Reissues and boxed sets. If you’ve been paying any attention to industry news, the world is being completely inundated with them as of late. With the recent 20th birthdays of two of my all-time favorite records by *Primal Scream and Ride it is hard to avoid them. There is one stand out this autumn, however, that blows all others out of the water. With all the bells, whistles and sleeves-a-plenty, one might say that life is imitating art. Sort of…I mean, no dead stars, literally.
You guessed it – The Smiths. The over the top, limited-edition, full-throttle boxed set boasts 8 LPs, 8 CDs, all 25 singles on 7” (!!!), a variety of sundries, dodads and posters, all tied up in a pretty bow (in some kind of trunk type thing, actually) for the bargain price of about 500 USD. Crazy and excessive? Of course it is. Does it make my absolute obsession with having it in my collection any less? Nope.
What is it about reissues and the gloss of boxed sets that gets the music fiend’s blood running a little faster? For me I can honestly say it’s the packaging. I’m a total sucker for it. Something like this:
ABBY: “Look! Look! How awesome is this?!”
ABBY’S FRIEND: “Abby. It’s a used dinner napkin.”
ABBY: “But isn’t the stainless steel packaging and label font fantastic?!?”
The obvious answer, but not so much the correct one, is that remastered versions just sound better. They might sound different, yes, but then there is the argument of compression and super-loudness in “new” versions/recordings of our old standbys. This inevitably leads to the analogue vs. digital controversy and, before you know it, all of a sudden everyone is screaming about evolution and creationism. Not worth the banter, in my honest opinion. We like what we like for our own reasons and we can spend our money where we want to.
I am listening to The Smiths right now. Through an old school 160GB iPod plugged into Bose speakers they’re sounding pretty great. They are a nostalgic listening choice for specific days, not everyday. So, for obvious reasons I will skip their super-set and spend my money on other things like food, drink and airfare. The thrifty old lady in me knows that such reissues are exorbitant and unnecessary. That said…everyone has favorites they’ll spend any amount of cash money on, even me.
I’m holding out for the Loveless and Isn’t Anything reissues, both of which have been pushed back to 2012. Anyone who has followed the MBV saga from their beginnings knows this date means, at the earliest, 2014. At any rate, I’ll wait and pay for them both. Dressing up our heroes in a shiny new package doesn’t make them (or us) any younger, but sometimes it’s nice to pretend time has stood still, for 45-80 minutes anyway.
*FYI friends and loved ones: both of these are still on my holiday wish list.
[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]