Vinyl Reports: Real Life Record Shopping Returns!

(Vinyl Reports is an AnalogPlanet feature aiming to create a definitive guide to vinyl LPs. Here, we talk about sound quality, LP packaging, music, and the overarching vinyl experience.)

As the world moves to reopen, record stores are slowly allowing customers back in. Here in Portland, OR, Music Millennium recently held a week of appointment-only personal shopping experiences (charitable donation necessary), then subsequently reopened with a 10 person limit and new safety measures. I shopped during the “be the only customer inside!” period and reviewed below are four recent acquisitions.

U2 - Achtung Baby

Island/UMC 00602557970098 180g 2LP

Produced by: Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno, and Steve Lillywhite
Engineered by: Flood, Robbie Adams, and Paul Barrett
Mixed by: Various album producers and engineers
Mastered by: Scott Sedillo and Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering

Music: 10
Sound: 8

When Bono doesn’t preach his “save the world for my ego!” philosophy, U2 can be great. Unfortunately, most of U2’s discography is Bono preaching “save the world for my ego!”, making rare their brilliant moments. 1991’s Achtung Baby was that rare peak – after their 80s arena rock crashed into a wall, the band incorporated European industrial, electronic, and alternative rock influences. Bono’s lyrics here, filled with religious imagery, convincingly portray him as a detached rock star, and are by far his best. The music is equally excellent, with production representative of the time but still fresh. The Edge’s guitar playing, compared to his delay-heavy previous work, is far more expansive and textured, adding dimension to the record’s diverse sonic palette. Achtung Baby is a masterpiece that, over the rest of U2’s discography, scarily towers; nothing else they’ve made comes close to its innovative genius.

This 2018 reissue, remastered by Scott Sedillo and Chris Bellman from a hi-res digital transfer, spreads the album over two discs (the original crammed all 56 minutes onto a single LP). It’s the first complete remaster of Achtung Baby, as for the 2011 reissue The Edge found Arnie Acosta’s original mastering hard to improve. I can only compare this 2LP pressing to the original CD, but because many elements were directly recorded to DAT, the album’s thin sound is baked in. Sedillo and Bellman’s vinyl remaster is fuller than Acosta’s original CD, with greater dynamics, transparency, and smoother extension. The mix doesn’t have great imaging, but this 2018 edition’s space and detail compensates for it. The 180g vinyl, pressed at GZ, is quiet and perfectly flat, although with the records’ polylined sleeves and the printed inners, the thin capacity jacket is tight (I store the 2nd disc outside of the jacket). The photo resolution throughout the artwork is good, and the spot varnish on the front cover’s “U2” rings is a nice touch. Further, the included download code provides a 44.1/16 WAV, rounding out a satisfying reissue of a classic.

Car Seat Headrest - Twin Fantasy [Face To Face]

Matador OLE-1092-1 150g 2LP (US pressing)

Produced by: Will Toledo
Engineered by: Adam Stilson
Mixed by: Will Toledo and Adam Stilson
Mastered by: Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service

Music: 9
Sound: 8

Beloved in many online music communities, Will Toledo (Car Seat Headrest)’s 2011 release Twin Fantasy is already widely considered an indie rock classic. Recorded following the dissolution of a same-sex relationship implied in the lyrics to have been abusive, Toledo’s words are detailed and vivid, placing him among the best musical storytellers. As his stature and access to resources grew, Car Seat Headrest released 2018’s Twin Fantasy [Face To Face], a r-erecording of the original LP. Whereas the 2011 version (now known as Twin Fantasy [Mirror To Mirror]) is a lofi solo recording, the 2018 version has cleaner but still unpolished production, updated lyrics, more expressive vocal performances, and a full band (that while creatively led by Toledo, records and performs as a unit). Both Mirror To Mirror and Face To Face versions are great, but the latter truly cements Twin Fantasy as one of the all-time great rock albums. (Due to space constraints here, I cannot detail the album’s specifics, however words hardly do it justice anyway.)

