Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Mekons make top ten. World ends.

I was curious to see the Mekons' album So Good It Hurts listed in what appears to be the January 31, 2005, recent faves list for NYU's radio station, WNYU. These lists usually appear weekly in the print version of The Onion, and, come to think of it, I have no idea what the list actually represents. New releases for the week? Most played? CDs received, in the order the packages were opened?

Anyway, the weird part was that this album was originally released in 1988, by Twin/Tone. I figured the album was reissued, and of course it was: Touch and Go/Quarterstick have acquired the rights to just about all of the Mekons backlist and are thankfully bringing them out and keeping them in print; So Good is only the most recent of the reissues. In looking for this news, I stumbled onto the really fascinating part of the story: the old Mekons albums are still listed at the Twin/Tone site, along with sales information. Scroll down on the So Good page and you'll find this: "The vinyl version sold 2,815 copies, the cassette version sold 2,138 and the CD sold 2,324 in the first four years of release." Honky Tonkin'? "The vinyl version sold 6,109 copies, the cassette version sold 1,822 and the CD sold 1,847 in the first five years of release." CD-only Original Sin? "It sold 2,633 in the first three years of release." The forthrightness of all this was stunning to me, until I realized that, for the one Mekons CD they continue to sell, Rock'n'Roll, they do not list sales figures. Information wants to be free, but not that free.

I have no idea what constitutes a successful album release; 2,000 seems kind of light to me. Surely Touch and Go got a look at these numbers before opting to buy back the rights. To which I can only say: Go Touch and Go, go.


Anonymous Darren said...

The WNYU charts you are referring to represent the most played albums from the previous week.
And hey, I hope you checked out the top college radio stations in the book you were anticipating, "Schools that Rock."

11:52 PM  

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