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I recently bought The Best of the Jam and was slightly dissapointed that 'Down in the tube station at midnight' fades out before the end proper.

Also, every (non original album) version of 'Barbara Ann' by the Beach Boys is similarly shortened.

So, do they do this to convince you to buy the original album or is it a CD capacity issue ?

I can see this in the case of the Jam CD as there's loads of tracks, but the Beach Boys greatest hits certainly has enough space of the 20-30 seconds of extra track...

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  • not really relevant to my answer, but Compact Snap would be the one to get, for 'correct versions' of everything. EDT:That track listing shows length at 3:59, which is only 3s shorter than the full album track, easy allowable with production fades to hide a bit of noise. – Tetsujin Feb 27 '15 at 10:28
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There used to be great debate over which versions were put on compilations, especially in the 'early days' of CDs.

It could depend on who put the compilation together, original record company, 3rd party buyout deal, etc.

You would usually find if the original record company did it, then the debate would only be whether to use the original single or the album track version - contentious in itself, as some would argue it should be the radio edit, others would argue for the single, some for the album track, which may be longer than both the others, but might offend the 'purists'.

When it comes to 3rd party buyouts, sometimes they got the rights to produce the compilation, but weren't given access to the full suite of versions available to the original record company. If they really lucked-out, they would only have access to radio edits, with dodgy fades, chunks chopped out of the middle etc, or sometimes worse, only EQ masters rather than the original masters; some of which sounded like they were cut with a knife rather than a lathe.[1] Or, they may have access only to earlier compilation versions made originally for vinyl - the good old bad old days when it was far more important to be able to claim you had 25 number ones on your compilation than it was to bother including good versions, sonically or otherwise.

There's always a third possibility, though - whoever put the compilation together either plain 'got it wrong' & no-one checked, or they were time-limited & decided to sacrifice one single version in favour of the radio edit.

[1] There was always a fight between the mix engineer, mastering engineer & cutting engineer. One would add some treble because it would be 'lost in the cut', the next would have to try to reduce some of that to be able to properly cut it & make it sound something like music again - reinforcing the idea that treble was always lost in the cut. Vicious circle ;)

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