Back in May of this year it was announced by RRE that Front 242 were rereleasing their album back catalogue in newly remastered and redesigned forms. All their albums except Tyranny For You had been in for the treatment including the Back Catalogue compilation that was only available on compact disc. These new remastered recordings were to be released only on compact disc and the date of release was given as the 1st of June.
As well as each release being remastered by Greg Calbi they had been given fabulous new computer generated artwork by a company called Art & Strategy helped by a person listed on the inlay as F. Boebaert. To top all that each album had had at least one extra track added and these extra tracks were also given the remastering treatment too.
Geography, Front 242's first album, was originally recorded on 4 and 8 track recorders. The remastering of this album comes across very clearly and you can immediately tell the difference from the original recordings. However, the only draw back is that probably because of the lack of quality on the original master tapes this album is not quite perfect. I'm not complaining mind you, I'm simply letting you know the facts. The extra tracks on this disc are the tracks that appeared on the first two 7" singles and on the "Two In One" 12"/CD single.
No Comment also greatly benefits from the remastering and once again the music is wonderfully clear and has a wonderful sparkle that was unheard of on the original release. This album easily has the best selection of extra tracks with an additional four tracks having been added. Firstly, there is a remixed version of "Body To Body" which originally appeared on the Electronic Body Music compilation album. Secondly there are two unreleased live tracks from a concert in Ghent during 1984 titled "See The Future" and "In November". Finally, there is a demo version of "Special Forces". In actual fact this version is not drastically different from the final mix but is a worthwhile inclusion if only for posterity.
Back Catalogue's remastering quality is very good too but this rerelease cannot boast a good helping of extra tracks. The album originally had seventeen tracks on it so the inclusion of just one more extra track, "U-Men(Live In Chicago)", is probably just to tempt you to buy the whole thing all over again. However, if you don't own much Front 242 material or you want to buy something to try out this may be a very worthwhile album to get.
Official Version doesn't benefit that much from the remastering due to the quality of the original recordings but an extra four tracks (taken from the "Interception" and "Master Hit" 12" singles) make it a worthwhile purchase especially if you don't have the singles.
Front By Front was originally taken from DAT masters (there is even an official commercial DAT release) and so the remastering process for this album appears to have had no effect on the music whatsoever. What's even more disappointing is the fact that all the lovely index numbers have been taken out of the recording and so you can't skip to every thirty second bit of any track whenever you want now so much for punishing your machine! And to top it all the extra tracks are fairly disappointing too. There are six extra tracks but don't let that fool you. Five of them are simply the tracks from the "Never Stop" single (all available on compact disc anyway) and "Headhunter(V1.0)". Okay this is a great track but surely the inclusion of "Headhunter(V2.0)" and "Welcome To Paradise(V2.0)" were a better choice especially the latter as this has never appeared on CD.
Thumbs down on the Front By Front reissue I'm afraid but the other reissues are well worth getting and top of the list is No Comment. Please note that these remastered compact discs were issued at mid-price but some major stores are selling them at full price so I suggest you shop around. Remember, support your local independent record store otherwise you may find the future of music will not be the future that you want to listen to.
Body To Body
See The Future(Live In Ghent)
In November(Live In Ghent)
Master Hit(Masterblaster Mix)
Master Hit(Hypno Mix)
Work 242 N.Off Is N.Off