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Caveat emptor when it comes to Garth Brooks' "The Limited Series"

Country Standard Time Editorial, June 1998

Caveat emptor when it comes to "The Limited Series" of Garth Brooks
Caveat emptor when considering whether to dip into your pocketbook for "The Limited Series," Garth Brooks new attempt to rake in the sales.

The six-disc set contains each of his first six albums along with one new song for each disc. Some songs were new, others recorded around the same time as that particular disc.

The fault is not with the new songs at all - they in fact are almost uniformly of fine quality.

But the problem is that this whole deal smacks of another sales and marketing attempt. Brooks has not been shy about wanting to sell more albums than The Beatles and hit 100 million by the end of the decade. When this entire set is sold out - that's 2.5 million copies up from the original 2 million - add another 15 million albums to Brooks' total, giving him somewhere around 85 million.

The pricing is cut rate for "The Limited," with retailers complaining that they're barely making any money on it. One record chain is even giving $15 in credit for bringing in used CDs (wonder if Brooks was consulted about that, given his sanctimonious stance a few years back against selling used CDs, a complaint which went nowhere fast).

And to further increase his sales and demand, Brooks pulled the six albums off the market, meaning that once your friendly retailer is out of copies of "Garth Brooks"or "Ropin' the Wind,' you're out of luck until a decade after the initial release of the album. that means his eponymous debut, for example, won't be out until 1999.

The catch is that Brooks wants to release them on a new recording format, DVD, hoping those who already have his vinyl or CD will be induced to buy yet another new format.

Too bad Brooks has gotten so immersed in marketing himself to the nth degree. He needn't do so. The six new songs certainly are of good quality. No complaints there, but basically he is asking his fans to shell out at least about $30 for the chance to do so.

Of course, that is up to record buyers about what they want to do. Just know that in doing so you're feeding into the Brooks marketing machine.

Next time, Garth, how 'bout just releasing the songs as part of a real, honest-to-goodness new disc instead of figuring out ways to increase your sales?