Monday, April 23, 2007

Consumer Warning

One of my favorite things to do when I go to a record store is to rummage through the compilation racks, looking for collections of old singles that would otherwise never have made it into the CD era. This is how I am still able to enjoy Jigsaw's "Sky High," even unto this very day. But there is a very strong danger in this habit: There are unscrupulous people who put together compilations of old songs, but rather than actually spending the money to buy the rights to the original recordings, they get the artists to make re-recordings. As someone without a very deep record collection who wants to stock up on old half-forgotten hits, I enjoy unearthing a worthwhile CD for $3.99, but even that's too much to pay for Mark Lindsey's retake of "Arizona."

I've been burned by this scam twice now. The first was for K-Tel's Country Drinking Songs, which was okay because I don't think I could tell the difference between the original "Wine Me Up" by Faron Young and the re-recording. But then I got Prime Cuts' Greatest Hits From the '70s, which is just awful. No matter how hard they try, Sweet is never going to cut a version of "Ballroom Blitz" that approaches the original. And I wonder just who it is on "Baby Blue," since a quorum of Badfinger has been dead for 30 years or so. (Even sadder is that James Brown is included on this set, meaning he was willing to go in and re-record "Sex Machine" for what couldn't have been more than a couple hundred dollars.)

Just a friendly warning: As the Kingston Trio said on "M.T.A.," Citizens, hear me out! This could happen to you!


Joe said...

Well, this is why these compilations used to have stickers that read "The Original Hits by the Original Arstists." Which didn't, as I remember, stop one competitor from starting a group called the Original Artists, which simpley covered the original hits. Though I have no phonographic evidence of this, so I may have just seen it on an old X-Files episode or something.

MJN said...

I've got a double CD called "The Essential Flatt & Scruggs", which contains 33 original recordings ranging in quality from fair to outstanding, plus the re-recording of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" they made for "Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967, fifteen years after the original. How can you sell a package called "The Essential Flatt & Scruggs" and NOT include the original recording of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"?!?

T. Nawrocki said...

I would guess it has something to do with not having the rights to the original "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." Of course, that excuse doesn't explain why the 63-song compilation Clash on Broadway doesn't include "Hitsville U.K." Surely, they don't expect me to go out and buy Sandinista!, do they?

Joe said...

Yeah, but "Clash on Broadway" had the demo of "Janie Jones." Wow.

T. Nawrocki said...

I actually picked it up originally because, near as I can tell, it's the only LP in existence that has "This Is Radio Clash" on it.

But "Janie Jones," yeah.

Anonymous said...

Dude, you know you could have "Hitsville UK" and "This Is Radio Clash" on "The Singles," right? One CD. $7.14 on Amazon: