Universal UK has launched LostTunes.com a deep catalog destination powered by 7Digital that according to the site focuses on “uncovering exclusives and hidden gems…Alongside the rarities, we’ve also picked what we think are unmissable albums for you to add to your collection, and we’ve pulled together articles and reviews to help you discover music that we know you’ll love”
At first blush, this is great news, assuming those of us in the Colonies can make purchases. There is simply no reason for a lot of music to be unavailable in this day and age–I don’t want to tell you how much I’ve paid for one or two of the out-of-print CDs in my collection, because I’m embarrassed, but trust me, it was a lot. Digital downloads are the obvious answer, and I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of this to date.
But browsing the site (which is just getting started and doesn’t have all that much, yet), a red flag was immediately raised. They offer the great New York Dolls album Too Much Too Soon, which is in print only in a limited edition from Hip-O Select and likely to be out-of-print soon.
But what’s this? “Stranded in the Jungle (alternate version).”
Now, who wants to download this classic record and get some no-doubt inferior alternate version in place of the original? I’ve seen this gimmick before, namely on “Down at the Rock and Roll Club” from the CD release of Richard Hell & the Voidoids classic Blank Generation. Some idiot at the record company thought an alternate version would be a cool way to sucker the vinyl owners into buying the CD, I’m sure. Nearly two decades after the CD release, this stupidity has yet to be corrected and I have yet to hear the original version.
But wait! Lost Tunes also offers a different version of Too Much Too Soon, this time with the original take! Unfortunately, there’s nothing to distinguish the two unless the purchaser has a sharp eye. There isn’t some banner that says, “Please note, for God knows what reason we are selling two versions of this record, one with an alternate take of ‘Stranded in the Jungle’ and one with the original. Please purchase wisely.”
I’m worried this means they plan to throw a bunch of crap at the wall and see what sticks. I’m hoping that it’s just one of those hiccups that happens when launching a new business. I will be watching with interest to see which it is. If they care about their catalog and their customers, this could be a great venture.