Barenaked Ladies Make It Damn Near Impossible

Other than Monday, there haven’t been any updates this week on this website.  This week was Who Week in NYC, when one of my favorite bands comes to town to play Madison Square Garden and everything else in my life comes to a halt.  That’s over now, so I can get back to more important things.  Like bitching about Barenaked Ladies.

I love BNL.  Really, I do.  I loved them since I first heard "Life, In A Nutshell" in 1995.  I’ve seen them over a dozen times since ’96.  And I buy everything they release on the day it comes out.

Everything, that is, except for their newest release, Barenaked Ladies Are Me.

As Jeff mentioned at the end of his excellent review, I have a big problem with this release.  It’s not about the content.  It’s not even really about the band.  It’s mostly about the management.  The release of Barenaked Ladies Are Me is confusing enough that a die-hard fan like myself would rather just not listen than try to figure it out.

I don’t expect this anal-retentive fanboy conversation to appeal to everybody.  So more on this after the jump if you’re so inclined.  If not, fear not – more posts and mp3s are coming next week.

THE MATERIAL

Barenaked Ladies recorded 29 songs for BLAM.  Like most bands, the songs that didn’t make the album either were released as B-sides or remained unreleased.  (There is talk of BNL’s rarities being handled by Rhino for an upcoming box set, but that’s another story altogether.)

BNL decided that all 29 songs deserved release.  However, they also knew that a double-disc release wasn’t a commercially viable option.  And so, the decision was made: release 13 tracks on Barenaked Ladies Are Me.  Save the rest for a release sometime next year, entitled Barenaked Ladies Are Men.  (Subtle distinction, no?)

BNL also recorded a live session at the Glenn Gould Theatre, featuring live versions of the tracks from Barenaked Ladies Are Me.

So the total amount of matieral available: 29 songs, plus the live tracks.  Remember that.  We’ll come back to it in a bit.

THE RELEASES

But have no fear, BNL fans.  Steven Page, lead singer of BNL, assured us that one way or another, the fans would be able to get absolutely everything released without having to buy duplicates.

Is that possible?  I have no fucking idea.  But here’s what I’ve been able to understand so far:

PHYSICAL VERSIONS

If you pre-ordered BLAMe from BNL’s website, you would get the 13-track physical CD, plus an exclusive live CD, featuring the tracks from the album recorded at the Glenn Gould Theatre.  (How many tracks?  Beats me.)

Now, if you order BLAMe from BNL’s website, you get the 13-track CD.  No live disc.

You can order BLAMe Deluxe Edition (featuring both albums in one shot) on CD from their website, but it only has 27 tracks.

DIGITAL VERSIONS

If you pre-ordered BLAMe from iTunes, you would get 15 songs (13 plus 2 bonus tracks).

If you pre-ordered BLAMe Deluxe Edition from iTunes, you would get 29 songs (27 plus 2 bonus tracks).

Still with me?  No?  Good.  I’m not with me either.

Now that the pre-order window is over, you can order BLAMe from iTunes and still get that 15 song edition.  But if you want the Deluxe, you’re only going to get 27 songs.  Two songs have been deleted.

Other stores, including BNL’s website, offer digital versions in both mp3 and FLAC, but you’re not going to get all 29 songs.  At most, you’ll get 27.  And no live stuff.

BARENAKED LADIES ARE MEN

Remember before, when I said that a second disc entitled Barenaked Ladies Are Men would be coming out next year?  Yeah, that’s still true.  Oh, except if you live in Canada and go to Starbucks.  Then you can get it on October 3rd.  (???)  And I don’t know if that’s going to fill out your collection so you now have 29 songs or 27 total.

Anybody else really fucking confused?

USB

The one saving grace in this whole thing was word that BNL would release a USB stick (entitled – heh heh – Barenaked Ladies Are USB) containing EVERYTHING in one shot.  EVERYTHING.  Of course, hope you’re not an audiophile, as the tracks are all mp3s encoded at 160kbps.

So I figured, okay, I’d love to have the tracks in pristine audio quality, but if I can get everything in one shot without duplication, like Steve promised me, then I’d do the USB stick.

Turns out the USB stick has "some" of the live tracks, but not all.

(deep breath)

So, at the end of the day, I still have no idea how to get everything I’m looking for.  My solution right now is to not buy it at all.  My hope would be that others are doing the same. 

Except they’re not.  Check out this thread from barenaked.net.  Look how much die-hard fans are paying in order to get the tracks they want in the quality they prefer: anywhere from $25 to $140.  Granted, some people are buying multiple versions because they wanted the tracks before the official release.  I applaud those with that kind of money.  I don’t have it.

Terry McBride, BNL’s manager, is some sort of genius.  He’s managed to get the fans to buy multiple copies of the same shit in order to get it all.  Well done.  And I haven’t even started to discuss his other idea, which admittedly would appeal to me if I had the time for it: selling the indvidual tracks to each song so fans can mix their own versions.  Here’s a great article on Terry and his management strategies.  The casual fans are fine with a 13-disc release.  Fans like me, who just want all the tracks, are in trouble.  Completist fans – those who must have absolutely everything in every version – are fucked all around.

I love that the kickoff single is called "Easy."

Rant over.

  • And as we’ve discussed previously, my copy has TWELVE tracks.
    Masterful work here. I will alert my readers shortly.

  • trrish

    hi Jay,
    Hey, I’m a BNL fan and have done nothing so far.  Let me know when you sort out the best plan.  I think I’m going to just like you do the work for me since you have given it so much thought so far!!  I’d love it if they’d just do the memory stick thing. 
    seriously – let me know the plan when you figure it out,
     

  • What are the best songs that you’ve heard so far?

  • Glad to see you’re back in the bloggy world!  I’m a fan of BNL’s music, too.  However, this new collection of songs (this would be the 12 track release) is just so-so.  Maybe after a few more spins, I’ll start connecting with these songs, but after 3 or 4 listens, I’m just not feeling it. 

  • Thanks for the comments. Yes, if I do figure it out, you all will be the first to know. The thing that bums me out is that I know their hearts are in the right place. I know they just want to make as much of their music accessible to as many people as possible.

    Carlos, I’ve heard almost all the songs in previous live incarnations, but haven’t heard many of the actual tracks from BLAM. If I were to go by the live version I’ve heard before, I’d say that “The New Sad” is the best of the bunch. But again, it’s really not fair for me to judge at this point.

  • homepiss@hotmail.com

    the only good tracks are…

    Adrift
    Peterborough and the Kawarthas
    Rule the World with Love
    Vanishing

  • reechie

    Problem is, both my wife and I were so disappointed with the regular album, that we don’t want to hear the stuff that didn’t make the cut! And we’ve been fans since “Gordon” in 1992!

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