Tuesday, November 1, 2011

U2 "Blow Your House Down"

Well, it's the day after Halloween, so, in some quarters it's okay to start talking about Christmas.

I mean, for some of you, it's not appropriate to broach the subject until after you've had your Thanksgiving turkey, but c'mon, that's not realistic, if you're talking about preparing for Christmas as a shopping season.

In the world of the record industry, it has long been a tradition to shut things down when December hits. What with the flurry of the holiday, with holiday programming and other distractions, record labels recognized that December is a pretty terrible time to launch a new record project.

So if it wasn't out by November, it wasn't coming out until January.

But as we, as a culture, have started the Christmas season earlier and earlier, the label world has had to react.

Now, if the record isn't out by mid-October, then it's not coming out until next year. You just can't chance having a good record get lost in the holiday shuffle.

Sure, labels could then take a couple of months off/easy, and prepare for next year, but that's a pretty long furlough. So instead, they have really ramped up the no-brainer releases.

In the past, you could reliably count on a couple of popular artists releasing Christmas records. Because if I say (like last year) "Sting has a new Christmas record," you know everything you need to know. You know what it is going to sound like, and if you like Sting, or have a family member on the Christmas list who likes Sting, you'll probably buy it.

Labels also started pushing Best Of/Greatest Hits releases and Live albums to November.

Again, there's no ramping up or explaining necessary. "R.E.M. has a career-spanning Best Of coming out," has no ambiguity. If you like R.E.M., you'll probably want this.

And now, come the reissues. Albums celebrating their 10th or 15th or 20th Anniversary get the treatment, where the original album is remastered, and there is a generous package of songs from that era on a second disc.

You've probably never heard "Blow Your House Down" before, but if you've heard U2's "Achtung Baby" then you have a pretty strong sense of what this unreleased b-side is going to sound like.

That makes it an easy buy, if you're in some retail shop and you see the U2 display. You don't have to think about it, and you don't have to wonder if you'll like it, you don't have to deliberate.

You can just buy it, and the record label person behind the record can have a good holiday knowing they were doing their job all season long.

Hear the song on Youtube.

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