Triple Played: Knopler’s label woes
Mark Knopfler’s new release, “Privateering,” is a perfect example of part of what is inherently wrong with the music industry.
Because of a dispute with his American label, Warner Bros. Records, Knopfler had to release his new disc out of England on Mercury Records. Knopfler wanted to release a two-CD set and Warner Bros. wanted a single disc because record labels are very resistant to double records because they think they are harder to sell.
With CD sales declining, it is not hard to understand Warner Bros.’ point of view. However, I don’t think they spent a whole lot of time considering the artist in this case.
Through history there have been a number of great double LP or CD releases. The Beatles’ “White Album” comes to mind first followed by the Allman Brothers’ “Live at Fillmore re East” and “Eat a Peach.”
Other great two-LP sets include: Jimi Hendrix, “Electric Ladyland”; The Who, “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia”; Chicago, “Chicago Transit Authority” and “Chicago II”; Genesis, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”; Stevie Wonder, “Songs in the Key of Life”; Santana, “Live at the Fillmore East 1968”; and Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper, “The Live Adventures Of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper.”
Part of Knopfler agreeing to release his new recording on CD was his input on how it was released. There are the original double CD and LP sets. There is a three-CD set with the third disc containing five live tracks from the 2011 tour. There is a two-CD set plus a DVD on the making of “Privateering.” Finally, there is an all-inclusive set containing three CDs, one DVD and two LPs.
We have been only able to acquire the double- and triple-CD set at Triple Play Records in spite of our efforts to acquire the other configurations.
According to my sales rep Jody at Alliance Entertainment Corp., the reason we can only get certain configurations of the release is because it is imported and it is at the mercy of customs and its agents. She has heard of music sitting on the docks at customs for two to three weeks before they are allowed to ship it to the one-stop for distribution. Jody says she always cringes when she sees a popular new release only available as an import. Another problem with the music industry.
“Privateering” is in a long line of great releases from one of my very favorite musicians. The 20 tracks are on two discs and are a blend of classic Knopfler tunes mixed with jazz, blues, folk, Celtic and, in the case of a couple of songs, serenades. Kim Wilson from the Fabulous Thunderbirds plays harmonica on several tracks. Trumpets, accordions, pennywhistles and bagpipes appear throughout the recording.
When I first start listening to a new record, certain songs stick out. As I listen to the record more, other songs will stand out, especially if it is an above average record. My favorite songs right now on “Privateering” are “Yon Two Crows,” “Today is Okay,” “Radio City Serenade,” “Privateering,” “Seattle,” “After the Beanstalk,” “Miss You Blues” and “Blood and Water.”
“Privateering” is way above average, as are all of Knopfler’s records, and one that is well worth owning in spite of it being a double CD and what the big wigs at Warner Bros. Records think.