Reissues of old recordings, they keep coming back like mold on a basement wall. What’s it all about? It’s one thing to reissue an analog recording, previously unavailable in digital format, to replace a noisy, old, worn out slab of vinyl. It’s another to pull the wool over the consumer. Today, most of the reissues are re-reissues, and some are re-re-reissues. Are they New and Improved!!!? Perhaps, sometimes, maybe. A lot of the earliest reissues on CD were poorly remastered for digital or occasionally not remastered at all. It was a new technology and as with all new technologies there was a learning curve. Some figured it out sooner than others, but by the nineties the analog reissues coming out were reasonably well remastered for CD. Many of the bad first reissues were subsequently corrected without fanfare. But today, the recent wave of reissues is a new animal. It’s become an unending stream of remasters simply for the sake of taking something old and posing it as New and Improved!!! Whoopteedoo!
These New and Improved!!! rehash jobs are, generally speaking, better, marginally, or sometimes just different, marginally. Why bother? Oh yeah, it’s New and Improved!!! Gotta have it—it’s better! Yeah, I’m gonna enjoy the music more if it’s better, if it is better and undoubtedly better. And the real issue here is that you can’t get anything out of the original recording that wasn’t there to begin with. In most of these reissues better isn’t mo’better. It’s an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-bikini bit better. Not really better enough to justify re-buying what I already have. But there’s always someone touting how g-g-g-great the new reiterations are to reignite our interest, get us to second guess ourselves and rethink that maybe it’s worth re-buying. Here we are, once again, with the upgraditis syndrome. Not only is the upgrade a sideways move, every time I’ve fallen for a reissue I’ve had to re-remind myself not to repeat that regrettable regression again. Well then, if these reissues aren’t truly about significant improvements, what are they about?
It’s re-marketing. Corporations are not satisfied with selling you their products only once. It’s about taking your money and retaking your money, again, and again, and. . . Look at big pharma. They aren’t interested in developing new drugs to cure diseases, rather, they concentrate their efforts on drugs for chronic illness that you have to take for the rest of your life. Brilliant and despicable. How do you play that game with a recording?
Remaster, repackage, reissue, re-hype, re-res, and resell it to retiring boomers (and their offspring) to relieve them of their resources. Time to regroup. Time to seek out new music, not remakes.