Thursday, April 5, 2018

The rarest Go-Betweens CD?

As a longtime Go-Betweens collector and discographer, I've seen practically every Go-Betweens release go up for sale at one time or another, including the ultra-rare 5 New Songs split cassette from 1981.

But there's one Go-Betweens release I've never seen listed in any discography, sold on any auction site, listed on any record retail site, or even mentioned in any fan forum. It's not a very exciting release, but I'm prepared—on the basis of my years of collecting—to declare it the rarest of all mass-produced Go-Betweens CDs.

It's the "Was There Anything I Could Do?" one-track promotional CD single that was released by Capitol/Beggars Banquet to US radio stations in 1988. 

I never heard this song on the radio back then, but I saw the music video on MTV two or three times, and the song spent seven weeks on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in late 1988-early 1989, peaking at #16, so it enjoyed some college-radio success.

Even though a lot of college stations must have received this promo CD, I've seen a copy of it only once. It was in 1989 in the bargain bin of a used record store, and I didn't buy it because it had the call letters of WQAX (an FM radio station that broadcast from Bloomington, Indiana, until 1993) scrawled across the face of the disc in black permanent marker. Even though I was avidly collecting everything Go-Betweens at that time, I thought that the writing ruined the CD's value as a collectible and that I'd find a pristine copy later. I never did. 

These one-track promo CDs that were sent to radio stations for airplay were widely thought to be junk after they'd served their purpose. Promo CDs that had exclusive tracks and artwork were collectible, but one-track promo CDs that didn't contain a unique radio mix or radio edit and had a generic inlay card (or no inlay card at all) were usually seen as worthless unless the artist was a highly collectible one like Bob Dylan. 

As a result, radio stations routinely pitched these one-track promo CDs in the trash. The discs would sometimes end up in a used record store in the dollar or 25¢ bin for a while, but they often didn't sell, and then they'd be discarded, perhaps having their jewel cases recycled to replace the broken cases of more desirable CDs.

So, even though the "Was There Anything I Could Do?" promo CD was a replicated disc and therefore must have been manufactured in a quantity of at least 500, it's likely that almost all of them now reside in landfills. The fact that the most ardent Go-Betweens collectors I know have never located a single copy certainly suggests as much. Or maybe a few copies are floating around out there but people still see them as worthless and never try to sell them.

I've tried without success to figure out the catalog number of this CD single. The one-track US promo 12" single is SPRO-79427. The promo CD would have the prefix DPRO, but DPRO-79427 is Capitol's 1992 one-track promo CD for the Cages' "Too Tired." The Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart listed Beggars Banquet 91230 as the catalog number, but that's the catalog number for the 16 Lovers Lane album, not a single. Wikipedia has an article about "Was There Anything I Could Do?" that mentions the promo 12" single but not the promo CD single.

I'm hoping that someone who has a copy of the CD will see this post and provide some info in the comments.

Here are a couple examples of Capitol one-track promo CDs from 1988-89. Neither one appears to have been packaged with an inlay card. 

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