Have the London office call the Nashville office. Please.

by

February 20, 2007

Nary a month ago, I reported with mixed feelings that Sony BMG was reissuing three Dolly Parton albums from the 1970′s – Jolene, Coat of Many Colors and My Tennesee Mountain Home – with bonus tracks. The first two have been reissued on CD before, and while Mountain home hasn’t been issued domestically, it was paired with Jolene on a 2-for-1 CD in England. Even better, Coat was paired with Joshua, another Parton classic that hasn’t seen release stateside.

I have two issues with this that I’ll revisit again, if you don’t feel like clicking through to my original rant:

1. Dolly Parton’s albums are short enough to be able to fit two on one CD, so even with bonus tracks, a full-price CD that runs thirty minutes or so is a waste.

and

2. With so much of this legend’s catalog not currently available, it’s ridiculous to be doling out unreleased tracks before the ones that were actually released.

So what do I discover while working on the Coming Soon feature today?

The U.K. branch of BMG is releasing six(!) Dolly Parton albums on three CD’s on March 8, none of which have been reissued on CD to date:

All I Can Do/New Harvest…First Gathering

Great Balls of Fire/Dolly, Dolly, Dolly

Burlap & Satin/Real Love

That’s right. Six albums, three CD’s, one release date. Even taking into account that these are imports, Amazon’s charging $13.99 per CD. That works out to $7.00 per album, which is an awesome deal. Compare that to the $11.98 that the new set of Dolly reissues in the U.S. are going for, even though they have only one album per CD, and you can figure out why I’m so frustrated. Sure, they’re Dolly’s pop-era albums, but I’d rather buy her lesser albums that I don’t have than spend twelve bucks for a classic I already own to get one bonus track.

Let me be clear. When I’m a fan, I’m a fan. The artists that I like, I want to own everything of. For the artists that I grew up with, that’s pretty easy. Even though some of those albums have gone out of print, I bought them when they came out, and used CD’s from the nineties are easy to find. I even found a way to get Above & Beyond the Doll of Cutey transferred to CD – I’m willing to bet I have more music by Pam Tillis than she does.

But as for the legends before my time? You can’t even find the vinyl cheap anymore, and you shouldn’t have to. Digital distribution has removed barriers. The limitations of vinyl and cassette and compact disc and manufacturing are all gone. With country sales and record sales in general in the crapper, now is the time for labels to tend to their catalog in a meaningful way, rather than just selling us the same old thing with a bonus track or two.

There’s a great debate going on over at The 9513 regarding the uselesness of hits collections with new tracks, and I think it’s just as relevant when dealing with reissues. Music is too accessible now for consumers to settle for music they already own in a nice new package. Give me something worth my money, or I’m going to spend it somewhere else. That my Dolly dollars are going to London instead of Nashville shows just how much the U.S. labels are screwing up their own catalog management.

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Category: Miscellaneous Musings

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  1. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    These will be good value for money but I wouldn’t describe any of the six as “essential Dolly Parton”. I have all of these albums (on vinyl) and I rarely pull any of them out . Dolly’s earlier stuff is much better, and at some point in the future Dolly would regrroup and start putting out better albums again

  2. KevinNo Gravatar says:

    I fully agree. I would pay Bear Family money for all of Dolly’s early RCA work on CD, but it’s ridiculous to me that RCA keeps reissuing the same damn albums stateside. This is going to be the third time “Jolene” is issued on CD already. Give me a 2-CD set of Dolly unreleased tracks and I’ll buy it, but stop force feeding me music I already have to get the stuff I don’t. There’s supposedly an Emmylou Harris rarities box set coming out this summer, so maybe it will provide a blueprint for future collections by other artists.

  3. MichaelNo Gravatar says:

    I agree 100% with the entire Dolly/U.S. issue!!! I am glad that Europe is putting out the Dolly (2 on 1) c.d.’s However, I do wish they would go in order… They skipped two very important titles: The Great Pretender and Heartbreak Express. Yes, I know the Great Pretender was on c.d. back in 84′, but only for a limited time. Besides, I would rather have both of these titles on one c.d. and remastered than to have the original Great Pretender.

    I agree also 100% about the U.S. reissuing the same titles again and again!!! For instance: Love Songs, The Best of, The Very Best of, Gold, Essential, Encore, Super Hits, The Collection, Artist covering Artist, and etc… How many times are these U.S. distributers going to rename the same artists old material with a different cover and title? Do they really think we are this stupid???
    The above really makes me mad regarding another country artist “Juice Newton”. We have all of the above titles on this artist. All of her original 80′s albums (which only include seven c.d.’s) have been put on the format of c.d. except for 1 title: “Dirty Looks”. Then Raven Records released a ridiculous (2 on 1) c.d. of “Juice” & “Quiet Lies”, which have BOTH already been released on c.d. before, and they did NOTHING with “Dirty Looks”.
    I went to Amazon, and they have over 20 compilations of Juice Newton, but no company has ever released “Dirty Looks”. What surprises me even more is how do you get this many compilations with only seven releases? Why not just release “Dirty Looks” onto c.d. for the fans and as a tribute to the artist… People want the entire catalog of an artist at least offered… What is the point of a reissue
    if your not going to do the whole catalog?
    So, it doen’t matter if your a Dolly fan or Juice fan, the same old thing is happening… People are wanting older titles from our favorite artists, not the new stuff or another compilation, but the older titles!!! If BMG/Germany can release: The Great Pretender & Heartbreak Express, then at least they finished what they started…

  4. KevinNo Gravatar says:

    I’m with ya. I’d like to see them go back and do the early-mid 70′s albums, too. It’s ridiculous that an artist of her stature has anything out of print. At least make it all available digitally.

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