Robin Williams famously said cocaine was God’s way of telling you you’re making too much money. He might just as easily been referring to vinyl box sets, which are unashamedly a luxury item.
The last U2 box set was priced so highly even Bono couldn’t afford it. Box sets are so expensive, in the last ten years British politicians have put more “moat repairs” on their expenses claims than they have “vinyl box sets”.
There’s currently a seller of Japanese vinyl box sets on Amazon offering a Rolling Stones 1964-1969 vinyl box set for £1,912.
1964-1969? Nearly two grand? For a Rolling Stones box set without Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street? To make that price even more obscene it does include the semi-abysmal “Satanic Majesties..”, surely an album that reduces the price of any collection it appears in.
For that much money I’d want the full set, plus access to Keith Richards’ “medicine cabinet”…
Elsewhere on Amazon there’s an Iron Maiden four disc box set from Brazil for the “knock down” price of £1,300. Surely it should be no more than £666…?
And then there’s a 4 disc version of Beck’s Odelay box set on offer for a bargain £1,166 which equates to nearly £300 per record.
All as mad as a box of frogs. I can only assume it is some kind of mind control: prices set so high that when punters see a box set priced at £150 they think it is a comparative bargain. Expect the next Muse album to address this possible conspiracy theory. In their own handsomely bound and insanely priced vinyl box set, of course…
Is it fair that such items are unaffordable, or worse, difficult to explain to an already sceptical spouse? Nothing can strain a relationship more when the kids are running around in rags and with holes in their shoes than a knock on the door from Amazon with a parcel containing a seven-disc set of lost ’90s out-takes by Adam Ant, with extras including exclusive face paint (with instructions) and a pirate’s hat.
Not everyone can afford such luxury and exclusivity.
Because it does feel like a splendid opportunity to bring luxury to the masses…
Here’s what I’m thinking…
Neil Young perhaps invented the deluxe vinyl box set when he released his triple album retrospective, containing all manner of rarities, called “Decade” in the seventies.
And now we have the latest Neil Young vinyl box set. It is a luxurious item.
We know it is luxurious because it is described with the following luxurious-sounding words and phrases:
- Limited Edition
- 180 gram black vinyl
- Individually Numbered
- “Each jacket has been painstakingly reproduced”
There’s even a YouTube video where they take the albums out of the box and tell you they used “the last printer in America that can do this kind of work”.
Get in the sea with you!
The box has the snappy title of “Official Release Series Discs 5-8” which suggests the marketing department lost an argument with a bureaucrat. Inside are lavish recreations of Young’s crucial “Ditch Trilogy” plus follow up album “Zuma”. The box set will set you back £114, which the keen mathematicians amongst you will know equates to £28.50 per album. And what’s more, by all accounts the sleeve to “Tonight’s The Night” has a design fault which means it comes unglued when you open the gatefold.
So that’s a lot of cash for just four albums, one of which falls apart when you first hold it.
And here’s the thing.
They don’t need to reproduce anything. Why? Because it all still already exists in vast quantities.
And what’s more: it doesn’t cost all that much…
What if we could give punters the feeling of owning a luxurious box set, of playing all that beautiful vinyl, looking at all the added extras, but not charge the earth? Surely we might be able to source the contents of the box set for less money? All it would then take is to knock up a box to put them in. That might be the tricky bit given my non-existent craft skills – but it’s an opportunity to get my kids involved, if that doesn’t breach employment laws.
We can then add a few bits of tut (sorry, “bonus features”) that these box sets usually have inside, like a replica ticket stub or an old article in Mojo Magazine that’ll sub for liner notes, perhaps a discarded cigarette butt of the brand that Neil Young once smoked or a replica of an empty packet of crisps he nearly looked at in 1976.
We’ll think of something…
So there it is. The next few posts will look at Neil Young, and my attempts to create the perfect Neil Young Deluxe Vinyl Box Set: The DIY Edition.
And here’s the twist: at the end of this little adventure, if I am successful (because as I write this I have none of the albums in hand – this is all going to take place in real time) and should you so wish, you can even buy the Neil Young Deluxe Vinyl Box Set: DIY Edition, because I’m going to offer it for sale on eBay. Any profits can go to charity.
There are going to be a few challenges to overcome on the journey:
1. Buying good copies of the albums cheaply.
2. Re-creating a box that will give that “luxury” feeling despite my having no suitable skills or qualifications for such a task.
3. Finding suitable bonus features, memorabilia, extras etc.
And of course…
4. Finding someone who would want to buy the thing…
Wish me luck….
You can help: Do you have an old ticket stub, newspaper clipping or other vaguely “memorabilia” type item featuring Neil Young we could put in the box set? If so, please get in touch below or via Twitter
Next time: Part 2: Will Finding The Albums Really Be That Easy…?