U2 – Achtung Baby (1991; 2011 deluxe edition reissue)

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by Tom Johnson

Who lost their mind here? The band, their manager, the label? Was it all of them at once? I don’t get this one at all. Many others don’t get this one. One of the absolute classic albums of the last two decades and they completely screwed this one up, seemingly out of greed. What a mess, what a stupid, stupid mess of a release.

Where the previous expanded remasters of their albums had proven to be worth the extra money to invest in, this one makes it seem kind of like they were just warming us up with those to try and slip the worst possible release into our hands at the highest price possible. The two disc version isn’t so bad, full of b-sides (most of which big fans already have) and a scattered few unreleased tracks, but the meat was obviously held for the bigger set, just like the other releases — except this time you have to cough up at least an extra $100, or more, to get that stuff.

The bigger problem is that instead of opening up the extensive Achtung vaults, they merely provide a glimpse — one disc of the same b-sides and unreleased stuff, another of alternate album versions, and then TWO discs of dance remixes (come on, seriously?) plus both the album in question and its follow-up Zooropa and then four DVDs with a documentary (the only NEW, unreleased thing here) and other MTV type documentaries, the available separately Zoo TV Live From Sydney, and videos from both albums.

On the surface it sounds like a lot of material, but looking closer it’s really pretty insubstantial stuff, especially for the target market of this set — the die-hard fans who already have bought the live DVDs, b-sides, etc.

Oh, but if you buy the $500 vinyl box, you get a replica of Bono’s “fly” sunglasses. Totally worth it.

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Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Tom Johnson
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