Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Cranberries Album Discovered

Lest I be accused of perpetrating a consumer fraud myself, let me be clear from the outset: I have just discovered the existence of a Cranberries album. This does not mean that the Cranberries just issued a new album!

I have liked the Cranberries for some time. I discovered the Cranberries using Napster's[1] tool that allowed one to troll through the music files of folks identified using searches of favorite music. The libraries of folks with your taste in music is an outstanding place to discover music. The music need not be new: a novice looking for Jazz can easily miss ancient gems, and a non-English speaker who can't make out the words may need hand-holding to find things he already knows he loves, like "Bad To The Bone" by the well-known Jim Thorogood. At least, he's well-known if you have native fluency in the language in which he sings. If you don't, you may love the song but have no idea whose album you want. Napster's chat feature was excellent for that.

So as I stand poised to order the Cranberries' album Wake Up & Smell The Coffee, I see there really is a new album called Gold, which seems to be full of already-known Cranberries tracks, which the Amazon preview reveals to be the same tracks I know from the albums I've got. Given that I'm not on a campaign to own every title, but am just interested in the music, I'll have to compare the tracks on Gold (a 2-disc, 31-track 2008 release) to the tracks on all the albums I've got to determine whether there's anything new on it at all. As I checked the link in the Gold album, I spot yet another Cranberries compilation -- Treasure Box: The Complete Sessions 1991-1999.

This last product, like Gold, promises a remastered collection of tracks, but Treasure Box also promises completeness to the extent of the Cranberries' first four albums, and weighing in with four discs and 74 tracks, it's plausible it delivers.

So, looking at the surprising number of Cranberries offerings that consist of re-releases, I decided to count it up:
  • Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can't We (1993)
  • No Need To Argue (1994)
  • To The Faithful Departed (1996)
  • Bury The Hatchet (1999)
  • Wake Up & Smell The Coffee (2001)
TOTAL: 5 Albums

  • Stars: Best of the Cranberries 1992-2002 (2002)
  • Treasure Box: Complete Sessions 1991-1999 (2002)
  • Gold (2008)
TOTAL: 3 Compilations

I was just set to make a joke, but then I looked at Treasure Box again. The four albums each have 18 or 19 tracks, rather more than the band averaged on its first four albums. What's the extra material? Joining Pavarotti to sing Ave Maria? A cover of Fleetwood Mac's killer tune Go Your Own Way? This stuff is good. You don't even have to like it all for the whole to be worthwhile. The extras on the ends of the four discs sum up to a new album on their own. Though of course there's no "album" feel to this collection, it's not a re-issue; it's stuff I've never seen before. Stuff that makes me want to buy the thing. If you like to hear Dolores O'Riordan singing, I'm inclined to conclude that Treasure Box can't be lumped with the other repackaged tracks and has to be thought of as an album for real band fans to own.

People just discovering the band should ignore the original four albums and buy Treasure Box. Folks wishing to be further mesmerized by O'Riordan's voice should also check out her other work.

I have the score now at 6 to 2, which is much more respectable than 5 to 3. The question now is what to buy first, the "new" album I found ... or Treasure Box!

[1] When I say Napster, I mean Napster 1.x, the real Napster, the one that enabled one to stroll through the music libraries of folks you discovered had musical tastes like yours, to see what else they liked. That was the killer feature of Napster, as proven by the fact it let me find so much new music that I ordered as many as twenty albums a month while it persisted. Now, of course, Napster has been neutered and I can't listen to full songs with it (you can't tell if a song is a winner in a 30-sec sound bite, you can at best identify whether it's the song you were looking for, which is no good if you are looking for new music and have no idea what you will turn out to want of the tunes you find) so it's basically useless to me for discovering music.

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