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Wilco: Save your money, don't buy our Blu-ray!*

October 29, 2008 |  3:05 pm

* This version updates an earlier post; please see the jump.

In this tough economic time, Chicago-centered rock band Wilco is looking out for you. For those die-hard Wilco completists out there, the band is trying to save you some money. Don't, says the band, buy a new Blu-ray edition of its 2002 documentary "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart."

At the end of an e-mail announcing tour dates as well as an appearance Thursday night on "The Colbert Report," the band had a "CONSUMER ALERT" (the caps, Pop & Hiss wants it known, are all Wilco). Reads the notice:

Without consulting us, the DVD company (not WB/Nonesuch) that released "I am trying to break your heart" is about to issue a Blu-Ray Edition which, no surprise, costs considerably more (nearly 2x) than the standard DVD. We're unsure as to the rationale for the release, given that the film was shot in beautiful grainy B&W and has a stereo-only audio track... there is, in our opinion, not much to be gained by spending the extra cash. It's your money... and in this case you should probably hang onto it.

On Amazon.com, the single-disc version of the film costs $17.99, the two-disc DVD set will run you $24.99, and the Blu-ray edition, which will be released Nov. 18, is selling at a pre-order price of $30.99. Or you can find the used copy of the VHS (VHS! Was 2002 really that long ago?) for about $12.

UPDATE: Plexifilm co-founder Gary Hustwit e-mailed in a response to Wilco's statement. He says that the Blu-ray carries a higher list price because it costs more to make, and that there are added licensing costs to manufacture discs in the format. Additionally, Hustwit says, the quality of the film is significantly greater in Blu-ray.

Wrote Hustwit, "If you've got a film that was shot on super-16mm, like the Wilco film, a high-definition transfer on Blu-ray disc is going to look better than a standard-definition transfer compressed to DVD. Watching the Blu-ray disc is the closest you can get to actually sitting in a theater and watching the original film.... But we want to release our films in the best available format, and Blu-ray is just better than DVD, period."

On a side note, Wilco's upcoming tour mate, Neil Young, seems to have a different view toward Blu-ray technology. At the end of January, Young will release "Archive," his 10-disc set of performances from 1963-72 in multiple formats, including Blu-ray.

"Blu-ray is the future," Young told Billboard. "It sounds the best; the navigating system is the best. I've made a lot of CDs and we've made a lot of DVDs, and Blu-ray technology is so far superior to anything else. The fact there aren't many players out there now doesn't meant that much to me, because it is the future, so I would rather focus on what's next. If you were to get a Blu-ray of the 'Archive,' you would get the best."

Sounds like some debate fodder for the tour bus.

Neil Young will be playing, sans Wilco, Thursday night at the Forum in Inglewood.

-- Todd Martens