The 2LP vinyl, cut by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service and pressed at an anonymous US plant, sounds very good. While the recording is in loud moments often cluttered, quieter parts still have space, and the imaging of Toledo’s voice is excellent. The tonal balance leans bright, but pleases, and the vinyl is well-pressed and generally quiet. I highly doubt that the EU pressing cut and pressed at Optimal (or the other North American version from GZ) is any better – the anonymous US plants are quite hit-or-miss, but the only issue I had here was disc 1’s slight edge warp. Side D ends in a locked groove, and the uncoated gatefold jacket and printed inner sleeves are of high quality. Even though this isn’t sonically a perfect recording, to any well-rounded record collection, the double vinyl is essential.

Boris - Boris At Last -Feedbacker-

Third Man Records/Fangs Anal Satan TMR-633 LP

Produced by: Boris
Engineered by: Soichiro Nakamura
Mixed by: Soichiro Nakamura
Mastered by: Soichiro Nakamura (original master), Bill Skibbe at TMM (TMR reissue vinyl)

Music: 9
Sound: 8

Upon releasing 2019’s Love & Evol, through Third Man Records, Japanese experimental metal trio Boris reissued early 2000s classics Akuma No Uta and Boris At Last -Feedbacker-. These mark the albums’ first North American vinyl releases, and retail for a reasonable $20-25 each. I picked up the latter, and it doesn’t at all disappoint. Released in 2003, Feedbacker is a continuous five-part, 44-minute drone metal/post-rock piece with a perfectly fitting title. “Part 1” slowly builds a 10-minute feedback drone, whereas “Part 2” opens into post-rock vastness with vocals (sung in Japanese – English translation on jacket), slowly introducing metal elements. Explosive drums, a guitar solo, and driving riffs open “Part 3,” rising into “Part 4”’s (intentionally) audibly clipped noise rock and screeching feedback. The record’s last few minutes (“Part 5”) settle back to post-rock bliss before concluding. Boris At Last -Feedbacker- is a truly spectacular LP that is, within the band’s vast catalog, a highlight.

The LP, cut by Bill Skibbe, is pressed on standard weight vinyl at TMP and comes with a 33x22” album art poster and tip-on jacket. The recording sounds decent, although it’s not audiophile-minded and doesn’t need to be. Given the circumstances, Skibbe’s cut is good, although “Part 2”’s loud ending suffers from inner groove distortion (the first side is 25 minutes long). Regarding detail and space there’s likely room for improvement, but Third Man’s edition brings you most of the way “there.” Considering original Japanese pressings’ $100+ price, this affordable reissue does the job more than adequately and like the original has locked grooves on both sides. I don’t know if Third Man is planning any more Boris reissues, but I’d love to see someone do first-ever vinyl pressings of Flood, Heavy Rocks 2002, and a repress of the Merzbow-accompanied Rock Dream triple LP live album. Speaking of Merzbow…

Merzbow - Pulse Demon

Relapse Records RR6937 2LP

Produced by: Masami Akita
Engineered by: Masami Akita
Mixed by: Masami Akita
Mastered by: James Plotkin

Music: 9
Sound: 8

Merzbow is a music critic’s nightmare. The Japanese artist born Masami Akita (who as Merzbow’s sole member for two decades is now Merzbow himself) has for 40 years released a steady output of mostly improvised noise music, amounting to at least 400 albums. Because his massive discography isn’t entirely on official streaming services (I’d estimate that just over 10% is on Tidal, and 15-20% on Apple and Spotify), due to access and time there’s no way to hear it all. Therefore, his work cannot be definitively contextualized within his discography, unless you sat through all of it. Upon turning 100, US citizens get presidential letters, but finishing Merzbow’s never-ending discography is a bigger feat. I often wonder if Akita himself recognizes and distinguishes all of his albums (including over 100 projects under different aliases).

