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At last! He finally got a re-issue right!
on 27 February 2014
If you're a fan of Morrissey, you know he usually botches his re-issues quite badly. You have deleted tracks, parts of songs edited out, wrong-era photographs for the artwork, illogical tracklistings, and flimsy packaging. When I first heard that "Your Arsenal" was to be remastered and re-issued, I braced for the worst. You see, it's not only my favorite Morrissey album, but it's his finest solo effort in general. All around strong, showcasing the finest artistic quality of any of his work. What if he would have deleted "Seasick.." or "You're the one for me, Fatty"? I was worried.
Like the sheep that I am, I placed my pre-order for the CD and for the vinyl editions in early December. There was no way I was passing up getting even most of these songs remastered!
Days after I place the pre-order, it's revealed on his website that this re-issue would come with a bonus DVD of the live show from Halloween 1991. Particularly special for me as it was my very first ever Morrissey live show! Spectacular memories of a great halloween just a few minutes from my house. I was just 21 and I'd never seen anything like it. Example: Girls loved Dave Gahan on the Violator tour the year prior, but no one ever tried to storm the stage and hug him. The Morrissey experience was one of a kind, and the DVD was a welcomed bonus. However, I must warn you that it's just a coverted video sourced from a VHS recording so the picture quality isn't the best, but the sound is great, his band is very tight, and you're immersed in the experience I got to witness live.
The CD, thankfully, is presented in tact with its original song sequence. There are rumblings from fans that he tinkered too much when he decided to present the slightly longer and more powerful U.S. mix of "Tomorrow" as the album's closer, but the reality is, it's a better version and this doesn't really alter the experience of listening to one of the best albums of the 1990s. The remastering is the very best of any of the Morrissey re-issues. Your Arsenal, like Vauxhall and I, were in desperate need of proper remastering. There was no possibilty to simply 'turn it louder' for songs like "Seasick...". The remastering is really THAT GOOD to the discerning ear. No loudness wars, or clipping, or pitchiness - - just spectacular, re-invigorated sound. The listener is left with a restored impression of such tracks as "We'll Let You Know", "The National Front Disco" and my personal favorite "Seasick, Yet Still Docked". The curious thing is that even with all of the Morrissey re-issues, "The Best, "The Very Best", "Greatest Hits", we've never had any of the three UK singles "We Hate It When...", "...Fatty", or "Certain People I Know" remastered before. We have them now.
The vinyl is presented on thick 180gram virgin vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with different artwork on the back and inner cover on the sleeve. The record itself is in a plastic lined black paper jacket and there are no other inserts.
The CD/DVD set is in a sturdier-than-his-usual, mini LP gatefold style digipak. One note on the artwork: It's the original album front cover art exactly with a slight altering of the Font. There is NO Parlophone logo on the U.S. version as it's released here on SIRE RECORDS and there is no word "stereo" either as some of the pictures show. I can deal with the font change if the tracklisting and appropriate front artwork are presented in tact.
I would have loved a few of the "Your Arsenal"-era bonus tracks remastered. Fan favorite b-side "Jack The Ripper" (studio version) is absent and so we don't get it remastered. I always thought, too, that when we finally saw a Morrissey re-issue of Your Arsenal, we'd finally get a full/not cut off version of "There Speaks A True Friend", but we don't. There are a few b-sides from these Your Arsenal sessions that have been remastered, so you can find "Pashernate Love" remastered on the Kill Uncle re-issue and Fantastic Bird from the Southpaw Grammar re-issue, and a not-as-good long version of "Let The Right One Slip In" exists on the Bona Drag re-issue in case you'd like to burn your own deluxe edition. However, even with those extra songs missing, I'm pleased with the overall presentation of the product. With "Your Arsenal" being his best solo record, with the bonus DVD - and brilliant, brilliant remastering job, this re-issue is absolutely essential.