" BluesWax Sittin' In With Gordon Anderson
By Bob Putignano
How many labels do you know that offer links on their Web sites asking for reissue suggestions? Real Gone Music does! Check out their site at RealGoneMusic.com
The story goes that in 1993, two guys from Ohio, Gordon Anderson and Gabby Castellana, both separately started businesses: Collectors' Choice Music and Hep Cat Records & Distribution. Both were outlets for buyers and sellers of vintage music recordings. Eighteen years later, they've joined together to launch Real Gone Music, a reissue label dedicated to provide collectors and casual music fans with new CD releases (eight to ten new releases per month) that include well-known artists and obscure cult favorites.
Bob Putignano for BluesWax: Welcome Mr. Gordon Anderson, now of RealGoneMusic.com
Gordon Anderson: Thanks for having me Bob
BW: Thanks for licensing those Grateful Dead Dick's Picks series from www.Dead.net.
GA: Thank goodness for the Deadheads who love their music.
BW: I agree, I love them too, but a lot of these releases have gone out of print.
GA: Yes, some are still available at www.Dead.net, but not all of them. In fact the reason we started from the back with volume thirty-six was because the last thirteen releases never went to retail outlets. The first twenty-three were readily available commercially, but for a short period of time. These releases have been very successful for us, yet, like a lot of Dead concerts (I went to about six Dead shows), though one time I was in college in Boston where we had fourth row center at the Boston Gardens. That was pretty amazing and was around 1980.
The Grateful Dead "Dark Star" into "Eyes of the World" University of Illinois February 22, 1973 Video
BW: They were still pretty good at that time.
GA: They were. The Dick's Picks shows are pretty good shows, but like a lot of Dead shows some are pretty uneven.
BW: For sure, lots of meandering.Lord knows that Real Gone is not just a Dead release label. Your new Real Gone venture is quite diverse genre-wise, like the Gene Harris CD [with Freddy Robinson on guitar] that you just released from the Blue Note vaults.
GA: That one is part of an ongoing relationship with a Chicago-based label called Dusty Groove. We saw that there was a gap in our catalog and felt we were missing the seventies soul-funk and modern jazz titles. I haven't had much experience in those genres. That being said, personally speaking I'm much more of a Coltrane guy. Dusty Groove has done a good job catering to the soul-jazz-funk crowd from the seventies and we put out three releases so far and another three coming in April.
Gene Harris "Summertime" Video
BW: Interesting, you release a pretty strong stream of new releases. It can't be easy doing this?
GA: Ha, you feel my pain. The hardest thing, I suspect you know, is that ideas are plentiful for re-releases, but getting them through the hurdles of licensing is difficult. And then you look to line up the liner notes, get it designed and printed up to meet the street date.
BW: I like that you are added "new and current day" liner notes and not just the ones that were part of the old releases. That to me gives it a whole new perspective and brings that particular release more up to date.
GA: Oh yeah, that's part of our mission. We want to put out quality reissues and collections that offer the discerning listener and buyer what they are looking for. Lets face it, you can find most all of what anyone is looking for digitally, but reissue companies like ours have to give people reasons to buy our brand. Especially since we don't get digitally rights as the licensors retain digital rights. So labels like us subsidize digital rights, so often when we put things out physically we find that the original issuer releases these same albums and tracks out on iTunes.
BW: This doesn't do anything for you.
GA: That's right, that's why we have to add value so that our listener base buys physical copies from us as otherwise they could just download it elsewhere and not from Real Gone.
BW: Plus, how many labels put that many reissues now? Stax/Concord readily comes to mind, but typical reissue labels like Rhino and Shout Factory have gone missing of late.
GA: Most of the reissue labels are overseas now. The market for physical product is better in places like Japan. It goes differently country by country. I have to say that Spotify has wrecked a lot of our industry for physical product, yet it's interesting to see how technology and different cultures accept what we release. The Japanese in particular like physical things. They tend to go for more of what we do on hand-held disc packages than Americans do.
BW: How involved are you with making selections for what you reissue?
GA: I'm the committee of one. [Laughs] But by no means do all the selections come from me. Independent producers pitch me all the time, customers also give me ideas, plus conversations with people allow other thoughts for reissues, too.
BW: No one knows it all! How old are you?
To be continued...
Bob Putignano has been reviewing some of the great reissues from Real Gone Music, last week he began his conversation with Real Gone Cat Daddy Gordon Anderson about the reissue business. This week they continue that conversation...
