While I would not really describe myself as a true audiophile, I am quite particular about the clarity of the sound that reaches my ear, and – except for rarities or unpublished recordings - I'd rather not listen at all than listen to low bit-rate mp3s or on unsatisfactory systems. Most of my music collection is on CDs, which I have also encoded as FLAC or lossless Apple files for mobility purposes, and although I am aware of the limitations of both, I am entirely pleased with the sound they can offer. I still buy vinyl records if that medium is the first I come across or the only one available, or if I know that a particular album will sound significantly better or differently on vinyl, or – which is most frequently the case - to duplicate a CD if the artist is a favourite of mine.
As far as Loreena’s music is concerned, that's an entirely different story, as over the past few years I’ve been collecting every single item from her discography that I have managed to get my hands on which has a distinctive detail that differentiates it from others, so I've got all the six vinyl releases from the Warner era, as well as the European and North-American vinyl editions of TWTSTB. As regards the pre-1997 records, I prefer the remastered audio CDs, so I rarely listen to them on vinyl , and then it’s for no other reason than to snobbishly emulate a highbrow listening exercise. In the case of TWTSTB, although for practical/mobility reasons I have heard it much more often on CD than on vinyl, I do appreciate the differences and do think of the vinyl record as "the better one". To make a long story short, I will therefore definitely get all of the vinyl records that hopefully you will release, be it individually or in boxes.
Here are my answers to your questions, in order:
1.) Regarding the extra items, like others who have posted here, I would be most enthusiastic about a bonus record containing, not necessarily tracks that have never been released before, but songs which have not been published on any commercial QR release, such as the 1988 live version of The Stolen Child
, the 1994 live version of Huron 'Beltane' Fire Dance
, the original version of The Old Ways
from the early WEA releases of The Visit
, the remix version of Caravanserai
or the early 90s studio version of Raglan Road
that was only available as a bonus disc from Barnes & Noble. (A bonus track from each studio album would total to an enticing bonus disc). Items which I think would be nice to have, apart from the booklet of liner notes, would include posters of the cover art and, rather than a CD which most of us will already own, the buy-now-hear-today option.
2.) At the risk of sounding greedy, I would envisage three different box sets: one of the studio recordings as listed in your email, one of the seasonal recordings, and one of all the four live recordings – which would be a great opportunity to release the full original 10 tracks that were only available on the Live in San Francisco advance promo CD. (Of course, I know this is not about new releases, but if you've got more tracks from that concert lying hidden somewhere, I’m sure they would attract more buyers…).
Another option would be to split the studio recordings into two, duplicating The Journey Begins
box, and packaging the more eastern-sounding MAM, BOS and AAM in a different box (The Journey Continues?
) One reason would be that this would create a wider choice and make it less expensive for those who might consider gifting the music on vinyl.
As regards the pricing question, The Mask and Mirror
and The Visit
vinyl records have sold on eBay for as much as 300 US dollars each. On average, The Mask and Mirror
sells at around 150 euros, The Visit
much more – so you will be doing folks a huge favour if you do decide to go ahead with the project. Personally, I think the pricing schemes of QR have so far been extremely reasonable, especially when compared to other artists, and if you follow the same policy no one should be justified in feeling robbed or discouraged from buying by the price. Depending on the additional contents, I would expect to pay something in the range of 20-25 euros per record (as charged by MapleMusic).
3.) Most people who will be purchasing the vinyl records will most probably have already bought the Nights From The Alhambra
DVD and CD set, so a companion DVD might not really be “essential”. What I would personally really love to have on the vinyl record, though, would be the unedited version of The Mystic's Dream
as it was performed at the Alhambra. On the DVD/CD, the original live lyra and hurdy-gurdy intro was replaced with the studio intro to the song, and I for one would prefer the full unedited performance to a companion digital medium which is already available.
4.) It seems that I am not alone in thinking that a vinyl box set of the two winter recordings would make a nice present at the end of the year, and as such, in this particular case, I think companion CDs would be crucial. Other than that, a box similar in contents to the one that QR released in the winter of 2008 (which could include, for instance, a perpetual/year-neutral calendar with photos) would be nice to have or gift.
5.) If I were to customise my own box for the records, I would opt for a versatile design similar to the one of the "deluxe" version of the 2008 The Journey Begins
edition, with one box inside another, which can be removed and allow the spines to be viewed, while at the same time being able to be stored horizontally.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to express our wishes and fantasies, and good luck with the project!