

Kevin from Edinburgh

Indeed, these are – from one perspective, at least – great times to be a fan of music originally recorded/released in the 1960s-1980s. I was always of the view that the only thing that was better than an lp was an lp with a gatefold sleeve, and the only thing better than that was a double lp…..and so on. Compare that situation with what we are being presented with today. I’ve just taken receipt of Abbey Road complete with outtakes and a fab book. I’m currently anticipating next Friday when the 40th Anniversary Edition of Jethro Tull’s Stormwatch is released. These JT reissues are, in my opinion, perfect; remix and original stereo mix, 5.1 mix, loads of additional tracks (including complete concerts) and a magnificent 80-120 page book about the parent album and associated recordings/tours. A great time to be a fan of recorded music from the great days of the album.

Colin Harper

Ironically, it seems to me that in terms of reissues ‘going big’ is (at least for the present) a way to fight off the Balrog of free streaming, free downloading, declining distribution, etc. – by offering something (a) limited (b) deluxe (c) very clearly a physical entity (with maxed-out physical content in the form of books, visuals, posters, vinyl, etc.) and (d) very largely available via one or two mail-order websites – including the label/artist’s own and a select one or two others. I take my hat off to the likes of Snapper/Madfish for pioneering this approach (‘more is more – as long as we’ve done the sums and secured a high-return direct path to the punter’) – it was a risk. But they’ve shown with a series of multi-disc sets (up to 30 per box, aside from vinyl/DVD/stuff add-ons) on the Pretty Things, Family, Wishbone Ash, et al. that it’s still possible to deliver a fantastic PHYSICAL product – but only if you play the biggest and best hand possible, and know when to quit the poker table. By that, I mean, know/estimate very accurately how many people will want, for example, a 30-disc Wishbone Ash box set, at what price, and work backwards from there in terms of costing it out. Very clever. The likes of Universal (who don’t have to license in content for their deluxe box sets) have deeper pockets and that natural advantage of content ownership, so they can continue to push out deluxe sets with less risk. The real casualty, I think, in the severely contracting archive release field is the one or two disc set by ‘second division’ artists, for wont of a better expression. To a great extent, one could say that maybe by now, nearly 30 years into the ‘CD era’, most of what most people might want has already appeared on CD. I’m sure we could all cite examples of where that isn’t the case, but by and large anything that’s commercially viable (or that WAS at one point in the past 30 years viable) or attainable in terms of licensing has been released in some form on CD. That latter point, though, refers to catalogue that’s been tied up in complexity of one sort or another – so, for example, almost none of the Leader/Trailer catalogue (British and Irish folk/trad releases spanning 1969-77 on legendary producer Bill Leader’s labels) has ever appeared on CD/download because of issues with the family who bought the label in the late 70s. I’m sure there are many other examples. But the core stuff that Paul covers here – 80s pop – will trundle on for a while yet, because the people who put most of it out are (a) the three major labels who own the stuff or (b) Edsel, who don’t have to suffer the same vicissitudes of other third-party labels.

Andrew M

Ooh thanks for the Prince heads up! Shame about not shipping until December though. I need a test disc for my new shop and ship service here to Kuwait before I buy that Muse behemoth from you Paul. Don’t want to lose £150 to some Kuwaiti customs official who decides that Muse are not suitable for the country :)

Trash

Weirdly enough I was discussing albums with a colleague this week – he’s 27, I’m 55.
He could not understand why I would bother listening to a whole album.
He loves music but his point was that most albums contain too many duff tracks so he has Spotify playlists that just contain the tracks he likes.
My ‘take’ was that a well-crafted album takes you on a journey and is meant to be listened from start to finish. Just taking certain tracks removes the context and lessens the enjoyment (note: I qualified my argument with the term ‘well-crafted album’ – I can’t say how many of those are produced these days).

Incidentally – our discussion was triggered by me passing him my iPod classic so that he could listen to a song I though he might like (he immediately asked why I didn’t just send him a Spotify link)…

Electric Sydney

I’m glad that all the artists I like tend to stay true to the idea of releasing physical product. I’m over 50 so I’m more interested in the Kinks than Vampire Weekend, so however they decide to release newer music is fine. Eventually everything that is modern and good will be released as physical product, when it becomes the trend again for people to crave music that they can “hold in their hands” (thanks Paul).

Gary Hunter

They were the days……you bought an album without having a clue what the music sounded like other than a single released off it, the internet has a lot toanswer for!

