Good morning from a bleary eyed and sneezy Clash Blog Towers. Like a trooper/glutton for punishment I did go cycling this morning and the only people thanking me are the assorted birds (feathered) who laughed at my progress, I did however see some nice birds (non-feathered) out jogging.
I wanted to let the dust settle and provide an assortment of observations, updates and details about the forthcoming releases by The Clash scheduled for September, initially the box set Sound System. The specifics if you will as I’ve seen a lot of reaction to the new releases over the last 36 hours. Today I’ll just focus on some of it.
Release date: September 9 applies for the UK, the actual release date in the US/Canada will be the 10th as Tuesdays are new release dates here (no I never worked that one out either).
Format(s): The box set at this time is only scheduled to be in CD format. I realise, and share, the huge interest in a vinyl alternative but nothing is currently scheduled. My best guess as to the reason why no vinyl option and probably the correct one is due to cost as a vinyl pressing would greatly inflate the price of the box set, probably by as much as 30-40% which I don’t think would go over very well. It’s ironic and not the fault of anyone but the record labels that in the eighties vinyl was far cheaper than the CD version due to manufacturing capacity and technology I assume and here we are 25 years later with the reverse being true.
Update – Sony now this morning say there will be vinyl editions…just the studio albums in a ‘flight case’ box set. Price unknown. (I’m guessing that means the new/unreleased material won’t see a vinyl option)
Pricing: The (somewhat) good news is that the North American price loaded on Amazon at $290 appears to be incorrect as I suspected as it made no sense whatsoever in relation to the UK price. Overnight they’ve magically lowered it to $250. Even at that I’ve never seen what is essentially a 11 disc plus DVD boxset priced anywhere near that level and the correct price should be apparently $169 for the US and £111 for the UK so we’ll wait and see what happens, via the official site the prices are lower. I’m sure you can find € pricing online by now also? So let’s talk about the pricing situation at present and I’ll be polite – it’s a fucking car wreck. Whether you feel it’s overpriced or not is altogether a side issue, but where you live and how you go about buying it shouldn’t make a true difference in price of somewhere between 40-70% dependent on shipping, taxes and exchange rates. If something is imported that’s a different matter but I’m sure the US release will not be imported from England. Something I was so excited about is now a ball of question marks because Sony/Amazon and others have hugely inconsistent pricing at present and I think it needs to be resolved asap.
Which is to say nothing of it being expensive and I really feel that it is. I looked at all of the box sets that I own today and on average (per disc) they were between 35-60% less expensive than this looks set to be and many contained a lot more unreleased material. How much do I want (another) remastered copy of each studio album at this stage? As The Baker said on the Facebook page however, perhaps this box set isn’t aimed at us but the new/young/casual fan? But can that really be accurate? Sony know Clash fans are furiously loyal but on the other hand we’re not made of money, or maybe we are.
Now I guess whether you’ve already pre-ordered it or not may have more to do with your financial situation than your love of the band, in any terms that’s a big outlay for a collection of music that most already own to a great extent. On the other hand this will it seems be the last official release ever by The Clash and thus the nearest we’ll ever see to a full collection unless Sony have some sort of deluxe/platinum edition up their sleeves which I wouldn’t bet against. The remastering alone may well be that significant and I’m curious to see what others say when it does get released. My budget for music isn’t what it used to be in these economic times and for the same outlay I can purchase 12-16 new albums or attend half a dozen concerts or buy groceries for a fortnight. I can’t do all and I won’t be buying it at the current prices. My birthday is quite soon however.
At present there’s enough variables in pricing for me to write another blog post about it…which I might do at the weekend. For now I’d avoid online retailers and ask your local record shop what their shelved price will be. I’d always recommend that in fact.
Content: Before we look at what’s included let’s consider what has been excluded. Cut The Crap is again erased from the history of the band which is either airbrushing or a marketing decision by the band and label, fair enough but I think it should been included. You can think what you want about the album but for the amount of cash being shelled out it should have been included, it was on CBS, was an official release and while it didn’t feature two of the four key players it also did feature two. If you’re looking at the boxset to be the complete archive of The Clash which I assume was the purpose then Cut The Crap should have been included. I have a copy already but yes I’d like a nice shiny new one if I’m buying the definitive box set.
There’s been a fair amount of hand wringing already about what’s not been included *(full concerts, more live releases, more demos, some of the material on the London Calling 25th anniversary and a total exclusion of Every Little Bit Hurts and One Emotion come to mind). I would have loved the boxset to include essentially everything no matter how good or bad we might consider it and that of course just like Cut The Crap comes down to personal taste. I would have loved to have seen the unreleased material and DVD get a release as a free standing item but understand why it got packaged in the set.
I genuinely hope that the remastering is a major factor and Mick Jones is saying as much in interviews, I’d tend to think he’d know best. If I can listen to each album and hear things I’ve never heard before then that is truly enticing. At present that will probably be the deciding factor for me, although perhaps not for all potential buyers.
