The Horror of Format Paralysis

This should have had it all, but it didn't

This should have had it all, but it didn’t

When I got home from the trip to D.C. to see Simple Minds, something was gnawing at me that needed attention. Namely, when Jim Kerr surprised his fans with word of a solo album in 2010, hot on the heels of the excellent “Graffiti Soul” album by Simple Minds, it seemed like a throwback to the early salad days of the band when they could release 2 albums of high quality material a year without breaking into a sweat. For a man who had a writer’s block at the turn of the century, this was no small feat.

Of course, I signed up at the artists’ website for the mailing list. The initial freebie download was excellent, and everything seemed to point to the notion that this album would be a corker; perhaps something that I might like even moreso than the admittedly great “Graffiti Soul.” The last time Jim Kerr stepped out of his comfort zone to write with people other than Charlie Burchill on 2002’s “Cry” album, he had released my favorite Simple Minds album since “Sparkle In The Rain.” Even after “Graffiti Soul” I would still make that claim. It just had a freshness that appealed to me.

So you would have to think that I was on top of this album the day of release, right? After all, the lead singer of my favorite band, being on fire with creativity, can’t wait five years for the next Simple Minds album, so he kept the writing flowing and released a solo album shortly after their latest album. How could I say “no?” Well, I did. For almost three years! Bear in mind that I feel that Simple Minds could keep the albums coming at a far more rapid clip for my tastes! Why had I dawdled on this release? Format paralysis!

As is now common there were multiple formats, each offering differing exclusives. Worse, there was not even a single high-priced variation encompassing all of the music in a single package. To get that, one would have to buy multiple releases of the album. What did that  comprise?

Ear Music | GER | CD | 2010 | 0202362ERE

Ear Music | GER | CD | 2010 | 0202362ERE

Lostboy! A.K.A. Jim Kerr: GER CD [2010]

  1. Refugee
  2. She Fell in Love With Silence
  3. Shadowland
  4. Return Of The King
  5. Red Letter Day
  6. Remember Asia
  7. Bulletproof Heart
  8. Lostboy
  9. Nail Thru My Heart
  10. Soloman Solohead
  11. The wait Parts 1+2
Ear Music | GER | DLX CD | 2010 | 0203942ERE

Ear Music | GER | DLX CD | 2010 | 0203942ERE

Lostboy! A.K.A. Jim Kerr: GER DLX CD [2010]

  1. Refugee
  2. She Fell in Love With Silence
  3. Shadowland
  4. Return Of The King
  5. Red Letter Day
  6. Remember Asia
  7. Bulletproof Heart
  8. Lostboy
  9. Nail Thru My Heart
  10. Soloman Solohead
  11. The Wait Parts 1+2
  12. Mr. Silversmith
  13. Karma To This Rain
  14. Sad Stone Child
Ear Music | GER | CD + 7" | 2010 | 0204592ERE

Ear Music | GER | CD + 7″ | 2010 | 0204592ERE

Lostboy! A.K.A. Jim Kerr: GER COLLECTOR’S CD + 7″ [2010]

CD

  1. Refugee
  2. She Fell in Love With Silence
  3. Shadowland
  4. Return Of The King
  5. Red Letter Day
  6. Remember Asia
  7. Bulletproof Heart
  8. Lostboy
  9. Nail Thru My Heart
  10. Soloman Solohead
  11. The Wait Parts 1+2

Bonus 7″

  1. Jet Black The Night
  2. What Goes On [V.U. cover]
iTunes | UK | DL | 2010

iTunes | UK | DL | 2010

Lostboy! A.K.A. Jim Kerr: UK iTunes DL [2010]

  1. Refugee
  2. She Fell in Love With Silence
  3. Shadowland
  4. Return Of The King
  5. Red Letter Day
  6. Remember Asia
  7. Bulletproof Heart
  8. Lostboy
  9. Nail Thru My Heart
  10. Soloman Solohead
  11. The Wait Parts 1+2
  12. Refugee [atmoxic remix]

We’ll discount the vinyl LP variant as it was the same as a the basic CD. We have an 11 track CD, a second CD with three extra tracks, a third CD with a 7″ single on vinyl [never the most high-fidelity of formats] that had two further tracks… but none of the bonus tracks from the second CD. The maraschino cherry on top is the UK iTunes exclusive bundle that had a remix available nowhere else, and none of the five bonus tracks on the second and third CD. Compounding the horror was that the “webstore” on the artist’s website sold none of these directly, they linked to stores in various European locations, all of which were verboten to American me.

