“Remember when you used to buy a new album and you’d take it home and open it up…that feeling of discovery, that ‘wow’ factor has been totally lost in the CD age and especially now with downloads. The Classic Rock Slashpack is an attempt to bring that back.”
So said CR publisher Chris Ingham in the April edition of the finest rock magazine money can buy. And he went on: “…with the closure of record shops and the big record stores prioritising DVDs it’s something you can pick up and see in your local shop or supermarket. It’s an event just like it used to be.”
And we agreed. But then there was just one problem where the Slash event was concerned this week.
What we seem to remember from those early days, queuing outside Windows of the Arcade on a Monday morning, was that the so-called ‘event’ had an end product. That end product being you could actually buy the album you’d been queuing for.
When a record’s release date was set that was the date the record was released. It’s not rocket science, is it?
So imagine the surprise of Slash fans heading into Newcastle city centre on Wednesday April 7 – the longstanding release date for the Classic Rock Slashpack – when they went to pick up their guitar hero’s CD and, well, it wasn’t there.
To say the ‘event’ became a non-event was something of an understatement. And to say there were one or two very annoyed rockers pacing the streets of Tyneside yesterday would be failing to highlight the true frustration felt by fans looking forward to revisiting Ingham’s rose-tinted recollection of the past and being able to ‘pick up and see’ one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of the last decade.
Oh, there was a ‘wow’ factor by the way. A ‘wow it’s not actually on the shelves like they said it would be’ factor.
Now the staff of Northumberland Street’s WHSmith were very helpful, even conducting a fruitless search of the backroom for any missing mags and finally calling their distributors to check if any Slashpacks were knocking around the warehouse. They, like the rest of us, were under the impression the April 7 release date meant a release on April 7 but that wasn’t allowing for the publishers’ tardiness.
“The publishers haven’t delivered them yet,” was the ultimately devastating answer to the question of the missing Slashpacks. “They won’t be in today and we don’t know when they will be.”
For someone who had made a special trip to the city centre after weeks spent waiting for the Slash & Friends CD – refusing to download it illegally or even listen to the low quality stream – it was the worst answer imaginable.
And it made a mockery of Ingham’s declaration that this would be ‘an event, just like a new release used to be’.
It was never like this Classic Rock. I can’t remember Windows turning round and telling me Def Leppard’s Hysteria hadn’t actually made it to the shops in time for its stated release. I don’t recall waiting another 24 hours for Whitesnake’s 1987 and I can’t think of a time when Monday’s releases were actually released on a Tuesday.
Some might say what difference does a day make? But Ingham will know. His staff will know. And any music buying rock fan will know.
Perhaps it was down to teething problems. Perhaps it had something to do with deleting the Slash/Fergie version of Paradise City or perhaps CR Mag were never going to meet their self-imposed release date.
Whatever the reason it meant there was no event and no end of frustration. And for a release as significant as the debut solo album from Slash that’s simply not good enough.