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  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    U2

    1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th

    Boy 7 ( 1980 )
    I Will Follow / Twilight / An Cat Dubh / Into The Heart / Out Of Control / Stories For Boys / The Ocean / Day Without Me / Another Time, Another Place / The Electric Co. / Shadows And Tall Trees

    U2 made a name for themselves in their local Dublin while they were still teenagers. CBS records became interested for a while - releasing a three song EP by the group. Awards followed in Irish Rock magazine 'Hot Press' and ultimately the group were picked up by Island records. They apparently started writing songs only because they weren't good enough to perform covers to their own satisfaction. Energy and passion carries them through this debut set, with a few genuinely good tunes thrown in as well. The guitar of a certain 'The Edge' also helps to carry them through. And Bono? Well, he sounds like Bono, and always will. But hey, 'I Will Follow' is great! I really dig the guitar riff and the middle section of the song. Is that a middle eight? I guess so, it's good too. Great energetic, nervous and anxious performance. The bass guitar is prominent on second song 'Twilight', with The Edge already marking himself out as a distinctive guitar player, as early as this. 'An Cat Dubh' may surprise fans of latter day U2 unused to hearing them experiment too wildly within a rock format, but yeah, they do that here. It's slightly dubby, only slightly, mind. The lyrics make no immediate sense, and then Bono goes off on a 'oooh, whoo ha ha, ooohhhh....' vocal thing which is very enjoyable. 'Into The Heart' is atmospheric, though rather dull, makes you wonder what a Brian Eno might have done with such an atmosphere, doesn't it? Hey! It happened a few years later!! 'Out Of Control' is propulsive, the rhythm section falling into place. All the elements that U2 have ever displayed are right here on their debut, albeit in primitive form. 'Out Of Control' is clearly post-punk, though with much of the energy of punk retained, and is all the better for it.

    'Stories For Boys' opens with rattling drums, The Edge sounds good on guitar, almost a surf guitar sound. Can't play, or can only play adequately well? What's the solution? Well, to play and play and play, gig yourself to death, drive yourself to the limit, acquire passion and energy. Have determination. U2 did all of this, they didn't 'happen' by mistake or luck. They made their own way, credit to them. 'The Ocean' is a little strange, very minimal, but it fits the album. By the time 'A Day Without Me' arrives, you could be forgiven for getting a little tired though, it's a repetition of the first half of the album but with less inspiration all round. 'Another Time' has some interesting rhythmic things going on, 'The Electric Co' a great urgent and energetic song right up their with the anthemic 'I Will Follow' as a genuine highlight of this set. 'Shadows And Tall Trees' is half a song, lacks much considered structure, attempts some creative experimentation but never quite holds itself together. The sound of this album is very live sounding, producer Steve Lilywhite acting not much more than an engineer, as far as I can tell listening to the record. 'Boy' is a fun listen ultimately, although certainly no masterpiece.

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    Readers Comments

    jesse Diplomat90210@gmail.com
    I agree on pretty much every aspect of this review. I loved the album and the songs. Songs like "Stories For Boys" and "Into the Heart" didn't just fell unstructured or polished, but unfinished, could have been longer, and better if they were. Great Review, love the site.

    Elliot UK
    A brilliant review which I agree with mostly. I would have given it a 8 though. Into the Heart and The Electric Co. are masterpieces which should be brought back into U2's setlist. I also find Another Time, Another Place a good listen. The band had put out a great first effort but their first success wasn't until War.

    Will Chicago
    9--Ah, really enjoy your site, but I think you really underestimte just what a debut U2 had! Boy was before U2 were worred about being the "biggest band in the world", before their days of taking their social and political consciousness to seriously and before they overplayed the irony of "not being U2" in their '90's work. In many ways, I miss this more innocent U2 that was so free of the pretensions that we have come to associate with them. Instead, Boy is just a burst of freshness and energy that I find has aged surprisingly well short of some production touches like the jingles in "I Will Follow" or the echoing vocals of "Twilight". Songs like Out of Control, Stories for Boys, Electric Co., A Day Without Me, Twilight rock hard with surprising musicianship for four 20 year olds who supposedly didn't know which end of a guitar they should hold. The Edge, especially, shows a deft touch for memorable riffing and scorching solos. Sure, the album lacks the nuance and variety we would see in later work, but if you think U2 never could "rock out", listen to this album.