Bob Putignano for BluesWax: A lot of what you are reissuing are vague remnants in my brain. I probably have the vinyl in my basement somewhere, but having them available on CD is special for me.
Gordon Anderson of Real Gone Music: I left out another big source for suggestions, that being from when I headed up the Collectors Choice music label for seventeen years which was the biggest music mail order catalog. So I got literally thousands of requests for reissues from customers over those years. You mentioned the Cat Mother Newsboys album The Street Giveth...And the Street Taketh Away to me off air. And that one was way over the top requested for many years.
BW: I have the vinyl and, until you sent me a copy, I forgot Hendrix co-produced it.
GA: Right, we are also considering reissuing their follow-up too, Albion Doo Wah. It's never been issued digitally anywhere. It should be interesting to see how it does as it wasn't produced by Hendrix; it's a good album too. It's more bucolic from when they were living in Woodstock, New York, probably smoking a lot of dope, but there's no Hendrix connection.
BW: What about bonus tracks? I die for this kind of stuff.
GA: Yeah, we try to add bonus tracks whenever possible, but they can cause contractual issues. Sometimes when bonus tracks are added it causes the album to be considered a compilation instead of a reissue, which also causes complications. We want the artists to be involved, but sometimes they are not. We want and need their support, but on the contractual side the ease of getting things through the bureaucracy can throw a wrench into the works. But whenever possible we try to add bonus tracks. There are times when the artists don't want bonus tracks, as they feel that the bonus tracks were inferior and wanted the album to stand on its original merits.
BW: I guess I could understand that, but there's always a need (for me) to find out more of went behind the scenes. It's those extra tidbits of additional information that I find tantalizing and at times fascinating, especially if the additional tracks are strong, which sometimes they are, and sometimes they're not. There are times I feel that the so-called "bonus tracks" are just filler too.
GA: I understand. Through it all we are trying to put out eight to ten new reissues a month.
BW: In this day and age that's very ambitious.
GA: It is.
BW: Last year I had Sonny Landreth in the studio, who runs his own label now, and I asked about how his sales were, and he said, "Ooh that..."
GA: We are okay with not selling all that much, so a little bit of a lot as opposed to a lot of a little works for us. We just have to be careful of not overextending ourselves.
BW: Your label is incredibly eclectic.
GA: Exactly! I also enjoy putting out soundtracks, too. We've also got a seventies album by Wilderness Road, who were very politically satirical. Plus a Blues Oyster Cult!
BW: Oh my God...
GA: And a couple of Sea Level albums, Cats On the Coast/On The Edge as two-albums-on-one disc.
BW: I loved Sea Level, especially those albums produced by Stewart Levine. I've noticed that the CD versions of those albums are quite pricey.
GA: It's funny you would say that they're pricey because we do a lot of research, so when something is selling for a lot of money we consider that a good sign.
BW: Back to the Dead, or more specifically many of those Jerry Garcia albums with Nicky Hopkins and Merl Saunders have also gone through the roof price-wise, as they are also out of print now.
GA: I think those labels have more plans for those recordings, so unfortunately I don't think we'll be getting those. I've asked about them, and they tell me they have other plans for those albums.
I'd like to reissue more soul-jazz stuff, too.
BW: Sounds like more Dusty Groove releases.
GA: Yeah, you are spot-on there.
BW: Some of these seventies' recordings are now nearing my third generation of listening to them. I'm not sure I like to admit that, but sometimes a third time is a charm.
GA: Let's hope so.
BW: I'm hoping all of this is working for you and that you are having fun doing this?
GA: It's funny, there's a lot of reissue labels popping up, but most seem to be concentrating on vinyl, which is not our focus. But it seems like if we stay smart and don't get too greedy or bet too much on a single horse, we feel we can make a go of it as an indie reissue company. What's also very important is to have very good distribution, we go through Sony and that's great, and it's really helpful for us.
BW: Lord knows you are covering a lot of ground genre-wise, and there's got to be something available for just about everyone who enjoys music. I feel it's important to keep a lot of this music alive for people of our generation and more so for future generations. Thanks for keeping the beacon burning.
GA: And we appreciate your support, thank you Bob.
BW: Thank you, too, for your support to allow us to share your reissued music with my listeners at WFDU and at BluesWax at www.BluesRevue.com.
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com