Undeniable, though, is that 1996’s Pulse Demon is Merzbow’s best known and arguably most divisive album. Released on US death metal label Relapse Records, it masterfully represents harsh noise. Newcomers are usually first greeted by Pulse Demon, and either love it or run away as fast as possible. It’s understandably not for everyone, but comprehending Merzbow possibly ascends you to a higher plane of intelligence. Akita’s harshest, loudest works are often considered his best, but detractors overlook their musicality.

Pulse Demon is brilliantly structured; its opener “Woodpecker No. 1” has no introduction, rather the noise immediately attacks. It tests listeners’ ability to finish the 80-minute album, yet demonstrates all of the first half’s musical themes. Although he rarely uses melody, Merzbow’s recurring rhythms and pitch variation patterns invalidate the “just noise” argument – his work is music. The record’s compositions all seamlessly flow together (except for this Relapse vinyl pressing’s previously unreleased bonus track “Extract 1” placed between the last two main album tracks), and only those attentively listening will notice the change. “Ultra Marine Blues” is Pulse Demon’s most accessible song, the rhythms there more overt than the rest of the LP. However, closing track “Worms Plastic Earthbound” is arguably the record’s peak. Introduced by what sounds like an air conditioner hum, chaotic glitches and whooshes warp your mind for 25 minutes before the sudden end. All of Merzbow’s best known works sound completely different, but Pulse Demon is a musical experience like no other, with no way to exactly prepare for or subsequently forget it.

Because of the album’s extreme nature, it’s hard to rate the sound quality. For this Relapse pressing (1500 black vinyl copies plus a few hundred on colored vinyl) James Plotkin remastered Pulse Demon from Akita’s original DATs, with more dynamics and headroom than the original CD. I can’t imagine an album like this sounding any better. The standard black vinyl double LP, cut and pressed at GZ, is flat and quiet (but can surface noise really overpower Merzbow?). Most special about the vinyl edition is its holographic gatefold jacket, expanding the iconic cover almost infinitely. Overall, the 2LP set (with a 44.1/16 download) is well done and highly recommended for the album’s fans (“Merzfans,” perhaps?).

(Malachi Lui is an AnalogPlanet contributing editor, music lover, record collector, and highly opinionated sneaker enthusiast. He’s currently browsing Discogs for Fishmans records. Follow him on Twitter: @MalachiLui.)

chicken peddler's picture

CSH's madlo was mastered by b grundman mastering, and all the pressings I've seen use that master. The Twin Fantasy 2018 master from Chicago Mastering Service is used only on a very small fraction of the records pressed, and those have quotes in the dead wax from the 1999 movie "The Matrix". Most of the records will be pressed by GZ Media or Optimal, and feature their in-house mastering, which is truer to the mix of the album than the one created by CMS. The reason the small run of USA-pressed records with the CMS mastering exist was to ensure that some vinyl would be available at the release date, however there was no delay with the GZ media pressing, most pre-orders were fulfilled with it. I have yet to run across the CMS version in the wild.

MalachiLui's picture

since the CMS master and the GZ press use the same types of jackets (except the GZ ones are tighter), how would you be able to tell them apart in stores? cuz optimal has the double-scored jackets, but GZ and wherever the US jackets were printed don’t.

chicken peddler's picture

Optimal is easy because the address for Matador on the back is not New York. I believe it's impossible to tell the difference between the CMS and GZ from the packaging, the same paper stock and black ink is identical, there seemed to be a minimal difference in thickness in the paper used for the innersleeves, but that's not helpful in a store. Also, the rarest and most unique master is not necessarily the best, the CMS master is very hands on and has a lot more bass and percussion, it sounds more like a party record. If you want to hear all those guitar textures in the midrange, GZ's master is better, and Optimal's seems to have the best stereo stage to me.

chicken peddler's picture

neglected to mention that the CMS pressing was likely from Independent Record Pressing in New Jersey.

MalachiLui's picture

their pressings often have boosted/bloated bass likely due to a plating or pressing issue, it’s common with the anonymous US plants. maybe that’s what you’re hearing?

i’ll seek out the GZ and optimal pressings...

