Disclaimer – The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of A Fleeting Glimpse
The recent announcement of yet another Pink Floyd box set and its inherent re-releases of old albums is the latest in a long line of rehashing of their back catalogue that now seems to be beyond a joke, and is in my opinion really getting into the rip off area. How many different covers does it take to disguise the fact that the music is the same?
I stopped buying these re-releases after the remastered CDs came out in 1994 but the ability of EMI and Pink Floyd to repackage the same old product seems to know no bounds. The anniversary of each album is now also producing an endless bounty of dates to use to try and sell the same old stuff. Roll on the 100th anniversary version of Dark Side that includes a trip to the real dark side of the moon but sadly no new music.
To illustrate the point I set out to catalogue the re-releases of Floyd product to show how bad it has become. They often hide these rehashs in new shiny pretty artwork, and some in not so shiny matte artwork. I have nothing against Storms work – in fact I am a great admirer of it. I’d just prefer that it was used to frame some new musical material.
It all started in 1971, yes only 4 years after the first album, when we got Relics on the Starline label. Although not strictly a re-release, the contents had been commercially released, save for one track. Nice, if a little odd, artwork from Nick though. This is also an odd album in that fairly soon it was re-released with a revised cover with the bands name and album title now in a fetching shade of pink. It then got re-released on the Music For Pleasure label. The album also had at least two different covers for its worldwide releases. A mask cover and a coins cover. It got another rehash in 1996 with a revised cover of an actual model of Nicks drawing. So many versions, so little time to buy.
Then, after the success of Dark Side of The Moon, EMI released, in 1974, A Nice Pair to cash in. It was the first two albums packaged in a nice gatefold with lots of new Hipgnosis art. It also had to be reissued due to a picture appearing on the front cover that shouldn’t have been there due to UK advertising laws. I wonder if Dr Phang actually got any extra custom? Masters of Rock also came out after Dark Side to capitalize although this was limited to a number of European countries and again was most of the early stuff – in fact, mostly the same stuff as on Relics, from 3 years previously.
A Collection of Great Dance Songs, released in 1981, is one of the weirdest re-releases. Artwork that was previously refused and a couple of 70s songs, with one rerecorded due to some contractual problem with Capitol. I can only surmise that this was released to fulfill a contractual obligation.
I’m not sure whether to include the “live” albums as re-releases but A Delicate Sound of Thunder and PULSE certainly didn’t provide any new music and both are somewhat liberal with their definition of live. Plenty of studio noodling on the former and plenty of concerts combined on the later to create a more polished product. Heaven forbid that Dave could be heard making a mistake, which he did at every gig, as do all musicians. Ummagumma could also come in this category although it did at least have one vinyl disc of new material, albeit somewhat eclectic in presentation. Even Several Species managed to find its way onto a rerelease!
Works in 1983 was released by one record company to cash in on The Final Cut being released by a competitor, and apart from Embryo was more vinyl that everyone had already.
The Shine On box set in 1992 offered the same CDs as had been before but this time in a big matte box with a book that bizarrely ended mid sentence. Another enigma or just bad typesetting? As it looked cheap I think I’ll opt for the latter. It also had the first singles re-released but admittedly on CD for the first time.
It all really started to get appalling around and after 1994s Division Bell which is clearly now the last Floyd album. This has seen either the band or EMI seek to fill a demand for Floyd or simply using the back catalogue to keep the coffers full. I’m going for the rip off idea myself.
In 1993 it was the 20th anniversary of Dark Side of the Moon and guess what? Another re-release of the album – its 3rd CD release but you did get a box to keep it in and some postcards! 1994 came and it was Pipers turn with a remaster. Three years later it again got re-released as it was now its 30th anniversary but this time we get the mono version. The rest of the back catalogue also got re-released in new artwork on CD but if you preferred vinyl then EMI had the answer – the 1997 Vinyl Box Set. Not much new to the artwork other than a sticker on the front of each album and a poster to titillate, but there was the nice box to keep them together in. This year was a busy one for cashing in as the singles CD that came with the Shine On box set was re-released this year to coincide with the re-release of all the albums on CD – and if you bought enough of the new CDs you got the singles sampler free at a certain UK chain record store. Clearly HMV thought then that the rip off was getting extreme – or perhaps they couldn’t shift product that everyone already had at least three times already?
A little gap of three years then saw nothing until 2000 which saw the start of releases of the CDs in replica cardboard sleeves which emanated from Japan and covered not just the Floyd albums but the solo releases as well. This coincided neatly with the 25th anniversary of Wish You Were Here and another perfect marketing opportunity. The CD was redone and re-released worldwide in one of the replica cardboard sleeves seeking to appear like the vinyl although somewhat smaller. In Japan between 2000 and 2004 all the albums, plus a most of the solo albums also got the same treatment. This year we also got Is There Anybody Out There? Now it is strictly a re-release of The Wall but at least a live version. In my view this is the only decent thing that been released since 1994 – but I have to ask that if it wasn’t worthy of release in 1982 then what happened in those 18 years that suddenly made it acceptable to put out commercially? Only conclusion I can find is to extract more money from the same punters for the same thing.
The following year and 2001 saw Echoes released just in time for the Christmas buying season and had nothing to do, honest guv, with the fact that EMI were close to financial meltdown. That year they released most of their artists back catalogue as “Best of” Cds. The plan saved the company though! I can hear the chants of “Hoorah for EMI” from here.
The 30th anniversary of Dark Side in 2003 couldn’t pass without a new package, oh and a poster. The following year it was the turn of The Final Cut which got re-released with a single now inserted where once there was none – oh and some new artwork. Mustn’t forget that.
Again EMI had a couple of years off before this year when Piper gets done yet again – 40th anniversary this time. More shiny new artwork and a re-release of 1997s mono version and the singles CD yet again. No excuse this time from old Davey about ensuring that Syd gets some royalties!
AND now ALL of the albums are getting re-released in one go in a new storage device and seemingly in the same cardboard sleeves that the Japanese could buy between 4 and 7 years ago. Money for old rope or the Emperors new clothes?
So if you want any of the albums, which release do you buy?
There’s obviously the original vinyl versions
three of which got the Quadrophonic treatment
there’s the original CD versions
or the gold plated CD versions
or the American CD releases that were better/worse – I forget
or the remastered box set CD versions
or the remastered box set vinyl versions
or the remastered new cover versions
or the cardboard sleeve versions
of the 20th, 25th, 30th or 40th anniversary versions
or the mono version
or the version with an old single in the middle
or various versions of the “greatest hits”
or the new box set version
and of course, for those of you that have such things – the bootleg live recordings. These nasty, dreadful, bad bootlegs that poor Dave doesn’t like you having, cause presumably it might impact on you going out and buying the latest re-release of an album of which you already have fifteen copies.
BUT nowhere is there a new album and each re-re-re-re-release uses some tired marketing ploy of a “rare” version of a song but mostly for the past 13 years it’s been about new artwork. If that’s all there is, then go to Storms site and buy some direct from him!
After all Dark Side still sounds the same on all these re-releases as it does on the 1973 vinyl that you first bought, however its packaged.
Save your money and go and see Led Zeppelin!
Disclaimer – The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of A Fleeting Glimpse. Correspondence will not be entered into. Discussion about this article can be had in THE FORUM