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    October ( 1981 )
    Gloria / I Fall Down / I Threw A Brick Through A Window / Rejoice / Fire / Tomorrow / October / With A Shout / Stranger In A Strange Land / Scarlet / Is That All?

    How often are second albums pale shadows of debut albums? You work up a live set, record it - a process that takes two, three years? Suddenly you're being asked to work up another set of songs for a new album within twelve months. And then everybody wonders why the album isn't as good! Silly fellows. Still, 'Gloria' shows progression, a nice rhythmic and melodic rock song with booming passionate vocals, a little Piano, lots of guitar. Damn fine song, all told. What happens next, though? Well, U2 decide Piano is the key to making 'October' different from their debut. So, 'I Fall Down' features Piano quite heavily at the expense of the guitar ( so they could still play it live, no doubt ) and the bass takes up some of the slack, very high in the mix even though it's not doing anything terribly interesting. At various points 'I Fall Down' threatens to be a good song, but it always falls back. Still, the passion is there, especially vocally. And yeah, guitar here and there, just in places, mind. 'I Threw A Brick Through A Window' opens with fourteen/fifteen seconds of drums, and sadly that's the most interesting thing about the entire piece. It sounds unfinished to me. 'Rejoice' opens with a little Edge guitar phrase, drums comes rattling in. What's with all these drums? The bass does a groovy line, Bono makes little sense but this is an entertaining song we have here. 'Fire' contains a few groovy guitar lines but it's been horribly mixed, very painful to the ears. That may have been the point given that the song is called 'Fire', I don't know. Still, it sounds horrible in terms of sonics given that the music is relatively straightforward. U2 attempting to experiment all through 'Tomorrow' with a sparse, almost ambient music atmosphere falls flat on it's face, and again, the actual sound of the record grates. Still, a genuine Irish musical influence comes through, with pipes or something or other 'piping' through. Ha, ha! Not funny? Oh, what's the point?!

    That Piano I told you about reappears for the title song. "Hey, how should we show some progression, guys? How about Piano?". Yeah, let's do it! Write a title track as boring as hell whilst you're at it! 'With A Shout' at least has some of that nervy energy about it, the same kind of energy that made large parts of 'Boy' entertaining. 'With A Shout' as an actual song is absolutely nothing to write home about though, unfortunately. 'Stranger In A Strange Land' on the otherhand sounds dead weird, and is all the better for it. lots of interesting musical things are going on, although never all at the 'correct' time, but yeah, this song is a step in the right direction. More Piano featured, by the way. I love the sound of Piano as an instrument, so why do I mildly dislike it appearing on this album? I don't know, actually. You tell me? It doesn't sound natural or right, let's just say that. 'Scarlet' has some lovely subtle guitar parts, the closing 'Is That All?' a return to a regular Rock approach, passion, energy. Not enough to save this album from being deeply average work, though. Without the opening song 'Gloria' in fact, this would have little to recommend about it at all.

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    Readers Comments

    gi joe dcostigan@caroina.rr.com
    u2 rocks and you are a sick individual.If you think that this is a bad album,maybe you should get a real job,or find a better way to spend your spare time.

    maruq d2_maruq@hotmail.com
    Isn't it so that everyone has right on its own opinion? And if that differs one yours, don't call someone a sick person. That doesn't make sense. If find U2 a supurb band, but when I listen to some oldies I dislike some of the songs, but its still fun to listen. The person of the review is reviewing criticly, that's his job!

    Kyle freddykd@hotmail.com
    It's true that October is kind of the lost U2 album, stuffed in between two historically significant ones. But I actually really love the song "Tomorrow", it's my favourite on the album. It has a great buildup and the vocal is almost haunting. And the title track is a very nice interlude, I think.

    sofie zuperzofie@hotmail.com
    i personally think that October is the best U2-album. right now anyway, i'm a 'new' fan and have just been obsessed for a couple of months. i don't know why, but October is very appealing to me. and, on a sidenote, i think it somewhat sounds like r.e.m.'s first work at times (which is GOOD!).

