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2010: Classic Rock Record Collector's Year In Review

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It was an interesting year for fans of the old guard. As time passes, our beloved dinosaurs are being forced to adapt or die, in an environment in which their only property of value - material recorded a long time ago - is no longer so easy to sell for a profit. They have responded by creating box-set packages large and gaudy enough to appear to be worth something. Most of them are loading up not with hours of unheard music, but elaborate booklets and perhaps a vinyl copy you may or may not need, ratcheting up the price without adding much musical content. Used to be if you spent $75 or more on a box set, you had a full week’s worth of listening ahead of you. Now, you may just have the same admittedly classic material in a couple of formats, a handful of extra music, and maybe a smidgen of of video content that’s likely to end up being broadcast on VH1 anyway. Buyers are encouraged to use discretion before spending large in the current climate.

Perhaps the ultimate example of this new form of marketing came with the Rolling Stones’ multiple re-releases of the 1972 album Exile on Main Street. Most people would opt for the standard, two-disc set containing the remastered original album plus bonus tracks for around $25. But heavy collectors who wanted to go the extra mile had to plunk down eighty bucks more for the super-deluxe edition, which adds double vinyl, an extra- nice book, and a thirty-minute DVD containing roughly ten minutes of footage from Robert Frank’s C---sucker Blues and brief excerpts of some other commonly available material. That extra $80 is a hell of a premium for an enlarged book, half an hour of video, most of which can be purchased separately in complete form, and vinyl that’s going to sit unplayed on a lot of shelves.