My Bloody Valentine frontman Kevin Shields claims Sony hid the master tapes from him to delay the reissues of his albums.
My Bloody Valentine revolutionized the shoe-gaze sound by amping up their guitars and putting the distortion to the max. Their albums Loveless and Isn’t Anything are considered classic in their genre and both were recently reissued with bonus discs and hard to find EPs. In an interview with Pitchfork Media Shields explains that he started working on the reissues back in 2001 but was stalled because problems with missing tapes and disputes with Sony.
I tried to start working on it, but the studio that had the tapes, Metropolis Studios, lost them; the analog multi-tracks were all missing for a year. Only after I started threatening to get Scotland Yard involved did they magically, suddenly reappear. The true story is as yet to be determined…
When asked if Sony deliberately lost the tapes Shields replied:
Oh, they did. The contract we did in 2001 basically gave me ownership of the tapes, and then the Sony regime that existed when that contract was signed left. And when the new regime came in, the tapes disappeared. That was relevant because even though I was the owner, it would only revert back to me if I remastered from the original tapes– if the tapes were gone, I couldn’t remaster from them and hence I couldn’t ever own them.
He also explained that due to contract issues Sony slowed the process even further:
That took us to 2003. And then Sony fell into complete breach of contract due to various issues, and it took until last year to fully sort it out. In the meantime, I started the work anyway in 2006, and I completed it in 2007– those are the ones [that leaked] on the internet, that was the near-completed work. And then Sony behaved very badly again– like most sociopathic companies do, they can’t help it– and I had to re-adjust the situation until it was slightly fair again, and that’s why stuff is coming out now.
Shields explains that he could have released the reissues years ago but he didn’t want to unless he had the original tapes:
We could have put out an incredibly substandard version of everything a long time ago. We wouldn’t have used original master tapes. We would have just done what a lot of people do, which is to take the CD and put it into a computer, make it louder, put some different EQ on it, and say it’s “remastered.” Believe it or not, a significant amount of remasters are done that way. Most good artists do it the right way, but a lot of commercial and back-catalog stuff from the 60s and 70s are not from the original tapes.
In other words, the wait for the reissues should be worth it.