The Cranberries, an esteemed Irish rock band, comfortably sits within my top five favorite bands of all time. Since discovering their music as a child in the mid-1990s, they have been a consistent source of enjoyment over the last few decades. Of their impressive discography, To The Faithful Departed is a favorite. With its poignant lyrics and emotive melodies, this album showcases the band’s depth and versatility, reinforcing why The Cranberries hold such a prominent place in my musical pantheon.
So, naturally, when I learned the band was planning to release a special Deluxe Edition, I had to have this! This Deluxe Edition re-release has been like a time machine, taking me back to the 90s when my late father and I would lose ourselves in the ethereal sound of Dolores O’Riordan‘s voice, bonding over our shared love for the band.
I remember vividly the first time we listened to the album together. The frenetic energy of tracks like “I Just Shot John Lennon” and “Salvation” resonated with our rock & roll spirits. At the same time, O’Riordan’s heartbreaking vocals on “When You’re Gone” stirred something profound within us. Her ability to weave complex emotions into the fabric of her songs was truly mesmerizing.
This Deluxe Edition re-release of To The Faithful Departed has not only acted as a conduit to my past but also further illuminated the unique genius of The Cranberries. O’Riordan’s raw and evocative lyricism transcended the typical music experience, plunging the listener into a realm of profound empathy and understanding. For instance, the song “Electric Blue” still hits hard with its ambiguous yet poignant and relatable imagery. Similarly, “Free To Decide” celebrates freedom of choice, a rallying cry against narrow-minded thinking and selfish critical minds. These were not just songs; they were confessions, pleas, and declarations, all wrapped up in the compellingly bewitching harmony that is The Cranberries.
Standout hits like “Hollywood” and “Bosnia” remain as potent and relevant today as they were decades ago. This enduring relevance is a testament to The Cranberries’ ability to tap into the human emotional core, creating music transcending temporal boundaries.
One of the most memorable experiences of my life was seeing The Cranberries live in 2009 at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA, with my dad. Our first (and regrettably only) Cranberries concert together before his untimely passing years later. I’ll never forget seeing them perform these songs live, feeling the raw emotion and energy radiating from the stage.
Thinking back on that concert, the energy and charisma of Dolores O’Riordan on stage was nothing less than captivating. The way she spun a tapestry of emotion and vulnerability with her voice is something I cannot convey adequately on paper. Dolores’ effortless connection with the audience, her passion palpable and contagious, created a shared experience that was profoundly moving and ethereal.
Undoubtedly, concerts can often expose society’s admirable and less desirable aspects. Yet Dolores’ radiant positivity engulfed the audience during this performance, with no foul mood or bad actor in sight, cultivating a harmonious and serene atmosphere.
The spectators sang arm in arm with strangers in tranquility and love. Just as Dolores would’ve wanted it to be, it remains, to this day, one of the most contented and peaceful gatherings I have ever been a part of—a tribute to The Cranberries’ legacy.
My father and I left the concert with a heightened appreciation for The Cranberries and their music. The live renditions of their songs had a raw, unfiltered quality that added a new dimension to our understanding of their art. It was as if the music had taken on a life of its own, pulling us into its compelling narrative and leaving a lasting impression.
O’Riordan’s untimely death in 2018 was a devastating blow to the music industry. Her unique voice and lyrical genius left an indelible mark on the music world, and her absence is deeply felt. The breadth of her talent was unparalleled, and she was considered an icon in the rock music industry, and rightfully so.
Revisiting To The Faithful Departed now, years after that unforgettable concert and the unfortunate passing of my father, stirs a mix of nostalgia, gratitude, and melancholy. Even today, the poignant ache evoked by “When You’re Gone” can bring tears, reminding me of all those we have lost throughout the years, including Dolores. But amidst these swirling emotions, one constant remains – the enduring legacy of The Cranberries’ music. So, as I once again lose myself in the timeless sound of O’Riordan’s voice, I find solace in the shared memories of one of rock’s most irreplaceable talents.
The Deluxe Edition re-release of the album is a must-have and fulfills all expectations of a devoted fan. This package is available in three formats: a single vinyl set, mirroring the original 13-track US release; a 2LP package featuring the international 15-track version along with rarities; and a 3CD package that includes a 17-track version of the album with Bonus B-Sides. Additionally, the 3CD package contains extra CDs with Demos, Outtakes, and a live compilation from their 1996 Free To Decide tour. Are you feeling confused about the 13 vs 15? Well, if you’re in the US, the US release of the album had a truncated track list, excluding “Intermission” and “Cordell” found in international versions.
Standout demos and bonus tracks on this record are demos the band recorded in Paris with Tim Palmer and The Cranberries’ cover of “Go Your Own Way” recorded initially to be featured on To The Faithful Departed but scrapped in the final tracklist. While it was included on the “Complete Sessions” re-release, it’s still great to hear it here. The Deluxe Edition’s allure extends far beyond the bonus tracks; however, also included in the Deluxe Edition are sleeve notes with commentary from the surviving band members and archival interviews with Dolores. The 3CD version of the album comes with a booklet filled with captivating photos from the album cover photoshoot.
It also features a remarkable retrospective that acknowledges the band’s significant evolution and the geopolitical events that influenced the lyrics during that time. The digipak showcases meticulously crafted artwork that spans its entirety, while the stunning remaster elevates the album’s sound to new heights. A tremendous amount of passion and care went into this release.
In conclusion, the Deluxe Edition of To The Faithful Departed is not merely a re-release; it serves as an invitation to embark on a nostalgic journey to the core of a paradigm shift that propelled the band into uncharted territories. The band’s musical odyssey resulted in a remarkable successor to the masterful No Need To Argue. Now, we can rediscover and appreciate the depth of their artistry anew. This edition, enriched with previously unreleased tracks and insights from the band, offers an immersive and intimate experience, a fitting homage to Dolores O’Riordan and the entire crew. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a recent discoverer, this deluxe edition is a worthy addition to your collection, encapsulating the band’s essence and significant contribution to the music industry.