For U2 fans (especially of the vinyl variety), April is a month to celebrate. The band is thankfully dipping into their back catalog and reissuing three of their albums (Wide Awake In America, Pop, and All That You Can’t Leave Behind) on vinyl for the first time since their initial releases. All three reissues have been remastered, are pressed on heavyweight 180g vinyl, and come with a download card. They will all be releasing this Friday (April 13).
While some vinyl reissues can feel like afterthoughts that suffer from thin, low quality pressings and rush job packaging, this trio of U2 releases sound, feel, and look pristine. Even if you already own vinyl copies of the original pressings, your ears and eyes will thank you for upgrading to these reissues as the heavier 180g versions shine in their rich, clean sonic output. I was very impressed with the quality of the pressings and loved hearing these albums that I already knew so well shine a little crisper and wider in their remastered forms. Also, the reissued LPs just feel sturdier than the original LPs, due to the heavier quality wax.
Because these three reissues span across 15 years of the band’s catalog – Wide Awake In America was originally released in 1985, Pop in 1997, and All That You Can’t Leave Behind in 2000 – the faithfully reproduced packaging of each album aesthetically echoes the rise of the band as well. Wide Awake In America is a 4-song EP that was released after the success of The Unforgettable Fire but before the worldwide boom of The Joshua Tree. As such, it’s simple stark sleeve artwork and lack of inserts appropriately captures that pre-super stardom period of the band. The music is the only thing doing the talking and with the otherworldy live version of “Bad” contained within its grooves, that was all that needed to be said at the time.
By contrast, Pop finds the band at either it’s most bombastic or its most bloated (depending on who you ask). Either way, it definitely highlights the band at their most misunderstood – which is an understandable outcome for any group willing to fearlessly reinvent themselves after achieving so much worldwide success on such a grand scale. With this reissue of Pop – in my opinion, the star of the trio – the gatefold packaging, dual bright color inserts, standalone lyric sheet, and double disc presentation all combine to make a standout release that demands to be listened to and looked over. Whether you’re returning to the album as a fan or cautiously willing to change your mind about its contents, it’s unquestionably worth another spin.
All That You Can’t Leave Behind finds the band musically returning to form a bit from the Pop era pomp but still operating at such a high level on all cylinders. This iteration of the band finding their footing while continuing to move forward is wonderfully echoed in the minimalist packaging of the black-and-white album cover photo and the beautiful 16-page booklet that features some of photographer Anton Corbijn’s most visually stunning work with the band.
While you may already own so many of the hit songs and fan favorite deep cuts contained on these three albums via CD or digital file, these vinyl reissues are really worth the pick-up due to their high quality production, both sonically and visually. If you’re only interested in grabbing one, the Pop double LP truly shines in its presentation. However, you can be confident that there’s not a dud to be seen or heard in this wonderful batch of reissues.