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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Nitpickery - cardboard sleeve CD releases, does anyone actually like them?

Cardboard sleeve (or "card sleeve") CD -releases, who needs them?

This thought just popped up to my mind today. I had ordered the brilliant Blind Fury's "Out of Reach" album in CD format, without looking the pictures of the item as accurately as I should have. Didn't realize it was a cardboard sleeve release by Majestic Rock records (MAJCDC3). It looked like a regular digipak at the quick glance over the pictures.

While I received the item I was little disappointed. My own fault, obviously. But this made me think, who the hell needs cardboard sleeve CD releases? Who, in their right minds, would prefer these over a regular jewel case release, or even a digipak?

Lets see. The minuses of (at least this particular cardboard sleeve release) card sleeve releases:

The sleeve's dimensions are different to the regular CD jewel case or digipak. The sleeve is wider to each direction, so it doesn't fit to a regular CD -rack. If you're collector like me, you want to have your CDs in nice order, sorted at a specific rack(s), not so, that few of them are laying separately at random shelves, because they didn't fit in the CD record rack for having different dimensions compared to the jewel case. Cutting the cardboard up smaller to make it fit the rack isn't an option for a collector.

The sleeve feels like it was made to break and would get easily beat up (especially the seams, although there's also glued seams with LPs). It's also also so thin, that having a pile of these sleeves, and trying to read the artist/album names quickly while browsing through the collection would probably be pain in the ass. The font is much more small on the "spine" side of the carboard sleeve, than on jewel case CD or digipak, even.

The sleeve has a cheap feel on it. There's no lyrics sleeve inside, and I don't think it would even fit in this thin design, anyway. I like to be able to browse the lyric sleeve of the record for lyrics, pictures, notes. Surely you could say "why don't you use the Google for lyrics and pictures?", but it just doesn't feel authentic the same way. It doesn't cut it. This thin cardboard sleeve reminds me of a promotional copy (or "promo copy") sleeve, which I usually never pay for (they feel cheap for a reason, as they are made for promotional use with as low production costs as possible, rather than for commercial sales). The only reasons I could think of releasing the CDs in this sleeve format are probably lower production costs than with jewel case release, along with cheaper postage (logistics?). I'm only speculating, and could be wrong.

Sure you could probably get plastic cover sleeves of the right size at somewhere to protect the cardboard sleeve, build up your own CD rack especially designed for dimensions of these rather rare format of CD sleeves, and settle up to "Google up the lyrics" (as for the missing lyrics sheet), but wouldn't it be easier, if the record companies just pressed the regular, standard sized sleeve formats for commercial sales? Lesson well learned, pay attention to the product you are paying for.

But, I suppose I'll learn to like this release, as well. All in all, it's at least a brilliant album by Blind Fury (ex-Satan). I still spin and listen my CD records with an old carousel CD -player, so I'll be sure to slide this one in very soon. I always try to find out if there's anything unique with the specific release in question, and at least there seems to be a few bonus tracks which aren't to be found on other "Out Of Reach" versions: three BBC sessions song recordings. I just find it slightly ironic how they are to be found on the most cheap looking release of all versions that exists of "Out of Reach". At least, this all still leaves me a good reason to hunt down Metal Mind Productions recent CD version of "Out Of Reach", which is nicely digitally remastered using 24-Bit process on golden disc, is limited to 2000 pieces, and most of all, is dikipak (which I find much nicer format). I also assume it has lyrics sheet for being limited edition - does anyone have this one? We can all debate whether "remastering" the old records is a good thing or a bad thing, and in my opinion "it depends", but that's the case of another article.

What do you think about cardboard sleeve CD releases? Do you think they have their place in one's collection, and if so, what is the special value they hold compared to jewelcase or digipak CD releases? Or do you happen to dislike this format, too? | Tane Norther

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