Megadeth's entry in the album-as-box-set sweepstakes
By Raoul Hernandez,
11:28AM, Thu. Dec. 8, 2011
I’m not buying. Mostly because EMI sent it to me, but like most if not all of the box sets reviewed in this week’s Music section, Megadeth’s 25th Anniversary box set of Peace Sells... But Who’s Buying? hawks needless overkill. My apologies to Overkill’s Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth.
Weighing in with a record-sized box and boss 3-CD cover, the 5-CD/3-LP Peace Sells... doesn’t tank on size so much as quality. The album's mixes are mostly dreadful and there’s five of them over three formats – CD, vinyl, and “Hi-Res WAV Audio Files,” whatever that is.
If anything, that’s what’s killing the box set currently, simple remastering of the album. No one knows how to do that anymore, apparently. Mobile Fidelity Soundlabs is back in business on compact disc, but boutique prices there ($30) as here ($130) aren’t doing the music industry any favors.
One of the big planets in thrash metal’s big bang, Megadeth made its bones on its first four discs: Killing is My Business... and Business Is Good! (1985), Peace Sells... but Who’s Buying? (1986), So Far, So Good... So What! (1988), and Rust in Peace (1990). Teeth-rattling nitro metal – as melodic as Van Halen but at the speed of frontman Dave Mustaine’s addictions and temper – Megadeth was born out of sheer electrocution. Skeleton fry.
Peace Sells... remains perhaps the fastest, rawest draw in the quartet’s catalog, but the new remaster reduces it to a molten blob. Admittedly, conditions under which the original album was recorded were Jurassic at best, but all songs save perhaps for the title track melt together into a better bass response but little else. The 2004 CD remaster comes included, but that's of course what everyone owned already, myself included. The “Randy Burns Mixes Remastered 2011” plays no less murky.
Box set bonus, Live at the Phantasy Theatre, both a CD and double-record set here, makes for a great bootleg, but marginal major label fare, though Mustaine speedballing Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” deserves at least one beer swilled from said footware. A fifth disc with audio files, and a third 12-inch – the newly remastered album on vinyl – round out the package. Peace Sells... on new vinyl gets the nod here, though the mix remains thick, while the petroleum version of Live at the Phantasy makes a lot more sense via stylus.
Point of it all? Only that current box sets have become largely trophies: Not for mass consumption – obsessives only. If Peace Sells... But Who’s Buying? rings up the Megadeath LP for your naughty/nice metalhead this shopping season, they’ll eat it up even if they wind up disappointed by it.
On the other hand, the box set's post-apocalyptic real estate agent in 3-D will look like a million bucks in a trophy case...