Michael Fremer's picture
of your Twin Fantasy knowledge base! From where does it come? It surely goes beyond being a casual or even a keen observer....
chicken peddler's picture

I was one of a group of test listeners for the album's mixes as Will was completing them, and was very familiar with the master mix- and really interested in how that translated to vinyl, so I've bought a lot of copies of the album since then to check it out and naturally fixated on the differences.

MalachiLui's picture

that's insanely cool!

chicken peddler's picture

Will just had a group of test listeners with different interests giving feedback, all were fans of the original album, but there was a person fixated on lo-fi, there was a person in Brazil who loves The Beach Boys and appreciates pop of all kinds, there was a person who is more about indierock touchstones, and I would put myself into a camp that's more into sound textures and Pink Floyd and easy-listening stuff. Will would have us discuss the mixes amongst ourselves, and then take those group opinions and often shift his focus to address the consensus. I'm happy he used that approach, because I feel he gave us and album that's powerful and enjoyable on many different levels, yet avoids being ear fatiguing despite the length of some of its tracks.
I may be in the minority, but I also feel it was good he didn't try to follow it up with another piece with the same level of obsessive focus, Madlo is enjoyable in its own right. Will himself quoted Stephanie Meyer (who wrote Twilight) "after pretzels you want icecream." TF was a big jigsaw puzzle- the picture of the final product on the cover of the box, and MAdlo is more of an experiment in weaving things together to see what kind of energy could be generated with them.

Michael Fremer's picture
Your knowledge here is impressive. Do you want to write for us?
chicken peddler's picture

I fully admit that for this subject the well of my knowledge is deep, and there's plenty I'm shallow in, but I love listening to stuff, it would be great to take a shot. I'll hit you up on twitter.

I'd like to conclude with this quote from president Harry Truman as presented in a memoir of him Plain Speaking, which I randomly happen to be reading and furnished the handle I chose to use on this board - "That's what a chicken peddler is, and in the old days there were a tremendous number of them. There used to be an old man with whiskers who'd come out to our farm, and my mother would sell him eggs and butter, and with the money she got she'd buy all the coffee and sugar and everything else we needed. They called him Old Folks, and he was always honest with my mother."

DaK's picture

„...making rare their brilliant moments. [...] Achtung Baby is a masterpiece that, over the rest of U2’s discography, scarily towers; nothing else they’ve made comes close to its innovative genius.“
;) I think U2 bashing is a little outdated. And by the way, maybe Kanye West is the less talented Bono of your generation...

MalachiLui's picture

i find it funny how kanye opened for u2 on tour and then went onto make a decade-long (2008-2018) string of 10-11/10 albums when u2 only made 1 10/10 album in 1991.

ramseurrecords's picture

Nor U2 or Kanye wrote "The Killing Moon." Bono will even tell you that the first four Bunnymen records were the "OK Computer" of his generation. Ocean Rain was even marketed as "The Greatest Album Ever Made." McCulloch's boasting comments in the 80's were legendary. Nothing Kanye has ever said tops "Mac the Mouth" and U2 has never made an album as good as those first four Echo and the Bunnymen records. "If you think [U2's] I Will Follow is an anthem," Ian McCulloch once remarked to an interviewer, "'I Will Lead' is the song I would have written." Makes total sense to me.

chicken peddler's picture

thanks for writing this, I haven't listened to those albums in years and you've motivated me to spin them again and see what's there for me now.

ramseurrecords's picture

Let me know what you think about those first four.

Tom L's picture

This was indeed a high point for U2, but I didn't fully appreciate it (and some of their earlier work) until I saw them at a stadium during the Zoo TV tour. It was an amazing multimedia show-the band with pristine sound accompanied by hundreds (thousands?) of coordinated screens flashing vivid visuals and messages, with every kind of lighting including the flying Trabants soaring over us. All I could do was open my eyes and ears wide and try to take it all in. A truly memorable experience that I have never seen matched by any concert since.