    Will Chicago
    7-- A criminally underrated and overlooked album lost between U2's excellent debut and the next alubm which would acquire them a cult following. Even amongst the diehards, it's likely that half of the album's tracks and how they sound cannot be recalled. Which is a shame because there is some good stuff here; "Gloria" is half rock song/half Church hymn with a super catchy chorus, some killer guitar work by the Edge, and an effusive energy that would have the congregation dancing on their pews. It's U2's forgotten great anthem. The rest of the album doesn't match the excellence of the first track, but "Tomorrow" and "Fire" show a musical progression with song structure from Boy. And I happen to find the title track a rather pretty piano ballad. Most of the other tracks have their high points but typically do not ascend above just "good". Still, it's a pretty solid album all the way through and shows U2's religious leanings in full force(in fact, the band was close to choosing the path of becoming a Christian rock band). Bono's singing of "Rejoice!" and "Jer-uuuu-salem" may become grating to those who would rather separate religion from their music, but the album's spiritual quality cannot be denied, if not terribly well-defined.


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    War 8 ( 1983 )
    Sunday Bloody Sunday / Seconds / New Year's Day / Like A Song / Drowning Man / The Refugee / Two Hearts Beat As One / Red Light / Surrender / 40

    Yeah, there's something a little annoying about the approach of 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' but the lyric is there, far more interesting than previous U2 lyrics. The song is 'there', by and large. U2 continued to tour, continued to improve. 'War' is far from perfect mind you, although yes, it was their best album at this stage. Not that you could really tell that from listening to the second song here, which is very dragged out even though it's only three minutes long. It sounds much longer than that, and hardly compares with either of the songs surrounding it. The song that follows it you see, integrates Piano into a U2 rock framework absolutely perfectly, quite in contrast to the way it was used through parts of 'October'. 'New Years Day' still sounds pretty novel, a rock song using Piano as the lead instrument. Well, I guess plenty of other people have done it - let's just say it sounds pretty great, and be done with it. The lyric here is fantastic by the way, full of widescreen romance and passion. The tune is pretty 'hot' too. Hey! U2 write their first genuine classic! I've even heard of people that don't like this song. Going back years and years, back into the mists of time, sometime in the Eighties, I was talking to a school buddy of mine. At school, funnily enough. It was discovered we both liked U2, but he didn't like 'New Years Day', didn't 'get it' at all. What's to get? It's a fantastic tune married to a fantastic lyric? Not enough guitar for you? Well, there is certainly guitar here. You like your U2 a little more obvious? Well, they'd certainly give you a little of that through the years inbetween writing some good songs. Still, diversion into childhood memories over! 'Like A Song' begs for some crap pun to be made, but it's an ok song, and certainly 'like' a song - full of that U2 energy they had in spades at this point, although not always so evidently through their 'October' album! 'Drowning Man' is intriguing, and at this stage I'm ready to proclaim 'War' a great album! Only it isn't, it's just a good, solid, album.

    'The Refugee' is just bizarre, although lots of fun with it. Hardly even sounds like Bono singing, sounds like Adam And The Ants, the whole damn song does! Ok, so it doesn't, but let's just say that Bono and friends have always 'listened' to music trends. Nothing wrong with that, I'd rather a band listening to what's going on than being stuck in the past or some musical backwater. U2 always looked forward, to be fair. And, 'Two Hearts Beat As One' is a shining U2 moment with pop hooks galore amidst a fast, energetic rock performance. Hey, that's a winning combination! The last three songs are dull, dull, dull - otherwise we'd be talking a great album here. Still, yeah. It's a good album. Good enough, and the best U2 out of the first three.

