Maybe it’s because I’m getting old and I notice the old stuff more. Or maybe there’s just not enough good new stuff to overshadow the old stuff.
But the age of the re-issue is well and truly upon us. Even Classic Rock Mag devoted a whole page in their 2008 round-up to the best of the year’s re-issues. Re-diculous!
Everywhere you look there’s re-packaging, revamping, re-releasing and re-branding. A record doesn’t even have to be decades old to get the deluxe expanded edition treatment these days (basically a very basic re-issue delivered with undue haste).
And I’m finding myself unable to resist the charms of stuff I’ve already bought once before only to buy it again. All because of a shiny box, a bonus track or a brand new bio.
But what am I saying? It doesn’t even need to boast any of the above to get me hooked.
Take the latest reissues from Bad English and Jason Bonham. In the case of the latter’s The Disregard Of Timekeeping, a digipak CD sleeve (think shrunk gatefold, Self Made Man) and four pages of Jerry Ewing’s always entertaining ramblings are enough to get my nostalgic juices flowing.
There’s neither a bonus track nor a remix in sight. Not a fresh quote from Bonham or a fresh angle on his finest solo work. But it’s a re-issue all the same.
As a collector, horder, addict, dweeb – call me what you like – the thing about re-issues I simply can’t resist is that they’re a unique addition to the fold.
Right now I have filed the original CD copy of Bad English’s self-titled debut alongside the ‘new’ Steamhammer/SPV re-release. Track for track they are exactly the same. The sleeves are exactly the same. The musicians are the same. It’s the same top notch melodic rock as it was 20 years ago. But the numbers on the back are different.
It’s become so easy for record companies to cash in on stuff they cashed in on before that more and more money is being ploughed into re-branding ancient history than rediscovering fresh talent.
Labels are pillaging their back catalogues and making a fortune all over again.
Sometimes they deserve the dosh – in the case of recent Lynyrd Skynryd re-releases and expanded editions of Joe Satriani’s classic Surfing… or Leppard’s Hysteria. And when you look at the effort and care that’s been taken remastering and reissuing Metallica’s back catalogue on heavyweight vinyl it’s easy to forgive the odd cheap and cheerful cash cow.
But worryingly people like me lap up just about anything new that’s old. And because I’m old I’m listening to less and less that’s new.
It’s a dangerous addiction that’s robbing me of space, time and the ability to differentiate between what was really good then back then and what only looks good now.
Re-issue rehab beckons. But can I really go a whole week without limited edition artwork, specially commissioned sleeve notes, acoustic out-takes or a jewel case? Probably not.