The “deluxe edition” includes the original album, along with live songs and demos. The “expanded edition” is two discs, and does not include the demo CD. Most Pantera fans will want the deluxe edition, because on that demo CD is a previously unreleased track called “The Will To Survive.” It’s a good song that has influences of the band’s earlier glossier sound, but there is a reason it was left off the original album. But since there probably won’t be any future Pantera albums, it’s cool to hear a “new” song.
The original CD speaks for itself, so I won’t spend much time on it. Suffice it to say, it is a must own for metal fans. The live CD includes seven songs recorded on September 15, 1990 at the Foundations Forum metal convention in California, a show recorded for radio broadcast but never released commercially. There are five other live tracks from the EP Alive And Hostile, a collection of performances recorded in 1991 at the Monsters of Rock festival in Moscow that was previously available only in Australia as part of a 1994 boxed set.
The live songs are good, but not mandatory, especially since Pantera released a live album (1997’s Official Live: 101 Proof). The demos are what will draw the hardcore fans to this collection. In addition to the aforementioned “The Will To Survive” there are demos of 10 of the 12 tracks on Cowboys From Hell. It’s interesting to hear the changes (or lack of changes) from the early version to what was recorded on the CD.
Cowboys From Hell 20th Anniversary Edition is a worthy collection for Pantera fans. The additional material isn’t just musical. The album’s liner notes include essays by each of the band’s surviving members, producer Terry Date and Mark Ross, who signed the band to Atco Records.
(released September 14, 2010 on Rhino Records)