Every once in a while, we see an artist having enough balls to speak out against some sort overpriced/contractually-obligated release of their music – usually a product fueled by sheer record label greed/desperation. When it’s not done after the release, it’s even cooler. Such was the case recently, as Elvis Costello decided to call out the ridiculous $200+ price tag for The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook, a limited-edition live album containing nothing more than a CD, a DVD, a 10″ vinyl and a booklet.
Mr. Costello posted a tongue-in-cheek message on his site (thanks to Stereogum for the tip), expressing just how displeased with the pricing of the release he was. Firstly, he mentioned that the package is actually good, claiming that the performance contained within the live album finds he and his band “in rare form”, while the DVD “blueprints the wilder possibilities of the show.” However, things get much more interesting from there on:
Unfortunately, we at www.elviscostello.com find ourselves unable to recommend this lovely item to you as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire. All our attempts to have this number revised have been fruitless but rather than detain you with tedious arguments about morality, panache and book-keeping – when there are really bigger fish to filet these days – we are taking the following unusual step.
For those still keen on spending some hard-earned cash on tangible music, Mr. Costello was kind enough to share a great piece of advice:
If you should really want to buy something special for your loved one at this time of seasonal giving, we can whole-heartedly recommend, “Ambassador Of Jazz” – a cute little imitation suitcase, covered in travel stickers and embossed with the name “Satchmo” but more importantly containing TEN re-mastered albums by one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived – Louis Armstrong. The box should be available for under one hundred and fifty American dollars and includes a number of other tricks and treats. Frankly, the music is vastly superior.
As if disowning the release of The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook wasn’t enough, the statement, already bursting through the roof with sarcasm, was closed with the following words: If on the other hand you should still want to hear and view the component parts of the above mentioned elaborate hoax, then those items will be available separately at a more affordable price in the New Year, assuming that you have not already obtained them by more unconventional means. One look at the post’s title (“Steal This Record“), and the message becomes crystal-clear.
Elvis Costello’s attitude here is applause-worthy. Although die-hard fans are still likely to sell-out this limited-edition release (we’d hope not), he probably pissed off quite a few record label execs with the rant, and gave the crowd some much-appreciated transparency on how insane album prices can still be. Plus, he reminded us of just how right Trent Reznor was four years ago.