V/A – We’re A Happy Family: A Tribute To Ramones

Posted: December 14, 2016 in Vinyl
Tags: , ,

A lot has been said about Enjoy The Ride Records (ETR), mostly for the worse. I’ve never been a diehard supporter of his, but I was never one to grab my pitchfork either. I’ve basically been straddling the fence. Up until now I’ve had no reason to slam one of his releases. And it’s really starting to make me rethink my stance and come down firmly on one side of the fence.

This tribute compilation, We’re A Happy Family: A Tribute To The Ramones has all the hallmarks of an Enjoy The Ride release; pixellated artwork that is painfully obvious it was just blown up from a CD image (or worse yet, an image he found on Google images), poor mastering and overpricing. So where do I begin?

The jacket is cheap; it’s very thin and flimsy. For a double LP, it doesn’t come in a gatefold jacket, which would’ve been a nice touch for this release. Looking at images of the original CD release of this comp from 2003, which happened to be a digipak so it had what would be considered a gatefold for a CD, there were plenty of options for something to go inside the gatefold for the vinyl version. The cover art was done by Rob Zombie. It’s great artwork, and it’s a shame it’s pixellated. The insert itself however, is nice. But the insert is still not as nice as the original insert/booklet that came with the original CD release. It’s a foldout insert, with the cover having a reproduced handwritten lyric sheet by Joey Ramone. When you open it up you find liner notes written by Stephen King. Yes, I know it’s random, but Stephen King was solicited to write the liner notes for this comp. The back of the insert has the liner notes printed on it.

Thankfully ETR learned from past mistakes and disclosed the “reproduction” aspect of the hand written lyrics. In the past he would’ve never mentioned it and it would leave lots of angry people in his wake. The artwork is just blown up from a smaller source. It’s very obvious it wasn’t scaled up properly. I mentioned it above, but the CD liner notes for the Stephen King portion were much nicer than what ETR did with the insert for the vinyl release. The original CD insert/booklet was colorful, matching the color scheme (red/white/blue) of the release. ETR just whited it out, likely starting with a blank white sheet of paper and adding a colorful border along the top. The vinyl insert may be easier to read, but it was a cut corner on ETR’s part. Especially when you consider the cost of the record and ETR’s rationale for it.

The mastering of this leaves a lot to be desired. Again, painfully obvious it wasn’t mastered from a proper source and likely not even mastered for vinyl at all, despite the claims made by ETR. Case and point; whoever “mastered” this for vinyl is not credited anywhere on this release. Enjoy The Ride boasts about it being pressed at 45 rpm for “optimal sound quality,” but that doesn’t make the records sound better if the source material is a CD you bought, ripped it on iTunes, burned that rip to a CD-R and sent that to the pressing plant. No chance ETR uses a proper lacquer maker or outside audio engineer. This a comp many people wanted on vinyl because it features an amazing track listing, which you can see at the end of this script.

Circling back to the pricing of this record, it’s severely overpriced. Retail on this is $36. Yes, $36. ETR actually charged more (only 3 cents more but the point is made; $35.95 for ETR variant, $35.98 for B&N in ETR web store) for their exclusive variant than the Barnes & Noble exclusive. Considering ETR charges $25 for his single LP releases now, it’s obvious the gouging going on with this release. As usual, ETR gave BS reasons for the price. Saying things on social media in response to critics like “sorry” and “these were really expensive each at cost because of all the artists involved” “and my personal favorite; “because of all the deluxe upgrades.”

First off, he is not paying royalties to any of the artists on this comp. He just pays a flat licensing fee to Sony, which granted is likely higher than normal because a major label is involved and they love to rip people off. I doubt Sony charged ETR a higher licensing fee simply because of royalties, which major labels are notorious for not paying out to any of their artists. So his excuse is BS.

Secondly, there are NO deluxe upgrades. None. As aforementioned no gatefold jacket, no upgrade in materials used for the cheap, thin large pocket double LP jacket, improperly upscaled/enlarged/blown up images (cover art & insert) from the original CD release, record not pressed on heavyweight vinyl and the “bonus tracks” were originally found on the original CD release from 2003. I also find it hilarious that he thinks he feels any remorse for gouging people with his overpriced releases by “apologizing” for the high price. I’m actually amazed he didn’t delete that person’s comment and block him/her from his instagram account.

