what happened to the comp cd? i dont know whether im just getting old (a distinct possibility), but record labels used to put out fantastic comp cds, showcasing their entire catalog of talent to receptive audiences. i have fond memories of vagrant’s life on the streets series (the 2nd of which is still the best) not to mention asian man’s consistently awesome mail order is fun. my dad and i drove to south dakota when i was about 13. the trip was incredible, but the things i remember most are checking into a shady hotel in omaha during a torrential rainstorm (and then falling asleep to masters of the universe), a continental breakfast bagel with grape jelly flipping over and landing jelly side down on the beige canvas of the convertible we were driving, and seeing some of the greatest landmarks in our country painted by my soundtrack and the blue meanies, mu330, and the bronx.
but i digress. my point is that certain labels used to represent the sensibilities of a certain kind of listener. their lineup was still diverse (take the aforementioned vagrant records of the late 90s-early 00’s), but looking at the kind of artists they signed you could relate to the guy doing the signing. plenty of labels today still do this (metal blade records? hmm, i wonder what kinda bands they sign?) but to me it just doesnt seem to be the family of artists/friends kind of atmosphere it once was.
today the mantle of comp cds has been taken over by merch companies and digital releases by labels. but the problem i have with merch releases is related to what i just said. given that the relationship of a merch company and a band is strictly fiscal (as a band youll be lucky to ever meet a member of the company who produces your shwag), from the get go there is no cohesive quality to the collection of songs on the cd. its just a bunch of guys who decided 5 bucks a shirt sounded worthwhile. the same is lacking with digitally released comps that have become popular with certain labels. once you put it into a media player, the tracks get scattered to the four corners of your playlist, disintegrating any connection they had. now theyre no better than a track you were lucky enough to snag off kazaa or something.
for an example i impore you, not that any exist anymore, to look at some of the cds mentioned here.