...it wasn't the Deluxe Edition, that makes no difference.
Or does it? Now that anything and everything appears ripe for this kind of special treatment, the appearance of a-ha's second album in a bells-and-whistles two disc format might seem merely routine. After all, what hasn't been either issued or rumoured to be issued in this way?
Well, there are very good reasons for celebration in this particular case.
Ever since its release in October 1986, the only existing Scoundrel Days CD had been based on the original. The 90s and 00s came and went without a reissue or remaster of any kind. So, first up this new edition makes good on that, restoring the beautiful sleeve artwork that adorned the Vinyl LP in the process. These little details matter!
Then there is the extra/bonus material, mostly (and sensibly) confined to the second disc. The demos are presented in a sequence that mirrors the main album (with a further version of the title track for good measure); a nice touch even if, sadly, the audio quality of some (notably The Swing Of Things and Cry Wolf) verges on the distorted. In conjunction with the informative liner notes, it's possible to build up a fascinating picture of how this album evolved from a mixture of discarded songs for their debut album and hastily-written songs on tour, while the demos included here of Scoundrel Days (v.1), I've Been Losing You and Weight Of The Wind give the clearest evidence of how they worked at moving from the Hunting High & Low sound to something darker and deeper. The difference between these early works, and the finished versions, is quite startling. Maybe Maybe, meanwhile - always the album's weakest link - is arguably better in demo form...and listen out for the completely daft "sock it to me!" ad libs in the supposedly moody and tortured Weight Of The Wind.
The extended mixes of its three singles are obviously welcome, and fit nicely onto the end of Disc 1, leaving Disc 2 for the demos, three B-sides, and Live recordings from a key Croydon gig in January 1987.
If that's not enough to tempt you...well, it's simply their best album. Always has been. The occasional sound issues aside, this is how it should be enjoyed.