The songs remain the same, the profits rise

It's fine for bands to re-record their hits, says Elisa Bray – but don't let them tell you it's all about artistic integrity

Last week Squeeze released a new album. Except it wasn't really a "new" album, nor was it strictly a "best of". It is a re-recording of their greatest hits. Squeeze's Spot the Difference is a collection of their most popular songs re-recorded by the band as faithfully as possible to the originals. When fans already have access to three versions of greatest hits by Squeeze, not even their biggest fans really need a fourth. Indeed, when I ask Glenn Tilbrook, co-founder of Squeeze, what fans can hope to gain from Spot the Difference that they don't already have from Squeeze's previous greatest-hits collections, he says: "Not much!"

But it's not for the fans. It's in aid of artistic control and pure business-oriented cunning. Squeeze are not alone. In the past few years, several artists have been re-recording their own music and releasing it themselves: Suzanne Vega, Squeeze, AC/DC, Twisted Sister, Albert Hammond and Sparks, as well as others whose musical careers span the decades. The reason, they claim, is the rise in their songs being synced in adverts, television and film soundtracks. Sync deals are a potentially big source of revenue for artists, but so long as the back catalogue belongs to a major label which can charge clients whatever sum they like for the usage of a song, the artist's portion will vary. For many such long-standing acts, their contract with a record label may have long expired, but they still find themselves tied to the label. By recreating their greatest hits, they offer clients in television, film and advertising an alternative option.

For Squeeze, whose back catalogue is owned by Universal, the re-recordings were sparked by a new version of "Goodbye Girl" they undertook for an advertisement for a company a few years ago. They decided that, while they were at it, they might as well record more old songs.

Tilbrook explains: "Universal will do whatever they want. We can undercut their rate because the money goes straight to us, so we can undermine their business while promoting our own. They're very inflexible. Most of the back catalogue is not available to us, but they're our babies. We're below Universal's commercial radar, yet they won't let us go, and this is some way of wrestling our control back. I have no compunction in undercutting Universal. For a company like Universal, it's all about the catalogues. The record companies are responsible for their own demise because they are not forward looking in where they invest."

Other artists who reclaimed control over their songs include Albert Hammond, whose song was used in a Vicks Vapour Rub advert, and Sparks, who re-recorded "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us", while many more are following to make the most of the increasing sync deals on offer. But it's not always just a case of recreating the tracks in the same mould as the original. Suzanne Vega re-recorded most of her back catalogue, not just the hits, with the intention of providing a different, more intimate sound for her fans on the album Love Songs.

But where does that leave the fans? Squeeze's new album recreates originals such as "Up the Junction", "Cool for Cats" and "Tempted" with the same templates, but as Tilbrook admits, it was hard work without the creativity, "like putting building blocks together." However, it compares well to the previous greatest-hits collections. "We did such a good job that it stands up," Tilbrook says. "Perversely, I'm pleased with it." A couple of the tracks are even an improvement on their originals – the gospel reworking of "Some Fantastic Place" and Tilbrook's improved vocals in "Black Coffee in Bed", for example. But if you have the other greatest-hits albums, there's little reason for buying it. Leave it to the advertising and television execs.

Arts and Entertainment
Crowd control: institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are packed

Art
Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks in 2011

Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandal

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian Jack Dee has allegedly threatened to quit as chairman of long-running Radio 4 panel show 'I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue'

Edinburgh Festival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Director Paul Thomas Anderson (right) and his movie The Master featuring Joaquin Phoenix

film
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
There are no plans to replace R Kelly at the event

music
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>Laura
Carmichael- Lady Edith Crawley</strong></p>
<p>Carmichael currently stars as Sonya in the West End production of
Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville Theatre. She made headlines this autumn
when Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall shouted at her in a
half-sleepy state during her performance. </p>
<p>Carmichael made another appearance on the stage in 2011, playing
two characters in David Hare’s <em>Plent</em>y
at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. </p>
<p>Away from the stage she starred as receptionist Sal in the 2011
film <em>Tinker Tailor Solider Spy</em>. </p>

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana admits she's

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices