Hard to believe, but it has been nearly 6 years since The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan tragically passed. A somber reality that many are still mourning, while her legacy lives on through the music, fans still debate which is their favorite The Cranberries album. Some may say the 1993 debut Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, which featured the hits “Linger” and “Dreams.” Others may turn to 1994’s No Need to Argue which includes such defining songs such as “Zombie” and “Ode to My Family.” Then there are those who simply recognize the beauty in all their material, but no one can deny the band’s 1996 effort To the Faithful Departed.
Originally released on April 30, 1996, To the Faithful Departed found The Cranberries at their peak, already having two successful albums under their belt. Different, To the Faithful Departed had a mix of songs that married both the darker, heavier elements of No Need to Argue with the lighter parts heard on Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?. Equally as powerful and emotional as prior works, the band’s third record reached number one in four countries and soon became their highest-charting album on the US Billboard 200, peaking at number four. Impressive, the album is now celebrated with a brand-new remastered deluxe release.
Released as a deluxe edition on September 15, 2023 via Island/UMe as either a 2LP, 3CD set or available for streaming, there is plenty here to look into. To begin with, the album is remastered by John Davis; an accomplished mastering engineer since the late ‘80s, working on tons of releases including those from U2 and Lana Del Rey. This in mind, the remastering is done quite well, offering some new textures that perhaps you may have missed before… especially through a listening session on the vinyl or CD format.
Beyond this, the new deluxe edition includes 3 previously unreleased demos that were recorded back in 1995 in Paris; this include “Where You’re Gone,” “I Just Shot John Lennon,” and “Free to Decide.” More stripped back, these demos are lovely alternative versions that give you a different perspective on each song. Compelling to hear, there are also a slew of other rare, never before released material including the outtakes to tracks like “Hollywood,” and early, unique mixes of songs such as “Salivation.”
All great within itself, the set also is coupled with 15 live tracks from 1996 performances in Toronto, Detroit, as well as the UK. All sounding exceptional, the live records range from To the Faithful Departed tracks to older ones such as “The Icicle Melts.”
Selling the set as a complete package, beyond the actual music, the physical formats all offer sleeve notes by Eoin Devereux, but also thoughts from the surviving members of The Cranberries (Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan, Fergal Lawler), as well as achieved material such as interviews with O’Rirodan herself. In truth, it all is perfectly fitting for this very important album in The Cranberries story. An album that is filled with beautiful melodies, unforgettable vocals, and an array of emotions, it is great to revisit To the Faithful Departed at any point in time. That said, Island/Ume have put together a LP and CD set that honors the album in a grand way, and for this Cryptic Rock gives this deluxe edition 5 out of 5 stars.