Monday, 20 May 2019

THE VINYL STRAW - COLLECTORS EDITION BOXSETS AND HOW NOT TO PACKAGE THEM

A tale of record collecting woe...





Last Friday, two packages arrived for me. I am one of these people you read about who spend money on "vinyls" (grrr) and who buy deluxe editions of releases by certain bands. I also buy ridiculous things like every 7" version of People Are People that I come across, but that particular Depeche Mode related problem is the subject of everything else I write, so we'll leave that for now.

The two packages that arrived for me were the triple coloured vinyl version of I Am Easy To Find, the new album by The National and the deluxe boxset version of the most recent Foals album Everything Not Save Will be Lost - Part 1. The National's album came direct from The National's Cherry Tree fanclub and the Foals album direct from their online store. Both cost in the region of £50 each. 

For that money, you'd expect some care would go into sending a package that a lot of thought has already gone into. The National's album comes in triple vinyl in a tri-fold sleeve and is a lovely thing. That release was packaged up perfectly - a strong cardboard outer box contained another cardboard package inside which the record had been vacuum packed for extra safety. Although the actual vinyl was send in the sleeve inside its own inner sleeve (usually a no-no), the vacuum packing had kept it in place and it arrived in pristine, unblemished condition. Great.

As soon as I opened the Foals package however, it was clear something had gone very wrong.

The Foals Collector's Edition boxset promises this:
- Special edition box with additional vinyl sleeve to fit the equivalent Part 2 vinyl upon release
- 24 Page hardcover book
- Album on 12" violet coloured 180g vinyl
- Exits 7" vinyl single exclusive to this set

It also adds digital singles and a signed piece of artwork. All rather tempting if you're a person like me and if you've been playing the superb Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1 incessantly since its release.

The first thing I noticed was the the spine of the box which didn't exactly fill me with confidence:


The front of the "hardcover" book is also torn:


Needless to say, the top and bottom corners are bashed and crushed.

Somewhat tentatively then, I opened the box. It came as no real surprise, when I found the album in this state:


The album had been left in its inner sleeve when dispatched and, having just been bunged into a box with no support, the inevitable happened. The sleeve is ripped on the right hand side and, doubtless because the vinyl was given room to roam about in transit like some sort of violet coloured marauding beast, the seems on the neighbouring page of the book are nicely ripped.


There is also the 7" of Exits which is found a couple of pages on inside the book. Hilariously, it was in worse condition than the album:




Exits had successfully exited its sleeve. The record is also damaged for additional good measure:


What a lot of shoddy shite.

I put up some of these posts on Instagram on Friday night and people responded, telling me that they had had similar problems withe the Foals boxset. One had even returned it at his own cost, only to be sent another that was in even worse condition.

With few exceptions (DFA, Mute, Hand Drawn Dracula to name three diverse companies). record companies obviously don't give a toss about how they send out orders because, as long as there are people like me in the world, they will be given bundles of cash for different versions of albums. I only bought the Foals box as I'd enjoyed their album so much on Spotify in the first place. Being an old fashioned type, I still feel that an artist should benefit from their labours so I wanted to get my hands on a cool version of what is a superb record. I ordered it and then whoever packaged it chucked it in a box, kicked it around a bit and then sent it to me. Thanks. Thanks very much.

What's the point of this post? I don't know. I'm fucked off that I've again bought something that is treated with no care at all once I've paid over my money. I can't even be bothered asking for a swap as I fear I'll just have to write another blog talking about another smashed up box. Contrast Foals packaging with that of The National and it's even more frustrating. Other labels or acts like I've mentioned above or, for example, the superb way in which Nine Inch Nails handle their packaging, are unfortunate exceptions to the general rule that those in charge of Foals' packaging have steadfastly abided by.

I imagine most of you who read this will have had similar issues. I hope this post helps people consider packaging a bit more from a 7" single all the way up to the most madcap of boxsets. I don't think it will however as, frankly, very few record companies actually care.

Everything Not Packaged Properly Will Be Lost - Part1 to infinity.....






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