What we do have are three discs of special recordings beyond the remastered studio albums plus a DVD and the full track listing is as follows:
1. White Riot (Single version)
2. 1977 (B-side)
3. Listen (Capital Radio EP) / Interviews (Capital Radio EP)
4. Capital Radio (Capital Radio EP)
5. London’s Burning (Live B-side Remote Control)
6. Complete Control (Single version)
7. City Of The Dead (B-side)
8. Clash City Rockers (Original single version)
9. Jail Guitar Doors (B-side)
10. White Man In Hammersmith Palais (A-side)
11. The Prisoner (B-side)
12. 1-2 Crush On You (B-side Tommy Gun)
13. Time Is Tight (Black Market Clash)
14. Pressure Drop (B-side English Civil War)
15. I Fought The Law (Cost Of Living EP)
16. Groovy Times (Cost Of Living EP)
17. Gates Of The West (Cost Of Living EP)
18. Capital Radio (Cost Of Living EP)
19. Armagideon Time
20. Bank Robber (A-side)
21. Rockers Galore On A UK Tour (B-side)
1. Magnificent Dance (12”) 5:36 (available on Singles box set)
2. Midnight To Stevens (Outtake)
3. Radio One (B-side Hitsville UK)
4. Stop The World (B-side The Call Up)
5. The Cool Out (US 12” B-side of The Call Up)
6. This Is Radio Clash (A-side)
7. This Is Radio Clash (B-side 7” – different lyrics)
8. First Night Back In London (B-side Know Your Rights)
9. Rock The Casbah (Bob Clearmountain 12” mix)
10. Long Time Jerk (B-side Rock The Casbah)
11. The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too (Outtake)
12. Idle In Kangaroo Court (Outtake listed as Kill Time)
13. Ghetto Defendant (Extended version – unedited)
14. Cool Confusion (B-side Should I Stay Or Should I Go 7”)
15. Sean Flynn (Extended ‘Marcus Music’ version)
16. Straight To Hell (Extended unedited version from Clash On Broadway)
Extracts from The Clash’s first ever recording session at Beaconsfield Film School 1976. Recorded by Julien Temple
1. I’m So Bored With The USA
2. London’s Burning
3. White Riot
Polydor Demos – The Clash’s second recording session January 1977
Produced by Guy Stevens
5. Janie Jones
6. Career Opportunities
7. London’s Burning
9. White Riot
Live at The Lyceum, London 28th December 1979
10. City Of The Dead
11. Jail Guitar Doors
12. English Civil War
13. Stay Free
15. I Fought The Law
Julien Temple Archive – 6:20
White Riot Interview – 7:10
Promo and interviews with Tony Parsons
White Riot 1:48
London’s Burning 2:05
Sussex University 1977
I’m So Bored With The USA 2:14
Hate & War 1:94
Career Opportunities 1:42
Remote Control 2:73
Don Letts Super 8 Medley 11:40
White Riot 1:52
Janie Jones 1:73
City of the Dead 2:04
Clash City Rockers 2:15
White Man in Hammersmith Palais 2:53
Clash On Broadway – 19:50
This Is Radio Clash
The Magnificent Seven
Guns Of Brixton
Safe European Home
Tommy Gun 3:00
London Calling 3:20
Clampdown (Live) 5:00
Train In Vain (Live) 2:10
The Call Up 3:10
Rock The Casbah 3:20
Should I Stay Or Should I Go (Live at Shea Stadium) 2:50
Career Opportunities (Live at Shea Stadium) 3:00
I’d imagine beyond the posters and buttons it is these four discs that will make people’s minds up as to the overall value of the boxset. I’m keen to see the Don Letts footage along with Sussex University footage in particular. The more I peruse this list the more I wish I had the cash or a willing sponsor at Sony Music. Are you listening Sony?
Of course it looks cool, from the box itself to the extras and the sleeves I think perhaps all of that extra shine helped drive costs up. Is that punk? Well you can debate that yourselves, as I’ve written endlessly The Clash were a great rock band that evolved in the punk era. We’re not going to get London Calling or Sandinista! value in 2013 whether we like it or not. However I do think you need to compare the pricing in different markets and with other existing box sets by other artists.
Extras: I’ve bought a good number of boxsets in the past and my primary motivation has always been the music, the particulary hard to find tracks or unreleased versions. I know some people get excited by stickers, badges and posters and the boxset offers a lot in that direction if that’s your thing. New republished copies of The Armagideon Times parts I & II are also appealing as is the new part III which might be fascinating to collectors.
Variations: Again more than you can probably stomach today such as digital versions and studio albums only but I will get to it I promise, so I’ll save that for the weekend too. The US version from the official site does include a signed print (by Mick, Paul and Topper) which does sound very cool, especially for those with nothing autographed.
Thanks for letting me ramble, I’m trying to sort out all of the details and I’m sure the band spent a long time putting this together so I wish the marketing was a bit more polished especially concerning the pricing. The other topic that I don’t have time for today is the band finally putting to rest the notion of them playing live ‘as The Clash’ at any point. While I never thought it wise nor likely this should kill the speculation for once and for all with all three being in the same room at the same time giving the same answer. As Topper said ‘nobody can replace Joe’.
Your comments are welcome as I’m by no means the authority on all of this.