Anniversary Reissues — an Expensive Experience.

There’s obviously a new generation of music fans who are buying vinyl records and weren’t around when some historic albums were origianllly released. And a there’s a large group of old fogies like me who were around but have worn out their original copies (or, again, like me, sold much of their original vinyl) and record companies have not beeb slow in realising these markets and producing anniversary reissues of old favourites — and in many cases reissuing albums that weren’t greatly appreciated when originally released but have become cult items. Many of the reissues are released on variously coloured vinyl, so collectors might have to buy several clopies.

I don’t know when the anniversary reissues forst arrrived. I suppose you could say it was when CDs arrived in the early eighties and vinyl albums were tranferred to the digital format. I remember the posters advertising the release of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band CD in 1987 used the “It was 20 years ago today” byeline. Could that have been one of the first “anniversary” reissues?

But 25th, 40th, 45th, 50th anniversary issues now appear with shocking regularity and are often in the form of expanded editions in box sets. Viz. The Velvet Underground & Nico‘s 45th anniversary 6CD box (one of th efirst I fell for) and the 2017 Sgt. Pepper release on single LP, double LP and four CD box set (I fell for these as well.) Lavish boxed sets of each of the Led Zeppelin albums (which tempted me, but I was strong) and many others.

But there’s a newer phenomenon; 10th and 15th anniversary reissues. I’ve just fallen for the 15th anniversary reissues of Malcolm Middleton’s A Brighter Beat album with its David Shrigley covers. I already have the origianal both on vinyl and CD (two different covers) and signed up for the promised 15th anniversary issues when they were announced in the autumn of 2021. Release was, however delayed until May. The “standard” reissue was a limited edition of 1000 copies on clear vinyl and then there is a “Dinked” edition of 500 copies on silver vinyl with a differend Shrigley cover (the same design as was used on the original CD.)

And now I’ve just “invested” in a 20th anniversary reissue of The Promise’s Believer LP, originally pressed on clear vinyl (100 copies) or red vinyl (900 copies) and now repressed on purple vinyl (200 copies). This 2002 album featured a very early reworking of Banksy’s I Fought the Law artwork on its cover and has become a collector’s item because of its cover.

Many, if not the majority, of these anniversary reissues are limited editions and have become collectible in their own right. I realise that it is great that out of print albums are being rereleased so that a new group of listeners can hear them on pristine vinyl, but I can’t decide if it is just a marketing jippo tat has sucked me in.