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"Dream Reissues"

<<Basically, as far as realistically expecting any given "dream" reissue,
it's got
to appeal to far more than a couple hundred die-hard Who fans with e-mail 
accounts.  My guess (only a guess!) is that most label, and possibly artists,

know that they could never satisfy the "appetite" of the hard-core fans even
they released every scrap they could find; and they certainly wouldn't make
money in trying to do so.>>>>

First, the number of "hard core" Who fans (defined as someone who will buy
any officially released CD) probably measures in the thousands, if not tens
of thousands (not everybody's on the internet).  How many copies of Who's
Missing and Two's Missing were sold?  How many copies of the 30 Years of
Maximum R& B video were sold?  I have to imagine that anyone who'd buy 3
hours of live material on video would also buy 3 hours of live material in a
box set.  So some of the suggested projects (e.g., a 4CD live box set, or a
double disc expanded version of Live at Leeds) would certainly be
commercially viable.  

Second, other projects that have been mentioned (e.g., a Tommy Box or a
Lifehouse box) can hardly be considered "wishful thinking" once you take a
look at what's already out there (e.g., Layla 20th Anniversary box set, Dylan
Bootleg Series, Frank Zappa's You Can Do That On Stage and Beat the Boots
series, King Crimson's The Great Deceiver box) and what's reportedly in the
works (e.g., the long-rumoured Neil Young Archvies project).  

Third, whether a project is considered "commercial" often has very little to
do with estimated profit.  For example, a Who box set that sold only 10,000
units would be considered a commercial disappointment, while similar sales
for a Syd Barrett set would be considered a great success.  While the sales
are the same, the perception is different.  The Who is considered to be a
"huge act" while someone like Barrett (or the Velvet Underground) is
considered an obscure/cult artist.      

Fourth, the other examples of "wishful thinking" you give are really anything

1) The Beach Boy's Smile Album: Most of the material intended for release on
that album appeared on the Beach Boy's Good Vibrations box set, sounding
better than ever (though some tracks were still clearly unfinished).  A
separate Smile package with additional material continues to be discussed at
Capitol Records, so I wouldn't consider talk of such a release to be wishful
thinking.  On the other hand a truly finished album WOULD be wishful
thinking, but nobody on the Surf's Up list really expects that.

2) Prince's Black Album: Warner Bros. has considered releasing this album on
at least one occasion since its initial aborted release.  Now that Prince
(excuse me, the "Artist Fromerly Known As Prince") plans to mine the vaults
for future releases, it still isn't unrealistic to see this eventually come
out.  Indeed, given its notoriety, the Black Album probably has much better
commercial prospects than many other things Prince (aka AFKAP) might choose
to release.

3)  Elvis Costello's Kojak Variety: If Warner Bros. released The Juliet
Letters, which is about as uncommercial as EC can get, I can't imagine them
cringing at the thought of an all-covers album.  It's entirely plausible that
this album will eventually be released.  The real problem is that EC keeps on
coming up with new material in the meantime (and believe me, there are worse
problems you can have).

Fifth, just because a project isn't "realistic" now doesn't mean it won't be
in the future.  Indeed, I think the only reason we're being casually
dismissed as hard core fans who'll never be satisfied is because, for
whatever reason, Charlesworth and the record labels aren't interested in
putting certain things out at this time.  Believe me, if someone had
suggested only a few years ago that the entire Who catalog be remastered,
that the original artwork be restored, and bonus tracks added, they would
have been dismissed as a hard core fan.  I should know, because a few years
ago I DID make those suggestions to MCA and I WAS dismissed as a hard core
fan.  With so few other examples to look at (at that time, only the Bowie
catalog had received the royal treatment, and only then after control of the
catalog had changed hands), the narrow minded executives at the major record
labels simply couldn't conceive of upgrading an artist's entire CD catalog.
 Now, however, such upgrading is almost commonplace.  The fact is, standards
change.  Just look at gold discs.  For many years, MFSL was the only company
manufacturing "audiophile standard" CD.  Now several of the labels (e.g.,
Sony, WEA, MCA) have realized the "commercial" viability of this "niche"
product and have jumped into the fray.  Believe me, if the Neil Young
Archives project is successful (i.e., exceeds expectations), I wouldn't be
surprised to see other artists (Springsteen, for example, and maybe even
Townshend) contemplating similar projects.  And if a group like REM or U2
developed a succesful mail order-only series of bootleg style releases, you
can bet that other artists would do the same thing.  Things always seem
"unrealistic" until they're actually done.  Then everybody wonders what the
fuss was all about.