Bruce Springsteen is releasing a new version of his Pete Seeger covers album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. The original version of the album was released a mere five months ago. The "American Land" version of Seeger Sessions will be in stores October 5.
The "American Land" version will have five new songs. Sort of. Follow me through this. The first version of the record had 13 songs on the album proper. The album was sold in DualDisc format. Two songs that are not on the CD side of the DualDisc are on the DVD side. Those two songs, "Buffalo Gals" and "How Can I Keep From Singing?" will be moved from the DVD side to the CD side.
Springsteen is also adding 3 songs not on the initial package at all: "American Land," which is the only Springsteen original on the set, "Bring 'Em Home," a Pete Seeger song featuring some lyrics that Springsteen modified, and Alfred Reed's "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live." The latter two tracks have been played throughout the tour promoting the album.
"Churn" is the term used when a label re-releases an album to try and gouge music fans in to buying the silly thing a second time. They use all manner of tricks and gimmicks to sucker fans. Sometimes all you get is a re-mastered version of the album. It's the exact same album only it is supposed to sound better (and sometimes it actually does). The new popular trick is to re-release an album with two or three extra songs on it.
It seems like a dumb idea from the perspective of the label. Why would anyone buy an album the day it comes out if they are pretty sure a spiffy, deluxe version of the record will be on shelves in a few months to a year? Why buy an album twice with the only difference being a couple of songs? Why not wait and get the most for your money? The labels claim they cannot get fans to buy an album once. Now they want to make sure they can break one off in anybody who does still pay for their CDs. That is a good way to keep consumers walking the straight and narrow: screw them with their pants on!
This is a total scam. Two wrongs do not make a right but it is this type of unconscionable bullshit that makes me understand why people stopped paying for the music altogether.
Fortunately, in the case of Seeger, we can call it churn without the burn. Bruce Springsteen, the ultimate Man of The People, has taken a stand for his fans. Fans who already bought the album can download those tracks separately from iTunes for the standard 99 cents per song. Those who want the new songs on physical media are still getting hosed but at least there is an option. Many other artists/labels have made the bonus tracks available only when purchased as part of the full album in the digital realm, thereby sticking it to digital customers in the same way they stick it to customers of the physical media. Let us give Springsteen some credit here. Sony would not have been this generous on their own. Someone stood up for the fans.
It could prove to be a busy and expensive fall for Springsteen fans. In addition to the confirmed re-release of Seeger, there are rumors of a second archival live release and a box set sequel to Tracks. Springsteen released Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, '75 from his Born To Run tour in February and there are rumors circulating he will release the Phoenix, AZ show from his Darkness on the Edge of Town tour.
Hammersmith Odeon is an amazingly good live album and I would love to get my hands on that Phoenix show. The Darkness tour is legendary among some Springsteen fans. Tracks II is of major interest as well. Springsteen was working on it when he decided to put the finishing touches on Seeger. Unfortunately, the CD/DVD from his Devils & Dust tour seems to have been put on permanent backburner. He has yet to release a live album from either of his two solo acoustic tours (the Tom Joad shows were not filmed). I want these vintage E-Street recordings but I want a document of his solo acoustic performances more.
I am looking forward to this "American Land" version of Seeger and one of the reasons is to get another crack at reviewing and discussing it. I feel my contribution to the Roundtable was a bit misunderstood. I suppose some of that falls on me because my job as a writer is to communicate but I mostly blame the readers. It is my new policy. I don't know if it will be better than the old policy of blaming myself and assuming every word I fling on the screen is shit. I can tell you I feel a lot better about myself now that I am blaming the reader than I did when I blamed myself.