Here’s a summary of the panel session which I’m delivering with my esteemed colleagues from the Music Dept. at Oxford Brookes University as part of the Crosstown Traffic: Popular Music Theory and Practice, IASPM UK&Ireland Conference, University of Huddersfield, 3rd Sept 2018. Hope to see you there! For further details about the conference see https://www.iaspm.org.uk/crosstown-traffic-popular-music-theory-and-practice/.
Spot the Difference: replication, rights and the musical work
Spot the Difference: The voice of Squeeze and the nature of the (re)recorded musical work
Dr Dai Griffiths, Oxford Brookes University
In 2010 the rock band Squeeze issued an album entitled Spot the Difference. This consisted of new recordings of tracks that were originally recorded between 1978 and 1993, attempting note and production perfect reproductions of the originals in order to reclaim lost copyrights of the original tracks. The album is separable from, for example, tribute acts, re-recording for the purpose of better technological quality, or other kinds of re-packaging or re-issue. This paper sets the scene for this panel of three papers by introducing the overall context of the re-recordings, in terms of Squeeze’s career and outlining the rationale for the selection of tracks included on Spot the Difference. In this paper, the album is positioned in the context of studies of the nature of the musical work and of intertextuality. In particular, while the songs themselves and instrumental resources can be replicated, the distinctive voices of Squeeze’s recordings elude replication.
Spot the Difference: Reproduction, re-recording and the reimagining of historic tracks
Dr Jan Butler, Oxford Brookes University
Shifting away from the contextual focus of the opening paper, this paper focusses upon the auditory life stories of the tracks on Spot the Difference. Musical examples will be played to illustrate the aural evolution of the tracks from original versions, dating back to the 1970s in most cases, through various transformations over time through multiple formats, re-releases and remasters, ending with the 2010 versions. As well as being analysed through close listening, the difference between the tracks have been ‘spotted’ by Joe Turner by graphically analysing the recordings through adobe audition. Examples of Joe’s ‘graphic analyses’ of the tracks will be presented here, alongside evidence regarding the production and re-recording process drawn from interviews with Chris Difford and other key personnel involved in the album’s creation.
Spot the Difference: On the rights track: Song histories, rights migrations and the ‘priceless’ original
Dr Jennifer Skellington, Oxford Brookes University
This final paper in the panel session begins by offering detailed rights histories of the tracks included on Spot the Difference. In doing so, it will show how the songs have migrated from publisher to publisher over time, how new rights have been created, how each of the songs have been exploited over the years and the implications of these events, not least for the members of Squeeze themselves. To complement the evidence gleaned from historical and archived data, the paper draws upon quantitative and qualitative discoveries about the songs gleaned from a database built for the purposes of this study and, as with the previous papers in this panel, includes relevant content from research interviews with Chris Difford and other personnel who participated in the creation of Spot the Difference. The paper, and the panel session, closes with a consideration of the lessons which might be learned from this exceptional album, and the implications for other artists who might consider embarking upon a similar musical undertaking.