Friday, September 22, 2006

This fire burns always

One of the more anticipated records of the year for me is Killswitch Engage's As Daylight Dies, due November 21st. I'm of the attitude that I will buy it the day it comes out, but with seeing a pattern in the band's back catalog, I might have to wait a few months. No, it's not because of delays, but because it will probably be reissued in less than a year.

Eric totally sold me on the band with his post on the band back in July. Featuring two newly recorded tracks found on compilations (one original, "This Fire Burns," and one cover, Dio's "Holy Diver"), I was certain that they would reappear on a future KSE release. I hoped "This Fire Burns" would show up on As Daylight Dies, but according to a recent MTV news story, the song will not be on it. Then I started thinking that the album, just like all of KSE's records, will get the reissue treatment. But I wonder who gets to benefit most with this? For the fans that want it when it's originally out, they don't want to plunk down the dough for the same album again. Now I'm in that same boat.

What's been cool about the KSE reissues is that they sport some fine bonus stuff. Each reissue of their three albums came with a bonus CD of previously unreleased tracks or only found as b-sides or compilation tracks. The reissue of The End of Heartache was an awesome package as it was a great introduction to the band. But I can understand why people would be pissed at a reissue like this, especially after only a year from original release.

What is the true benefit of doing this to records, especially records that are easy to find and are not out of print? As I've stated before, reissues are great for older records that don't sound as good with today's technology. The tacking on of bonus tracks really sweetens the deal, but bonus tracks can be very hit and miss. Demos, acoustic and live tracks are usually weaker versions of the album's tracks, making for a cry of rip-off. In the case of KSE, hearing Howard Jones sing live on older songs that he originally didn't sing is cool. Yet the Resident Evil version of "The End of Heartache" isn't that awesome as it's essentially a remix of the song.

A way that some labels have dealt with this is making the bonus content available on the web. Wilco did a fine job of offering a handful of b-sides as a free download for those that bought Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born. With Fall Out Boy, the bonus tracks found on the From Under the Cork Tree reissue are available for download on iTunes. The bonus tracks on The End of Heartache are also available on iTunes, but the same cannot be said about KSE's previous records, Killswitch Engage and Alive or Just Breathing.

Are labels really trying to milk something to new fans or are they just shooting themselves in the foot? Like Eric, I want to have the new KSE record as soon as it's out, but I wonder if I should wait a few months or so. I find trying to do that very difficult.


captain groovy said...

you should download it off soulseek & not pay for it at all.Works great trust me.Then when the usual record company ripoff comes you can buy that.Now excuse while i go listen to the new unreleased Beck album.

captain groovy said...

uh that was excuse me.My typing leaves much to be desired & you've shamed me into feeling guilty over grammatical errors:)And i was serious about the Beck

J-Wo said...

I always enjoy reading the blog. It always reminds me why i listened to the music i listened to and has a great memory quality to it. Have you ever thought about writing a Back Then column for a music magazine? Memories of Seaweed and Helmet come flooding back and we always will wonder how they correlate to today...

Anyways, hope everything is going well man. If you're ever in San Fran you have a place to crash.


Eric Grubbs said...

hey Jeff-
Thanks for the comment. I’d love to do a Back Then column, akin to Klosterman’s My Back Pages. As you know with the stuff I write about, I like to talk about how things were in their day and how they matter today. Too many people just want to take hindsight and pop culture, make snide comments and run with it. That ain’t me.

Eric said...

I'm so out of the loop that I didn't realize that Killswitch's earlier records had been re-released with bonus stuff. I gotta get me some of that.