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    Readers Comments

    John Schlegel john_schlegel@hotmail.com
    I'm not a huge U2 fan or anything, but this album has grown on me quite a bit just in the past two years or so. I'd say it's my favorite U2 album, if not 'The Joshua Tree'. 'War' isn't as accomplished as the 1987 megahit or 'A-Baby' (not sure how to spell that), but it has this overall murky, politically restrained and aggressive tone to it that makes for an engaging listening experience, rendering this album less boring than anything else U2 ever released (I find boredom a reoccurring problem with this band). Lots of good songs, too -- not a thoroughly consistent record, but they're aren't really any downright "bad" songs on here. Well, the third- and second-to-last tracks are pretty dull, and "Like a Song" and "Drowning Man" are merely good atmospheric pieces that fit into the overall framework of the album but fail to be memorable, but that's it. The two singles and "Two Hearts Beat as One" are EXTREMELY memorable, by contrast. "Seconds," the second song (did you catch that pun?), has this great, marching, commanding hook to it, even if it is a little slow and you trashed on it -- awesome song IMO. The final cut, "40," I also find quite beautiful, and not at all dull like the two songs before it (although at this point you may have already bailed out). "The Refugee" DOES sound like an Adam and the Ants song, actually, although I never saw this connection before. I like Adam and the Ants a little, to be honest. Arguably U2 finest moment, 'War' was ahead of its time and still rocks pretty hard today (by U2's standard). I could go as high as a 9 on this one, although I'm not 100 percent convinced of that rating yet.

    Will Chicago
    7--A LOT of fans declare this U2's first masterpiece, but I beg to differ. Take away the classic anthems "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Years Day" and the oft-underappreciated great U2 tune of "Two Hearts Beat as One" and you're left with not much else except a lot of pounding drums, ham-fisted politically tinged lyrics that are not nearly as insightful as Bono wants them to sound, and vocals that are irritating in their insistence on self-importance and Bono's continuous need to hit a high note every few seconds. Subtlety is not a word that cannot be used to decribe War. "Seconds" has a neat trip-hop beat to it, though it's easily forgotten between 2 great songs. "Like a Song" offers up fierce guitars and percussion from hell that either you will think is the cat's meow or headache-inducing. "Drowning Man" shows that U2 rarely succeeds when they go the acoustic route and try to implement other instruments to the front of the mix(in this case, violin); some fans think this song is classic U2, I find it to sound dated even back in 1983. "Refugee" and "Red Light" are amongst U2's most forgettable songs, "Surrender" is a bit better, hinting at the atmospheric nuance that would define their next album. All in all, 3 great songs and the rest ranging between decent and filler do not constitute a classic.


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    The Unforgettable Fire ( 1984 )
    Sort Of Homecoming / Pride / Wire / The Unforgettable Fire / Promenade / 4th Of July / Bad / Indian Summer Sky / Elvis Presley And America / MLK

    Enter Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno on production duties, and U2 make a marked change from anything they'd done before, whilst still including a few songs reminding you of exactly who are listening to. 'Pride' is the most obvious example of this, a horribly obvious U2 by numbers piece of writing that thanks to a catchy enough chorus and the word 'love' in the title, became a massive hit. The other song nearly always picked out as a highlight of this set is the song 'Bad', which is actually not bad at all, although it still pales into comparison to other songs here, which are far more daring and interesting to these ears. You have different ears? Congratulations! That's the beauty of music, every single person hears everything in a slightly different way. Of course, I realise I'm perhaps in a minority preferring 'Elvis Presley And America' to 'Bad', but that's me. 'Bad' is too long, running to six minutes in length. It progresses too slowly, although is ultimately worth it for the closing section, the vocals in particular. 'Elvis Presley And America' is actually even longer than 'Bad', but Bono semi mumbling the vocals, deep in the mix, is quite affecting. Brian Eno no doubt had a hand in the feel of this song. When the vocals do come out a little louder, it makes the song. The lazy rhythm section sound hypnotic, like a slowed down Can or Neu!, almost. The closing song 'MLK', together with 'Elvis Presley And America' is often picked on, in fact most of the second half of this album apart from 'Bad' is nearly always picked on, but 'MLK' is an absolutely beautiful lullaby, Bono has rarely if ever sang as well, or sounded as pretty. 'MLK' is emotionally affecting, 'Elvis Presley And America' is insidious, never anything remotely easy, but really does reward repeated listening to the point where that drum beat is going around your brain, and the mumbled Bono vocals become a kind of mantra. Really, they do! Whilst I'm at in, I may as well mention the short instrumental that opens side two. '4th Of July' serves little purpose here, other than to break the album sonically between the end of the first side, leading into 'Bad', the start of the second side proper.

