In 2001, Universal Music started re-releasing landmark albums in their Deluxe Editions. These reissues are in deluxe digipaks, usually with an extra CD. These Deluxe Editions are really targeted towards collectors, casual fans might be happy with just the regular album as the prices are sometime really expensive. Prices range from $15 to $40, but if you're a collector or mega fan, they are well worth it for the rare/obscure tracks and booklets that comes in these sets. The album are in digipacks and fit inside a clear plastic slipcase (note: these are not interchangeable with other Deluxe releases).
Since the series is pretty successful, there are a few imitators in similar formats, notably Rhino/Elektra/Sire releases of Depeche Mode, R.E.M., and The Cure, although I should point out that these special editions have cardboard slipcases, not the clear plastic.
Also note that "Legacy Editions" from Legacy Recordings and "Collector's Edition" from Sony should not be confused with the Universal Releases.
I may return and add in Legacy Editions and Rhino re-issues, if anyone out there is interested.
By the way, some Deluxe Editions are available only in certain countries because they're popular in certain region (for instance, I think all the Pulp and Orb Deluxes are available only in the UK).
For collectors, you might want to see if you can get your hands on the free Best Buy's Deluxe Edition: Sampler. There's nothing really special about the 12-track disc, it comes in a standard jewel case.
We've previously mentioned a few Deluxe albums, so I've include a few links on the sidebar for you to read more.
Below are reviews of six Deluxe Editions that is in my collection:
GREASE - 25TH ANNIVERSARY
Grease is the word, is the word that you heard!
Aw, who doesn't love this movie and soundtrack. The double LP album went on to the Deluxe Edition, released last year.
All the classic songs are on here, "Grease", "Summer Nights", "Hopelessly Devoted to You", "Greased Lightning", and "We Go Together". The bonus second disc contains mostly "sing-a-long" version, which are essentially instrumentals. Although some instrumentals, such as the title track, "Grease", is amazing with the Gary Brown saxophone.
The "megamix" and "dream mix" are dance medleys, which are kind of nice, but it couldn't really take the place of the originals.
Also worth mentioning is the lyric booklet are designed as a school three-ring binder.
ELVIS COSTELLO - MY AIM IS TRUE
I've been waiting for Universal to release all of Elvis' catalogue - and I was pleased to see that This Year's Model (the album with Pump it Up) was released a few months ago.
My Aim is True (1977) is the first in the reissues, and it's a good start, because it was the first Costello album. Over thirty years later, the Deluxe Edition expands on the original release with some early demos. The bonus disc features the entire live concert from The Nashville Rooms (Aug 7th, 1977) as well as the soundcheck from the same venue.
The live recording is from soundboard and sounds just as good as a studio environment.
Trivia: I've seen Elvis Costello twice in my life, at a live concert in Berkeley and, strangely, at the Arctic Monkeys show as one of his bodyguard pushed me aside.
WEEZER - THE BLUE ALBUM
There's no additions to the original album, the first disc is relatively short, being barely 40 minutes long. The second disc made up for it, with fan-favorites such as "Mykel and Carli", a song about two of their biggest fan (who died while driving to a Weezer concert), "Jamie" (a song about their attorney, originally appearing on DGC Rarities, Vol. 1), and "Susanne".
There are some pre-production recording, such as "Paperface" and "I Swear It's True", that's nothing more than glorified demos, but it's still nice to have it collected on this reissue.
The best thing about this Deluxe Edition is all the original lyrics were reprinted from the original hand-written notes from Rivers Cuomo.
At the same time this was released, Geffen also issued their first DVD called Video Capture Device, which made a nice addition to any Weezer fan's collection.
VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO
I've always thought this album was called Andy Warhol, but apparently the official title is Velvet Underground and Nico. What's interesting to note is that Warhol is the band's manager at this point in their career and he was the person that courted Nico to collaborate with the band.
I'm actually not that thrilled about this re-release, partly because the extra is basically "the mono version" of their album. Let me put it this way: if you were to buy a bluray movie "deluxe edition" and the only extra is a VHS, it's really not worth paying extra, right?
I suppose, they had to put something on the second disc as, by now, there was little undiscovered VU music.
The extra bonus are five songs from Nico's album Chelsea Girl, originally released in October 1967.
SONIC YOUTH - DIRTY
This was the first of a series of Sonic Youth releases from Universal/Geffen. It contains a bunch of extras, mostly rehearsal recordings on the second disc (which includes songs not released on Dirty).
What's important about this album is that it was originally the first album to make Sonic Youth a household name, with their massive hit "100%", even though they were previously getting airplay with "Kool Thing" (from Goo; also released as a Deluxe Edition).
Photo extras includes a glimpse into the notes after their first proof print of the Dirty album, although I was disappointed to find out that they didn't reprint the pornographic image on the original album.
I suppose it's all in good taste.
TEARS FOR FEARS - SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR
This Tears for Fears' biggest hit album, finally released in Deluxe format.
The original album only ran 44 minutes, so they added 7 B-sides, filling up the rest of the disc. The second CD contains 7" and 12" remixes, which was pretty common at the time (usually the 12" is a dance mix).
The band really started to fit in radio in 1985, along such other smooth mellow soul 80s sound such as Simply Red and Sade, and their biggest hit at the time was "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Shout".
Songs from the Big Chair hit #1 in the US, Canada, and Germany, making this one of the most successful album from this British band, although surprisingly they only hit #2 on the UK charts.
The booklet contains a 10-page article about the importance of this album from Paul Lester, editor at Uncut Magazine.