Universal is pissing off neatness freaks

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In the huge world of corporate decisions, there are things that I understand and things that I don't understand. For example, I do understand that when Universal took over the Concord Music Group, they were looking for new ways to re-market their jazz catalogue, which, as the result of numerous mergers, comprised numerous important jazz labels such as Prestige, New Jazz, Riverside, Jazzland, Milestone, Contemporary and Galaxy. Seeing that Blue Note was hugely successful with its "Rudy Van Gelder Edition", they asked Rudy Van Gelder to do a similar thing for them too and started a "Rudy Van Gelder Remasters" series.

What I don't understand is why they are unnecessarily pissing off neatness freaks like myself.

When the music industry invented the SACD, a high-resolution CD format that is now virtually dead, they invented a new kind of packaging along with it: instead of the jewel case (the standard plastic shell holding normal CDs), they invented the "super jewel box", a super-clunky example of misguided industrial design, which looks awful, but whose hinges admittedly don't break all that easily.

At some point in 2007 Universal suddenly began shipping CDs in super jewel boxes, even though most of them were not SACDs. It remains unclear whether they wanted to trick customers into believing that the regular CDs were actually SACDs, whether they had simply overstocked on super jewel boxes or whether they actually wanted to ship CDs in cases with sturdier hinges.

The "Rudy Van Gelder Remasters" series remained unaffected by this change in packaging until late 2008 and early 2009. After 50 titles had been released in standard jewel cases, seven titles were released in super jewel boxes. They also changed the text layout on the CD spine, so that the new releases looked very much out of place:

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Since I like CDs in my shelf to look similar if they belong together, especially if they are part of a series, I wasn't too happy, but kind of accepted it as Universal seemed to be generally releasing everything in super jewel boxes now, which made sense from a corporate point of view, and while they are ugly, they do have a few advantages.

Then came the June 2009 Rudy Van Gelder Remasters -- back in regular jewel cases.

What?! Why?

Eric Dolphy's Live at the Five Spot became one of the most painful victims in this example of corporate indecision: part one, released last year, is optically separated from not just all previous Dolphy releases, but also from part two, released this year.

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I can see no method in this madness, and it is seriously disturbing the feng shui in my CD shelf. Especially the Dolphy division is creating bad vibes.

Will they be repackaging the seven titles in regular jewel cases at some point just to reap some more money from the neatness freaks? It seems totally likely.

7 Comments

One solution would be to buy all your own CD cases of exactly the type you prefer, and make all your own labels with everything lined up perfectly ;-) Of course, this would be a bit more trouble, but sometimes the trouble is worth it.

Personally, I tend to a more radical solution: Forget about the jewel cases, just rip them ;-)

On a more serious line: I have saved more than one of my favourite CDs that way. And I must admit: I for my part have neither the ears nor the HiFi-Equipment to tell the difference. And there is really no space for vinyl equipment in my appartment. Simply does not fit in the overall design anymore :-(

I understand you are a very haptic personality ;-) Anyways, my suggestion was not a very serious one. If you had ever considered the possibility, you would never have bothered about the different casings in the first place. Still, you know probably better than me that it is indeed recommendable for backup.

So I guess, instead of making a suggestion Jann was rather predicting your line of action...

What I also wanted to say: From what I can see on the picture, I would be most irritated by the round corners. Those things don't fit in physically, do they?

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