Sony botched the “Miles Davis: Complete Columbia Album Collection”

Although the various Amazon sites around the globe are ripe with absolutely crushing reviews of an otherwise great collectors boxed set,”Miles Davis: The Complete Columbia Album Collection”, I have to add my two cents as well.

I have seen some badly-produced reissue boxed sets in my life, simply because I seem to be buying too many of them, but this one really is the icing on the cake. One could argue that for a reasonably low price, customers shouldn’t complain that much, but collectors being a larger part of the target audience for this one (despite the fact that collectors already have most of the Miles Davis they’ll ever need), Columbia/Legacy went out of its way to ruin this one.

Although the various Amazon sites around the globe are ripe with absolutely crushing reviews of an otherwise great collectors boxed set,”Miles Davis: The Complete Columbia Album Collection”, I have to add my two cents as well.

I have seen some badly-produced reissue boxed sets in my life, simply because I seem to be buying too many of them, but this one really is the icing on the cake. One could argue that for a reasonably low price, customers shouldn’t complain that much, but collectors being a larger part of the target audience for this one (despite the fact that collectors already have most of the Miles Davis they’ll ever need), Columbia/Legacy went out of its way to ruin this one.

As I also managed to get hold of a box at a drastically-reduced price, I can confirm all but one mistake for my boxed set as well:

  1. The lid on my box was split at the left corner which makes it pretty much unusable. The powers that be decided to use cardboard which isn’t nearly strong enough to hold all the CDs.
  2. Most single cardboard sleeve replicas are not glued properly and come apart at the seam. In my box, this was the case for each and every one. Had I kept the box, I don’t think a single sleeve would have survived 2009.
  3. 12 CDs in my box either had glue residue or scratches marring the surface of the CD.
  4. Some people received CD 1 of a double-CD twice. CD 2 was missing altogether.
  5. The size and weight of the box also didn’t really seem to jell with Amazon’s way of packing and shipping this kind of boxed set and many people reported dented or otherwise damaged sets.

In the end, many people paid between $250 and $350 for a boxed set that is neither complete (hence, as usual, the title of this boxed set … I guess) nor packaged in a way to get any real enjoyment out of the box. I do believe that those people who keep it will have to remove the CDs and move each and every one into jewel cases along the way and what was the point of the boxed set in the first place then?

Along with the fact that the cover reproductions aren’t even close to the standard many Japanese reissues have set time and again (the Beatles’ boxed sets being but one example), what we get is a pretty useless boxed set, albeit at a competitive price of something like $2 something per CD.

No matter where you stand on this issue, Columbia/Legacy blew this one big time. The mind also does more than boggle at the absolutely shoddy quality control of the people in charge. Either they didn’t give a hoot about their customers, or they had to submit to a majority vote by people higher up in the hierarchy who perhaps noticed the faults of this set and decided to go ahead anyway. In my mind, the serious problems with this boxed set can not have gone unnoticed, so what I’m left to believe is that they actually thought they could get away with it … again. If you have spent as much time as I have researching various collectors boxed sets and reissues, you also know that, for example, this wasn’t the first time that Sony/Columbia have had problems with glue residue on CDs.

All of this just reminds me of an apparent disdain for customers – especially collectors – that crops up again and again when we talk about any kind of collectors item (the German complete Carl Barks collection at way over 100 Euro per volume was marred by faulty slipcases which constantly had to be replaced, various complete DVD editions of TV series changed either packaging or format (4:3 to 16:9) after a few volumes, CD boxed sets contained unplayable CDs (The Armstrong Hot Fives and Sevens, for example), etc., etc., etc.

I don’t think that the companies releasing this shite into the wild know what kind of pain in the neck it is to constantly have to return faulty products. In a globalized collectors market, people don’t always order from the nearest dealer and, for example, to have to return this Miles Davis boxed set to the States from Germany (which I thankfully don’t have to do) or to return hardcover tomes that weigh half a ton practically the day you get them is just asking too much of any customer and shows that not much thinking (if any at all) has gone into a product before it was released.

All this really achieves is that people like me, who are the lifeblood of the industry (you know, the idiots that actually shell out all the cash for these collectors items) simply stop buying them. I haven’t bought a DVD in this country for nearly two years. I’ve (almost) stopped shelling out money for collectors boxed sets until I’ve checked each and every online site for quality reviews, and I have simply stopped searching for these kinds of items on a regular basis. Once bitten, twice shy. Hell, I used to be on the lookout for new and exciting items each and every day, today I check once a month at the most. Actually, this year I didn’t search for any at all and was merely alerted to them via two or three forums I’m a member of. After this disaster, I’m also thinking of turning off notifications re these kinds of items altogether and resort to having a look once a year when the Christmas sales hit the various online retailers (but not before having checked what is actually worth my money).

So, in short, the industry has scared away one customer, me, and if many others are at all like me, a large number of collectors who would have been willing to support the various reissue programs.

Actually, amidst all their constant and extremely annoying whining, complaining and suing of their customers, the various record labels and publishing houses are doing their own very damn best to shoot themselves in the foot time and again. It’s only a matter of time until they’re either gone altogether or unable to give us collectors what we really want. They’ll be dead and although I would be the first to moan their absence, their untimely demise will probably be well-deserved, simply because of the unbelievable stupidity apparent in so many of the products that could have been … but weren’t.

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. Still want to get this.. despite having 90% of the original CDs and all the box sets …illogical and silly

    Reply

  2. “…illogical and silly.”

    That’s what makes us collectors tick, I guess. 🙂

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    1. Volkher,

      Got this from Amazon.de.

      Yes, small tear to both edges of the lid which I repaired but otherwise the box was in good shape. Not too bad considering a similiar tear of my Bear Family Box of Nat King Cole.

