10.28.2002 "Beneath the Skin: Version 2" DVD Impressions and Media  
Editor: Cranguy

All the things that were wrong with the original release of "Beneath the Skin" are now officially made right.

Yes, kids, it plays on PlayStation 2 this time

The new disc passed our first trial with ease -- Does the new version play in Sony's PlayStation 2? Call us picky, but it was one of our biggest gripes with the first version. Luckily, it passed this test with flying colors, save the fact that the disc loads into the concert immediately rather than the main menu, but that can be remedied with the press of a button.

The concert is essentially the same, which is mostly for the good (aside from a few sound quirks). And, after all, the concert is the meat and potatoes of the entire disc. Nearly everything else from the original release has been stripped away and refurbished in some way. Since you can read about the concert and the four bonus live performances in our archived review, there's no use in reviewing them a second time.

Among the most immediate (and most needed!) changes are the menus, which have been completely revamped with attractive, fast-loading screens. The original release's "Storm Thorgerson-designed menus" were one of its biggest drawbacks; they were slow, painful to the ears, and downright ugly. Version 2's menus are flashy, clean, and make it oh-so-easy to find what you want to get to.

Navigating the new menus is a breeze

The biggest change in Version 2 is the addition of the "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee" documentary, and the addition easily makes it the second biggest reason (aside from the concert) to pick up the new DVD. The near half-hour clip was originally sent to select media outlets as part of an EPK (electronic press kit), but has now been encoded with flat-out impeccible DVD video quality, and quite honestly, its some of the finest, most lifelike digital video that we've seen in any format. Even on an older television, the scenery can almost be touched -- we shudder to think of how this would look on something relatively high-end.

The documentary begins with the band's November 2000 E-Merge press conference. (Has it really been two years already?? Interestingly enough, looking back to the press conference, they were talking about the original "Beneath the Skin" even then.) The feature then follows all the way up to the band's post-recording rehersals. One of the biggest treats is Andy Earl's outdoor photoshoot with the band across Ireland; Dolores evidently offered a farmer 10 pounds to use his field as one of the photo locales.

The "Wake Up" documentary gives a refreshing look at The Cranberries' current perspective on their career

One of the few missing elements from the new disc are the "Le Band" and "Le Crew" documentaries that appeared on the original "Beneath the Skin" (probably removed due to space constraints). All things in perspective, the "Wake Up" documentary is much more entertaining, so the loss is dampened by that fact. Still, those interviews were interesting (even if unvaried) and it's unfortunate that they weren't included for whatever reason. As for the other features on the original, -- still photos, lyrics, etc. -- they have migrated to the DVD-Rom features, and are now accompanied by some very nice desktop wallpaper.

Undoubtedly the question on a few fans' minds is: Is the new version worth buying even if I bought the original? This is a question that the person must answer for himself. As stated above, the concert itself has not changed. The menus are fantastic, the new documentary is really quite an experience in itself, and the DVD-Rom functions might kill some boredom on a rainy day. But if you can't get excited over this, then perhaps you might be better off sticking with the original.

As for those that don't own the original release, "Beneath the Skin: Live in Paris: Version 2" is a definite "must-have" for anyone that considers themselves a Cranberries fan. Time and time again as you watch "Beneath the Skin," you get a huge grin on your face and are reminded of why you love this band so much.

Quick Recap:
   + Flashy, attractive, and efficient menus are an enormous improvement
   + "Wake Up" documentary alone all but justifies the purchase
   + Supurb video and sound quality on the whole
   + "Rare" photographs within the menus are a plus
   - The same concert that we've seen many times by now...
   - "Le Crew" and "Le Band" documentaries removed
   +/- DVD-Rom features are a nice thought, but we doubt that few will give them more than a quick run-through

Check out our previous news story for more info and screen captures.


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