Colin Harper

The music industry – specifically, the existence of third-party archive/reissue labels – feels like a large sea inexorably contracting down to a village pond, to me. Within the past few year, one 20-odd-year archive/reissue label with which I had many adventures as a ‘curator’/compiler/vault-digger (Hux) effectively stopped releasing product because the physical distribution business in the UK and internationally had simply gone. Just last week, I had a long chat with the boss of another 20-year UK licensing label involved in reissues/archive releases (along with new product) and he feels that his operation – both physical and digital – will account up to the middle of next year and then stop. In his view, the internet killed it – simple as that. And a forthcoming digital tax will only make it worse. He told me of another well-regarded UK reissue label of longstanding that will likely never release anything again, though they haven’t made that public; similarly, he mentioned a third label (less well-regarded, but still) that was stopping soon or had just done so. As these above quiet windings-down haven’t been made public (possibly those involved will keep their ships afloat for a year or two to sell old stoock or for accounting reasons), I can’t name them. It seems to me that very soon that sector of the ‘industry’ will comprise the the ‘big hitters’ – Ace and Cherry Red, whose business model seems to be based on volume and prolificity of releases (rather than one or two every few months), along with (crucially) ownership, through purchases of catalogue, of a fair amount of the material they release, plus Demon/Edsel, which is owned by the BBC and has that huge safety net, plus free/preferential access to BBC material. I can’t see the other archive-based labels lasting long – unless they are essentially hobbyist boutique concerns, such as Nigel Lees’ splendid Top Sounds label. I have a multi-CD box set project on one legendary vintage artist essentially compiled and ready to go in terms of mastering, depending on a third party label agreeing terms with the BBC. And for such labels, BBC advances have gone up over the past few years in direct disproportion to sales – meaning they’re almost priced out of the market. This particular deal is touch and go. It may or may not happen. Still, if it doesn’t get there I can always take it to Val at Edsel, for whom such advances are not relevant. But the pool is becoming very, very small. The album is an endangered species and the park rangers (third party labels) who have protected it are dwindling.

Padraig Collins

That’s very interesting, and concerning. Thanks for the thoughtful post, Colin.

Saar Freedman

Elbow honored this dubious occasion by releasing a special”continuous play” edition CD of their latest album Giants Of All Sizes , with the entire album as one track, so you have to listen to the whole thing and can’t skip songs
don’t know how limited this is going to be but it’s eitehr a fun or stupid idea.take your pick

Harcourt Fenton Mudd

Prince did the same thing with lovesexy album……all songs as 1 track on the cd. It has never been available as individual tracks on any cd edition.

Also……. The lovesexy album is NOT available for download (from iTunes) probably because Mr Nelson never wanted it disassembled into its constituent tracks!

Good on him!

johneffay

Later CDs of Lovesexy are broken up into tracks. I know because I bought one in 2013. They are also listed on Discogs.

Simon Carson

National album day to me is kind of a mini Record Store Day with the limited edition releases coming out.

Cosmo Castanza

A bizarre pointless concept.
Sits alongside ‘vinyl is back’ as I did not know it had gone anywhere.

Lack of physical content means less overheads and more profit …..all that matters to business.

Robert Laversuch

Guess we have to go with the times. Maybe we should stop with a possibly snobbish assumption that we were better off when we could listen to an album all the way through, especially a concept album.
Luckily vinyl is making a distinct comeback which might mean that people will be forced to listen to an album from the start rather than using the shuffle play or repeat button on the CD player. In the end we have to be happy that people do you still listen to music in general and that at least some prefer the physical medium as opposed to the download, the MP3 or similar. As somebody once said the language of music is universal so with a view to the future maybe that is the way forward. The acceptance that music will be streamed downloaded or otherwise is maybe less important than the fact that people do actually still listen to both new stuff as well as discovering the greats from a previous era. Everything is in a state of flux and the way people listen to music is no different. But as long as they do we will as a people have some kind of common ground. And perhaps less reason to be angry at each other or with one another. The future is unwritten, to quote my HERO Joe Strummer.

Paul Nesmith

We are in the death throes era of physical media and popular music,its just a fact of life,technological evolution and progress has a built in habit of rendering previous ideas obsolete and redundant,no point moaning about it,its just the way of the universe
Popular music has had its day,its all been done in the past,nothing new under the sun for decades now,just old ageing audiences remeniscing about how great the past was and clinging on to overpriced vinyl,its pathetic really but people can do what they like,i dont care anymore,its over thank goodness,the golden age is well and truly buried good riddance

SimonP

I think he should be phoning them for help, not joining up!

DaveM

Priceless, absolute howler.

andrew R

Sorry but if it’s good riddance why are you coming to a
site that deals with super deluxe physical music? Wouldn’t you be better of at
Wired or the Fortean times.