Earlier this year, U2 reissued their first three studio albums, all of which included bonus discs of rarities and remixes. This week sees the re-release of Under A Blood Red Sky — the live audio document of the band’s 1983 War Tour — which, regrettably, contains no additional cuts whatsoever.
The album’s sole attribute is that the audio has been remastered. Audiophiles can analyze the intricate merits and sonic distinctions that it may afford, but in all honesty this new version doesn’t sound dramatically different or enhanced from previous ones. Sure, it sounds quite good, but it sounded quite good in 1983, too.
And so this reissue’s glaring fault lay in what it doesn’t provide. The album’s tracklisting comes from three separate concerts on the aforementioned War Tour. Surely U2’s archives hold further live footage from that era which could have expanded this latest version beyond its core eight cuts.
The DVD release of Live At Red Rocks (also out this week) features five previously unreleased songs. Given that the DVD and CD both derive from the same tour, it’s unfortunate that the audio document could not have similarly included added performances.
And especially considering the absence of extra content, critiquing the album on its intrinsic merit — twenty-five years after its initial release — would only be futile and superfluous. Suffice it to say, Under A Blood Red Sky captures U2 on the ascent, playing like a legendary band before they’d reached legendary stature.
The bottom line, though, is that with no substantive incentives, this reissue doesn’t enrich or expand the existing perception of this quintessential live album.