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15 April, 2005

Variant overload

The following comment on an earlier posting was received last night:

"I would just like to say that I am getting fed up of PT releasing various permutations of the current and back catalogue just to rake the pennies in.  Are you?
I think that as being a fan for over twelve years, myself and all the other long term fans deserve better."
To answer your question: absolutely not.

This topic has arisen at the Porcupine Tree Forum so often that responses tend to begin "Stop whinging...", and I'd forgotten I hadn't discussed it here.

Firstly, your slightly insulting ascription of motive is simply bogus. The release of multiple versions isn't about fleecing fans for every penny – it's not solely about making money. P-Tree, alongside all of Steven Wilson's projects, has always been a band indulging collectors: those who, like SW himself, love to spend hours in record stores (off- and online) hunting down that elusive yellow vinyl edition of 'Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape' (actually, black vinyl's rarer), or whatever. Such editions have been released for as long as SW has been making his music available for sale. In many cases, releases have been made pretty much 'at cost', so allegations of exploitation are over-emotive rubbish.

The essential point is that no-one is obliged to buy anything. If you're a collector, and you like that sort of thing, it's available. If you aren't, you can simply ignore the 'superfluous' ones. I do. My only complaint is when music is only made available on very limited editions, such as SW's 'UEM v.1'. So long as the music is available to as many people as want it, extra releases duplicating the same content in different formats don't matter to me. A new one could be released every week, for all I care.

I presume this comment was triggered by the numerous versions of 'Deadwing' that have been and are to be released. At the latest count, there'll be a CD, a CD+DVD (not DVD-A), a DVD-A, a CD single (Europe-only), a download single (USA only), a LP on black vinyl and an LP on red vinyl. However, as SW has personally confirmed, those who are only concerned about obtaining all the music (album tracks plus bonus material) only 'need' to buy the CD, the CD single and the DVD-A.
The US bonus track, 'She's Moved On', is merely a re-recording of a song from 2000 with no relevance to the new album, so wasn't included on the European CD in accordance with SW's wishes. If anyone absolutely has to have it, a) while you're getting it, get a life, too, and b) it can be downloaded from numerous online retailers for under £1.
There's no need to buy either CD-only edition, in fact – with a little patience, the special edition (the CD in improved packaging, with a 'free' DVD) includes the same content. I've no sympathy for anyone buying the European CD on 28 March/4 April then wanting the special edition on 26 April. It was well known that there would be a special edition, which would incorporate the same material, so why not wait? The only people losing out in this situation are the "gottahaveitNOW!" obsessives.

Some have suggested that the variants should be combined into one, definitive edition containing everything, and have 'strongly' (i.e. presumptuously and rudely) complained that the special edition isn't it. Quite apart from this contradicting SW's preferred ethos, something many complainants don't realise is that some releases are from entirely different companies, and there's simply no possibility of crossover. See my earlier posting.

SW is a perfectionist, and revisionist. If he wants to go back to early albums and replace the programmed drums, or finally achieve a tracklist he'd always intended but which was technically problematic in the early 90s, or widen the availability of previously rare recordings (largely to beat eBay pirates), that's his prerogative. I repeat: if you don't want to buy something, you don't have to. A childish attitude of "Gotta have 'em all! Want! Want! Waa!" isn't SW's problem.

Finally, I totally disagree that long-term fans 'deserve' anything whatsoever. There are no debts involved, no gratitude owed.


I have just read your reply regarding my comments relating to PT raking the pennies in.

I would like to point out that after reading my comments, they do seem to be rather harsh. I never meant to offend anyone.

I am a collector of PT music and as such am not interested in owning everything that they release, especially if a release completely duplicates tracks that I have.

My comments were based on the re-release of the back-catalogue LP's which contained additional versions of already released songs. My anger was based on that to obtain these singles, I would have to spend another 30.00 or more per LP. Value for money, I think not, therefore I have not purchased these albums.

When I found out that once again various releases were being issued relating to the Deadwing campaign, I felt that I had to say something.

I don't actually have a problem with multiple releases, just that most of them have unissued tracks which means spending a fortune.

Posted by Robert Atkin at May 8, 2005 11:28 PM
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