    'A Sort Of Homecoming' is my favourite U2 song of all time. I love this song so much, it's the one U2 song, that throughout all my own personal changing musical tastes which have included periods where, quite frankly I haven't enjoyed U2 one little bit whilst I was going off on some other musical stylistic adventure (?!), that has always stayed with me. End of long sentence. The lyrics are glorious, the drums do all sorts of interesting things, and there's a point! Before the arrival of messrs Lanois and Eno drums on U2 albums weren't as interesting as they are pretty much throughout 'The Unforgettable Fire', I am sure. Still, 'A Sort Of Homecoming'. Great song! Completely ignoring 'Pride (In The Name Of Love)' we move onto 'Wire' which returns U2 to a fabulous, speedy, slightly nervy anxious energy, only this time married to a great rhythm section and such fabulous Bono vocals it really starts to make you wonder what he was drinking at the time. The Eno/Lanois production is really felt all through the title song, which opens with all sorts of musical atmospherics, later on the song features gorgeous keyboard textures and sequences of sound. This is a song that's quite clearly had a lot of thought put into its creation. It's a lovely, beautiful song, definitely a highlight. 'Promenade' is quiet, mellow and features soothing, emotionally affecting Bono vocals who was really coming into his own around the time this album was recorded. 'Promenade' is such a lovely song, makes me cry. 'The Unforgettable Fire' as an album is patchy, inconsistent, but with the highlights being as high as they are, and the lesser songs ( even including the horribly irritating 'Pride' ) being tolerable at very worst, gives us a huge step forwards for the group overall. They'd go off and play 'Live Aid' after this, wowing a billion strong worldwide TV audience and thrust themselves to the very top of the tree in this rock music world.

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    Readers Comments

    Ben P bpick99@hotmail.com
    Good review. This is probably my favorite U2 album. I love every song on here, mainly within the context of all the other songs. If I try to put on Promenade by itself, for example, it would likely bore me a bit. But when it comes here, after the title track, it works very nicely. All the songs sounds so beautiful, my personal highlights being A Sort Of Homecoming, Wire, Bad, and Indian Summer Sky.

    Dan dan.paslawski@windriver.com
    I consider this the strongest and most underrated U2 album. I agree that A Sort Of Homecoming is their best song of all time. Everything comes together here. Beautiful lyrics passionately sung, interesting drum work, a great bass line, and guitar work that is both sonic and warm. Pride and Bad are somewhat overrated but still awesome. The title song shines, the rest fits the mood, and MLK as a closer is a beautiful singable lullaby; the only non-Beatles pop song that I sang my children to sleep with.

    Adeel Tariq adeelt@gmail.com
    Bravo sir, on recognizing the pulchritude of some of the most underrated songs ever! elvis presley & america, a sort of homecoming and promenade r simply works of art. and while i agree that these songs r superior to the album version of bad, i'm sure most U2 fans wud agree that to discover this song u hav to experience it live, or at least listen to a live version of it. eddie vedder is right, bad is the best song EVER about addiction.

    Jesse diplomat90210@gmail.com
    How can you say Bad is too overrated? Have you all ever of a few songs called Vertigo and Beautiful Day? Bad is a superb;y written song, both musically and lyrically, and is not as overrated as Vertigo or Beautiful Day, at all.

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    The bands best collaboration with eno/lanois , i didnt really enjoy another of their albums until all you cant leave behind so i think something was lost after this record . Sure they became the biggest band in the world but sonically they became less interesting . the irony/techno/ambient experiments didnt do it for me and the band have sensibly stuck to their strongpoint recently which is good songwriting. On this record the songs and the sound were most in harmony. All the musics remarkable bar the rather dull indian summer . promenade is swoony, wire and a sort of homecoming kick up all kinds of storms , and the title track and bad provoke a emotional response youre not sure you should be having . Intresting to note bands first records with eno are usually the strongest see bowie,talking heads,james etc . This record was a milestone in 80s rock and unfairly overshadowed by its rather dull sucessor.

