"Champagne for my real friends. Real pain for my sham friends" (used as early as 1860 in the book The Perfect Gentleman. Famously used by painter Francis Bacon)

venerdì 28 ottobre 2011

“THE MASSES AGAINST THE CLASSES”? NOT REALLY (a further critique after my post about “expanded edition”)

(a further critique after my post about “expanded edition”)
- The in English series starts here -

One of my first posts (for those who do not read Italian) dealt with the mild importance of certain expanded editions of “classic” (or considered to be classic) albums.
My conclusions were that: it is very unlikely for you to need the most massive editions, it is even less probable that you need editions which combine CD and vinyl formats (an opinion which is reinforced by the fact that not infrequently you receive a code for the downloading as well), the usual way of hearing music is in contrast with phonograms’ (sorry that is the technical way to name records, CDs, etc.) fine packaging (and when you will go through those massive booklets’).
Now this is round two about similar issues.

Being the music market in its actual poor state, with a well known split between “young ones” (few) and “not young anymore ones” (many), we recently saw also the birth of deluxe edition books dedicated to the music in a general sense, kind of beaux livres as French people say.

Well, but why give to this post the title of Manic Street Preachers’ single which achieved a great commercial success bearing on this sleeve the Cuban flag?
If it is true, and it is true for sure, that the Welsh band has a greater integrity than many other artists, during this Autumn of discontent my impression is that not even Rolling Stones will be able to equal such a flood of releases to be paid not so cheaply.
We start with the anthology National Treasures which comes in an array of versions such as double CD, double CD and DVD, and – more significantly – a boxed set that has a mixed content of replicas of few vintage vinyl singles and all the singles themselves (or almost, because it is not the complete discography) in CD format with the original 7” sleeves (hence you cannot have all in a format) plus other goodies (some of which might not be liked by those who own the originals, for instance there should be a powder/lipstick mirror trousse and we know there were a couple of very rare promo ones almost 20 years ago). To make things even more complicate the box is not easy to be bought online and is quite pricey.
Many (all?) of the serious fans already know and struggle about the vinyl version of the same album with an exclusive recording (for how long?) sold with Q Magazine.
And what about a book, which was announced not very loudly, by Kevin Cummins by the title of Sometimes the Sky’s Too Bright, whose “poor” edition of 250 copies is sold out since September (but the book comes out in November) although with a price of 200.00 UK pounds; the limited edition of 26 copies for a price of 550.00 UK pounds went sold out by mid October.
Currently the last publication for the great public (the masses, hence …) by the MSP is the true limited edition Death Of A Polaroid, first literary effort of Nicky Wire (bass player and more) which is mainly a photo book, price 300.00 UK pounds, in a run of 50 copies (sold out already?).

The view of the market will not be complete without the already sold out limited edition of 250 copies of the book by Japanese photographer Sukita devoted to David Bowie: price 695.00 UK pounds; the standard edition will be priced around 400.00 UK pounds.
The book will come out next year.

At the end of 2010 John Lydon (aka Rotten; that is Public Image Limited and Sex Pistols) published a book with a run of 750 copies priced 375.00 UK pounds. Guess what? Sold out.

I am not discussing the quality level of those books, about phonograms I wrote already, but some price differences are perplexing (Bowie already signed some 3,000 copies of two previous volumes published by the same house of this last one).
On the other hand I was never convinced about John Lydon’s tome, who claimed that he was just financing his future PIL album.

The problem is that in certain cases you don’t even have the choice among: to buy, not to buy, to wait and make your opinion about the possibility of purchase.
Which persuades me about the correctness of my already known opinion: rock is old, so old that for years I said and still say (as I do not know about any other who summarized it in such a way I claim the authorship of the aphorism), inspiration coming from Philip K. Dick and also Bladerunner, that “rock ‘n’ roll is like a replicant who/which discovers, unlucky one, to have been manufactured without an expiry date” ([1]).
To make it probably worse, no one is immune from this consumerism frenzy which is simply dressed up (and as such the object of media propaganda) as a necessity which, if met, will make you even more classy.

When one thinks that in 1978 (yes in 1978) Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons ended their small book “The Boy Looked At Johnny.” – The Obituary Of Rock And Roll leaving the readers to their “butterflies collection” made of vinyl: being the crown jewel The Clash’s “Capital Radio” (I stress vinyl not the flexy) in picture sleeve or the then still (in theory) affordable Sex Pistols’ “God Save The Queen” on A&M label, the conclusion is inevitable: Like punk never happened (but this is another book, and maybe another post).


© 2011 Steg, Milano, Italia.
All rights reserved/Tutti i diritti riservati.
No part of this work and/or the same in its entirety can be reproduced and/or filed (including by means of electronic systems) for private uses and/or reproduced and/or filed (including by means of electronic systems) for the public without previously obtaining in each and any case, the explicit consent from the author.

[1] A splendid quote (reproduced also on one of their t-shirt dating 1992) by MSP’s Richey James says “All Rock ‘n’ Roll is homosexual”, maybe but we are speaking about authentic rock ‘n’ roll.
For quotes fanatics: see Simon Price, everything: A Book About Manic Street Preachers, London, Virgin Books, 1999, p.114.

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