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U2 re-releases spark 'rip-off' claims





They are one of the richest bands on the planet, but it seems U2 still haven't found enough of the green stuff to keep them happy.

The millionaire supergroup was last night accused of pulling a "con" by selling their fans re-packaged, re-mastered and re-released albums that are on offer for as much as €50.

The band has just launched new versions of their first three classic albums: 'Boy', 'October' and 'War'.

The albums are available in basic one-disc editions priced at €12.99, a "deluxe" two-disc set with "b-sides, live tracks and rarities" for €29.99, and a 'Boy' box set, which contains a "deluxe" CD and a t-shirt and costs €49.99.

The three re-released U2 albums are also available on vinyl. And some of the "rarities" on the deluxe, second CDs are re-worked versions of old fan favourites.

Of the 12 songs on the second disc of 'War', over half are remixes, with three new workings of 'Two Hearts Beat As One' and four of the classic 'New Year's Day'.

Despite the fact that the band says all three albums have been re-mastered and brushed up from audio tapes that are over 25 years old, music fans yesterday criticised what they saw as the latest big-name music rip-off.

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"That's a rip-off, definitely a rip-off," said Jamie Farley, from Enniskillen. "I wouldn't buy it because it was a different version. If it was out years ago and I bought it then, I definitely wouldn't buy it now."

And even die-hard fans were left disillusioned by what they saw as a new attempt at "cashing in" on old material.

"Basically, I'm a bit disappointed because I think it's a con," said a "major" U2 fan who did not wish to be named. "As a big fan, I don't see what the point or the bonus is in buying it. I think it's a money spinner. Re-mastered means nothing, really," he continued.

"I'm a musician and I make records; and re-mastered, to the average punter, means sweet FA.

"If you're sitting in Windmill Lane studios and you have the speakers at full blare, of course you're going to hear a difference, but if you play it on the car stereo or at home, the average Joe won't know the difference."

The original versions of the three albums were pulled from shelves earlier this year and the band have already released a re-mastered version of 'The Joshua Tree' -- the only copies of which left in stock in HMV on Grafton Street, Dublin, now sell for €40.

"It's typical marketing," said Scheherezade Suria from Barcelona. "Most bands repackage the CDs and sell them off. I didn't know U2 did it but I'm not surprised."

However, sales of the re-packaged albums were reported to be brisk at the Dublin store yesterday.

"Combined, the three albums are our best seller today," said assistant manager Chris Keena. "That's the way a lot of artists are re-releasing stuff now. They release a greatest hits collection with an extra track."

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