Replica for a Heavyweight

Will EMI's remastering of 11 classic albums with the original packaging on CD and 180-gram vinyl make you buy your favorite records one more (last?) time?

My only experience listening to his records was with a girl named Alicia, whom I dated off and on for a good year and a half. Since I'd always been involved with girls who were really passionate about music like me, I decided to go with a girl who didn't get all worked up about records. That way, when we did break up, it wouldn't ruin a huge chunk of great music for me. The only records I could remember Alicia owning and occasionally playing were really dull things like Ambrosia, Gentle Giant, the Little River Band, and Bob Seger. This was perfect! Whenever we'd get together, we'd play her dull records.

Eventually, I got curious and borrowed Live Bullet, which seemed like the biggest collection of Chuck Berry perversions all gathered in one place, discounting Berry Park. Bullet also contained the song that's been every working musician's misfortune to hear when he's loading out gear after a show -- the thoroughly depressing "Turn the Page." Seger actually plops that downer five songs into the set, and it's like trying to get over the Kennedy assassination for the remainder of the record.

I always regretted not being nicer to Alicia. We used to fight a lot, and when she stormed out for good, I remember making sure to throw her rotten albums out after her. Not being nuts about them in the first place, she never returned to collect them. It was a week before I finally brought them back inside, and by then, Night Moves, which had been left to bake outside without a sleeve, had melted into an attractive beveled bowl shape. One of the neighbors must've helped himself to Live Bullet,but I've been trying to unload the Gentle Giant and Ambrosia records at secondhand stores ever since.

Between the buttons, behind the zipper: EMI's reissue of the Stones' Sticky Fingers offers a brief encounter with Andy Warhol's legendary cover art.
Between the buttons, behind the zipper: EMI's reissue of the Stones' Sticky Fingers offers a brief encounter with Andy Warhol's legendary cover art.

The Rolling Stones
Some Girls (1978)

As for Some Girls, it's still at my parents' house in New York with a bunch of other quasi-valuable records I left there for safekeeping. I recall rushing out to buy Some Girls when I heard the cover had been withdrawn and people were saying the original cover was gonna be as rare as the Beatles' "Butcher" cover. Or at least it would have been if a million people and their uncles hadn't already rushed out to buy it. All this fuss because celebrities like Joey Heatherton and Raquel Welch, whose careers could really use the exposure now, objected to being pictured on the inside sleeve. And what was the deal with deleting Marilyn Monroe's face? It's plastered everywhere anyway. Why couldn't the "Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World" secure her used-to-death likeness? They just didn't care. Instead, they plastered "Pardon Our Appearance" graphics over every pictured celebrity, even "Some Guys" like Lee Majors and Henry Fonda. The only celebrity whose face wasn't removed to be on the safe side was George Harrison. No third revised cover ever appeared, which really burned the collectors who snapped up all eight color variations of the "Cover Under Construction" cover in the hopes that this interim façade would be the most valuable. Nowadays, either original vinyl version in the best condition will only garner you a mere 10 bucks. Not even enough to buy a copy of Lynyrd Skynyrd's flaming Street Survivors.

Roxy Music
Avalon (1982)

I purposely filed my Diana Ross and the Supremes anthology under "R" because I suspected Bryan Ferry was still carrying a torch for Jerri Hall, and I wanted to keep "Roxy" and "Rolling Stones" separated out of respect. The press release calls this album one of the great "soundtracks to seduction," but to me it's always been an album about missing a girl. It's no coincidence that it's probably the only Roxy cover not to feature a gorgeous babe on the front, just some old soldier holding his bird. "The Space Between" and "The Main Thing" are great songs for practicing detached looks and avoiding eye contact at parties. "More Than This" just makes me mope over whatever relationship I just screwed up -- for days on end. I got rid of my copy because my mother heard me play it once and said it was pretty and nice, two adjectives she never reserved for any girl I ever brought home.

R.E.M.
Document(1987)

As fine as it is, Document really doesn't belong in this series since it came out in 1987, two years after the compact disc was introduced. Although vinyl was still widely available, crummy prerecorded cassettes were outselling it. If you really want to blame someone for the end of the LP as we knew it, blame those Walkman enthusiasts who were too lazy to tape their own albums. EMI should've punished them by reissuing Documenton cassette only, with all the tape hiss they probably enjoyed remastered back in. And as for "original packaging," how about those infinite folding J-cards that required a degree in engineering to stuff back into the shell case? My original copy? Ha! I taped it off a friend, proving that home piracy really was killing music!

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