I’ve looked at band reunions before (144: Back For Good?), but I’ve not looked at the glut of album reissues, remasters and other ways that record labels have found to help bolster their physical sales numbers that little bit more, as digital sales continue to increase. And while I have a bit of a distrust of this kind of re-sale, almost – many people are paying again for a product that they have bought in some form before – I will admit I’ve bought a few of late. Particularly as I have lost, had stolen or in some cases pretty much worn out some of the originals.
What got me thinking about this? The news that the long awaited My Bloody Valentine reissue/remasters finally get released on 07-May – honest – after four fucking years since they were first mooted. Nice to see Kevin Shields still works to a different sense of time to everyone else, eh?
And ironically enough, Storming The Base, who have great editorial pieces in their newsletter each week, also had a musing on this last Friday, as the craze to re-issue has filtered down to smaller labels too. To make this a little more specific, I’m looking at those re-releases that add something new. Be that a radical new sound, more material, shiny repackaging, or a bit of all three. Those that simply reissue and repress the original with no change are ignored.
II – The Final Option
An album that certainly warranted a remaster treatment (the recording always sounded a bit thin), but I was somewhat dismayed to find that there was barely any discernable difference in the sound. Like it hadn’t been touched at all, in fact. A crying shame, too, as the album is great, just not loud enough. Still, one big point in favour of this release: the remix CD is basically Rings of Steel (which was awesome on it’s own, particularly Clawfinger’s crunching remix of To The Hilt) and a few more remixes besides.
Pretty Hate Machine
From the weakest re-issue here to probably the finest remastering I’ve ever heard of an electronic album. The difference here was utterly astounding – and the key here is that Trent himself went back to the masters and re-did himself. Everything here is amped up – it sounds enormous, casting away the thin, reedy sound of the original, and there are elements in some songs, particularly the quieter, spacier ones, that I swore I’d never heard before the first time I’d heard this version. Talk about hearing an album in a different light. And, of course, the dancefloor anthems now sound amazing, particularly the evergreen Head Like A Hole, that now punches holes in the floor like it always should – play the old version followed by this, and you’ll never go back to the original again. The packaging is very pretty, too…
The Shape Of Punk To Come
A release that actually ended the band, this revolutionary album (both in intentions and in musicality) always sounded pretty damned awesome in the first place, has influenced countless bands (even Anthrax have covered New Noise) and kicked off countless moshpits. But remarkably there are many who perhaps hadn’t heard the heady rush of New Noise, or Summerholiday vs. punk routine etc. So this reissue was a great reminder or introduction, and was backed up with evidence why their live shows passed into legend. The live CD is impressive (it is a pretty good overview of their recorded output, and just check the utter savagery of Rather Be Dead), but the whole package is almost worth it alone for the staggering live version of album title track The Shape Of Punk To Come on the DVD, where they start it in the dressing room offstage, waiting for the opening sample to finish, and burst onto the stage and into the song as it kicks off. If they open with this at Sonisphere it is going to be carnage. Bring it on.
Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space B P
Given that the album infamously took an age to release, after Jason Pierce tried for ages to finish the perfect mix of the album – and that it sounded pretty damned awesome when it finally made it onto the shelves in June 1997 – this did seem a bit of a curio to be re-released and re-mastered. But it did have one ace up its sleeve – the “original” version of the title track, a version that is so amazing that live, it resulted in a speechless crowd when it finished. The additional material is interesting sketches and demos of the final material, showing just how painstakingly this album was put together, but it is the album itself that is the reason for purchase. I’m happy to admit I bought a jewel-case version to listen to, and the box with the CD in a blister-pack, that still hasn’t been opened (I’m not making the same mistake I made with the original!).
The Holy Bible
The 10th anniversary of this band’s best album – and of course their final album with Richey Edwards – was an early “deluxe” re-issue, and perhaps was an album well worth this treatment, particularly as there was an alternative mix of the album, the “US Version” that was remixed by Tom Lord-Alge, that many (including me) had not heard…and astonishingly was actually punchier and better than the release that actually saw the light of day in 1994. Indeed, even the songs that were already angry enough, ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit’sworldwouldfallapart in particular, absolutely seethes with white hot fury in this version – and the version of Of Walking Abortion isn’t far behind, emphasising the near-industrial touches and rhythms that characterised parts of this album in the first place. With hindsight, you have to wonder how on earth this version wasn’t preferred. Adding that to the various other bits and pieces that padded out the 2 CDs, and the DVD of videos and period live footage, this is one re-release that was absolutely worth the time to revisit.
As metal pulled itself back from the margins and into the mainstream around the turn of the millenium, it definitely felt that some of the pioneers within the genre from only a few years before – and those that had done the groundwork for others’ success – had been left in the slipstream somewhat. Fear Factory were such a band, although they were their own worst enemies, releasing a succession of weaker and weaker albums following their breakthrough (and best) release Demanufacture. The first album, really, to fully fuse mechanical, industrial beats and samples with death metal, but with a rare melodic touch, it hit like a bombshell upon original release, and the band followed it up with the equally revolutionary (for a band of their stature) remix album Remanufacture. The reissue remastered both, and added a few bits and pieces (including another staggering remix of New Breed). Still, though, pick this up, and put the original on. Loud.
Prometheus – The Discipline Of Fire & Demise
The unexpected reunion of Emperor for a short time in 2006-07 – a reunion I managed to miss, and have kicked myself ever since for doing so – was one of reflection, and some might say a reclaiming of their throne as the greatest Black Metal band of them all. Accompanying the reunion was a limited-edition reissue and remaster of all five of their albums, which while remastered I have to confess I didn’t really notice too much of a difference in the sound. Still, they looked pretty, and had the odd bit of additional material – I only bought this one in this form, though, mind!
The Boo Radleys were mentioned a few times in Luke Haines’ fucking hilarious book Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in Its Downfall, his retelling of his time in underrated band The Auteurs (a band I’m not convinced are going to see reissues anytime soon, mores the pity), and he was hardly complimentary. I’ll be disagreeing with him here, as I still love this album. It’s chaotic meshing of all kinds of styles, never really fitting in anywhere else but still sounding fresh, was an attraction from the start, but in those times where Britpop was beginning to take over, it was perhaps always a little too “out there” for many. There is a lot of disposable stuff on the second and third CDs, to be fair, but right at the end is the best track of all – the full, six minute majesty of Lazarus.
There are perhaps few albums of the nineties surrounded in as much mythology as this, the one full album Buckley released before his untimely death in 1997. An extraordinary showcase of his vocal range and open-minded approach to music, whose styles stretched from hard rock to choral pieces to heartfelt balladeer, it is an album that has divided opinion since. And, of course, unleashed one of the finest covers ever released (Hallelujah, if you really need to ask). So it was perhaps no surprise that Sony made it an early “Legacy Edition” deluxe reissue, with various offcuts, demos and live stuff on the second CD. But quite how the gorgeous ballad Forget Her was omitted from the original release, and only showed up on this reissue, is something we’ll be scratching our heads about for some time.
Eight peerless albums all brought together in one gorgeous boxset (12″ vinyl size, with booklets that size and the eight CD albums inside), all remastered to perfection, sounding fresh and new. Well, what did we expect from the electronic pioneers, with their famous attention to detail? Ok, so some albums have dated better than others, but this is possibly eight albums of the most important electronic music yet released, and so the potential cash-in aspect of this (it wasn’t cheap, even when I bought it at the end of last year) can be excused. Consider it an education if you’ve not heard it before, eh?