There's a lot of negative noise about this product here, and I can understand people's gripes: there are a great number of excellent `Collector's Editions' or `Special Editions' that aren't bloated to the extent that this is and, more's to the point, don't come with a similarly bloated price tag. The Collector's Edition of Happy Mondays' `Bummed' is a particularly fine (and appropriate) example. But that said, I've bought this 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition of The Stone Roses debut and do love it - and would highly recommend it to you. It is however most definitely a luxury purchase: what you effectively get is the same content three times - on CD/DVD, vinyl and USB - along with a commemorative book and prints of John Squire's cover art, all wrapped up in a beautifully presented package. It is excessive, and if such excess turns you off then you should opt for one of the other, cheaper editions - or head to your preferred download site and pick off the tracks you want individually.
The album itself is of course a masterwork and doesn't need any further eulogising here. I first bought it on the day it was originally released back in May 1989, along with The Cure's `Disintegration' which was released the same week. I remember going home and listening to `Disintegration' first which, although good, is heavy going to say the least. I then put the Roses' album on and - BAM! - it was like throwing open the windows and letting the sunshine flood in. I was in love from that point on - a love that endures to this day.
The re-master by John Leckie and Ian Brown is the biggest reason to buy this: it's superb. Totally respectful of the original production, it just beefs it up and cleans it up so that the album and collected b-sides and singles sound as fresh as if they were recorded yesterday. If you love these songs, then you should get your hands on these re-mastered versions, whether you choose to buy this or one of the other editions, or download them. (It is a shame that it's only on this premium-priced Collector's Edition that you can get your hands on both the original album and collected B-sides and singles on CD - quite deliberate no doubt, because I'm sure many would have settled for this if it had been available as a discreet package.)
The demos are an interesting curiosity, but in all likelihood you'll listen to them once and then pop them back in the box never to re-emerge. `Pearl Bastard' - the previously unreleased song available here for the first time albeit in demo form - is okay but does sound a bit like `Sugar Spun Sister' which might suggest why it never saw the light of day.
The DVD is a nice addition to the overall package but doesn't offer anything new. You'll probably have seen the Empress Ballroom gig - you get this and a selection of promo videos which are frankly unremarkable. A `nice to have', but you can live without it.
You also get the album, extras and demos on heavy-duty vinyl - and they're also on the lemon-shaped USB along with some of the video content and a selection of ringtones. The main benefit of the USB is that it offers convenience - you don't have to rip the tracks off of the CDs in order to listen to them on your MP3 player - but that's pretty much it. One interesting point to note however: the `Extras' (b-sides/singles) CD contains the 12 inch version of `Elephant Stone', but on the USB you get the 7 inch version. I'm guessing this was a mistake - but I'm quite glad of it, because both versions have their separate merits.
The book that comes as part of the package is very good, but doesn't offer any particularly fresh insight. The contribution from John Leckie is the most interesting because his story isn't as oft told as those of the other contributors. John Robb's intro is fairly typical of these kind of things, and you get the usual stuff from Ian Brown and Mani, whilst Reni provides a poem and some art. John Squire is painfully conspicuous by his absence. The book also includes contributions from 'famous' names such as Noel Gallagher etc talking about their love of the Roses and how they were influenced by them. Some of these appear to be new, whilst some old, but all quite interesting.
So, overall I would say that whilst the constituent elements of the package don't individually offer anything particularly new/desirable (the re-master aside), the whole package does amount to more than the sum of its parts and provides a monolithic and suitably respectful monument to what is one of the greatest albums ever recorded. It is a luxury though, so I would suggest to anyone who doesn't want to part with the cash to buy the standard edition of the re-mastered album and download the singles/b-sides. However if you're as daft as me and have a deep and abiding love for the Stone Roses, then I would heartily recommend this to you.
Right, I'd better start saving now for whatever Silvertone are planning for the 25th anniversary...