|[Some of this material is verifiably factual, some of it is informed speculation, and most of it is written strangely. Make of it what you will....Chaz]|
The music industry, no less than other fragments of Entertainment, Inc., is driven by the Cult of the New. Much to the dismay of the record moguls, though, their back catalogs contribute a whole lot to the bottom line, sometimes more than the hotly-hyped new stuff. There have been times during the past quarter-century that it seemed the only thing keeping Capitol Records solvent was endless Beatles reissues and before the three Anthologies, yet.
Billboard had taken a step to recognize this phenomenon with the creation of a chart just for catalog material, which promptly filled up with hardy perennials like Pink Floyd. Reissue labels like Rhino Records in California, Taragon on Long Island, and the German-based Bear Family are mining catalogs from many labels and coming up with gold. A glance through Phonolog, and you might discover that there are three albums and a box set! devoted to those Minnesota-based one-and-a-half-hit wonders, the Trashmen. And you might think that fans of non-current pop and rock were living today in some sort of digitally-remastered Shangri-La. But, to borrow a phrase from Ira Gershwin, it ain't necessarily so. Even as seemingly marginal material gets redone and reissued, an awful lot of good stuff is locked up until further notice. It is the function of this page to whine about it.
And even when tracks are dug out of the vaults, there's no guarantee you're going to get the version you remember. EMI did this to us twice. The single of "I'll Be There" by Gerry and the Pacemakers, released in the US on Laurie 3279 in late 1964, has a very different vocal from the version EMI has been sending over here ever since, and EMI's acquisition of Laurie hasn't made any difference. Ditto the Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place", on MGM 13382 in 1965; in fact, Abkco (again!), which owns the US rights to the Animals' EMI catalog, was reported to believe that the version they sell (and that also appears on the British releases from EMI) is the version approved by the band, and that the track released over here on 45 was a mistake. Ironically, Abkco's original CD release used the same cover photo as MGM's original best-of LP, which of course contained the proper US version. (But see below.)
There have been, though, some actual success stories: