[Jandek] Re: Reissues and Noissues: Thought experiment

Danny Saul contact at dannysaul.com
Thu Mar 29 19:41:36 PDT 2007

One aspect of the acquisition of live and unauthorised Jandek recordings 
that I consider to be of possible worth (at least on a ‘sonic’ level), 
is the differences found between those recordings and the final Corwood 
releases. Like the transferring of the earlier albums from vinyl to CD, 
there are a notable number of edits which can throw up several 
questions; why the edits? Why does this process ‘improve’ the original 
vinyl versions? Is that the intention of the person editing it?

I realise that my argument here does stray from the path of the original 
point, arguing the merits of being able to acquire unofficial 
recordings, by talking about differences found in official Corwood 
releases on different formats… I guess like any ‘fanatic’, I am not sure 
that being in possession of work by an artist that is not presented in 
the way that the artist 100% endorses, is a bad thing . I am able to 
listen to bootlegged material with the knowledge that the recordings are 
not endorsed and have not been overseen by the artist – I am still 
interested to hear the raw recordings. I don’t consider it to be a 
misplaced obsession either.

This is especially applicable with modern music; I would like to know 
that the album I’m listening to is the album that the artist recorded 
and was happy to call a finished body of work… before the label insisted 
they alter it here and tweak it there for one reason or another. I think 
it’s pretty likely that this isn’t applicable to Corwood, but equally I 
don’t think that Corwood releases should be seen in any way as different 
to the rest of popular music. It is a part of popular music culture.

I can think of several instances where a body of work has been 
unavailable, and not through the artist’s choice; Nic Jones for example, 
or countless Northern Soul records, all of which were made for public 
consumption. Music when duplicated and ‘put out’ should be available for 
everyone, but the restraints that apply because of the fact that it 
immediately exists within an industry (and by this I mean a lack or 
materials rather than the ownership and legal restraints), make it 
impossible for everyone to acquire the artefact. Does this make a 
‘copy’, something that could be misinterpreted? Possibly, but it is 
after all, the audio document that matters in these cases.

You can always find recordings by recognised artists that are not 
authorised by their label (and in most cases the label is a separate 
entity to the artist). I’m interested to hear these things. I’m more 
interested in hearing new work that’s officially released, but I can’t 
deny wanting to hear the original mix of Nirvana’s “In Utero” album for 
example, or Judee Sill’s unfinished third album, or indeed the 
unfinished works of an artist like Arthur Russell; the latter examples 
get an official release, but where is the artists’ approval?

Given the situation where I find myself in the Corwood office space 
staring at reels of tape labelled with unfamiliar titled and previously 
unused Corwood numbers, would I ‘snarf’ em? No, I’d have to say that 
would not be something I’d be comfortable with. Would I sneak a listen? 
No, I wouldn’t be comfortable with that either. So where, you may ask is 
the difference between this and happily downloading unauthorised 
material? Why haven’t I the balls to pull the trigger, but I’m 
comfortable to push the button?
Well, here’s how I see it; please correct me if I’m wrong (I may be), 
but all the unauthorised recordings floating around are of the live 
performances. I get the impression that all other Corwood recordings 
that exist are kept tightly under lock and key, only to surface when and 
if Corwood decide to release them. The official live albums are only 
representative of the experience of attending the gig, and I regret not 
being able to attend all the performances. With this in mind, I see the 
live ‘bootlegs’ in a different light than for example the “mp3s of the 
new studio album currently in production!”.

The original argument is clearly about privacy, and not about money. It 
is in the fact that these were public performances, that the pieces 
themselves become susceptible to bootlegging, and I don’t believe that 
the perpetrators are out to harm the artist in any way. Whether right or 
wrong, as a common practice that has occurred for as long as music has 
existed in a recorded form, I don’t see that it does much damage; most 
music fans know better than to try to find interpretation of an artist 
through this format I think, and I do believe that curiosity, especially 
surrounding Jandek and Corwood activity, will get the better of the most 
respecting fan.

All this said, I’d seek permission before acting.

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