With CD sales at an all time low, and downloading at an all time high, I would like to know, what is Elvis Costello and the Universal Music Group thinking by reissuing yet another version of Costello's classic "This Year's Model," at the retail cost of $24.98? I asked the same question just a few months ago, when El and the Big Boys did the same for the 30th anniversary of the brilliant debut, "My Aim Is True." Who are these reissues for?
As a diehard Costello fan, or should I say, sucker, I will buy anything this man releases. His foray into classical, "Il Sogno," remains sealed on my shelf, but I bought it. His love letter to Diana Krall, "North," was a painful listen for me upon its release. I have now grown to like it. Very much, actually. But that's not the point. I didn't want it at the time, but I bought it. The "live big band" CD, "My Flame Burns Blue," was no more welcome in my home than "Benny Goodman Plays The Replacements." (Unfortunately, if that existed, I'd buy it, too. I think I may be answering my own question, but let me continue.)
If my math is correct, this will be the 5th version of "This Year's Model," as it was for "My Aim Is True." Each release promised more. The first was simply "better sound than your old scratchy LP." The next was "even better sound thanks to new remastering," AND it included bonus tracks -- pertinent b-sides and rare cuts from the same recording sessions." At this point, Elvis switched labels, so he had to bring us along with him. The third version, on the new label, was offering "better sound" yet again, as well as a bonus CD that included the same bonus tracks as version two, but even more.
At this point, I think every fan was thinking, "Why not just release one CD and call it "The My Aim Is True Sessions." I think I asked a few record label big shots at the time why that wasn't going to be the case. I don't remember the answer, that's how unsatisfying it was.
OK, Elvis switches labels again. (I still haven't unpacked my books from the last move.) So here comes version 4. No bonus tracks, just dandy new packaging. BUT, inside this dandy new packaging was a code so you can access unreleased music off of a website. Very sneaky indeed.
Now we are caught up. Number 5. The bonus CDs included with the recently released 'My Aim Is True" and the forthcoming "This Year's Model" are live concerts from the day. Doesn't it make sense to just release the live shows? Wasn't that a huge success for the Grateful Dead with the "Dick's Picks" series?
As more and more people get fired from the major labels, and more and more artists are going the indie route, it makes little sense that these Costello packages were approved in this form. The industry needs to be saved. This does not seem like the way to go.