Column: off the record . . . vol. 11-474

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off the record, from @U2

Happy birthday to Mr. The Edge! I'm a few hours early, but it's probably August 8th wherever he is right now, so it counts.

Decisions, decisions.

Will you get the Achtung Baby anniversary edition? If so, will you get the uber expensive, Uber Deluxe version that seems to include just about everything except a tour of Hansa Studios? Or the "super deluxe" version with all 10 discs but no vinyl and none of the tchotchkes? Or maybe the vinyl box? Or maybe you won't be getting any of them? That's kinda understandable considering a) the price of the deluxe versions, and b) the possibility that these releases aren't improvements -- musically speaking, I mean -- over the original recordings that you already own.

That's the strangest thing to me right now -- the word "remastered" doesn't appear anywhere on any of the album promotional material or the online store listings. Is it because the album itself was already recorded digitally and there's nothing to remaster? I'm not sure, but I do see that the liner notes of my Achtung Baby CD booklet say:

"Digital Editing by Stewart Whitmore / A&M Mastering Studios"

That leads me to think the original recording is already digital, so there's nothing to remaster. Then again, I'm far from an expert on recording studios/techniques/quality/etc.

The two other questions I have at this early stage are:

  • Why include the Sydney Zoo TV DVD again? That's only available in the spendy, deluxe editions that are targeted toward serious fans. But you can assume serious fans already have that DVD. Something new would've been more appropriate, I think. There are plenty of pro-shot Zoo TV shows they could've fixed up, or even the 2CD audio from the August 28, 1993 Dublin concert that aired on radio around the world would've been a nice addition.
  • Regardless of what the DVD is, why no Blu-Ray version? It's 2011, for cryin' out loud.

As you're deciding which version to buy ... if any at all .. the unknown factor is iTunes (and other digital stores like Amazon MP3). Me? I'm most interested in the new documentary DVD and what's been listed as CDs 5 and 6 from the Super Deluxe and Uber Deluxe versions. Those are the CDs with some never-released tracks and the "baby" version of Achtung Baby. Will we be able to buy just the songs we want from those CDs, or just those CDs without having to buy the full box sets? I don't know, but I do know this: If you just wanted to buy "Angels Too Tied To The Ground" -- the only new song from the War remaster a few years ago -- you can get that song by itself for a dollar on iTunes.

Still, if I had to choose right now, I'd probably fork out the $$$$ for the Super Deluxe edition. I already have a pair of Bono's fly shades and can live without the vinyl and other stuff from the Uber Deluxe edition, as tempting as it is. But I reserve the right to change my mind between now and November 1st ... especially if the price comes down!

The Achtung Baby re-release has brought out a lot of discussion and opinions in our forum.The main discussion thread is currently at 32 pages and a ton of opinions. :-) There's also a thread/poll asking if you'll buy the Uber Deluxe edition and a separate thread/poll just asking for your opinion on the Uber Deluxe version.

One thing to keep in mind as you think about the price of that: Bjork is releasing a box set that apparently has an $$812 price tag. Yikes.

The end of a U2 tour brings out a mix of emotions and feelings in me. The main emotion for me right now is sadness -- not that the tour itself is over, but sadness about the fact that it'll probably several years again before we get a big group of the @U2 crew together. Just between us, I look forward to seeing our gang as much as I look forward to seeing the shows. (shhhhhh, please don't tell)

The @U2 crew

That's a shot of some of us after the Pittsburgh show. We had a great time at the show and at our Killing Bono special event the night before. We also had a big get together at the Seattle show in June, and an even bigger group got together in 2009 to see U2 in Las Vegas before driving out to the California desert to visit the site of the actual Joshua Tree. There was also a big group of us at the Raleigh show and the U2 Conference a few weeks before that.

All in all, the 360 tour was great for getting our crew together and I hope the next tour is just as good on that front.

Speaking of our Killing Bono event in Pittsburgh, I have to give a big shout-out to Steve Catanzarite and the staff at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center. That was far and away the easiest event we've ever done, and certainly one of the most successful, too. Steve and his crew basically approached us and said, We can do just about whatever you want to do. We didn't have much time, so we asked for a sit-down Q&A setup with Neil McCormick and Tassoula Kokkoris at the front of the room, plus we wanted two extra mics for audience questions. We also wanted a computer with Internet connection so we could show some YouTube videos during the event. And we thought it would be great if we could livestream the whole thing online for readers around the world to watch if they wanted.

No problem.

The LPPAC gave us all that and some tasty food and beverages, too. Huge thanks to Steve and his LPPAC crew, and to the @U2 gang who put in the work that night to make it all happen.

We hope to have a video of the Q&A to be posted in our YouTube account at some point in the future. We'll let you know if/when that's available.

And finally ... if you use/enjoy, we have a special @U2 DJ room where anyone can come in and spin songs. You have to have a Facebook friend who's a Turntable user already to get in (they're expanding slowly), but it's a fun site to play songs and chat with other users. If you drop in, tweet about it and we'll let others know that the room's being used.

(c) @U2, 2011.

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