It is a real shame that this double vinyl set has only been issued as a Record Store Day 2021 release as it deserves to be put out as a full commercial release, not only on vinyl but also on CD as in my view, is far better than the 2011 Deluxe Edition as this is the second best expanded vinyl edition of all of the Art of Noise albums to date after In Visible Silence even though it has no previously unreleased tracks. As usual, this has been compiled and collated by Ian Peel, without his enthusiasm we wouldn’t be getting our favourite music back in print. Who’s Afraid Of The Art Of Noise is without a doubt the most groundbreaking album put out on ZTT, and now we can listen to it again in this glorious double vinyl set, sounding better than ever.
This time around the original album (technically, the second as the North American 1984 editions had a different version of Snapshot) has no additional tracks added to the long player and doesn’t make it lose its identity with multiple variations of tracks already included.
This is the first time that Who’s Afraid Of The Art Of Noise has been released on vinyl since the 1992 European reissue, contrary to claims of it being 1985. The excellent artwork on this gatefold package has been done by the brilliant Philip Marshall who has added to the original Incidental Series #34 sleeve, originally created by XLand ZTT, without it being obvious, right down to the Spanish track listing on the sleeve that didn’t match the actual running order of the album. There will be some people that will be annoyed by that, personally I would have liked it corrected for accuracy but on the other hand it made me feel nostalgic to see that inaccurate sequence back in print, one of the many charms from the 1984 edition.
Prior to hearing this set I was initially sceptical regarding the sound quality of this UMC pressing as I wasn't impressed with the amount of clicks that that appeared throughout their vinyl releases of Anne Dudley Plays The Art Of Noise and the recent Liverpool reissue by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. My scepticism soon became unfounded as the sound of this pressing makes it an instant joy to listen to by giving depth to each track and proves that digital downloads are a complete waste of time as the sonic quality of this analogue album is far superior, ironically a digital code for downloaders has been included. On this new release one can hear improvements over that of the original 1984 edition, besides the depth, the tracks Memento and How To Kill no longer suffer from static pops and crackles that stood out, detracting from the subtle nuances in their quieter parts. This also applies to the beginning and the end of Beat Box (Diversion One).
This limited edition includes the first time on vinyl Who’s Afraid Of Goodbye?, previously released as disc three in the now long deleted And What Have You Done With My Body, God? CD box set. It gives an insight into the making of Art of Noise’s debut album that will appeal to the fans that missed out on that set. For the serious collectors, this set offers nothing new as all of the tracks were previously available.
The only issue that I have with this set is that some of the track titles appear differently on the sleeve than they do on the labels which sort of fits in the Paul Morley days of ZTT, but is unnessasary as those days are long gone. Accurate track information should be paramount. The most obvious example of this is the listing of the track Moments In Love (Incomplete). On the CD counterpart of ...Goodbye? it was unlisted, as it is on the cover of this vinyl edition. It is represented on the label by its apparent Incidental Series number (ZTIS 346), giving the impression that it is a catalougue number for the record itself. For the casual buyers and committed collectors this could easily be misconstrued as a series of mistakes by the record label. The actual track title is listed on one of the inner sleeves next to its corresponding series number, expecting that the buyer should read the sleeves notes to either to memorise, or cross reference it when looking at the printed label. If this set were to be re-issued as a full commercial release in the future I would hope that the track is listed properly and move on from the ideas of outdated hidden tracks along with misinformation.
Nothing more needs to be said except that Who's Afraid Of The Art Of Noise is now catalogued by ZTT Records as ZTDS24, formerly ZTTIQ 2 in a previous life, by Universal as 3550428 and is number 34 in Zang Tuum Tumb's Incidental Series, the 17th Element as well as being the 24th part of the Definitive Definition Series. "fulfilled dreams are as rare as happy music"
- KM Whitehouse, July 2021
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