Saturday Deluxe / 16 March 2024

“You say it’s your birthday…”

Baker’s dozen

I forgot to acknowledge this site’s birthday yesterday. On Friday, SDE was 13 years old – a rowdy teenager! Thanks, as always, go to YOU, the loyal and supportive readership. It has been an amazing journey and I’m glad you’ve been along for the ride. This site endures between we share the same passion for physical music. We care.

It has been gratifying in the last couple of years to step up and be able to exert some influence over the products that record labels deliver to audiences, notably with the SDE Surround Series. I’m particularly proud of this series because we are not just another retailer passively offering an exclusive coloured vinyl version of an album. The blu-rays really do offer something unique, and I do my best to influence the content and encourage labels and artist management to be generous! Sometimes the product and the Atmos Mixes simply would not exist if it were not for SDE (and by that I mean the combined enthusiasm of me, the editor, and you the audience). Paul Young is one such example.

Talking of Paul Young, the Dolby playback event on 7 March was fantastic. I know it’s difficult with a global audience, but I’d love to do more events like this where I get to meet more of you and we can come together and listen to music, celebrate music, talk about music. I will do my best to make this happen.

For now, thank you. SDE will do its best to not misbehave too much during its teenage years.

I’m still feeling really sad about Karl Wallinger. I was listening to a podcast interview where he was saying if you added up World Party’s global album sales it didn’t even reach 1m copies, which was quite a shocking statistic. I did point out on Tuesday that Goodbye Jumbo only spent one week in the UK top 40 album charts, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

I suppose it’s easy to view Karl as something of an underachiever, which sounds crazy given his creative achievements in those productive 10 or 15 years… but he didn’t release any new albums in almost the last quarter century of his life, which does feel like a waste, given his talents. There’s a song on the original version of the Dumbing Up album called ‘All The Love That’s Wasted’ and you could apply ‘talent’ to that line for Karl. I don’t mean that harshly, and of course we know health issues played their part.

The upside of creative freedom and not being constrained by the commercial focus of record labels is also a downside. Sometimes being able to do exactly what you want, or not do anything if you don’t want to, isn’t necessarily a positive. Karl surely paid the price for his disinterest in promoting or re-releasing his back catalogue, and combined with his inactivity – aside from occasional mini-tours on the other side of the world – World Party were effectively forgotten by the public at large. There was never even a ‘best of’ in the UK which seems crazy. I’m pretty sure Karl thought they were naff, but the odd compromise would have had wider benefits.

He did eventually see some sense with the vinyl reissue campaign of recent years, only to be slightly thwarted by COVID and production delays and the like.

Sadly, it’s not going to happen in Karl’s lifetime, but you hope that, when the time is right, his wonderful body of work will be celebrated and re-promoted and embraced by new generations of fans who may be unaware of all that great music. Excuse me, while I go and put on Egyptology...

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