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Achtung Baby Anniversary Edition: What It Has and What It's Missing

@U2, August 08, 2011
By: Aaron J. Sams

 

U2 has announced a newly packaged version of Achtung Baby in time for the 20th anniversary of the original release. In some package variations, Zooropa is also being included.

Five versions of the album will be released: a one-disc version, a two-CD Deluxe Edition, a four-LP vinyl box set, a Super Deluxe Edition with six CDs and four DVDs, and finally, the Uber Deluxe Edition, which includes a staggering six CDs, four DVDs, five 7-inch vinyl records and two 12-inch vinyl records. The track list has been listed on Universal's Web store, although with a note that it may change before the release. This article is based on the initial list of tracks (which has since been removed).

Among the tracks included are rare remixes, new remixes, new demo versions of well-known songs, and new songs never before released, as well as the two albums we know and love, Achtung Baby and Zooropa. Both are described as "the original album" -- no mention has been made that they were remastered. They are both due to be part of the remastering project that has stopped at The Joshua Tree at this time, but so far the promotion of this collection has not mentioned that either has been remastered, although I remain hopeful.

2-CD Deluxe Edition

The deluxe edition is a two-CD set. The first disc is Achtung Baby and the second disc is a compilation of tracks from that era. This second disc does not appear in the deluxe box sets that are being released and thus far is listed as having a different track list:

"Lady With The Spinning Head (UV1)" / "Blow Your House – Analogue Mix Bono Edit 190711" / "Salomé" / "Even Better Than The Real Thing (Single)" / "Satellite Of Love" / "Wild Horses (Temple Bar Remix)" / "Paint It Black" / "Real Thing (Fish Out Of Water Mix)" / "Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Remix)" / "Night And Day (Steel String Remix)" / "The Lounge Fly Mix" / "Fortunate Son" / "Alex Descends Into Hell For A Bottle Of Milk / Korova 1" / "Where Did It All Go Wrong"

If you buy one of the deluxe edition boxes with six CDs you will get all of the above tracks, but spread out over a number of discs. This CD is a mix of the material found on discs three, four and five of the box sets.

Many of the tracks here have been widely released on singles, which are still relatively easy to find and many fans will already own. The real story in this release is the new tracks, such as the track titled "Blow Your House." Also included is a new remix, "Even Better Than The Real Thing (Fish Out Of Water)," which may be familiar to fans as the version that recently opened the 360 tour. A final gift in this package is "Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Remix)," which has been relatively difficult to find, appearing only on Melon, an Australian CD single, some rare vinyl releases and a couple of promotional CDs, most noticeably on Previously. All the other tracks on this release are taken from the b-sides to the commercially released singles.

Vinyl Box set

The vinyl box set offers Achtung Baby spread across two 12-inch records, as well as two 12-inch records filled with remixes. Two of the discs in this package are said to be a clear blue vinyl.

"Even Better Than The Real Thing (Perfecto Mix)" / "Night and Day (Twilight Remix)" / "Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Remix)" / "Even Better Than The Real Thing (Fish Out Of Water Mix)" / "Salomé (Zooromancer Remix)" / "Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Club Mix)" / "Lemon (Perfecto Mix)"

No new songs here, but the set does include a new remix and a couple of rarer songs. The new remix, again, is "Even Better Than The Real Thing (Fish Out Of Water Mix)" as is the case with the deluxe CD. "Night and Day (Twilight Mix)" was only released on the Out Loud compilation on CD, and on the "Night and Day" promo vinyl. Strangely enough, if you want this track you will have to buy the vinyl as it currently is not listed on any of the CD options of this 20th anniversary package. Also, as mentioned above in discussing the deluxe CD, "Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Mix)" isn't the easiest mix to find. "Lemon (The Perfecto Mix)" was not released on the "Stay" single in North America as it was in other territories.

"Night and Day (Twilight Remix)" may not be the only exclusive to this vinyl set, as old versions of "Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Club Mix)" are a different edit (4:01) than the "Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix)" (7:01) that had previously been released.

Uber and Super Deluxe box sets

The discs appearing in the Uber Deluxe edition and the Super Deluxe edition both appear to be the same. There are six audio CDs released in each. Disc one and two are Achtung Baby and Zooropa, and are listed with no additional tracks.

The other four CDs are a mix of old remixes and b-sides, new songs, new remixes, and demo versions of the album tracks. These four bonus CDs are unique to the box sets, and are different from the CD included with the two-CD deluxe version, discussed above.

Disc Three (Uber Remixes)

"Night And Day (Steel String Remix)" / "Even Better Than The Real Thing (Perfecto Mix)" / "Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix)" / "Lemon (Perfecto Mix)" / "Can't Help Falling In Love (Triple Peaks Remix)" / "Lady With The Spinning Head (Extended Dance Remix)" / "Even Better Than The Real Thing (V16 Exit Wound Remix)" / "Mysterious Ways (Ultimatum Mix)" / "The Lounge Fly Mix" / "Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Remix)" / "One (Apollo 440) – Mix Master [S-109]"

No new songs there, right? But as a collector I am excited to see some previously hard-to-find mixes appearing on this set, as well as some that have never been released on vinyl. As with the releases above I will not be discussing mixes that appeared on the commercial singles in many territories.

The first thing to jump out is an Apollo 440 remix of "One" – this is a new remix, and in 1992 there were no remixes released of this song. Apollo 440 was heavily involved with remixing other tracks from that era including multiple mixes of "Mysterious Ways" and "Even Better Than The Real Thing."
Some rarer tracks here include "Mysterious Ways (Ultimatum Mix)," which was released only on a 12-inch vinyl single, and a special free CD given away in Australia and various promotional releases. "Lemon (The Perfecto Mix)" was not released on the "Stay" single in North America as it was in other territories. "Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Mix)" is also difficult to find, although a little easier, having appeared on the fan club release Melon.