      5 of the CD has a tiny tint of glue which i had removed with water and a soft massage with cotton cloth.

      It appears that I am more lucky than you are.

      I have to disagree with you. The Box is super value for money even for someone like both of us who have 70% or more of the CDs. Don’t be too harsh on Columbia and enjoy the whole set over X’mas.

      C Ho

      Reply

  3. Sorry for the delay in answering, but I have been (and am) swamped with work.

    To be quite honest, I’m even more pissed off about this set than I was before. Altogether, I’ve now had 5 different sets to build one good one from and it simply wasn’t possible (and took a sh*tload of time to go through). I’m absolutely amazed that this set wasn’t withdrawn from the market immediately, after the extremely negative reviews started flooding in. Amazon.de is still selling one crap set after another to (mostly) unsuspecting customers who never read reviews (my extremely negative one is online there).

    I will NOT spend hours on removing glue and re-gluing split covers for a set that asks a premium price. That’s like buying a Porsche and having to refit the seats, getting a new paint job done and having a couple of dents fixed before you can take it for a spin. Absolutely not. My time is far too precious for that.

    Yes, this might be good value for money, but the production quality is so shabby that I wouldn’t recommend this set to anyone who is remotely like me. It’s the kind of set that gives you stomach ulcers because the mind boggles at the ineptness with which this release was handled. Yes, I’m the kind of person who can keep a grudge in relation to this kind of screw-up for … life.

    I’ve sent each and every box back and I hope that was the last I saw of any of it.

    Still, I’m not discouraging anyone from liking this set. It’s great music, the mastering is fine throughout and for the money, it can’t be beat (if you’re really just after the music). It’s just not for weirdos like me who expect more from a boxed set that costs 170 Euro!

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  4. The glue on some of the CDs has been a bit of a pain. Looks like Sony are arranging to send out replacement corrected copies to all purchasers who can provide them with an invoice, via that ‘complaints’ email address. With a bit of luck it will be for the whole upgraded box.

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  5. Bought mine from a local record shop and it’s immaculate. Haven’t had time to play all the discs but have looked at them and am not expecting any problems. Am delighted with this purchase. Unbelievable value for money.

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  6. Update: It looks like Sony USA is replacing damaged boxed sets with a partially redesigned one if you can provide them with proof of purchase.

    Some information is available here: “Consumer Concerns: The Complete Columbia Album Collection”.

    You can find an ongoing discussion of the replacement procedure over on the Steve Hoffman forums: Go to around page 40 in this thread.

    As far as I can tell, there’s still some confusion as to what is actually being replaced. The most recent information points towards a complete redesigned set (different box with lift-off lid, better cardboard slipcases, no more glue problems).

    As I have returned my sets, I would have to repurchase the box which, as far as I know, has also gone up in price. “Once bitten, twice shy,” and all of that … I’m not going to go through all the trouble again.

    Additionally, as far as I can tell, the print-run of this limited set has not been extended. So if you do want a box now, make sure to find out beforehand if you are getting one of the re-done ones.

    For my part, I’ll stick with the Miles Davis I have.

    What a shame that Sony, although they seem to be doing the right thing now, have screwed this important project up so badly. It’s also funny to see how forgiving and sometimes gullible fans like us can be. Everyone seems to be into group hugs right now although Sony should be getting even more serious broadsides (their returns procedure also took too long to take off and then didn’t work properly after it was announced), along with Amazon Germany, which seems to be totally oblivious to criticism and this f*ck-up.

    All in all, Sony made me waste far too many hours of my life by having to check damaged boxed set after damaged boxed set, one CD/DVD at a time. What a drag.

    Never again.

    Reply

  7. I just got my box from Amazon U.K. (shipped from Germany) and it’s in fine shape; no damage at all and the discs are all glue-free. I immediately put the discs in those Japanese “cloth” mini-LP inner sleeves that I got from Hiroshi Tanno for only 2040 yen including shipping for 100 sleeves, or about €16 / $22.60 / £14 at today’s exchange rates.

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  8. Good to hear, Hans. 🙂

    How about those mini sleeves?
    Have they glued those better than before?

    They were really the worst problem I had.

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  9. I didn’t have the earlier box, so I can’t compare the mini-LP sleeves, but the ones in this box don’t seem to have any problems, other than that some of them are a bit “tight” – it’s difficult to remove the discs from some of the 2CD-sets.

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  10. Thanks for the info, Hans.

    It seems as if the whole set was “re-glued” then. And, yes, those sleeves were already tight in the first set. Can you then at all fit in those inner sleeves you bought, or do they get all crumbled up.

    I thought the idea was great for this set, but I have decided not to get a new version. In that sense, Sony/Columbia lost a customer. I’m quite anal (in the Freudian sense) about my CDs and in the long run, I would probably have to remove all of those CDs both from the box and the mini sleeves, so there’s no point in this boxed set anymore.

    On a different note (trying to entice you here): While I’m writing this (if you check at the top), the whole discographies (and lists) section has changed.

    As I’m finally starting to change my site over to the new framework, I will …

    a) … delete many old posts,
    b) … join some together,
    c) … move discographies and lists (e.g. “Jazz in Paris”) to the top,
    d) … and otherwise streamline this site for the new decade.

    When the next update hits, there will also be another default avatar for comments (instead of the gray torso, there’ll be a gray bass clef), plus more.

    One could say that livingwithmusic.com’s midlife crisis is over, but being ill at the moment, all of these changes will be implemented slowly.

    So, your blues list could easily have a main or a second home here!
    Right at the top!
    Interested?
    😉

    Volkher

    Reply

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