Has anyone noticed how there has been a rush by many music labels to re-release back catalogues of famous artists, with the excuse of 'remastering' and 'now with previously unavailable bonus tracks'? It's been a huge trend in heavy rock, I can tell you right now. Let me list all the hard rock artists of which I know have been re-released: Black Sabbath (twice); Blue Oyster Cult (in progress); Judas Priest; Ozzy Osbourne (now for the second time); Robin Trower (by two different labels); Iron Maiden (even independently of the current trend, fully five or six times now); KI$$ (since that damn tour, I always spell it that way); The Ramones; Ted Nugent; Jimi Hendrix (several times now, including after his family got control of his catalogue); Venom (but it was about time for them); Nazareth; Badlands; Thin Lizzy; many, many more.
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For one, I am sick of Iron Maiden for their mistreatment of American fans in the first place; I'm sure as hell not going to buy yet another edition of their entire damn catalogue. It's getting to seem like they're doing this every year, as they've as much as said onstage that they expect their fans, particularly Americans, to buy each edition. This is preposterous. I'm not buying Bruce Dickinson another waterski or snowmobile. Yet, because Iron Maiden managed to mold themselves into the most merchandisable entity in heavy metal or hard rock, they're able to get away with it. Talk about a cash cow. And then you have KI$$...
I personally don't mind the trend in and of itself; I love my BOC remasters because they're giving us some great insights on the development of some of these songs. Judas Priest did the same thing, and gave us some truly rare live tracks that I am enjoying even as I write this. I'd never heard a (good) version of 'Starbreaker' live before. (This is found on the remastered edition of 'Unleashed in the East', which was always the greatest live metal album of all time but is now better, in my opinion.)
The Black Sabbath remasters are plain jane, with no extras except for 'Evil Woman' being included on their first album's re-release and a little cardbox coming on 'Master of Reality' to commemorate the original emblazoned album sleeve with the lyrics on the back. ('MoR' is actually a famous album just for that alone'.) Castle Records, which reissued Sabbath, Maiden and Nazareth (and more I assume), all remastered, even bought the rights to the infamous 'Live at Last' live album with Ozzy Osbourne (from the 1972 'Vol. 4' tour), and released that remastered with the rest of the set. (This is despite the fact that Sabbath have always regarded this live set as a bootleg.) This goes to show that when it's done right, it's good for the fans.
Iron Maiden beats a dead horse like a wife-beating necrophiliac with a ballpeen hammer. The last edition I bought of their CD's, in 1998/99, was remastered with video and other content, out the wazoo. There was even a contest. I collected them all and was very happy. However, just two years before that, I'd collected the entire set (again, and I've had them all on vinyl, cassette and original CD) in double-CD format with the old, hard-to-get imported singles. (Remember Maiden's take on Jethro Tull's 'Cross-Eyed Mary'?). So, how many freakin' times have I bought Iron Maiden's entire catalogue? I don't even wanna talk about it.
I don't even own any of their stuff anymore, because of their rockstar attitude and their anti-American gripe, and I put a personal fortune into those ... wankers ... over the years since I was fifteen years old. At this writing, that's twenty years for me, folks. Screw Iron Maiden; they've just released yet another edition of their entire catalogue and apparently the market is still not saturated. Well, I am.
So, is this a rant or not? It's both. I think it's interesting to point out that the trend of remastering and re-releasing the back catalogues of famous artists is seeing both innovation and abuse. I'm sure there are many, many more examples of both that people listening to other genres and other artists could name beyond what I've listed here.
Let's just chalk it up to another case of 'Caveat Emptor': 'Let the Buyer Beware'.