The devaluation of music has recently reached a new low, what with Amazon pimping the entire new Lady Gaga LP for just .99 in a recent two day release special...And one can say it worked, shifting 1.2M 'units' in its first week, 600K of which were digital, & who knows how many of those were the .99 variety, because, along with paying taxes, Amazon is not fond of releasing sales numbers. Looks like the 'Opening Weekend' box office mind set is taking over what's left of the music biz...
But we come here today to dwell on the opposite, to celebrate 'value per dollar', and examine the last vestige of quality in the industry, the Deluxe Box Set! (or, the insane money grab from suckers like me, but fill in your own...)
So far this year, I've fallen for four ventures that fall into the DeeLux category...Here's the breakdown for the morbidly curious in order received, not, (ahem Radiohead), order ordered:
Decemberists: The King Is Dead comes in a lavish cloth box, (Bogart came separately), and includes: one LP on white vinyl no less, a hardcover book with session polaroids done by Autumn De Wilde as well as the CD and the bonus Pendarvia short film on DVD, a print by Carson Ellis, (wife of Colin Meloy), as well as one of the actual polaroids done by Ms. De Wilde.
That they did this under the eye of Capitol Records might be the craziest thing of all. The album itself, featuring guest spots from Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Gillian Welch, asserts itself as one of their most musically cohesive collections, and if rumors having it to be their last are correct, the beauty and work that went into this box set are an impressive monument to leave behind.
Los Campesinos! have taken an entirely different turn with the first issue of Heat Rash. Their latest endeavor is a quarterly 'zine to fill in the gaps between records, and provide a more literary experience than blogs & files.
On the left is a 7" single of two new songs that will stand alone from the new album, recorded last month and being mixed as we speak. On the right is Heat Rash #1, (the Romance issue), full of lyrics, band poetry, essays, recipes, and closing words from Neil Gaiman!
Okkervil River went all the way with their newest effort, I Am So Very Far in every sense. Their box set, (which came before the CD street date-yay Jagjaguwar), lives up to the name, arriving in a wooden box!
Said wooden box contains: CD, bonus songs/demos on 7'' single, bound hardcover chapbook of lyrics, poster, laser cut cover art from William Schaff, (longtime affiliate of the band), and a signed letter from Will Sheff...
The main event, I Am Very Far, is stretched over three sides of vinyl, the fourth given over to a laser etching of Schaff's artwork. Very cool.
Worth the wait, Radiohead's King Of Limbs (newspaper LP edition) finally arrived after much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Heeding to their In Rainbows random announcement here it is strategy, they notified the world, released the download a week later, then we who ordered the physical package settled in for The Wait. Like the music itself, it's no so much understated as distilled.
Not overflowing with a million goodies, but it does contain the newspaper, the cd, the traditional out of control artwork, and the LP done as two ten inch clear vinyls, mastered at 45rpm, and it sure does sound swell.
What i haven't fallen for yet, although truth be told I had one in a cart and backed off at the last minute, is what might be the piece de resistance of all of the above...Only the Flaming Lips would conjure up the idea of a gummy life size skull enclosing a USB drive with new music. If you wondered exactly how Wayne Coyne would top last years tour posters done in part with his own blood, well, let this be your answer...
And we can't close without mentioning the continued good works of Mr. Jack White, whose latest endeavor is the Third Man Records Rolling Record Store, a mobile truck equipped equally to sell records, merch, and whose custom sound system allows it to do gigs on the go! Someday i'll run into this wonder on wheels, and I will be taking pictures.
Even with the industry in a state of flux, it's nice to know that there's folks out there doing things a little differently...