Some of this stuff you guys are suggesting has zero commercial value. I understand that a 20th anniversary box set is going to be aimed more towards diehards than the general public, but this stuff still has to, you know, sell. Making a $200 box set with stuff that's way too niche, or something insanely sprawling with every single potential variation of every HT track, isn't worth the cost. Especially when you drill down into some of these demos and think about how different they really are.
The 6-track demo, for instance, has nothing substantially different from the demos we did end up getting. A replica of the 8-track demo, sure, maybe, given how directly it was acknowledged in the artbook, but all of those tracks are basically in this box anyway, plus now you're cutting some tracks out onto a separate CD, which pops up the manufacturing cost and makes each CD even sparser in terms of content. The exact versions from the 8-track? Not in every case, no, but putting 400 demos of every HT track in a box set like this is a waste of time for everyone but the .01% of the fanbase on this forum. The focus seemed to be on getting the really big variants onto this box - the LPU and Forgotten versions of Points are both distinct from the HT version, Carousel obviously has a very different vibe, SuperXero is different enough, Crawling has the rap bridge that changes the whole flow of the song. You compare those to what's not on here - Plaster variations, Dust Brothers, other alts of the songs that did make the cut - and you see that there's a threshold the demos had to meet to justify making the box. Part of Me feels like the only valid omission, which people have been saying for months. No one was upset that Plaster (mix 1 of 4) missed out.
As for the Xero tape, it would have been nice to have the whole thing in the quality of RME. But look at what did make it - a professional studio recording of Rhinestone, the Chester version of Stick N Move, which, based on how the guys talk about that song, seems like the only version they can even stand. Fuse was out of the question from the start because of the sample and the inability to cut it out of the master track, so once you've broken up the tape, there's no reason to include an inferior version of Rhinestone and a version of Stick N Move they hate. That takes a physical reproduction of the Xero tape off the table.
A reproduction of the 2-track HT demo would be redundant, but including just the sticker I could have seen being a nice addition. Chester's audition tape seems pretty unrealistic at this point - that's something the band will hold close to their hearts forever, and I'd be surprised if it ever, ever, EVER sees any official release. Maybe they think it's too close to commercializing Chester. Maybe they just want to keep something private, the way so little of the HT era is. Either way, I'm champing at the bit for it, but I doubt we'll ever see it.
This box was not and never was about emptying the vaults. This box was about taking the entire Hybrid Theory era and summing it up for the big fans and for people who weren't even alive when HT came out. It's a convenient way to bundle up all those b-sides (a bunch of which do have actual value despite the denigration of live tracks in general - can't tell me those Docklands tracks don't rip, though I could take or leave the BBC ones), to open up the LPU vault for people who missed out and don't have the savvy to find those tracks elsewhere, and even after all that, they STILL threw us some bones with four tracks none of us had ever heard, and audio upgrades for the rest. Given the way the HT era has been mined to death in this fanbase, it's shocking to me that there was ANYTHING we had no clue about.
More cynically, the Chester vault is finite. Warner will never get new material from Chester ever again. Emptying the vault, even for a major anniversary like this, is an unwise move. That audition tape is absolute gold, and they'll hold onto that until the end of time, I'll bet.
I know this probably sounds like I'm some Warner shill, but we need to have some perspective about things like this. There are plenty of valid criticisms - the EU manufacturing errors in particular are outrageous, the weird way the vinyl was split between the big box and the vinyl box is pure money-grubbing by Warner, DVDs in 2020 are just goofy - but it is, actually, true that Warner didn't have to put this much effort. Tons of labels will just chuck out an anniversary release like the 2CD version and call it quits. The band put real care into this box, you can tell that they had a ton of input into what made it in, and they really did crack open the vault in a way I wasn't expecting. In a way, nothing will ever be enough, and I don't mean that in a derogatory way towards anyone - it's natural to want more from your favorite band in the world. I just think we need to have some more perspective on what we actually got, rather than what we didn't.