I have always tried to avoid going negative on this site. I rarely bother posting negative reviews, choosing to stay positive and devote the time and space I have here to promoting music and albums that I like. I am now going to make an exception to that...for Amazon.com. The new Cheap Trick album The Latest is a great sounding record and contains some of the best songs they've ever done (including the amazingly fun "Sick Man of Europe"). Cheap Trick have really outdone themselves with this one and I highly recommend it. The problem is the deal they made with Amazon.com. For some strange reason Amazon.com is the only place you can purchase or download the album right now, at least for the next month. It will be available later from other sites and retail outlets. This is a limited exclusive and it wasn't publicized with the news of the release date from what I had seen. They promote the 23rd as the release date, but it's only available from Amazon or via pre-order from the bands site. I could deal with that, the real problem is what you get if you make the mistake of ordering the CD from Amazon (like I did). What you get is a CD-R, not an actual replicated CD. The print in the jewel case that comes with it is so poorly printed and trimmed that I must say I have never, ever, in 23 years in the music industry and with more than 7,000 CD's in my collection seen such poorly manufactured jewel case print. The paper is thinner than the 1 ply toilet paper in a porta-pottie and the booklet pages are all cut to different lengths. My 6 year old daughter could have done it better trimming by hand. The spines on the tray card don't even line up with the spines of the jewel case. This is not a criticism of the design, I love the cover art, there are some cool pics in the book and the disc face art is clean and nice. But even so, the CD is not a professional disc, but a recordable CD-R. In other words, it's made on-demand, quick and cheap. On demand CD's are nothing new, but what is new is an on-demand CD-R with cheap digital print for a new release of a major band. I buy thousands of CD and have been involved with the release of thousands of others and I am pretty sure this has never ever happened. Which is one of the many reasons why I went onto Amazon a week or so ago and preordered the new Cheap Trick CD with no reason to question the packaging or whether or not it would be a professionally replicated disc (or a CD-R that is not the same). I somehow failed to notice the sentence in a tiny font that is right after the editorial review that says, "This product is manufactured on demand using CD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply."
In other words, Amazon is telling you here, in this one sentence made to look like the last line of the editorial review where you'll never read it that it's a CDR so when you want to return it you can't.
This is what I call a REALLY cheap trick.
So here are the questions that remain:
* When the disc is finally released via other outlets on 7/21 will it still be a CDR?
* Is the disc they're selling on their site also a CDR with the same horrible print?
* Will Amazon refund my money and accept the return?
I am trying to find these things out and will post my findings here. When this album is available on iTunes or they finally release it on a professionally replicated disc with professional packaging, it is well worth getting. Cheap Trick is great. This Amazon.com deal is not. If anyone has any thoughts, insight or opinions on this I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.