One might wonder what is the motivation behind this box set, is it pure greed on the part of U2 and their record company or is it the chance to give fans some hidden gems. I have been grappling with this concept and thought about if I should purchase this box set or not. I already own "Boy", "October" and "War" and many of these B-Sides I already own on the "U2: Best of 1980-1990" bonus disc that came out about ten years ago. Therefore, why on earth would I want to spend some $60.00 odd dollars on this set?
Before I answer this question, I should begin with the fact that I am a pretty big U2 fan (if one might not have figured that out yet). I really got into the band when "Achtung Baby" came out and believe it or not enjoy U2's more outlandish selections of music on "Zooropa" and "Pop" (I include the Passenger's side project as well). Over the years the band as earned the ability to do just about anything they want musically, which is a good thing.
The last official album from U2 was 2004's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb". Which gave listeners a taste of rock n' roll with drops of alternative/electric grooves. From my understanding and research U2 has a new album planned for November 2008. Therefore, I see this current box set as a way to satisfy fans until this new album is released.
As for U2's first three albums, they have very strong elements. From the post-punk rock vibe of "Boy", to the piano/rock vibes of "October" to the rebellion that is guffaw on "War". These three albums foreshadow the comings of a wonderful and strong band. Therefore I can understand why these three albums are being re-mastered and re-released.
I digress to my former question, why on earth would I want to spend some $60.00 odd dollars on this set? Well my answer is this, because I made the choice to do so. I can totally see why some people are upset with this release, stating that U2 is totally "double dipping" by selling this box set, because many of the tracks are already available. There are only about a dozen or so new or unreleased tunes on this box set. So if someone doesn't want to shell out the money for this because they feel it is an injustice to fans, then my response is don't. This doesn't make you any less of a U2 fan.
For instance I am a huge Star Wars fan, but I have yet purchased the six films on DVD because I know that there is going to be some huge box set coming out (one of these days or years) so I will wait. I am also a huge Depeche Mode fan, love them as much as U2, and they have re-released all of their albums in "special editions". However these DM "special editions" featured B-Sides that I already owned on CD singles and/or EPs, so I didn't buy them, didn't see the reason. This doesn't make me any less a Depeche Mode fan. It was my choice to purchase or not purchase it. People don't have to be slaves to industry.
I honestly do see why people are upset when CDs or DVDs are released several times in order to promote sales (can anyone say "The Evil Dead"). I sort of felt this way about U2's "18 Singles" collection that came out a couple of years ago. The only new tracks, "The Saints are Coming" and "Windows in the Skies". I wasn't going to buy the single disc edition; I bought the edition that came with the DVD. I felt for my money I got a good deal.
I also feel in some ways that record and movie studio companies use exploitation towards fans when they release products. I will be honest it is possible that this might be the case with this box set. However, I don't think it is the total "brain child" of U2 to rip their fans off. It was the chance to give fans a real treat. Yet is this always the case? "Batman Begins" was first released on DVD as a 2 disc special edition. Now that "The Dark Knight" (sequel, not a bad flick) is out, there is an all new "super deluxe edition" of "Batman Begins" does this really merit another DVD release? This happens all the time with DVDs and CDs, the consumer just has to pick and choose their...battles, so to speak.
As for this "Boy/October/War" box set you get all three albums re-mastered with bonus tracks. I found this to be very enjoyable. I love the song "New Year's Day", so multiple versions of the song don't bother me. It is cool to hear some of this unreleased material, too bad it has been the vault for so long. For instance, the song "Angels Too Tied To The Ground" is amazing. I can see this becoming one of my top ten U2 songs of all time, no kidding.
I would have to say my personal favorite from these first three albums is "October". I don't know something about the mood of this record. The vibe being precarious, loud, haunting and angelic is the foundation of some timeless melodies.
As for the poster included, it is cool. The jury is still out if I will hang it up or not. The photo booklets for each album are awesome, they look like little hard cover books. There are lots of photos, lyrics and information about the band and what not. However, I am upset by the fact that the CDs themselves are held in cheap cardboard casing. I don't understand why so many newer CD releases suffer from this. The "normal" plastic jewel case provides better protection for the CDs. I feel like I am reliving the I same disappointment with the lousy cardboard CD holders provided for "The Joshua Tree" deluxe special edition that was released last year. I spent close to $50.00 for that set and my two CDs and DVD were put in the same type of crappy and cheap little cardboard sleeves, which makes the discs vulnerable to scratches. I wish with both of these releases, someone would decided to invest a little more money, time and respect towards the music. Why? Because the re-mastered songs sound amazing and U2 is a band the deserves better than CARDBOARD!!!
In conclusion, I wish this set was a bit less in money, but I made the choice to buy it and I have no regrets. What U2 fan wouldn't? Who knows, I could be a fool and these "extra tracks" will be available on Amazon or iTunes in MP3 form one day. It is also possible that people might sell their copies in used format and I could get the extra songs much cheaper. I do know that I would much rather spend my money on a U2 box set the costs around $60.00 then spend the same amount of money on a tank of gas. (In relation to most of the rest of the world, we in the U.S.A. spend less on gas, but my paycheck doesn't know that.) Listening to U2 makes me happy so I made a choice and bought this box set. If you have some extra money to throw around pick it up, if not, don't worry about.
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Joshua E Hoppock (The_Straw_Man)
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U2s first three albums--Boy,October, andWar--receive star treatment with these re-mastered versions, just as their legendaryThe Joshua Treerecord did last year. Every album includes a second disc of b-side remixes, live versions, and rare performances that die-hard fans of the Irish band will surely appreciate. The box also has room for a fourth album (we assume its forThe Joshua Tree), but we cant help to think that theyll come out with a second Deluxe Edition Box Set next year, with even better albums from the bands vast musical catalog.--Ernesto Sánchez(People en Español