Welcome back to the WEEK OF SINGLES 2! Each day this week we’re look at rare singles. Today, we’re looking at lots and lots of them! WARNING: Image heavy!
Monday: Dream Theater – “Lie” (CD single)
Tuesday: Jimi Hendrix – “Valleys of Neptune” (7″ single)
Wednesday: Them Crooked Vultures – “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” (10″ single)
Thursday: Megadeth – “Creepy Baby Head” (“Crown of Worms” CD single)
RECORD STORE TALES Part 269: CD Singles (of every variety)
I’m going to take the blame for this. It was I who got T-Rev into collecting singles in 1994-1995. Oasis kicked his addiction into gear big time, but it was I that sparked his interest in singles. According to Trevor today, “I suppose it was Oasis that started that ball rolling…then Blur taught me the tricks…Metallica helped mix the sauce…and then I was almost a pro, like you!”
T-Rev was already familiar with the dominance of singles in Europe. “They’re so much cheaper in England!” he told me then. “They have entire walls of them, like we do here with albums, but with them it’s singles.”
He had seen me go crazy for some of the singles that came into the store in the early days. He saw me plunk down my hard earned pay for CD singles by Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and many more. He didn’t get why I was spending so much money on so few songs. CD singles are much rarer here and commanded (new) prices similar to full albums.
“Why do you buy singles?” he asked me one day. “I don’t get it. The song is on the album, they come in those little cases, and they’re expensive.”
“I buy them for the unreleased tracks,” I explained. “I don’t buy a single if it has nothing unreleased on it, but I want all the different songs.”
“But the unreleased songs aren’t usually any good, are they?” he continued.
“Sometimes,” I answered. “But check out this Bon Jovi single here.” I handed him a CD single that I had bought recently at an HMV store. “This one has ‘Edge of a Broken Heart’. It’s a song that was recorded for Slippery When Wet, but it didn’t make the album. Sometimes you find these amazing songs that are totally worth having. Sometimes you only get live songs or remixes, but I still collect those because I try to get everything.”
When Oasis came out with (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, there were ample new singles out there to collect with bonus tracks galore. T-Rev got me into the band very quickly. Oasis were known not just for their mouths, but also for their B-sides. Noel Gallagher was passionate about giving fans good songs as B-sides; he wanted them to be as good as the album. Oasis had a lot of singles from the prior album Definitely Maybe as well, and one non-album single called “Whatever” that was absolutely marvelous.
Once T-Rev got onto the singles train, he had his own rules about what he wanted to collect and what he didn’t. Packaging was important to him. He hated CD singles that came inside little cardboard sleeves. He couldn’t see them once filed on his CD tower, because there was no thickness to it; no spine to read from the side. It didn’t matter what was on those CD singles; if the packaging sucked T-Rev was not usually interested. This applied when we both started collecting old Metallica singles. I found an Australian copy of “Sad But True” with the rare B-side “So What” at Encore Records for $20. This came in a cardboard sleeve; T-Rev didn’t want it. (He also already had a live version via the Live Shit: Bing & Purge box set.) Oasis started releasing their old singles in complete box sets, but T-Rev was only really interested in collecting the UK pressings. There were a lot of variables to consider. If you can’t or don’t want to buy everything, you have to set rules and pick and choose.
Once we understood each others’ needs, we were able to keep an eye open for each other. T-Rev knew if it said Bon Jovi, Faith No More, or Def Leppard on it, that I’d be interested. If it was a Brit-pop band like Blur or Supergrass, he’d want it (as long as it didn’t come in a paper sleeve). Foo Fighters too, or virtually anything with Dave Grohl. Our collections grew prodigiously with rare tracks, EPs we never heard of before, and loads of Metallica. I believe at one point, T-Rev and I had nearly identical Metallica collections, duplicated between us. More than half was singles and rarities. We used to joke that there were probably only two copies of some of these things in town, and we had both of them in one apartment.
T-Rev sold a lot of his singles but not all. He still has some treasures. Highlights include a Steve Earle tin can “Copperhead Road” promo (that he got from local legend Al “the King”). There’s also Megadeth’s uber-rare “Sweating Bullets” featuring the in-demand “Gristle Mix” by Trent Reznor Then there was a Blur thing, some kind of “special collectors edition” signed by Damon Albarn, in a Japanese pressing. Trevor’s seen one sell for upwards of $100. Then there was another band called “A”. As Trevor said, “Remember these guys? It was like ‘Britpop punk’. I liked it anyway.”
Also still residing in his collection: a Japanese print of Oasis’ “Some Might Say” that has two bonus tracks over the domestic version, and two versions of Foo Fighters’ “Big Me”. One is from Canada, the other from the UK. Both have different tracks. I’d forgotten about these until I saw the pictures.
Those were the glory days of collecting. I miss collecting CD singles. I preferred hunting the stores downtown to get all the extra tracks to the way it is now. Now, often you need to buy an iTunes download and several “deluxe editions” to get all the songs. CD singles were just better, period. Even just for the cover art of those Oasis singles, singles were much more fun to collect. I miss those days!