How Many Times Can You Replace a Collection?

Jerry Lucky Commentary December 2013

Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2013 All Rights Reserved


As I write this monthís commentary itís Black Friday in the United States. Thatís essentially the day that most if not all retailers have come to rely on for sales activity that will either save the day or at the very least help them to keep the doors open till Christmas. I wonder how many music CDs and DVDs will be purchased over this last quarter of the year? Specifically I wonder how many pieces will be repurchased to replace the ones you already have in your collection. Itís a subtle trap that the record companies have created and we seem to have fallen for it; hook, line and sinker. A friend and I were talking about this the other day; asking each other at what point do we stop purchasing our music collection over and over again.


Letís face it, if you are over the age of 40 chances are you ended up replacing your vinyl collection with CDs at some point a few years back. I know I was a latecomer to the change-over but in the end as more progressive rock product became available I made the switch. It was not unusual for me to walk out of Amoeba Records in Los Angeles or San Francisco or Silver Platters in Seattle with dozens of discsÖhundreds of dollarsí worth of discs. In the end I think there were only about 200 vinyl LPís I couldnít replace. But then all those early ďdodgyĒ pressings, ďrushedĒ onto the market also needed to be replaced with cleaner remasters. But that wasnít enough, no, then we started to see enhanced reissues, some with bonus tracks some with video clips and so on.  Now as if to come full circle Iím willing to bet there are some purists in the crowd who are going back to buy the newly remastered LPs on high-grade 180 gram vinyl. For some itís impossible to stop. And you know what, the record companies love you.


Over the years Iíve had to really reassess why I buy certain discs or what will motivate me to replace something I already have. After all, when was the last time I actually listened to Tales from Topographic Oceans? Or Druid? Or Bedside Manners are Extra? You know what I mean? And yet when something new comes out, remastered, with bonus tracks, with a video and who knows what else itís hard sometimes to resist the purchases, right?


For me I did end up replacing my Yes collection over again with the recent reissues loaded tons of bonus tracks of a few years ago. And naturally I picked up all the Genesis double-disc reissues. But you knowÖthatís about it really. I decided that I needed to be more cautious about all this re-purchasing business. I loved the new Yes stuff, because although some say itís really the same masters with a little more trebleÖthey sounded much fatter and brighter to me and I did appreciate the bonus tracks. In this case even though I may only listen to the bonus tracks one in a while there were so many on some discs that it seemed worth it. Naturally a part of the equation was the updated packaging with updated liner notes. As for the Genesis reissues, well it was more than anything the video stuff on the second discs that did it for me. Having the band interviewed talking specifically about the creation of each disc along with videos and some highly sought after live material really was a winning deal for me.


Now Iím sure some of you will say, what about the 5.1 remixes in the Genesis material? And yes when Iíve listened to them they sound quite amazing. But the truth is, my car doesnít have a 5.1 system, nor do my headphones or my computer so the 5.1 remix, which I totally appreciate in my movie viewing seems to me to be just a bit gimmicky when it comes to music. No offence to anyone involved in the remixing process, creation or purchasing, but seriously it has such a limited range of usage I donít see the value. In addition being placed in the middle of the band is as I say a little bit gimmicky. After all if Iím watching a movie or a concert the primary visual and audio events are taking place mostly in front of me. The back and side channels are there to enhance peripherally whatís going on in front of me. Itís just weird to be plopped into the middle of the action or performance. So other than for special ďsit-down by myself momentsĒ where I have nothing better to do than listen to the music, a 5.1 remix is lost on me.


Iíve come to realize there is only so much money that can be spent on music and anything I spend on reissues is less money to be spent of new music releases. Also there is something really irksome to me about continuing to spend money with major record companies for stuff that Iíve already purchased from them once or twice before. Still, we are weak and Christmas is just around the corner. We must be strong.


Iíd be interested in knowing how you approach this issue. If you are so inclined send me an email and tell me about your experiences. It might be interesting to share those with others. As for myself, the days of replacing the collection are over there is simply too much new music out there to keep ďLiving in the Past.Ē Hey I wonder if there are any new bonus tracks on that Jethro Tull reissue?


At least thatís what Iím thinking.


Jerry Lucky