After reviewing the nice five CD boxed set celebrating U2’s mega successful comeback album, 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind, Universal Music kindly sent me a copy of the companion two LP set to compare and contrast.
This vinyl pressing of All That You Can’t Leave Behind — which was mastered at Bernie Grundman Mastering, directed by The Edge — sounds better than other versions of this album I’ve heard thus far, whether its a CD version at 16-bits, 44.1 kHz or the 24-bit, 44.1 MQA streams on Tidal and Hi-Res Qobuz.
Maybe its just a factor of the slight bit of inevitable compression necessary for creating a vinyl LP or perhaps its the warming factor from my tube pre-amp, but this presentation of All That You Can’t Leave Behind is a more enjoyable listen than the CDs or the streams.
Curiously, the main place this album seems to be a bit weak on is the mid-ranges. The high end is crisp and clean and there is plenty of low bass happening.
The good news here is that the album holds together even when you play it loudly. Larry Mullen Jr.’s snare drum snaps nicely on “Walk On” and “Kite” sounds especially nice with its acoustic and slide guitars with mellotron-flavored synthesizer strings.
One other thing I like about the presentation of All That You Can’t Leave Behind as a two LP experience is something that I’ve discovered with other albums which came out of the CD era: breaking up the music into three or four sides creates a sense of mini suites of music and gives your ears and mind a bit of breathing space as you flip the side.
I’ve written about this concept before, particularly in my review of the restored and remastered version of XTC’s Skylarking (click the title to jump to that review). Like Skylarking, the original European pressings of All That You Can’t Leave Behind were crammed onto a single disc. While I have never heard that original LP version, it stands to reason that the music was much more compressed to fit everything in on two sides of one platter.
In general I’m very pleased with this version of All That You Can’t Leave Behind. The dark black, dead quiet and well centered vinyl LPs come housed in audiophile grade plastic lined inner sleeves and there is even a free download provided for mobile use (something we’re seeing less and less of these days, so its appreciated when they are included!).
Perhaps the only detail that would have been nicer to round out this 20th anniversary package is if it had been put in a more classic style gatefold cover design — a relatively minor point. Maybe for the 25th Anniversary edition we’ll get the album in that sort of package, half-speed mastered at 45 RPM. Its only four more years to that milestone so for now this version of All That You Can’t Leave ehind will keep us more than satiated.