The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Monday, January 14, 2008

To Go: Stick It In Your Ear

1-14-08 To Go: Stick It In Your Ear

In 2006, Universal Records did the unthinkable – they made low-priced CD EP’s (usually 6 songs) in minimal packaging – a “cut-to-the-chase” ‘best of’ disc for iPod users. I am going to go out on a limb and say that the discs probably aren’t copy-guarded.

I found two of these titles in a $1 bin – Louis Armstrong and Astrud Gilberto. The Armstrong title is damned near everything one could ever want to drop into a mix-tape – a crisp stereo copy of “What A Wonderful World”, the hit version of “Hello Dolly” – and if those two aren’t enough, there’s also a version of “When The Saints Go Marching In” – and three songs I do not remember, as I sit here at work typing this. The Astrud Gilberto is also bare bones – but has some great stuff – a song from a Stan Getz / Antonio Carlos Jobim album that she sang etc.

The aforementioned packaging is really minimal – paper sleeve, no inner-sleeve, “Save As” graphics on the front, a brief paragraph about the artist on the back and the song titles – plus the usual Universal legal mumbo jumbo. But you get the 6 songs that “sum up” the artist for almost nothing.

I wonder if they did this series in Europe too? If they did, they might’ve done some artists that I really like (and collect), such as 10cc, Level 42 or Yello. I know that when Universal Europe started doing cheap DVD’s, they made a swank Level 42 one.

For Astrud Gilberto, I have a smattering of stuff – a few LP’s and a Japanese “Best Of” CD, so I really didn’t need her “To Go: Stick It In Your Ear” CD – but I will be keeping it as an example of the format. I had a bit more use for the Louis Armstrong; I only had a (Japanese) 45 of “What A Wonderful World”, I didn’t have a clean copy of “Hello Dolly” at all – and most of the vinyl I have on Mr. Armstrong is of pre-modern recordings – from the 20’s and 30’s (of the previous century). But now I have a digital Louis Armstrong collection!

It is interesting to see Universal courting iPod users, targeting them, as it were. I wonder how many of these “To Go: Stcik It In Your Ear” CD’s there are? Ooh, if they did Motown ones, I could get rid of a lot of a lot of CD’s & vinyl, I bet. Often, I find myself owning a 2CD set for an artist just because the single I want isn’t on the single disc “Best Of” (i.e. The Temptations’ “Ball Of Confusion”).

Speaking of Universal, I rather like their “Millennium Masters – 20th Century Collection” (or thereabouts) – nice 12 track collections that usually get right to the point. As all of them were originated in 1999/2000 (mostly), the collections tend to pick up singles sometimes not found on the original 70’s/80’s “Best of”. Well, I find these things in a $3 bin – so I am not bothered. We’re not talking artists that I totally love and collect – merely ones that it’s good to have a CD “Best Of”.

Thanks for the music, Universal. Now make your front-line CD’s $10 (or less).


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Weird. I should get put more to "real" music stores, but I never set foot in them, usually. The indie stores I usually stop at would not have these. So you got them in a dollar bin. That doesn't count.

What was the original retail of these? $4.98? That sounds fair. But if Universal were REALLY courting iPod users, these collections would be on iTunes. But as we all know, Universal is angry at Apple for picking a flat price point of $0.99/track [that has made them the no. 3 retailer of music] when Universal wants to charge more for "their" music. This is their attempt at an end run around Apple and according to The Register:

It looks like the pricing is not such a good deal for 6 cuts.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

I would still like to see a discography of all "To Go: Stick It In Your Ear" titles. If the Motown titles were done right, I could trade in a large amount of LP's & CD's.

7:12 PM  

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