Crate Diggers?

Put the expression "crate-diggers" into any sentence and it will catch my eye. The Warner Music Group has launched Run Out Groove, a new fan-driven, vinyl-only label that is going to let the public, or more accurately the crate-diggers among us, choose which records from the WMG trove of labels this new label will release. WMG, don't forget, owns the catalogs of Atlantic, Warner Bros., Reprise, Elektra, Sire, and Rykodisc, so the choices here are nearly endless.

According to WMG publicist Chris Macowski, the material to be voted on will either be unreleased tracks, out-of-print records, or new collections compiled from the WMG vaults. The albums that win the vote will be issued in individually numbered, multi-colored, 180gm vinyl copies that will be pressed in the Netherlands at Record Industry and put into printed lyric inner sleeves and a UV or aqueous gloss tip-on jackets from Stoughton Printing in California. The records will be available for 30 days through online pre-orders at the label website. After that they will be available at participating retailers who can also be found on the website. Macowski confirms that if you vote, you are not obligated to buy a copy of whatever record wins.

The first record to be released, though it wasn't chosen by fans, was The Motor City Five by the MC5. While it has sold out at the website, that title may still be found in stores. The second title, this time voted in by vinyl enthusiasts and currently available for pre-order, is It's All Live Now by Echo & the Bunnymen.

Most intriguing are the next slate of candidates, which can be voted on immediately at the above website. The three choices, all from different genres, are Solomon Burke's Best of Atlantic Soul 1962–1965, Secret Machines' Now Here Is Nowhere, and Golden Smog's Down By The Old Mainstream. It will be fascinating to see how fast the choices at Run Out Groove get interesting . . .or not.

Anon2's picture

While not a vinyl guy, I'm not the only one who welcomes any efforts republish works from these labels, particularly if they include the 1980s.

CD and vinyl sales, while showing a declining trajectory in sales, probably track only sales of newly issued, or reprinted, media to the public through retail outlets. Meanwhile, through Amazon, Half Price Books, FYE, and independent sellers, there's a vast bazaar of used sales taking place each weekend. Go to the Half Price Books in my neighborhood; there's often 10 people going through the CD and vinyl section.

That being said, the new issues described here will be welcome by collectors. In the last year, I have purchased CDs of Madonna's first album (Sire), the Thompson Twins "Into the Gap" (Arista), Cock Robin and Toto (CBS/Columbia). Two of these labels are others, but the epoch is the same.

I often think that I overlooked just what a great epoch the 1980s were for music. I'll wade into controversy and state that much of the pop today, while heralded as the "latest and greatest," has its roots in the 1980s. Maybe this exists because many kids today were not around when "Echo and the Bunnymen" rose to fame. But if these youths, and those of us who have been around longer, rediscover these tracks, so much the better.

Whether in new issues, online, or in the crate digging splendor, the unequalled pop/new-wave/ska/mod/punk of the 1980s, whatever you want to call it, lives on, if only through the used market. Now, we find a wise decision to get some new issues out there, as originals get harder to find.

"New" CD and vinyl sales may look bad on a graph of "official" sales. This does not tell the story of the vast and robust market for used music that, from my vantage point, does very well in my area at least.

Now let's enjoy "The Killing Moon" by Echo and the Bunnymen:

And here's a Saturday encore, "Love will Tear us Apart" by the Joy Division, viewed 24,343,213 times in Youtube:

And how about one more and then I'll quit. Since this reissue announcement includes Warner, here's a band that on its own would justify the reissues on vinyl of music of the 1980s:

rskuras's picture seeing the favorite band of my youth front and center on the Stereophile home page. I literally had to rub my eyes to make sure I wasn't misreading. Ian, Will, Les and Pete were my crew.

Ian and Will still tour as E&TB; seen them three times in the last few years. Great stuff.

HJC001's picture

whenever i hear/read someone complain that the 80s had little "good" music, i just nod and ignore because . . . witness Echo and the Bunnymen, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Ministry, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Meat Beat Manifesto, Front 242, New Order, and many, many others. Feel like watchin' Sid and Nancy now.