If Adolph Hitler came in today / they’d send a limousine anyway

It’s a mighty thin line between being stuck in the past and enjoy­ing one’s his­to­ry and per­son­al moments. I’ve always had a the­o­ry that for many, many peo­ple, if not most, 26 is the cut­off point. Up until that age, peo­ple tend to explore and enjoy the new, be it music, film, style or what­ev­er.

Then some­thing hap­pens: as you slip into the sec­ond half of your third decade, it all stops, it all grinds to a halt. And, over­whelm­ing­ly, after that, peo­ple tend to recy­cle the bits and pieces that worked for them up until that age. I’m guilty of it at times and it’s a vast gen­er­al­i­sa­tion, as I per­son­al­ly know lit­er­al­ly hun­dreds of peo­ple past that age who still love to lis­ten, grow and explore. But – and this might sound arro­gant – I think that may be more to do with the cir­cles I move in than any­thing else. And when I move out­side those cir­cles, as often as not I have to sit and gri­mace as peo­ple feel the need to play their Talk­ing Heads reis­sue or show me their Scar­face boxed remas­tered director’s cut. Which is all very good and well, but, fuck it all, there is often noth­ing else there, beyond that point. Well, maybe James Blunt….

And I love my reis­sues and remas­ters as much as the next per­son, but don’t you, every now and then, get a tad hun­gry to hear those oth­er two bil­lion records released since U2’s Zooropa (oth­er than more U2 albums). I know I do, but then maybe that’s a dis­ease that I’d be bet­ter, and wealth­i­er with­out. Maybe life would work just as well if I didn’t need to hear that fun­ny lit­tle Ger­man sin­gle I read about last week, or see some obscure, slight­ly wor­thy movie that got a men­tion in Uncut.

Let me get all excit­ed about a reis­sue. Not just any reis­sue but the col­lect­ed sev­en-inch sin­gles of the great­est rock’n’roll band the world has ever seen.

Let me be clear, as of yes­ter­day I love SonyB­MG. Every­thing I’ve ever said or thought or insin­u­at­ed about major record com­pa­nies does not, in any way, shape or form, apply to SonyB­MG or its New Zealand MD, Mike Brad­shaw, who saw fit to hand me, gratis, com­plete with cute badges, a CD col­lec­tion of said sin­gles by Messers Strum­mer, Jones, Simenon and Head­on: The Clash. Oh, I  much­ly love The Clash – so much so that I already own every orig­i­nal 7” includ­ed here­in and the bonus tracks on each cute, lov­ing­ly repack­aged and anno­tat­ed repli­ca. But that’s not the point, and this is a need to have and a need to touch and a need to play again and again must own symp­tom of the worst symp­toms of my dis­ease.

The Clash got it all right: they made nasty noisy records when it felt right; they stag­gered all across the USA and explained to them what rock’n’roll was all about; they made sprawl­ing triple albums that I’m still try­ing to com­plete­ly pen­e­trate; unlike, say the sad old Stones, they didn’t last too long; and most­ly, they nev­er reformed. Thank you Sony BMG, thank you, Michael, thank you Bernie Rhodes, and thank you Joe et al for ignor­ing the rules and giv­ing me this twen­ty-five years after the event.

oh, fuck its cool …

And then, in con­trast, I scored (bought actu­al­ly) two Split Enz re-mas­ters. The NZ band that were most in need of a cat­a­logue upgrade have had such vis­it­ed on them this year by Warn­er Music, their new own­ers (and what in god’s name is this oth­er Warn­ers thing, a new Fly­ing Nun Aus­tralia – wow they real­ly don’t get it do they), and that’s fine. I bought Men­tal Notes, which still remains the Enz’ land­mark, and only real­ly cru­cial album; and I got the Begin­ning of the Enz col­lec­tion sim­ply because I bought all those ear­ly sin­gles way back (even though these are, I think, remixed) and I was there. It was a big time for me – I saw them god knows how many times in the years before they record­ed Notes and was mild­ly obsessed. Those ear­ly sin­gles and that odd band changed the direc­tion my life took. So I bought both those reis­sues, inside unseen, as they were sealed, from a pleas­ant girl at Auck­land Air­port who told me she’d nev­er been on a plane. She asked me what fly­ing was like. I thought that was odd.

But to the point — it being: nice­ly remas­tered these may well be, but who in god’s name decid­ed to pass on the lin­er notes and the pack­ag­ing; to cut cor­ners (or was it just stu­pid­i­ty). There are so many beau­ti­ful remas­tered edi­tions out, many of which come from Warner’s own imprints.

These, full priced I might add, reis­sues were a per­fect chance to pull in the likes of my old friend Chris Bourke (or Jere­my Ansell who put togeth­er the Enz Radio NZ series) (both are very knowl­edge­able about all things Enz), or a num­ber of oth­er buffs and present the world with the defin­i­tive edi­tions of these defin­ing New Zealand (nay, Aus­tralasian) albums. But no, you get lyrics, shod­di­ly print­ed, oh, and a cou­ple of pho­tos, but that’s it.

Men­tal Notes has a whole his­to­ry, fas­ci­nat­ing and con­vo­lut­ed, around it, not least of which is the sto­ry of the cov­er, but you’d nev­er know it from this. And the ear­ly com­pi­la­tion is sim­ply a bunch of uncred­it­ed tracks. These, to clar­i­fy, were impor­tant ear­ly sin­gles most­ly, but there is not any evi­dence or record of that in the book­let. No release dates, sleeves or any­thing else. They could be any­thing. What a waste, what an unpro­fes­sion­al lazy fuck­up, and what a missed oppor­tu­ni­ty to make a reis­sue look like some­thing oth­er than a lit­tle bit of greedy prof­it tak­ing.

Oh and an aside, I have it on fair­ly reli­able advice that you can expect the announce­ment of a New Zealand iTunes store with­in the next ten days.

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