Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Boxing Day

It's no secret the music business has been floundering recently, but you wouldn't be able to tell if you looked at my credit card statement. The latest gambit is reissuing baby-boomer favorites in pricey (sometimes EXTREMELY pricey) box sets. Unfortunately for my bank balance, I've fallen prey to a few of these efforts... but what can I say? They really are pretty cool.

NEVERMIND by Nirvana: Celebrating the 20th anniversary of this amazing release, a couple of different packages have been released. The expensive ($149-ish) version features the remastered original album + B-sides, two CDs of demos and studio sessions (most previously unreleased), and a CD and DVD of a previously unreleased concert at the Paramount theater in Seattle. The CDs come packaged in a 12" record sized box with a glossy book of photos and record company ephemera. I'm still wading through the unreleased material, but the demos are very interesting and very listenable. And I'm always sucker for live material. There is also a 2CD version of $20 that has the remastered original plus a "best of" selection of tracks from the big set. And there's a blu-ray of the Paramount concert coming soon. I've seen some complaints about the remastered album's sound, but to these ruined old ears, it all sounds pretty good to me.

ACHTUNG BABY by U2: Loved this CD when it first came out, and now there's so much more! For a mere $125 you too can own the "Super Deluxe 10 disc (six CDs + four DVDs) edition including the original Achtung Baby album, the follow-up album, Zooropa, b-sides and re-workings of previously unheard material recorded during the Achtung Baby sessions. Four DVDs including "From The Sky Down", Zoo TV, all the videos from Achtung Baby plus bonus material. Hardback book and 16 art prints." But the U2 boys don't stop there -- for a mere $450 (!) you get all that plus vinyl sides, Bono's sunglasses (!) and a metallic puzzle box. It's all a little extreme (a little?) but these ARE discretionary purchases...

I see from Amazon that Elvis Costello is releasing a limited edition version of his Singing Songbook concerts from L.A. earlier this year, to be followed next year by less expensive editions for the average listener. The concert I saw was amazing, so this is good news, but $258?! Really? Oh, wait, there's an autograph? SOLD. (Sucker!!!)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What A Coincidence! or Great Minds Think Alike!

I've had Nirvana's "Nevermind" massive reissue for a few weeks and had better open it to make sure everything's in mint condition before amazon's deadline to replace stuff. I'm especially excited for the concert DVD; I've read that the blu-ray is out of synch, but the regular DVD is fine. I'm a latecomer to Nirvana. It took me seeing a documentary in 2005 on the making of "Nevermind" to understand the lyrics and appreciate the music. I must have been the lone hold-out of my generation that helped make Nirvana huge.

More importantly, U2's "Achtung Baby" was what got me into actively listening to music; the only stuff I put on myself before then were records accompanying "Mr. Men" books or Sesame Street albums as a child. Maybe that's not exactly true; I asked my big brother to buy me Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" for my birthday, but I had to accept its that it was a bore since he kept listening to "Achtung Baby" and I'd prefer to remember THAT as my first moment of active listening. Within a year, I was playing his cassette myself and reading the lyrics repeatedly and then started buying the U2 albums my brothers didn't already own. I actually made my big brothers sick of U2.

It does piss me off that U2 is reissuing stuff many fans already have, though; many b-sides are missing and, instead of including the already released 1993 Sydney concert, how about releasing some of those pro-shot ZOO TV concerts U2 keeps in its vaults?

My guess is U2's present, hyper pro-American stance wouldn't tolerate the mocking of George Bush and the first Gulf War in which the 1992 American leg of the Zoo TV tour engaged.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More than nearly anything, I just wish U2 would return to making an album like this -- my still favorite album. It breaks my heart how much U2 has sold out artistically and politically since 2000. There's no texture or use of loud and soft by The Edge. Bono's lyrics are embarrassingly direct and dumbed down; the recorded-in-one-day "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" b-side "Fast Cars," which not great, is more adventurous and subtle than anything on the official album. U2 is trying too hard to appeal to a mainstream that appreciates nothing great nowadays. Sure, the Fox Network made "The X-Files" and "Millennium" Season 1 in the '90s, but it canceled "Virtuality" a couple of years ago; similarly, U2 could make great music that could be widely accepted in the '80s and '90s, but not now; it had to choose and it has chosen obnoxious cheesiness.

It pains me that the man who once used "Bullet the Blue Sky" and "Mothers of the Disappeared" to berate America and its allies' Cold War behavior now writes about Afghanistan and Iraq from the perspective of Western soldiers and journalists and doesn't, for a moment, sympathize with the occupied people. On Jay Leno in 2001, he pronounced the US invasion of Afghanistan that saw many wrongfully detained in Guantanamo Bay "the right kind of war." He publicly calls Bush administration officials and Tony Blair well-meaning in their follies and hangs out with corrupt liberal establishment figures like Bill Clinton who destroyed Glass-Stegall regulation of the market, singed into law welfare reform, 3-strikes-and-you're-out, and extraordinary rendition at home, and pushed the Washington Consensus abroad, sabotaged to UN to not act on the Rwandan genocide, and preserved in the American consciousness the notion that Saddam Hussein was an existential threat to the US so that his successor could exploit it further. Bono would endorse the devil if he gave some money to Africa. The Edge is now a land-developer, jeopardizing the environment in California for his several mansion vanity project. Bono has sat on the board of a company that devised a computer game in which the player can assassinate a Hugo Chavez-like figure, which is ironic, given that U2 commented on war videogames as inculcating violence in the culture during Zoo TV.

Despite my problems with how U2 has behaved, including ripping off its fans (The Unforgettable Fire release DVD barely had anything new!), I ordered the uber deluxe box set, which just arrived today ( had it for $308.99!), but I'm trying to keep my credit card bill low this month or my father might get mad because I've also ordered "The Smiths" complete collection, remastered by Johnny Marr. My family hasn't owned a vinyl player in ages, but I'm a sucker for having it all.

I'm just doing my part to keep folks employed; that's it!

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In other U2 screwing fans news, it turns out the "From the Sky Down" documentary on the making of "Achtung Baby" DVD is missing a few scenes seen on the aired version.,18361.0.html

Why didn't they have a deleted scenes section for the DVD, so we'd get everything?

8:09 PM  

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