I’m always happy to find a puffy package in the mail box. In fact, it’s become my usual way of getting music these days, having gotten fed up with just not finding my particularly brand of stuff locally all that regularly anymore. But yesterday was extra-pretty cool: the puffy package in question marked the arrival of the long awaited remastered, expanded editions of guitarist Mike Keneally’s first two albums, hat. and Boil That Dust Speck numbers 354 and 145, respectively (hand-signed and numbered by the man himself, of course!)
The good news is that these are some of the best reissues I’ve ever seen. Very often, when old albums are reissued, they resort to poor scans of album artwork, resulting in blurry booklet photos and text (take the Atlantic-years Rush remasters (Presto through Test For Echo) – these look absolutely awful.) Not in this case – these almost look better than the originals, especially in the case of hat. AND they include some brand new, hand-written follow-up liner-notes that fill in the gaps.
I watched a bit of the hat. DVD last night and was really impressed – these were clearly well thought-out and lovingly put together. The recording-session footage is eye-opening – it’s thrilling to watch musicians like this putting incredibly complex music such as this together and having fun, and the 2006 reunion of the hat. band was nice to see, but it certainly illustrates that there’s a real chemistry between Keneally and current bassist Bryan Beller that just isn’t there with Doug Lunn, talented as he is. There’s also a ton of interviews and 30 audio tracks on the DVD that I simply ran out of time to check out, but those will be fun to explore another day.
The Dust Speck DVD has a 90 minute making-of feature that should be interesting, but I’ll have to set aside an evening to dive into that. That’s in addition to 20 alternate mixes and unreleased tracks, plus a Drop Control session (Keneally’s former band) that was originally intended to somehow be fit in the middle of Dust Speck‘s running order, but the album material was simply too long for it to work out.
Ladies and gentlemen of the music industry, THIS is how reissues should be done. Unless the band has absolutely nothing else to offer, there is no excuse not to append old releases with extra material – on a separate disc! This makes me need these and want to need these, and makes owning them fun. Yeah, the upgraded sound is nice, but when you get hours of extra stuff, that really makes it all worthwhile.