After much analysis I’ve finally boiled down the assets and debits of the respective US and UK English Beat/Beat remasters. Keep in mind that the US set is an all or nothing $49.95 retail boxed set and that the UK 3 disc editions of each album are sold separately. This may ultimately have a bearing on which purchase decisions that you make. The cuts of primary interest to me are B-sides. There’s nothing quite like songs that never got released on albums to stir that glint in The Monk’s eye! After examining The Beat’s discography, there turns out to be fewer non-LP B-sides than was common for the era. Many Beat singles were simply two album tracks served on a 7″ platter. All released B-sides as released contemporaneously are included in both sets so there’s no advantage there …eeeeexcept that the UK set has one previously unreleased song! If you would like to hear “It Makes Me Rock,” then spring for the DLX RM of “Special Beat Service” as served up by Edsel Records.
The 12″ versions began to differ somewhat. That certainly makes things more interesting, but there are no remixes that are exclusive to the US boxed set. The UK remasters replicate all of those and offer these; nine version cuts that appear only on those sets. Here’s a list of the remix versions that are exclusive to the UK remasters:
- Can’t Get Used To Losing You [1983 remix] – from the 7″ single released to promote “What Is Beat?” posthumous greatest hits album
- Can’t Get Used To Losing You [1983 extended remix] – from the 7″ single released to promote “What Is Beat?” posthumous greatest hits album
- Ackee-1-2-3 [Nike mix] – By Jellybean Benitez as on the UK “Ackee 1-2-3″ 12” A-side
- I Confess [Dave Allen remix] – UK 12″ A-side
- Mirror In the Bathroom [Sure Is Pure mix] – postmodern 1996 re-issue single mix
- Mirror In the Bathroom [Tic Tac Toe mix] – postmodern 1996 re-issue single mix
- Mirror In the Bathroom [Spike Stent mix] – postmodern 1996 re-issue single mix
- Mirror In the Bathroom [Simon & Diamond mix] – postmodern 1996 re-issue single mix
- Mirror In the Bathroom [Adelphi mix] – postmodern 1996 re-issue single mix
As you can see, most of these are the dreaded post-modern remixes; cuts remixed after the initial release of a song, and when the span is 16 years, as it is here, I would imagine that these are the sort of mid-90s remixes that made me hate life in those dark times. Technically, even the “Can’t Get Used To Losing You” 1983 mix is also po-mo but in 1983, remixes were still in a happy place for me.
What about BBC sessions? The US box has all 15 John Peel Sessions, as do the UK DLX RMs. But the UK sets also have additional Mike Read and Kid Jensen sessions which include:
- Hand’s Off… She’s Mine [Read]
- Mirror In The Bathroom [Read]
- Rough Rider [Read]
- Twist + Crawl [Read]
- Night + Day [Jensen]
The advantage there again favors the UK releases. Are there any areas where the US box comes up trumps? Let’s consider live tracks, the last variant of rarities to consider. The US box has tracks from a US show in Boston that were previously released only domestically on The [English] Beat’s US label, IRS Records, to wit:
- Best Friend [live Boston Opera House] – from the 1988 US CD-3 of “Save It For Later”
- Tears Of A Clown [live Boston Opera House] – from the 1988 US CD-3 of “I Confess”
- Twist + Crawl [live Boston Opera House] – from the 1988 US CD-3 of “I Confess”
- Get A Job/Stand Down Margaret [live Boston Opera House] – from the 1983 US edition of “What Is Beat?”
Similarly, the UK sets also have five live tracks from a single concert at the Hammersmith Palais which was anthologized across all formats of the UK “I Confess” singles of 1983. These tracks only appear on the UK RMs as listed below:
- Doors Of Your Heart [live Hammersmith Palais] – from UK “I Confess” UK 2 x 7″
- I Confess [live Hammersmith Palais] – from UK “I Confess” UK 12″
- Spar Wid Me [live Hammersmith Palais] – from UK “I Confess” UK 12″
- Save It For Later [live Hammersmith Palais] – from UK “I Confess” UK 2 x 7″
- Mirror In The Bathroom [live Hammersmith Palais] – from UK “I Confess” UK 2 x 7″
That seems pretty evenly weighted with mutually exclusive live content, until you take into account the limited edition live CD/DVD included in the US boxed set. If you purchase the US box quickly, the ’82/’83 US Festival concerts by The English Beat are included on CD and DVD. Hmmm. On the other hand, the UK DVDs [and there is one in each album RM] offer more intriguing content than seeing the band play a show to a bunch of SoCal rock fans on Steve Wozniak’s dime! The Monk has a soft spot for music videos and also enjoys live TV appearances and the [probably recent] Jools Holland interview could be interesting.
I really can’t make a decision based on the music, but if I consider the DVD material, the UK editions have a clearcut advantage for me. Even so, this is weighted by the fact that I almost never watch music video [in spite of having possibly thousands of hours of it in my Record Cell on tape and disc]. Meaning that ultimately, I’d be happy with either set, so at that point it all comes down to which I see first/can find for less scratch. There are no losers in this game… except for those who would look askance at the fine works of The Beat and turn their noses up at either of these fine sets of their music!
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