Customer Review

39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Deluxe Thing Done Right, 31 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Achtung Baby 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Box Set (Audio CD)
On paper, there's no way that this package can be worth the asking price: two albums that most people will already own, a live DVD that has been available for years, a documentary that aired free on the BBC. Anyone could be forgiven for being somewhat cynical. So let's take a look in the box.

PACKAGING

Oh my God but this packaging is impressive. The art print portfolio and book are securely encased in a great-looking slipcase printed with the original album cover: for those of us who bought the album originally on CD, even having the cover at this scale is a treat. The portfolio comes in a brown card sleeve embossed with the album's "face star car" logo. The sixteen art prints themselves are on heavy, high-quality card and enable you to assemble your own version of the album sleeve if you have sixteen square foot of wall nearby. Very good (and I don't even care about the prints!)

The hardback book is simply gorgeous: six CDs are housed securely in the front cover, four DVDs in the back cover. The book contains copious artwork and a number of essays in addition to lyrics and credits for the box set. Personally I prefer text to photos, but a good balance is struck between the two and the production is very good. Basically, the book on its own could fetch a substantial retail price.

THE CDs

Discs one and two are Achtung Baby and Zooropa. You don't need my opinion on how good these albums are (if you don't rate them at five stars you should seriously consider why you are reading about this set in the first place). I thought that these albums had been remastered, but if so, I can't hear it. They were always great-sounding albums and they still are, but - if they aren't remastered - there will be no reason for most U2 fans ever to take them out of the book.

Disc Three and Disc Four are CDs of remixes. You know what to expect.

Disc Five collects the B Sides and Bonus Tracks. Often discs like this are "all filler no killer", but in this case half of the tracks are from the Achtung Baby sessions and offer intriguing glimpses of a different path that the album could have taken.

Disc Six is a treat: the entire album in a so-called "Kindergarten" version, which seems to be mixed from the original album sessions in Berlin. I suspect that for most fans this is the disc that will be the most interesting: the versions are notably different in places and the sound quality excellent.

The overall running time for the CDs is six hours and while not everything on those six hours will interest all fans, there is enough here to please most listeners, whether you are a U2 obsessive or just a casual fan who likes these studio albums.

THE DVDs

The DVD selection in this set is slightly dodgy. The new documentary is an entire DVD with only about an hour and a quarter on it. Because it's a new documentary, you get Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks but, to be honest, it's not as revealing as it thinks and it is a shame that this isn't a longer cut of the documentary than aired on television. It wouldn't have killed them to put some bonus performances on this disc.

The Videos DVD has a running time of a little short of one and a half hours, is in 4:3 ratio and only has a stereo soundtrack. It includes all the variants of each video, and includes all the videos for Zooropa as well as those for Achtung Baby, so it's certainly a disc that a collector would want.

The Zoo TV: Live in Sydney DVD is in 4:3 ratio and the video quality is not great. It's a shame that this wasn't remastered and given a commentary, but bear in mind that you are getting what amounts to nearly two and a half hours of the band live with a soundtrack in Dolby Digital and DTS. If you don't have it already, it's a very decent extra.

The Bonus Material DVD is actually pretty good, bringing together the Zoo TV documentary and other bits & pieces. Again, video quality is not great and the sound is only stereo, but it was definitely worth pulling together almost three hours of (mainly promotional) footage and fans will enjoy this.

OVERALL

This is a very decent package, even given the uber-deluxe pricepoint. If your wallet can bear it, get one before they're gone.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Nov 2011 18:04:20 GMT
Helpful detailed review, but is it really worth 5 stars with the various disappointments with picture quality and content?

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2011 08:47:17 GMT
Sordel says:
I think that's a very fair question. To be clear, you could find a lot of reasons to subtract a star, or even two: not enough unreleased material (despite the fact that there are still tracks from the sessions in the vaults); no 5.1 mix; documentary disc is disappointing; how good are the two discs of remixes, really?; some discs are just repackagings of available material; the set is very expensive etc. etc.

My feeling when giving five stars, though, is that people just want an indication of whether the recommendation to buy is solid, or marginal. (Five stars from me would be "buy unless you positively dislike this artist/genre", four would be "buy if you're in the market for this", three would be "buy if you're definitely a fan" and anything less than three is, basically, avoid.) While this boxed set could definitely be better (and, Lord knows, it could be cheaper), there comes a point that you have to say that - bearing in mind the high production standard, the book and the musical strength of a big proportion of the contents - they've done enough to have justified five stars.

As always with any review (especially non-professional ones) Your Mileage May Vary.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2011 13:10:52 GMT
Thanks for the additional info :)

Posted on 23 Nov 2011 23:48:09 GMT
SDB MELLONIE says:
Come on - this is definitely a five star release. OK it's not cheap but for 6 CDs and 4 DVDs, the lovingly designed packaging AND the booklet, it's a bloody goid return on your 80 quid investment. And it's not just the quantity. I do think that the quality is fantastic. It is aimed fully at the U2 fan (and I have no qualms in proclaiming myself one) and the Kindergarten version of the album is fascinating. Yes, I'm sure there's more stuff out there they could have included but as a celebration of the album's 20th anniversary ( God, I feel old!!), it does it proud. ...And it DOES look fantastic.

Posted on 30 Nov 2011 16:57:42 GMT
A customer says:
I'm a bit confused, is this review for the super deluxe or the uber deluxe? (just because of teh uber-deluxe comment at the end there). Also how much did you pay? I waited until payday to get mine only to find out that they've all been bought up and are being resold at a much higher price :'-(

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Nov 2011 22:40:55 GMT
Sordel says:
The review is for the super-deluxe, which is the version I bought. I paid the launch price (I think that Amazon censors prices in reviews and comments, but it was more or less the same as other super-deluxe editions released in Autumn 2011, e.g. Dark Side of the Moon and Quadrophenia). Incidentally, I got the Quadrophenia super-deluxe and I think that the Achtung Baby is significantly better value for money.
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Sordel
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Location: United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 347