Squeeze’s Pop Up Shop CDs let you relive their gig

Ever longed to experience the live set from your favourite gig once again?

Well, now you can. At least if you’re a fan of Squeeze anyway.

On every date of their current tour, Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook and co.’s performance will be recorded and made available immediately as part of a three CD set, which also includes their Packet Of 4 EP.

Some of the more cynical among us might see this as a desperate attempt to boost merchandise sales; a gimmick for punters to buy into. However, I think it’s a nifty idea.

Most of us would love to relive our favourite performances. More often than not, a desperate attempt to see if anyone has captured the moment and uploaded it to YouTube only leads to disappointment. Bootlegs are rare and typically the quality of such a recording leaves a lot to be desired – whereas these CDs will be mixed via the sound desk throughout the gig.

In a similar vein to rockers 3 Doors Down, who produced USB wristbands with MP3s of live tracks at their shows earlier this year, it’s another example of bands trying to keep up with the technology era. Truly making the most of the digital age by creating unique releases night after night.

The thing that makes Squeeze’s Pop Up Shop CDs stand out from previous attempts to meet the desires of the keen gig-goer, is the form of the product. The effort to physically publish these sets, track by track, at the scene of the event cannot go unnoticed. Fans who can’t make the shows can even pre-order a copy from the night of their choice, leaving the tracklist to chance.

Here’s a taster of what to expect:

So if you had the opportunity to get your hands on a CD copy of your favourite gig, which would it be?

Beck’s sheet music album is a wake-up call

It’s been revealed this week that slacker-turned-seminal musician Beck will be releasing a brand new album this December. Great news you’re thinking? Well it is, but mainly for those with the ability to read sheet music.

Song Reader, the name of this new release, will comprise of 20 booklets, one for each individual song. These will include lyrics and music notations for a variety of instruments, all of which will be handily presented in a hard-cover carrying case detailed with designs from over a dozen artists.

Beck claims that Song Reader is a way of delving into ‘what an album can be at the end of 2012’. Renditions interpreted by fans and select musicians of these previously unreleased and, more importantly, unrecorded tracks will be featured online via publisher McSweeney’s website.

Now this kind of thing could be easily perceived as hipster nonsense, harping back to the gramophone era in the middle of the digital takeover. Certainly I think there may well be an element of profiting from false nostalgia, releasing an entirely new project in a retro format, albeit incidental or otherwise. However, there’s more to this venture than that.

At face value it’s a musical experiment, and a lavish one at that. Moreover, it’s also a pretty bold statement – a two-fingered salute to illegal downloads, intentional leaks and the dominance of online music sales compared to physical purchases. Song Reader is an intervention for those that have fallen into the habit of passively adding releases to their collection at the click of a finger. It calls for enthusiasm, participation and the realisation that although YouTube and iTunes clearly have their uses, there is more to music than an MP3.

What Beck has created is a wake-up call. Music is a craft not just a commodity.