Douglas Bailey (trystero) wrote,
Douglas Bailey

"The... *something*... Fire?"

The re-issued Ridiculously Awesome (or is it maybe Awesomely Ridiculous?) edition of U2's The Unforgettable Fire is, as it turns out, pretty damned splendid. The cover art is lovingly reproduced, in the proper shade of brick rather than the purply maroon I've seen on some editions. The box contains a nice mini-hardcover book with lyrics, credits, and well-written liner notes from Eno, Dan Lanois, some critics, and The Edge, who's curating the remaster series. There's a second CD with B-sides, remixes, and outtakes (including the 25-seconds-longer edit of "4th of July" that mysteriously appeared on the old MFSL CD edition of the album), and a DVD with the promotional videos, concert extracts (A Conspiracy of Hope, Live Aid), and alternate versions of a couple of videos.

Best of all, though, the album itself sounds bloody great in remastered form; it's a genuine "night-and-day" difference when compared with the MFSL edition, which itself beat out the original Island CD as far as I was concerned. It's more compressed than the old versions, but constructively so: the low frequencies are brought out, and there's no harsh brickwall sound or clipping that I can hear. There's more "air" in the ominous tom-tom rumble beat that opens "A Sort of Homecoming", more detail in the guitar-chop interplay of "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "Wire", more space around Bono's keening vocal in "Bad", and more thud and power in the drum/bass anchor that runs as the spine throughout "Indian Summer Sky". It's been a long time coming, but I'm really pleased to finally hear the polish given to this, my absolute favourite of all U2's albums.

Edit: Oh, and there's a Daniel Lanois remix of "A Sort of Homecoming" on the second CD, with vocals added by Lanois and Peter Gabriel (it was done while Lanois was working with Gabriel on So). It's... not great: it sounds slightly sped-up and tinny, losing some of the loping charm of the original, and there's very little of the reverb left, and the added backing vocals have a quasi-African feel that really kind of jars against the moody Celtic musings. But it's interesting to hear Gabriel's distinctive voice mixed in there with U2 all the same.
Tags: music
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