King Of Dirk's picture

It's fun to bash pre-Achtung U2, but doing so betrays a willingness to judge bands by their biggest hits. Zep is more than just Stairway, there's more to the Stones than Satisfaction, and it would be a real shame to judge Dire Straits by Money For Nothing. So it is with U2.

I'll leave the good stuff on Boy/October and War out of this for now; it's more useful to salvage the great stuff on the much-maligned Joshua Tree since the cool kids just love to bash it - partially because it can be self-indulgent, but also because it committed the sin of being popular. The big hits can wear on your nerves, but if you can give Running to Stand Still or Red Hill Mining Town an honest listen and not find something good to say, I don't think you're acting in good faith.

Pre-Joshua Tree, standouts like Bad and I Will Follow are simply brilliant.

MalachiLui's picture

i’ve gone thru most of u2’s discography, i’ll just leave my rym scores here

King Of Dirk's picture

...think me rude; I realize this is your vocation and I'm just a casual enthusiast. I'm only hoping to prevent readers unfamiliar with U2's earlier work from reading your review and deciding the early stuff isn't worth a go. Judging by album I agree with you 100% that Achtung is their high-water mark, which is why I pointed out tracks rather than argue that any album from the 80s can compete. There's a lot of crap in U2's early catalog - but the rare good finds are simply too good (and too important) to miss. Seriously. "All I Want Is You" being another example.

Michael Fremer's picture
To voice your opinion unless you rudely do it! Which you did not....
Jazz listener's picture

You mean constantly making grandiose statements in every review he posts? Most of which are nothing more than personal opinion based on very little experience? What can you expect though from a 12 year old?

MalachiLui's picture

i love how you choose to hate my work but can’t even calculate my actual current age

King Of Dirk's picture

Friend, the staff roster around here is not for me to decide. He's got a a much cooler job than I did at 14, I can tell you that. Hell, he has a cooler job than I have *now*. Take issue with him if you wish, but there's no need for you to clarify what I meant. I wrote what I meant. I don't know of Mr. Lui outside of this site, but Mr. Fremer earned my respect and confidence a long time ago. If he thinks Mr. Lui deserves a column, I'm willing to be patient and see if he just might be right.

Rashers's picture

Let’s see Allmusic guide Boy 4stars, October 3stars, Unforgettable fire 4 stars, Joshua Tree 5stars.
For different generations of U2 fans the high water mark was the album that first engaged them. U2 toured the world’s stadiums playing “The Joshua Tree” after 30 years. Please do not denigrate that album as “indulgent” - it sold millions of copies and got them on the cover of Time magazine. Listen to it with an open mind today and it’s still fresh.
There is, actually very little crap in U2 catalogue - anywhere - all of their albums (even Pop) are worth a spin.
It’s been perceived as “cool” to hate U2 since they first appeared in 1979. I got over it in ‘91 - when Achtung Baby was released and then rediscovered the early albums and singles.

King Of Dirk's picture

We don't disagree, other than my contention that most of U2's albums contain at least one song that doesn't live up to their greatest work. Maybe you feel The Refugee and Is That All? are top-notch efforts. If so I apologize.

I am a fan of U2 - along with other imperfect artists (is there any other kind?) - and meant to encourage others to give their early work a fair shake since I agree that they're "worth a spin." Surely you don't think I intended otherwise. But the "it sold millions of copies" thing is weak. Britney Spears sold over 25 million copies of ...Baby One More Time. Are you going to tell me it's a masterpiece of anything other than marketing?

warpig's picture

I love that album.

Rashers's picture

War - 5 stars and their first UK No.1 album. Most of the other new wave bands of the era would still be touring on the basis of that album alone!

Mile High Music's picture

This quote particularly stood out "When Bono doesn’t preach his “save the world for my ego!” philosophy, U2 can be great. Unfortunately, most of U2’s discography is Bono preaching “save the world for my ego!”, making rare their brilliant moments." Is this brief, cheap, popular, one-sided shot at the person really supposed to pass as interesting informed, thoughtful opinion on music, or its origins or its context. Really?

