I went the bargain route this week and bought the 2-disc set of Megadeth's 25th Anniversary Edition of their genre-defining thrash classic, Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?, skipping the $100+ mega-deluxe box set version. I really didn't think there was much that could be improved over the 2004 remix/remaster and was most interested in grabbing the previously unreleased 1987 live show from the Phantasy Theatre in Cleveland.
I am by no means an audiophile but will admit that this remaster, by Evren Göknar, has a notable crispness and clarity over the 2004 edition that makes it, in my opinion, the "definitive" version I will turn to from now on. And this is by no means a slight to the '04 remix as I cannot pretend to have pored over the original '86 vinyl and pronounced it superior (nor do I even remember the original CD pressings). It was just fine for me until Tuesday and, to be honest, they all sound about the same coming out of the factory stereo in a 2003 Honda Odyssey. It took time comparing over the headphones to appreciate the difference - but, again, it's marked enough to merit a repurchase even without the bonus concert disc.
The booklet features "aged" artwork with colors a little more muted than the original and adds great liner notes by Lars Ulrich and Dave Mustaine and some fairly snarky notes from "reissue producer," Dennis Wolfe regarding the live disc (all of which keep pointing you to the larger box set for the 2004 remix, hi-res audio alternatives, et cetera). There are a couple decent photos but, oddly, fewer than in the '04 edition and no lyrics. There are also no bonus tracks on the album disc which is fine as, for someone like me who still primarily listens via CD, they always throw off the flow of the original album experience.
So - for most fans, the real draw is the live show, previously unreleased in any form. How is it? On one hand, it sounds like a pretty good bootleg and nothing like most live shows recorded with the intention of a commercial release. On the other, it sounds in no way tampered with and catches the band on a night that they were by no means phoning anything in. It's a fast, furious, immediate and emotional performance. Once you get past the muddy sound - especially compared to the exceptional clarity of the studio disc - it's really easy to get immersed in the show and, in the end, the whole package is well worth the re-purchase price of $16-22, depending upon where you shop. If, God forbid, you don't own some version of Peace Sells... this 25th Anniversary pressing should be the copy that you add to your library.