Painting A Vulgar Picture

"Re-issue, repackage, repackage
Re-evaluate the songs
Double pack with a photograph
Extra track and a tacky badge"

A vulgar picture indeed. Morrissey warned against the ills of label control of artists in his epic ode from The Smiths' final studio album - Strangeways, Here We Come.

How bizarre then that Mozzer and Marr have gotten together to endorse the new mega-compilation - The Sound of the Smiths (out next week). Or is it? The Smiths are no strangers to the re-issue. We've already had the Best ... collection.

In fact my first indoctrination of the band was via the odd but utterly marvelous Louder Than Bombs. Odd in that it was a North American creation - released not long after The World Won't Listen - the European selection which was comprised of almost an identical track listing.

No doubt the new cherry-picked-by-the-gods-themselves collection has been slotted in to the release schedule just in time for xmas, and to introduce more of the catalogue to the download market. 

But why not just re-issue the collection of albums? The Smiths were a fantastic album band - The Queen Is Dead sitting very high on my own list of admired perfection. I worry that a new generation of disciples will grow up not knowing of the great song books the band created.

As for the re-mastering, this is a futile and ridiculous effort. Smiths LPs were well produced - Strangeways being a particularly marvelous studio achievement. We know, however, that music is getting louder - people are starting to expect a certain level of oomph from their purchases, which sadly is not from better production methods, but simply from digital mastering. Perhaps the folks at Warner feel that Mozzer just isn't moping loud enough - and have to have him turned up. Does re-mastering actually add value - or is it simply "earbrushing" history - changing the way we may have been meant to hear the music?

When I saw the advert for this new release today, I did get quite nostalgic. I have every Smiths LP and 12" single on vinyl - so glorious, these pieces of plastic have provided infinite inspiration ... not only for the music they hold, but the majesty of their artwork. Detail such as the hidden etchings on the vinyl's inner label ("ARE YOU LOATHESOME TONIGHT?") or simply the minimalist layout over the iconic sleeve - these moments of pop history are destined to be lost forever as we move into the digital age.  

Sadly this was your life.

No comments: