The deluxe side of the moon is record industry's answer to downloading


You've already got the album on vinyl, cassette and CD.

It is downloaded on to your iPod. You may even have seen it performed live.

So how does the record industry go about persuading the avid music fan to part with hundreds of pounds for a classic LP they may already have owned for up to 40 years?

The answer it seems can be found this autumn in a slew of some of rock's most celebrated recordings set to be re-released as "super-deluxe" and even "uber-deluxe" box sets sporting price tags as big as the bands themselves.

Despite the decline in CD sales, collectors are already being urged to pre-order their favourite artists.

Yet while the long-awaited six-disc audio-visual Immersion box sets of Pink Floyd's classic 1970s albums, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall – which have sold more than 100 million copies between them – will cost a relatively meagre £88, other collections are more expensive.

A forthcoming 20th anniversary set of U2's era-defining 1991 album Achtung Baby is currently for sale on some US websites for $589.99 (£369). Dedicated fans of the album famously described by Bono as the sound of "four men chopping down The Joshua Tree" will receive a limited, numbered edition in a magnetic puzzle-tiled box, six CDs, DVDs and a 92-page book.

The Complete Smiths: Collector's Edition is currently on pre-order sale for £221 on Amazon. It includes all the band's studio albums and their only live recording, remastered by Johnny Marr in three different formats. Other imminent releases include a super-deluxe anniversary box set of Nirvana's landmark grunge overture Nevermind, and a Quadrophenia super-deluxe box set by The Who.

Deluxe box sets and remastered classics have been around since the 1990s when record companies first began digitising their back catalogues and unearthed vast quantities of potentially marketable background material. The latest crop of re-releases, however, comes against an increasingly bleak sales outlook.

Last year music revenues slumped by £189m. Sales of CDs have continued their remorseless decline, plunging a further 7.9 per cent in the wake of the challenge from free streaming web sites such as Spotify. Meanwhile, the hoped-for boost from legal digital sales has failed to materialise on the scale executives once dreamed of.

Even more worryingly, the number of new artists breaking through fell to an all-time low last year and even revenue from stadium concerts, which has helped supplement the fall in physical sales – fell back. But Adam Liversage, director of communications for BPI, which represents the music industry, said the previous success of the super-deluxe format proved fans liked them. "It gives a really good insight into how the record was made," he said.

Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason told Rolling Stone: "We've tried to give everyone all the various alternatives. So now, even if we all just download, they will at least be there as a document of how it used to work."

The repackaged classics making a comeback

Pink Floyd

Immersion, £88

The release of the band's remastered back catalogue kicks off this month with Dark Side of the Moon, which includes six discs, bonus tracks and unreleased footage. Wish You Were Here and The Wall will follow before Christmas.


Achtung Baby, £75

The 20th anniversary edition of the album which rekindled the career of the Irish rockers is available in "Uber" and "Super deluxe". It includes a numbered presentation box and 92-page hardback book.

The Smiths

Complete Super Deluxe Box Set, £221

Lovingly remastered by Johnny Marr, this comprehensive anthology includes all the studio, live and compilation albums crafted by Manchester's finest miserablists.


Nevermind, £75

A celebration of the record that brought the sound of grunge to the world two decades ago. Formats range from a four-CD/DVD Super Deluxe Edition to a standard digital/CD remaster of the original album.

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