After many years of talking about it, Kevin Shields finally came up with the goods. Isn't Anything, My Bloody Valentine's debut album and (most importantly) Loveless, their Magnum Opus have been remastered by the shoegaze genius that created them in the first place. As well as the albums, Shields has turned his eye to the EPs that span 1988-1991. These feature the track 'You Made Me Realise', one of the band's most famous songs and a notorious pain in the arse to get a physical copy of. So with over seventy tracks dealt with, the question is, was it worth the wait?

Loveless

After many years of talking about it, Kevin Shields finally came up with the goods. Isn't Anything, My Bloody Valentine's debut album and (most importantly) Loveless, their Magnum Opus have been remastered by the shoegaze genius that created them in the first place. As well as the albums, Shields has turned his eye to the EPs that span 1988-1991

Loveless is an extraordinary piece of work and if you haven't heard it, then now is the perfect opportunity. The sessions have become a thing of legend. The band apparently bankrupted Creation Records in the process, mainly due to the fact that Shields had such a clear idea of what the record sounded like in his head he had to somehow commit this to tape immaculately. As you can imagine this took a long time. Meanwhile, drummer Colm O'Ciosoig became critically ill, Chinchillas took over the studio, sleep deprivation was highly prevalent and everyone (including the countless engineers) lost their minds. Or so the legend goes...

The album certainly benefits from a remaster as the loudness has been delicately increased, with no dilution to the sound quality – a vital point. Loveless was always an album that needed to be heard loud and now that the volume has been shifted that little bit further upwards it brings out the roaring guitars and walls of sound just that little bit better. There is also spacing between certain instruments/sounds that wasn't apparent before. In other words, the clarity is better. As an example, the guitar on 'I Only Said' has noticeably more character, winding through frequencies and depths that have before been muddier. In general, the songs that have more meat on them have become even more muscular and this is a true statement and overriding feature of the entire remaster collection. 'Sometimes' is noticeably clearer here and possibly the only track that suffers from having the edges sharpened, due to the nature of the song itself.

Loveless is presented as a double album, CD one being a remaster from the original tape and CD two being the original half inch analogue tapes. They sound incredibly similar. If anything, CD one sounds a little more rounded but it is probably only Shields himself that knows the true differences between the two. All in all, Loveless is a masterpiece and a good old shine up has really brought out what was so special about it in the first place.

Isn't Anything

To me, Isn't Anything has always needed remastering. It is a fantastic record, yet it is scratchy and sounds quite skeletal at times, unless the volume is significantly increased. This is probably another reason why Shields spent so much time on Loveless. I had the pleasure of seeing the band during their brief reunion in 2008 and it was the songs from Isn't Anything that really made an impression. In a live setting, they became blood pumping stonkers and gave many of the Loveless classics a run for their money. It is fantastic news that Isn't Anything now has the same feeling as it did in a live setting. The louder tracks: '(When You Wake) You're Still In A Dream', 'Feed Me With Your Kiss' are bigger and badder, the sprawling distortions having more violence and effect. The quieter tracks and soundscapes: 'Lose My Breath', 'No More Sorry' have been given a new lease of life due to the revelation of new layers. Nearly twenty five years since its release, the album now sounds like it should and for that reason I believe it to be arguably the most important buy of the three reissues.

EP's 1988-1991

The double disc pack features the You Made Me Realise, Feed Me With Your Kiss, Glider and Tremelo EP's over two discs. To the less die-hard fans and the casual listener much of the material on this set is probably unheard and thus the discs act as a rarities collection. The aforementioned You Made Me Realise opens disc one and it is fantastic that this EP is now so readily accessible, as all five songs show fantastic songwriting ability and nods towards the future. Some of the lesser known tracks, such as 'I Believe', 'Emptiness Inside' and 'Honey Power' sound so fresh and powerful that they quite frankly embarrass some of the bands that are applying a similar trade nowadays. There are a few tracks that aren't quite as strong as others but this is the nature of EPs – things that didn't quite make the 'album'. It's a shame that the band's cover of the James Bond song 'We Have All the Time in the World' didn't manage to crowbar its way onto a disc, but it wasn't released as part of one of these EPs, so fair enough. Regardless of the fact that the tracks have been expertly remastered, this collection is a great triumph purely because they have all been finally grouped together.

It is apparent that Shields is in the studio working on a new Valentines record. When or whether it will surface is, as usual, unknown. In the meantime, I suggest reacquainting yourself or taking a plunge into his past work. As far as remasters/reissues go, I consider this set essential.