I purposely waited to buy this anticipating it to go down in price, either via clearance sales or discount/coupon codes. I took advantage of the later, using a 30% off code for B&N, and when combined with ebates I saved an additional dollar and change. So I wound up paying slightly over $25 shipped. Likely the lowest it will ever go, save for maybe 40$ off which B&N has released a code for before. Before I wrap up discussing how overpriced this record is, I wanted to add this; about one week after I bought this ETR had this comp as part of their “12 Days Of Christmas Sale,” on sale for 24% off. I win again.

Here is the pressing info; 750 copies on tri-color swirl / red, white, blue swirl, which is ETR exclusive, and 1,250 copies on “zombie” green / neon green, which is a Barnes & Noble exclusive. I n ETR’s own press releases and promo images for this release he can’t even get the colors straight. In some he calls it tri-color swirl and neon green, and in others he calls it red/white/blue swirl and zombie green. B&N calls their exclusive neon green on their website, and so does the hype sticker.

Some more finer point details about this record. The B&N exclusive is the only variant to have any hype stickers. There are two hype stickers on it in fact, a blue one highlighting the track listing and a green one noting the color of the vinyl. The ETR exclusive has no hype stickers.

Many people wanted to see this tribute comp pressed on vinyl for a long time. Mainly because of the track listing and the sheer volume of big name acts who appear on it. It’s genre spanning, which of course upset the true punk rockers that are still out there. Some people actually consider this tribute comp sacrilege. But when you take into account Johnny Ramone actually asked some of the bands to record a song for this tribute comp, people shouldn’t be upset because it’s an affront to the original version or makes a mockery of the Ramones. And before anyone jumps down my throat for putting ‘the’ in front of Ramones, it’s for grammatical purposes. I know the band’s name is simply Ramones.

One more interesting note of this tribute comp, it spawned a 7″ single. This 7″ is extremely rare and highly sought after. It rarely pops up for sale on the secondary market. The handful of times it has been listed on ebay it went for the bargain basement price of $488, with the peak price hitting $886. The first copy was sold in 2007, another in 2008, then a few year gap with another being sold in 2010. Another copy was sold in 2011, another in 2013, a couple more in 2015 and the most recent sale was December 2016. The peak price was oddly hit in 2013, and the price has not gradually gone up over time. It has jumped significantly, yes, but there has not been a steady rise over time as you’d expect. The prices this 7″ has sold for have been all over the price based on time, with a sale in 2008 being $85 higher than the most recent sale in 2016, and a sale in 2007 was $105 higher than a sale in 2011.

This 7″ was originally released in the UK, but was abruptly pulled from sale for an unknown reason. The single was marked as “withdrawn,” but a small amount did make it out into the public’s hands. At first it was only rumored to exist, but pictures prove its existence. The 7″ was pressed on blue vinyl a featured the Metallica, Green Day and The Offspring covers that appeared on the full length tribute comp.

Here is the track listing, and you can see why people wanted this comp pressed on vinyl:

Side A

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Havana Affair
  2. Rob Zombie – Blitzkrieg Bop
  3. Eddie Vedder & Zeke – I Believe In Miracles
  4. Metallica – 53rd & 3rd
  5. U2 – Beat On The Brat

Side B

  1. Kiss – Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio
  2. -Marilyn Manson – The KKK Took My Baby Away
  3. Garbage – I Just Wanna Have Something To Do
  4. Green Day – Outsider

Side C

  1. The Pretenders – Something To Believe In
  2. Rancid – . Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
  3. Pete Yorn – I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
  4. The Offspring – I Wanna Be Sedated
  5. Rooney – Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Side D

  1. Tom Waits – Return Of Jackie & Judy
  2. Eddie Vedder & Zeke – Daytime Dilemma (Dangers Of Love)
  3. John Frusciante – Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World

 

 

 

 

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