Such a callow "celebrity style" critique of the person, such a put down of an individual's supposed views is but to continue the narrow, false myth of their popular tabloid persona.

The quote confuses "look at me" exclamations of a rock/pop entertainer and competitive leader of a band, mainly marketing a performer's persona and band story to compete in the media against other bands, as just personal comment for the sake of the individual ego. This easy confusion gives the media a common, succinct trope or story to publish/broadcast, while it can still help the band be known and so get their music heard. Still, by omission to simply ignore all the good that has been done by the person or people in mind is limited, unbalanced and begs some redress be offered for consideration.

To add some context and balance on who Bono and his ego are, based on his words and actions, please briefly note that both solo and as part of U2, he is one of the few in the most successful ranks of the entertainment industry who still chooses to charitably act. He clearly does a lot to help many, many others, and has consistently done this over many, many years. He not be a saint but again, he has clearly helped many others around the world at his personal expense of time, reputation, money and more. All of that is surely not just for his ego as mentioned, though ego probably plays its part. Isn't all art ego I hear some say....well, please let's discuss that another time.

Anyway, for example, in summary recognition of the many, many charitable choices Bono has made, and not all for selfish reasons, be it by acts of association and/or donations, he was granted an honorary knighthood by Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom for "his services to the music industry and for his humanitarian work", and has been made a Commandeur of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters). Additionally, U2 recently donated $11 million to support health care workers battling coronavirus in Ireland.

Again, Bono is not a saint but then who of the human condition is? But he has chosen to be involved in many different types of human causes, including: Abuse, Adoption, Fostering, Orphans, AIDS & HIV, Animals, At-Risk/Disadvantaged Youths, Children, Civil Rights, Conservation, Creative Arts, Disaster Relief, Economic/Business Support, Education, Environment, Fair Trade, Family/Parent Support, Gender Equality, Health, Homelessness, Human Rights, Hunger, Literacy, Mental Challenges, Peace, Physical Challenges, Poverty, Refugees, Slavery & Human Trafficking, Unemployment/Career Support, Water, and Women.

More specifically here are the 42 charities and foundations Bono currently supports:
Amnesty International
Charity Projects Entertainment Fund
Chernobyl Children International
Clara Lionel Foundation
Clinton Global Initiative
Elton John AIDS Foundation
Every Mother Counts
Exploring The Arts
Food Bank For New York City
Global Fund
Janie's Fund
Keep A Child Alive
Legacy of Hope Foundation
Live 8
Make Poverty History
Millennium Promise
Millennium Villages
Mulago Positive Women’s Network
Music Generation
Not On Our Watch
ONE Campaign
Red Cross
Simon Community
Special Olympics
The Lunchbox Fund
UN Millennium Project
War Child
Wildlife Conservation Society
Zero Hunger

So, if the main aim was to write narrow opinion, without some support or context to get readers' reactions and clicks as numerical measure of good opinion writing then so be it. This is done a lot but alas it is not actually good opinion writing that can add value to a community's knowledge and discussions. It is in all candor more the opposite and hopefully this will taken as encouragement to do better writing, rather than being perceived as an truly unintended blow to one's ego. Thank you very much for at least reading and considering this and this will be my only reaction. Continued success!

MalachiLui's picture

bono indisputably donates tons of money to charity, which is very important. i'm not saying that it isn't a good thing. and yes, a lot of it probably is out of pure generosity, but also consider the photo ops and free good publicity that comes from doing it. and while donating to charity is great, it's not exactly direct action. i personally support the actions of public figures who engage in direct action (for example, trying to develop easily replicated affordable housing units) more than those who just donate millions of dollars to charity, as virtuous as that can be.

regarding my thoughts on u2's discography, there's at least 1 or 2 songs on every album that i enjoy, however most of their LPs are pretty inconsistent. i'm not bashing the rest of their discography, as i truly enjoy 'zooropa' and 'pop,' and some of the 80s and 00s albums are comprised of 50+% great songs. some of their b-sides are great too.

