Author Topic: Scarlet and Japanese CDs: Latest Notes from U2's Horrible Reissue Campaign  (Read 87 times)

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Offline zooguitar

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Has anyone had a chance to hear "Scarlet", the long lost Rolling Stones track they recorded with Jimmy Page? It was not recorded for Goats Head Soup, but it is being included on the new remastered box set. I picked up a used copy of GHS off eBay recently, from the 1990s era Virgin reissue series (these were re-mastered by the legendary Bob Ludwig). I also purchased the digital single of "Scarlet" that is now available. "Scarlet" is a lovely reggae rocker, and hints at what Page and Zep would later create with "D'yer Maker". As for the 1994 reissue of GHS, it sounds amazing. Warm and full, just like the rest of the albums in that reissue series.

I also found myself reading some audiophile forums recently and came upon a thread of U2 die-hards discussing The Unforgettable Fire. In universal agreement, the remastered version released in 2008 is considered terrible. Generally speaking, most U2 audiophiles have found the 2008 remaster series overall pretty lacking. I personally saw the light when I bought the 2011 remastered Achtung Baby CD and immediately could tell it was not improved at all—in fact slightly ruined. I was able to get a used copy of a Japanese printing of the original TUF 1984 CD (note: 25 years ago, this probably would have been super expensive and difficult to get. In the age of streaming, eBay and the COVID-19 economy, it was only $8 including shipping). Upon the first comparison of "A Sort of Homecoming", it was over. For those of you who may not have heard any of the 20th century U2 catalog outside of streaming, one of the notable things about early U2 was their unusually powerful rhythm section. They may have been aping Joy Division and Television guitar parts, but their Who-like heavy bottom end is what made their early live shows so powerful in the clubs.

To a T, The Edge has removed a significant part of the bottom end mix from all of the remastered albums. He may have made the bass attack more noticeable in the mixes, but at significant expense of the bass presence (that whompy fullness that brings to mind the opening bass notes of "Until The End of The World"). Except in the most obvious of instances, this bass presence is just not there anymore in any of the remastered CDs or digital downloads included with the reissued vinyl.

And with the news U2 recently re-upped their deal with LiveNation to handle their reissues, I don't see this situation getting better any time soon. In fairness, bad audio quality management is not limited to just U2. Per the audiophile forums, for every Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones, there is David Bowie, who also has a notoriously mixed reissue history amongst his loyal audiophile fans. But David Bowie at least included tons of bonus material with his reissues, even if some fans quibbled with the remaster effort.

So for now, I'll just enjoy "Scarlet", my Japanese printing of The Unforgettable Fire CD, and think about what's possible after LiveNation (and after my Japanese editions of The Joshua Tree and War arrive in the mail).

POSTSCRIPT: The future of U2 reissues may be coming sooner than realized. Live Nation is in serious debt. Even though it worked out a refi plan with creditors, its prospects are so grim they had their credit rating lowered on Wall Street. They have massive debt due in 3.5 years, and unless the concert business fully recovers and then some by then, they could easily go bankrupt.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2020, 11:55:01 PM by zooguitar »