Disc Four (Unter Remixes)

"Mysterious Ways (Tabla Motown Remix)" / "Mysterious Ways (Apollo 440 Magic Hour Remix)" / "Can't Help Falling In Love (Mystery Train Dub)" / "One (Apollo 440) – Ambient Master [S-109]" / "Lemon (Momo's Reprise)" / "Salomé (Zooromancer Remix)" / "Even Better Than The Real Thing (Trance Mix)" / "Numb (Gimme Some More Dignity Mix)" / "Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Magic Hour Remix)" / "Numb (The Soul Assassins Mix)" / "Even Better Than The Real Thing (Apollo 440 Stealth Sonic Remix)"

Disc four has another remix of "One" by Apollo 440 as a new track, this one called the "Ambient Master" in the notes supplied by Universal. All of the other remixes on this disc have been previously released; however, as with the other disc some of these have never been widely released. "Can't Help Falling In Love (Mystery Train Dub)" has been released only as a b-side to a promotional release of the "Salome (Zooromancer Remix)" and has never been released on CD. "Lemon (Momo's Reprise)" has likewise only appeared on vinyl, but at least one that was released commercially, a 12-inch yellow vinyl single for "Lemon." "Even Better Than The Real Thing (Trance Remix)" also only appeared on vinyl, on the 12-inch single and promo for "Even Better Than The Real Thing." Both the "Lemon" and the "Even Better Than The Real Thing" mixes were released in a compressed digital form as part of The Complete U2 in iTunes. One final rare remix is the "Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Magic Hour Remix)" which has long been one of my favorite remixes. This remix only appeared on the 7-inch vinyl and cassette releases of the single, and wasn't included on most pressings of the CD. One exception? You could find it on a 3-inch CD single pressed in Japan.

Disc Five (B-sides and Bonus Tracks)

"Lady With The Spinning Head (UV1)" / "Blow Your House – Analogue Mix Bono Edit 190711" / "Salomé" / "Even Better Than The Real Thing (Single)" / "Satellite Of Love" / "Wild Horses (Temple Bar Remix)" / "Heaven And Hell – In Truth Mix 211711" / "Oh Berlin – Analogue Mix 1 190711" / "Near the Island (Instr) Night Train From Rostock" / "Down All The Days (Vsn 1) [CD#4/07]" / "Paint It Black" / "Fortunate Son" / "Alex Descends Into Hell For A Bottle Of Milk / Korova 1" / "Where Did It All Go Wrong" / "Everybody Loves A Winner Edit Between Take 2+3" / "Even Better Than The Real Thing (Fish Out Of Water Mix)"

If you are not a fan of remixes, then disc five is the place to head to find some truly new released material from the band. On this disc "Blow Your House," "Heaven and Hell," "Oh Berlin," "Near The Island," "Down All The Days," and "Everybody Loves A Winner" are all new. These are six new songs unearthed from the material recorded during the Berlin sessions in 1990. Only one of these, "Blow Your House," appears on the two-CD deluxe version of the album.

This disc also features the new "Fish Out Of Water Mix" of "Even Better Than The Real Thing" which was used extensively in the live version performed during the recent 360 tour. The other songs on this CD are readily available on the commercially released singles from Achtung Baby.

Disc Six ("Baby" Achtung Baby)

"Baby" Zoo Station / "Baby" Even Better Than The Real Thing / "Baby" One / "Baby" Until The End Of The World / "Baby" Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses / "Baby" So Cruel / "Baby" The Fly / "Baby" Mysterious Ways / "Baby" Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World / "Baby" Ultra Violet (Light My Way) / "Baby" Acrobat /  "Baby" Love Is Blindness

This is a disc of early demo versions of the songs that would later make up Achtung Baby. We may have heard "Until the End Of The World" previously as part of a soundtrack of a movie with the same name, but I'm guessing this will be all new. I'm excited to hear the "work in progress" tracks as much as anything in the collection.

What's missing?

A couple of tracks appear to be missing here. "Slow Dancing" was released during this period. The original version of "Night and Day" from the Red Hot and Blue album is not included, nor is the original version of "Can't Help Falling In Love" from the Honeymoon In Vegas soundtrack. "I've Got You Under My Skin" was also released as a b-side to "Stay" and is not included. And "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" might fit better with this set than anywhere else.

There were also alternate versions of "Until The End Of The World," "Stay" and "The Wanderer" released during this time on soundtracks, none of which I expect to see based on the information in these track lists. And U2 could have easily included a seventh disc with the live tracks released during this period on singles or compilations, and even on the promo Zoo Radio Transmit.

The one remix I really would have liked to see included is the "Perfecto Mix" of "Numb" instead of the more commercially available remixes included here. That version has only been released on a promotional CD. I am still hopeful that the "Video Remix" of "Numb" is included in the DVD extras. Other mixes are not included here, including multiple mixes of "Lemon" and "Even Better Than The Real Thing," and a few mixes from the fan club-only release, Melon.

Finally, I'm hoping the sixth disc of demo versions solves the puzzle of the Achtung Baby Solicitation Kit that was released for promotion of the album in 1991. That promotional release contained a video with a different mix of "Mysterious Ways," as well as a different vocal take of "One." These were not full songs but just snippets of the alternate edits. I'm hoping these are the versions on this demo CD, or there will still be material I'll be searching for. But for now, this uber set sure has the collector in me drooling.

(c) @U2/Sams, 2011.



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