Special Edition Review
Posted July 14, 2007
There is a debate among fans about re-releases. On the one hand, you get goodies like acoustic versions, new songs, and a DVD disc with music videos, etc. But, is it really worth buying the CD again if you already have it, or paying ten extra bucks compared to the normal edition, if considering the purchase? After all, you can live without it, right?
The preferred method for introducing new material is the Relient K method - by releasing an EP after the main event comes out. Another way is to release the special edition simultaneously with the album, so buyers can choose. But too often you have to buy the CD all over again; and once you've done that, it's tough to trust them with the next CD (I'm still holding out on buying the latest Hawk Nelson, for fear of a future "Special Edition" release).
This time around, Relient K goes with the simultaneous release. But, differing from other special editions, they choose to add no songs to the audio portion of the album, but instead opt just to add a DVD to the mix, which contains the making of the music video "Must Have Done Something Right," as well as the video itself. It also features commentary and exclusive acoustic performances.
It starts off with six acoustic performances in the legendary Capitol Record Studios in Hollywood California, which clocks in at almost exactly 30 minutes. This portion reminds me of Jeremy Camp's "live" acoustic album in late 2005, with the whole coffee house vibe to it. This really is the highlight of the special edition, because you get to see the raw talent of the band, from all the member's vocal talents, to their amazing instrumental versatility. It starts out with a couple performances from mmhmm, including "I So Hate Consequences," which also fuses a little of "Life after Death and Taxes" with it, and a performance of "Who I Am Hates Who I've Been," whose acoustic performance was left off Apathetic EP. After a little banjo pickin' on "Faking My Own Suicide," we move on to one of Matt Thiessen's big inspirations 'The Beach Boys,' and a cover of their classic "Sloop John B," which is fun and finely played. Next are two tracks from the actual Five Score and Seven Years Ago album, including one of my personal favorite Relient K songs, "Give," which is played very well, but not to the emotion it was on the album. However, this rendition still shines here. The last performance is "Devastation and Reform," which is a fine addition, but one of their singles like "Forgiven" or "Must Have Done Something Right" would have been a better choice instead. Taking a rock song like this down to an acoustic form is risky; it ends up just uneven, and comes out with mixed results.
In between the acoustic performances are brief commentaries on making the album, the 'Beach Boys' as inspirations, the versatility of the band, and a commentary on "Devastation and Reform." At the end of the performance, Thiessen comes out and tells everyone watching 'thank you,' and hopefully they'll do more stuff like it in the future. I personally think it would be great to even release a full album or DVD of nothing but acoustic performances, and maybe some more bonus features.
Up next is a making-of feature on the "Must Have Done Something Right" music video, which runs almost 8 minutes long, and fuses the making of the video, commentary on the video, and commentary on the song itself. The commentary is fun, and unlike a movie commentary you might find on a DVD, the band actually talks about every scene in the video in-depth while on the set, explaining every move of the video. This can get repetitive at times, but the humor of the band keeps you interested. However, the continuous loop, and the mixture of other songs from the album as the background music is also repetitive and gets annoying after awhile, and could have done better by using more than just snippets of the songs. Right after the making-of is the actual video, which follows Matt's quest to impress his girl by trying to retrieve a soccer ball which is being kicked all around Los Angeles. It's fun and maybe one of the most creative the band has made so far.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend anybody buying it unless they were a Relient K fan. There just isn't enough for the casual listener here. Out of the four music videos they've made so far, only one is included. And as with most re-releases, more could have been added, such as a "meet the band" featurette, special tracks added to the actual album, or the making of a song from Matt Thiessen's head to your ears. Wishful thinking, or can more really be done? After all, every re-release could have done more, and to my knowledge, none have been perfect. That said, it's aimed toward fans, and to fans I highly recommend. Relient K has built an outstanding album here, and this is the icing on the cake.
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