Controversy: Paul McCartney's Upcoming Flowers In the Dirt Reissue Raises Fans' Ire

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March 24, 2017 will see the arrival of the long-awaited next addition in Paul McCartney's award-winning Archive Collection: Flowers In the Dirt (originally released in 1989). But one particular decision has raised the hackles of McCartney's collective fan base—and understandably so. Unlike the previous nine entries in the series, a significant portion of the material slated for inclusion in the pricey "deluxe edition" will be available as downloads only.

To survey the tracklist alone, the Flowers deluxe set appears to be the most comprehensive set so far. In addition to a remastered version of the album on disc one, discs two and three include the original demos and 1988 "band demos" of nine Elvis Costello collaborations (McCartney and Costello famously teamed up to write a batch of songs together, several of which were never officially released by either artist). A DVD will contain the long out-of-print documentary Put It There (no word yet on whether it's the original version or the truncated home video version), ten music videos, and three featurettes.

So far, so good. But here's the catch. No less than 16 tracks—five B-sides, eight alternate mixes, three additional Paul/Elvis demos—will NOT be included on a physical CD. Although exclusive to the deluxe edition (purchasers of the two-disc configuration will have to settle for one of the Paul/Elvis demo discs, the first time that an album's B-sides have not been part of the two-disc release), these important tunes have been consigned to digital status. Worse yet, based on the wording of the official press release, its seems these tunes have not be remastered. It's also unclear whether these downloads will be lossless files. 
rsz_flowers_in_the_dirt_display.jpg In other words, this is a deluxe boxed set (that retails for a whopping $149.98) in which roughly one-third of the music is nowhere to be found in physical, hard-copy form. Purchasers will have to burn a CD-R, back up their downloads, and hope they can keep track of them. It's not only an unfortunate decision for this specific set, it sets a worrisome precedent for future Archive Collection releases.

One proactive fan, Evgeny Sokolov from Russia, has taken to to petition Capitol Records (McCartney resigned there last year after a number of years at Concord Music Group), Paul's company MPL Communications, and the man himself. The intent is to convince them to add an additional physical disc of the 16 download-only tracks in order to make this set comprehensive. The petition isn't very elegantly worded, but credit Sokolov with making an effort (as of this writing, the petition is only 42 signatures short of its 1,000 signature goal). Check it out here.

Fan reaction has been overwhelmingly negative, with scores of devotees vowing to skip this release unless a last-minute change can be made. Paul Sinclair of the site Super Deluxe Edition has written a lengthy, impassioned "open letter," voicing the disappointment of many fans (read it here). Let's hope the dissatisfaction is heard by McCartney and his team—these sentiments, rather than ungrateful, are being expressed because these reissues are that important to his fans. Read some of the disappointed comments left by fans on Paul McCartney's official website.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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