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U2

Achtung Baby (20th Anniversary Edition)

(Island; US: 1 Nov 2011; UK: 31 Oct 2011)

Review [10.Nov.2011]

5



U2
Achtung Baby (20th Anniversary Edition)


“We had this thing where we really kinda believed in music as a sacrament.” That’s Bono, talking at the top of From the Sky Down, Davis Guggenheim’s fascinating new documentary chronicling Achtung Baby’s arduous recording sessions. The members of U2 don’t make music… the music makes them. They’ve steadfastly believed in music’s divine properties for over 30 years and this belief has rarely led them astray. There’s really no other way to explain how, with the glitchy, Euro dance music inspired Achtung Baby, they pulled off the single greatest reinvention in rock ‘n’ roll history.


At the dawn of a ‘90s, Bono and the Edge, Adam ‘n’ Larry traveled to Berlin in search of a new beginning. And a new beginning found them. Since Achtung Baby and its subsequent Zoo TV tour were exercises in sensory overload, it’s understandable that the band would want to go big for the album’s 20th anniversary. I would advise skipping the single disc remaster (which you should already own) and the double-disc set (which adds a smattering of interesting if not particularly revelatory B-Sides and covers) and heading straight for the mammoth, wallet destroying “Super Deluxe Edition”. A wad of your hard earned dollars ($150) will get you six discs, including two discs of remixes and the equally significant 1993 companion album Zooropa, Guggenheim’s documentary is here, along with enough viewing, reading, and listening material to keep you in U2 until 2013. Spend a long weekend immersed in this boxed set and the excitement of that bygone era becomes palpable. Even better than the real thing? Not quite, but close enough. Daniel Tebo


 

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Disco Inferno

The Five EPs

(One Little Indian; US: 8 Nov 2011; UK: 12 Sep 2011)

Review [8.Nov.2011]

4



Disco Inferno
The Five EPs


It makes a romantic kind of sense that arguably the most significant artifact from one of the most beloved cult acts of the ‘90s would exist for so long solely as a fan-curated bootleg. Even amidst the band’s lifetime, the handful of EPs post-rock pioneers Disco Inferno recorded over just a two-year span (‘92-‘94) spent little time in circulation. But enterprising fans, perhaps sensing the vitality of this groundbreaking trio, helped keep these artifacts in the underground consciousness despite their limited availability. This year, however, One Little Indian legitimized the project with The 5 EPs, once and for all confirming these sample-steeped collages as the prescient, boundary pushing aural experiments they were always rumored to be.


Beyond the contextual qualifications, this set also works as a handy artistic compendium, particularly for those only familiar with the band’s full-length masterpiece from 1994, D.I. Go Pop. It was a couple of years prior, however, with the Summer’s Last Sound EP, that the group would finally and fully embrace the found-sound sampling techniques that have so endured them to a new generation of sonic architects. Over the course of these EPs they would continue to bravely build this unique sound outward, trafficking in elements of ambient, dub techno, and industrial electronics, all rising phoenix-like from the band’s restless disregard for properly delineated genre play. The 5 EPs is an essential snapshot of technology’s slow exertion of strength over rock music’s dwindling dynamics. Jordan Cronk


 

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Pink Floyd

The Pink Floyd Discovery Studio Album Box Set

(Capitol; US: 27 Sep 2011)

3



Pink Floyd
The Pink Floyd Discovery Studio Album Box Set


The most important reissues project since the Beatles in 2009, Pink Floyd’s Why Pink Floyd…? series is even more exhaustive. Not only has each of the band’s studio albums been given a wonderful sprucing up, gorgeously remastered and repackaged in digipak format—available individually and compiled in the massive Discovery box set—but three of its most enduring albums, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and (out in early 2012) The Wall, have also been given extremely thorough treatments in varying depth, ranging from Experience editions to the pricier Immersion editions. However deeply you want to delve into Pink Floyd’s incomparable body of work, whether you’re a devoted fan or a curious first-time listener, this set of reissues is an absolute godsend, mandatory listening for any fan of rock music. Adrien Begrand


 

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Marvin Gaye

What’s Going On (40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)

(Motown/UMe; US: 7 Jun 2011)

2



Marvin Gaye
What’s Going On (40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)


The image of a rain-soaked Marvin Gaye looking off into the distance is the point of entry for What’s Going On, an album that captured the social climate of the early ‘70s and remains a seminal and relevant work. Look around and the themes that Marvin Gaye addressed on songs like “Save the Children” and “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” are mirrored in the news, on the street, and in cyberspace. Universal honors Marvin Gaye’s timeless artistic statement with an LP/two-CD edition of the album. The discs include a generous 28 bonus tracks while the vinyl includes the original “Detroit mix” of the album. The LP-sized booklet contains two essays and rare photos that tell the story of Gaye’s magnum opus. It’s the definitive version of an album that is at once a time capsule and a prophetic vision. Perhaps Donna Summer says it best when commenting on the 40th anniversary of What’s Going On, “As a freedom fighter and songwriter Marvin Gaye had the soul of a revolutionary drenched in the passion of a poet. It seemed every word was gleaned and processed through the spectrum of love, desire and pain.” Christian John Wikane



 

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The Beach Boys

The SMiLE Sessions

(Capitol/EMI; US: 1 Nov 2011)

Review [15.Dec.2011]

1



The Beach Boys
The SMiLE Sessions


Technically, The SMiLE Sessions isn’t a reissue as this “lost” 1967 classic has never been officially released in anything resembling a completed form prior to now—a few tracks from the sessions found their way to a 1993 box set retrospective, and the incomplete album has circulated in bootleg form for years. Whether or not this material is even “complete” in its present incarnation is a subject that is open to debate. However, the original recording is now, more or less, “releasable” and The SMiLE Sessions have been culled together from its bits and pieces with the magic of digital editing. What’s more, it is a gorgeous, glorious thing to behold. The “album” is a show stopper that, in its new 19-track form, shows the height of Brian Wilson’s warped creative genius. Full of arty, sometimes difficult sonic fragments (“Gee” and “I Wanna Be Around / Workshop”) and robust, beautifully aching ballads (“Cabin Essence”, “Wonderful” and “Surf’s Up”), this masterpiece makes one wonder if, had SMiLE been originally released in early 1967 as it was supposed to have been, would the Beatles have given up on Sgt. Pepper’s and gone home and cried? Maybe. As it stands, The SMiLE Sessions is absolutely crushing and essential for anyone interested in ‘60s pop. Zachary Houle


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