So here’s an analogy for Next, and once again I’m going with music.
Successful bands usually end up putting out a Greatest Hits compilation after a handful of albums. Sometimes this is just to fulfil contractual obligations (see: live albums), and always, it’s designed to make a stack of cash. (Lets please pretend it’s the age before downloads made my record collection obsolete and made me cry about how much money I’d spent on… say…. Deacon blue)
Now, the Greatest Hits isn’t really designed for the diehard fan. They already have all the earlier records right? They probably have the Japanese imports and picture discs too. No, the Hits package is for the casual listener, the one who doesn’t really have a big music collection, the one who ‘likes a bit of everything really’. There are way more of these people than there are the diehard (with the exception of Marillion) and when they get behind something, and it becomes available in the Malls and High Sts and garages and so on, then these things can go on to make an absolute mint.
Carry On Up The Charts by The Beautiful South. No-ones favourite band ever, becomes number one in the album chart for 17 years (approx)
The die hard fan doesn’t mind or object particularly. In fact, if there’s the lure of a new track or a rare b-side, they’ll probably get it too. But they won’t ever play the thing. They would much rather return to the source, one album at a time.
For illustration, Pink Floyd. A band with defined eras, from the Syd Barrett nursery pop songs, to hifi exploration, to Roger Waters therapy, to Dave Gilmours pension plan. All discreet, all worthy, all Floyd. I could happily listen to any one piece of the Floyd oeuvre at any time, blissfully. I can’t listen to Echoes (the Hits package) in one sitting. It reminds me of the originals (in a good way) and sends me packing back to them. Having the songs sitting cheek by jowl just doesn’t feel right. They’re not in the right sequence, and they’re missing my favourite one, and they included that dodgy one. Grump.
It doesn’t matter that the original albums were never perfect, that they each contained at least one poor song. That’s fine. The fan forgives.
And that, is where D&D Next finds itself. D&Ds Greatest Hits, remixed, with bonus tracks.