Fire the stoned nincompoop who came up with the idea!
By Uncle Blurt
Anybody who frequents the Blurt site has probably determined that we are way into vinyl around here; the fact that we’re currently in the middle of a vinyl explosion only fuels our (my), ahem, obsession, which has been “in effect” (so to speak) since the early ‘70s. One of the coolest-looking vinyl artifacts of 2015 to date has been the deluxe LP version of Sub Pop artist Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear – as you might conclude from the photo above, which details the eye-poppingly beautiful colored wax for the pair of pressed-at-45rpm LPs and the shades-of-Jethro-Tull’s-This-Was pop-up/diorama that is lodged in the gatefold sleeve.
One thing not visually apparent in that photo, however, is the hidden music player tucked inside the left gatefold pocket; it’s similar to those greeting card thingies that play a snatch of a song when you open the card, only larger. That in itself is obviously a superfluous gimmick, but in the era of Jack White’s Lazaretto and the accompanying commitment to the art of record collecting, still a pretty damn nifty superfluous gimmick. (Can an LP-sized red flashing LED a la Pink Floyd’s Pulse CD back in the ‘90s be far behind? Hold on there, cowboy – you may have forgotten that those LED’s tended to die after a month or so, leaving you with, gimmick-ly speaking, a brick.)
As the saying goes, though—great concept, dudes, but a ridiculously bad execution. Did no one involved with this FJM project think it all the way through, from the manufacturing to the packaging conclusion of the shipping (i.e., the arrival in the hands of the consumers)? If they had, they might have thought to themselves, “Hey, if we put a 50-cent sized metal widget inside the record sleeve, then shrink wrap that sleeve and tightly cram a bunch of albums into a box, it just might cause some damage to the actual vinyl…” I mean, come on; most of us learned the hard way that, I dunno, stashing a bag of weed inside an LP sleeve and then shoving the record back in with the rest of the albums on the shelf, while possibl a good strategy to keep the cops from finding your stash, was a recipe for album warp age. You really wanna put a hunk of metal in that sleeve, bro?
Retailers began discovering that their deluxe Father John Misty’s all contained at least one damaged LP (usually the one lodged closest to the music widget—in another head-scratching brainstorm, both of the Honeybear LPs were tucked into the right-hand pocket of the gatefold) late last week when their shipments started arriving. By early this week, folks were hollering. And today Sub Pop did the only thing they could do: issue a blanket recall for the defective albums. Folks who purchased Honeybear have been instructed to return their copies – specifically, the actual vinyl, not the sleeves – to wherever they purchased it (retailer, Sub Pop online store, FJM’s online store, etc.) and obtain replacements, which are projected to be ready around the first week of March.
That’s a good p.r. move on the part of Sub Pop, certainly, although if this were my company I’d fire the stoned nincompoop who came up with the idea in the first place. Granted, if it’s FJM’s idea, you can’t exactly fire the artist. Maybe take the cost of the replacement pressings out of his royalties, hmm?
Below, read part of Sub Pop’s official announcement and apology for the marketing disaster, or go to the SP website to view the entire thing. Incidentally, just so there’s no misunderstanding here, I think it’s a great album, musically speaking. Viva la vinyl, y’all.
From Sub Pop: “Ware sorry that many of these fancy, colored-vinyl, deluxe versions of Father John Misty’s new album, I Love You, Honeybear are, it appears, warped! In our efforts to replicate the “wow factor” of such legendary album packages as the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers zipper cover by Andy Warhol, we wound up accidentally replicating the “defect factor” of the same. In short, the extra, bulging thickness of the pop-up art in the Father John Misty jacket creates a lump that, when the LPs are sealed and packed, pushes into the LPs, causing the vinyl to warp and making that handsome, painstakingly and expensively produced jacket an elaborate record-destroying device. This oversight, and any attendant suffering, is our fault, and we are very sorry. We promise to be less ambitious in the future.
“We are currently making 100% non-warped, colored-vinyl LPs to replace these damaged LPs. We hope to have a delivery date for those soon, and we will update this page as soon as we have that information. Please contact your place of purchase for instructions on how to obtain replacement LPs. If you got it from Sub Pop’s online store please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address, and we will ship you replacement LPs as soon as they arrive, which will likely be around March 3rd.”