Jazz listener's picture

hopefully you’ll learn this with age and experience.

poetryonplastic's picture

I for one appreciate Malachi's posts here, because they inject some fresh music and perspective. I never thought I would come to Analog Planet and see coverage of excellent modern artists like Boris or Merzbow, but here we are. I get that he's opinionated, and that may rub some the wrong way, but he's far more mature in his writing and perspective than I was 10-12 years ago at his age. Part of getting better at writing is not removing your opinion, but learning how to communicate it in effective and convincing ways, which is part of why we love Michael. No one has ever accused him of "not being opinionated"...

chicken peddler's picture

Analog Planet reviews different things to different standards, and ML's reviews are editorial with his personal slant. Anyone who values AP's content is already familiar with Fremer's tastes, he doesn't draw lines around genres or even artists as much as focuses on _sound_, and whether you recognize it of not, the guy is mainly concerned with exploration and educating himself, and we've mainly been along for the ride. ML's got a different personality and more of a cultural focus, but he's similar to Fremer in that he's curious and a self-educating explorer of what's out there. If he turns into a stick-in-the-mud, well, then he's not going to lead the audience he has to either fresh discoveries or engaging perspectives on sure classics, but so long as he's keeping the book open, more power to him.

I might feel differently if I was convinced Kanye sucks.

Duke86fan's picture

Personally i can't stand it even as an noise and loud music fan because its way too broey and showing off for me.

JEB-42's picture

I read the Tracking Angle mainly because of the great music reviews. I discovered great musicians through Mr. Fremers record reviews. SMOG and Rachels to mention two. Analog Planet has a long history of bring current music and musicians to our attention, not just the great reissues. Malachi's writing fits in very well and most appropriately with the editorial content that attracts me to revisit this site daily. His passion for music is very much appreciated but much like reading a movie or play review you take into context the reviewers likes and dislikes. You weigh them out. Same as reading a review on a piece of audio gear. I Reviewer X HATES it.....I know it's perfect for me. The writing is entertaining and informative. So long as it is factually correct and we understand a persons opinion let it rip!

The new bylines and writers are very much welcome. It allows much of the new music to get covered without over taxing a single writer who cannot possibly evenly cover the musical landscape. Keep up the great work and keep unleashing the great reviews. I am entertained. I enjoy them. Thank you for sharing your opinions.

Love the BORIS review. Could not agree more......

zebra22's picture

Won't wade into any of the disputes here, but just wanted to note that the two greatest U2 recordings are not discussed in this thread, and Malachi, they seem to be missing from your RYM list.

1. The live version of "Bad" from Wide Awake in America. This is my all time favorite live recording. It gives me chills every time I hear it. There was a vinyl reissue of WAIA a couple of years ago, and it sounds excellent. Crank this version of Bad on a nice system and it is almost overwhelming. Everything good about U2 is here - Bono's voice in peak form, the Edge's iconic, chiming guitar echoing across the stadium, the thunderous rhythm section. The sound of the crowd is integrated into the mix in a way that totally enriches the performance and captures what a great stadium show can be.

I fully agree that U2 is a frustratingly inconsistent band, that that they pretty much jumped the shark after AB. But for at least a time, they were the greatest live band in the world, and this track captures it (note: the other live track on WAIA, "A Sort of Homecoming", is similarly great).

2. The Unforgettable Fire. The Eno/Lanois production on this album is visionary and totally unique. Lightning in a bottle. They tried again for the same grandeur on The Joshua Tree, but that album lacks the mysterious acoustics of that weird French castle in which TUF was recorded. Easily U2's most poetic and haunting album, I've always been amazed how other than Pride, this one just flies under the radar in their discography.

Oh, but it does have Pride... one of the greatest and most beautifully recorded songs of all time.