This last bit rankled me the most, since I often buy physical formats of material I want from the artist’s directly. I often pay a real premium for this, full retail pricing plus transcontinental postage, but this is sometimes the only way to buy the music I want and I understand that. I always buy the latest OMD singles from their web store. Pricey, but I am assured of getting the scarce physical copies of their singles. The same with Visage. The best I could hope for was a third party selling these as Amazon dealers, but in three years, I only ever saw the basic CD offered there. Getting the iTunes UK bundle, of course, was flat out impossible. Local iTunes only offered the 11 track edition.

So with a fire lit under me from the superb Simple Minds show I’d just seen, I resorted to plan C. The Discogs.com marketplace. There, I found the 15 track CD for sale from an American for $5.oo used. The cost with postage was $9.00. Great for me, but bad for Jim Kerr, since he has agreements that preclude selling of music in his online store. And I still, need the CD/7″ bundle! And it still took me three years to hear this music, which is incredible! I had high expectations for it and it actually surpassed them! I often buy deluxe editions from artists webstores. But generally, there is a “winner-take-all” configuration that includes the maximum amount of music for hard-core fans like myself, usually at a premium. Hopefully not at three figures.

As bad as that is [sometimes it’s great – see Paul Buchanan], at least I can get the music if I am willing to pay the price. When that price included buying three configurations of an album for approximately $50.00 plus postage, I’d much have preferred a single maxi-bundle with everything at roughly the same cost. That would have been fine, and Scotsman Kerr would have had a fair share of my lucre. As it stood now, I waited three years to hear a fantastic album and he didn’t get a cent. Worse, by limiting the retailing of the physical album to exclusive markets out of my territory, there was no way I could have bought this album new, save for the US iTunes 11 track version not exactly high on my list of preferences.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Core Collection, Record Collecting, Scots Rock and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Horror of Format Paralysis

  1. Echorich says:

    Yeah, all these multi format releases have become a bit tiresome. I will be honest that if I purchase a particular album in a physical format and then further versions with “extras” comes out, I feel like I did my bit (I’ve been doing my bit since I was 7) monetarily and however I get the “rest” of the release, I have paid what I am going to pay. Great example is this 3 CD edition of the latest Bowie album – now it’s one of my favorite albums of 2013 and I purchased it immediately upon release to great satisfaction. But when 10 months or so later Bowie/label decides to throw up anything and everything I might want to hear related to the album in a partially redundant manner, I have to say no to purchasing and will make sure that what I want from it finds it’s way into my music collection.
    No one but myself has to worry about how I accomplish this.
    I agree that in the end it’s a detriment to the artist when we buy their work on the secondary or seditionary market and the artist, who could have enjoyed 2 sales, only enjoys the one because of the flabergasting greed of the record company.
    As for issues of copyright and I do recognize these having worked in licensing rights for photographers for 2.5 decades, I feel much less concerned about this when it is the corporation’s rights which are being violated as most artists don’t own their work – or not unless they have had some sort of strength to force the record corporations’ hands.

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  2. postpunkmonk says:

    Echorich – At least the Bowie organization were spot on with a download bundle of the new material. I can’t call that anything but very considerate.

    Like

  3. Yeah, Kerr needs to look at Bowie for how to handle this. Those of us who bought the deluxe Next Day with the extra tracks can just buy the newly-expanded bonus material if we want, which is pretty nice really (particularly in light of the above) and I guess those who want it all in physical format can buy the new deluxe and sell/pass on the “old” deluxe, so pretty much everyone’s happy.

    I never minded that phase of two-volume EPs/”singles” with differing b-sides we often got from the UK but when it got to four and five such “singles” you realise that there’s an entire additional ALBUM of stuff you’re paying too much for … it’s less fun. If you want to issue a “remastered” album 20 years later with all the goods, I’ll buy it again … but hamstringing my budget with drip-drip costly imports and such is just denying another artist some of my record-buying mad money!

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