Classic Album Rant (Deluxe Edition)

Deluxe reissue, specially priced remaster, definitive issue, bonus disc, free downloadable version, okay I am officially overstimulated but underwhelmed. Every album I own has a different version which so what is the version the artist intended and will I ever hear it that way again? There is a 4 CD/1 Blu-Ray Audio version of Van Morrison’s Moondance, a director’s cut(?) of The Who’s Quadrophenia and a multi disc set of performances by The Band that is essentially Rock of Ages four concerts enlarged. At first I admit to being intrigued by these offerings especially the blown up version of Quadrophenia. But I”m not intrigued to the tune of shelling out over a hundred bucks for it. These examples are only the tip of the iceberg and my concern is that as music consumers what are we wanting to buy and are we getting resold the same thing over and over again? Nobody is forced to buy any of these versions but if you do side by side or sound to sound comparisons it is a confusing mess. Does a newer version of an album sound better or do I hear that way because that’s what it said on the packaging? Bonus cuts or deluxe editions are also being sold to get music lovers to pony up a little more. Am I missing out because I don’t have the four bonus songs on Black Sabbath’s 13? This rant goes back to a discussion I had with a 67 year-old rock fan who grew up on vinyl and 45’s who didn’t even realize that The Beatles catalog was made into the “definitive” versions of their albums when pressed on CD for the first time. He just recently purchased the new box set that are replicas of the original U.S. vinyl releases which for him is a nice bit of nostalgia. For me it was enlightening in seeing what a mess Capitol made of trying to cut and paste The Beatles into standard 10 cut albums that matched what other record companies were putting out in the U.S. at the time. I couldn’t sit through the audio samples without getting annoyed because what I was hearing didn’t match what I wanted to hear. But these versions existed before I was born so what does it matter if it doesn’t sound right to someone who grew up when CD versions were the new standard. Does the format or type of media matter? I argue it does and I have had this fire in my belly over things I love being re-edited or revised since George Lucas came out with Special Editions of Star Wars that added nothing to the experience I had when I first saw “Episode IV” as a kid at my local multiplex. (It’s not an album example but when someone messes with my childhood I get sore!) This could be much ado about nothing since most people probably won’t even think about how these works are constantly being updated and “enhanced”. But just like I am a sucker for everybody that puts out a top 5, 10, 50 or 100 list my curiosity gets piqued enough to look at what the latest definitive (we swear) version of a favorite album, has to offer. Most of the time it’s nothing to get excited about but Led Zeppelin has some reissues coming out over the next couple of years…. maybe I just need a 12 step program.

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