Just looking out there you'll see a random assortment of stuff that is clearly not aimed at 20-somethings, but at people who have that cushy corner office job that says "Heck, yeah, I can afford somewhere between $12 and $400 to take some tunes home with me. Sure, I can do that."
Of course the music business could likely make more money if they'd just not charge $17 for an album that everyone can rip for pennies. But I'm not here to tell Kanye's label how to run their business. (Though, seriously, a see-thru case with nothing but sample clearances as the artwork?)
Thirteen sounds like a lucky number. Let's look at what old people are up to!
Long before they were the Grammy's favorite heavy metal band, Jethro Tull played progressively-folksier-rock. When the CD age first rolled around, Tull's record label apparently grabbed the cassettes out of their employees' cars and burned them to CD. In 2013, confident the CD age isn't just a phase, another label known for doing excellent work is releasing Tull's third album Benefit on October 29 in a Collector's Edition that will be a 2CD/DVD thingy with the album's original ten tracks plus five bonus tracks. Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson, the man you want doing these types of things, mixed the album. A second disc includes rare tracks and singles and an audio-only DVD with the album in 5.1 Surround Sound comes out to 58 tracks. Dare I say, it'd be to your BENEFIT to check this out?
12) Eric Clapton -- Unplugged (Deluxe Edition):
Since chances are your original CD of EC's Unplugged got jammed into your 1997 Mercedes' CD deck, it's time this October 15 to pick up the deluxe version that includes the original album remastered, six previously unreleased outtakes and a DVD of the broadcast with more than an hour of unreleased footage recorded during the pre-show rehearsal. It's gonna sound great in the Range Rover!
Crap, these guys have been repackaged 10,000 ways. A couple of hits collections are being offered around the same time as this fascinating mock boom-box where everyone gets all five Clash studio albums divided into 8 CDs because jamming all of Sandinista! onto 2 CDs when it was a 3LP set is morally wrong? All anyone cares about are the outtakes, the videos and rarities. Having listened to most of it, I'd say it's worth not feeding your children for two days tops. Three days and what kind of parents are you?
10) Bob Dylan -- Another Self Portrait:
If you're thinking, hey, wait a minute! Nobody liked the original Self-Portrait, why am I suddenly interested in hearing the outtakes? Shut up and let NPR do your thinking. You need it because everyone was kinda knee-jerk about how lousy SP was and hearing the songs without the overdubs is much better than you'd think. Also, it's superior to Down In the Groove! For now! That is, until the Deluxe Edition of that thing comes out. If you spring for the $100 4-CD set (no idea how 2-CDs sell for $16.98 and 4 adds up to $98 and change) you'll also get the lovingly mediocre Isle of Wight show with the Band when nobody was really into being there!
A flycard came with my copy of Another Self-Portrait and it announced the Complete Albums Collection being 41 CDs coming later this fall and all I could think about was How many times does a man admit he needs another copy of Christmas In the Heart? Yes, and how many times must he argue with his wife that Under the Red Sky cannot be thrown out? Crap, don't people own like six copies of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan already? And just to do some math, I don't come up with 41 albums no matter what I count and leave out!
8) Smashing Pumpkins -- Oceania Live in NYC:
One of the great things about having written about every artist at least eleven times means that at some point you're on record saying something hopeful or positive about them somewhere. So when someone asks you how psyched you are about a new Smashing Pumpkins live album, you figure you must've said something relatively lucid about Mellon Collie. Obviously, if you've read this column, you know I get Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie mixed up all the time. When I'm really tired I forget D'Arcy was the bass player and credit James Iha. But boy am I looking forward to this one come September 24th! Woo-hoo! This is going to be their best one yet! It comes with a horse!
One viewing of Reality Bites and you'll understand the weird principles of the early 1990s when "selling out" was looked down upon and sitting around with your friends doing nothing was considered the highest level of human purity. Having already made their super slick Roy Thomas Baker-like album with Nevermind, Nirvana let us know they were true alternative punks by hiring Steve Albini to lower the vocals on their mixes and to aim for a basement demo on deep thoughts like "Milk It." "Serve the Servants" still sounds cool, though, the self-referential bits are weird. Who sells 10 million copies and opens the next album with an 'angry salvo' to rock critics?
6) Nine Inch Nails -- Hesitation Marks:
Trent Reznor always seemed a bit detached from the world he invented. There aren't many industrial folks who converse about the weather without bleeding internally over the painful normalcy of it all. That NIN makes a new album in a world where even Rezzie got married and had a kid means it's perfectly OK for all the Nissans to meet in parking area N and the Toyota people to meet in area T. Conformity is sometimes just convenient!
I assume the IMAX film itself will be useless, but the concert footage at least gives the band a live album which features enough hits to keep everyone happy, except those who were hoping Metallica would forge ahead with new material and not just play "For Whom The Bell Tolls," "Master of Puppets," "One," "Nothing Else Matters" and "Enter Sandman" forever and ever. Hey, look, they do "Orion"!!!!!
4) Pearl Jam -- Lightning Bolt:
Love them or hate them, Pearl Jam at least issue new albums with new songs to play at their many concerts. Come mid-October, Lightning Bolt will be upon us and "Track 1," "Track 3," "Track 4" and other unidentified tracks at iTunes will be updated with real names unless the band decides these are the titles. Good news! "Mind Your Manners" is the single and it sounds Pearl Jammy!
Sly Stone somehow turns 70 after forty years of failed comebacks. Yet, the magic is all here when it counted. It's hard to believe it's taken this long for a decent Sly and the Family Stone box and that someone who made music this coherent, this heart-stopping would be so far removed from the mental processes of handling this earth that he can't simply enter a recording studio and dial up that magic one more time. Even Brian Wilson found a way back!
2) Beach Boys -- Made in California:
I didn't think it was possible, but the 2013 mastering of the various updated stereo mixes of classic Beach Boys songs sounds positively heavenly on the headphones that remain attached to my head on a semi-permanent basis. Songs I've heard a thousand times come to life like never before and I haven't even gotten to the key rarities that make this ridiculously long box of goodies something that hardcore fans likely bought the second they heard of it.
Personally, I wish Veedon Fleece or Astral Weeks or Common One or Into the Music or St. Dominic's Preview got this treatment, but Moondance isn't a bad choice. That there were no outtakes of "And It Stoned Me" or "Crazy Love" (just a "remix") is disappointing, especially when "Come Running" and "Glad Tidings" are so well-represented. The multiple takes of "I Shall Sing," "Into the Mystic" and "Brand New Day" make for educational listening, for those of us who like hearing early Van do things other singers can't. Please purchase this album so good sales will lead to further projects of this kind. Or maybe Van should try Kickstarter! Lots of other supposed classic projects are on there begging you to pay for their imagined importance.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Jethro Tull