    Will Chicago
    8--There is a certain charm about this album that likely contributes to it feeling better than it really is. There's a certain sense of discovery and even awe as U2 move beyond the scope of anything they did up to this point with the help of Eno. The Unforgettable Fire just might be U2's MOST important album in their career as the focus on atmospherics and using the studio as an extra instrument would creep into just about all their subsequent work. The growth of the band is obvious in this album: the use of keyboards and synths takes dominance over guitar, sound gently swoons in and exits just as inconspicously as it entered to create a soundscape that is both mysterious yet appealing. Songs like the title track, Promenade, and even the rather humdrum instrumental 4th of July are evocative and suggestive, openly up a whole new world before them which is how U2 must have felt at that time not only with their music, but with touring the United States for the 1st time. This album is very much influenced by America, but instead of the critical eye America would receive in The Joshua Tree, The Unforgettable Fire is the sound of 4 young men enamored with this land and its possibilities. Bono's voice also takes a HUGE step forward in this album and the song you speak so fondly of, Elvis Presley and America, serves mostly as a vocal exercise for Bond to experiment with his vocal abilities. My favorite track is the title track, though most of the album is best viewed not by individual tracks, but a a whole album. I must criticize the album version of "A Sort of Homecoming", the production sounded murky and too hazy; I'm sure this song worked much better live, like most U2 material does. Bad is another example of how U2 really seems to live for the stage and seem to go too conversative in their album productions.


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    Joshua Tree 9 ( 1987 )
    Where The Streets Have No Name / I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / With Or Without You / Bullet The Blue Sky / Running To Stand Still / Red Hill Mining Town / In God's Country / Trip Through Your Wires / One Tree Hill / Exit / Mothers Of The Disappeared

    I can't live if living is without you. I can't live, I can't give any more. Can't live if living is without you. I can't give, I can't give any more. What a great song that was! Harry Nilsson? What a guy! Must check him out someday. As for The Joshua Tree, it's pretty good, you know? After Live Aid, after touring everywhere, after 'War' already pretty much breaking the group in America, expectation for this record was sky high. Two singles 'With Or Without You' and 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' both went to number one in the American singles charts. And I must say, for a iconic album that did have such high expectations surrounding it pre-release, it succeeded. Very few were disappointed with an album that really did deliver on the hype, although with reservations. And yeah, these are my reservations, but then, this is my review site. Much of the experimental nature of 'The Unforgettable Part' has gone, replaced with a deepening fascination for all things American. So, 'The Joshua Tree' features a few gospel aspects, blues aspects, no country music as such, but then 'Joshua Tree'? Gram Parsons, we're digging ourselves deeper here! It doesn't matter, at the end of the day, as the crow flies - U2 had come of age. Or, some other such cliché. One thing I didn't know until recently was that U2 were considering making this a double album. They certainly had enough songs, many of which did later emerge as b-sides. It didn't happen of course, U2 ultimately deciding that so few great double albums had ever been made, it might be wiser to issue a single album. There are a few dedicated fans out there campaigning for a 'restored' release, even though there never was a double 'Joshua Tree' in the first place to restore! It didn't happen! Anyway, this record is so familiar to me ( and many, many others ) it's difficult to actually talk about the individual songs, but let's have a try, utilising a simple 'list' technique beloved of reviewers in the Sixties in England for NME and the like.

    Where The Streets Have No Name : I really love the guitar here, the way it just goes round and round, the building of the musical track around it, the drums getting louder, the rising of passion in the vocals.... it's a fine thing.

    I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For : U2 go gospel, a natural enough thing for them to do, I suppose given their passionate belief in God, their spiritual side.

    With Or Without You : A gorgeous song restoring some of the keyboard textures and beautiful sounds from 'Unforgettable Fire' but within a more structured and purposeful song. Well, not purposeful in sound, just structure. It's a very well written song, given a sensitive approach and wins for me, every time. Every single time.

    Bullet The Blue Sky : Hats off to drummer Larry Mullen for this one. Hats off to The Edge for the fantastic guitar. Rock power! I love the opening vocal too, "In the HOWLING WIND!!!!" - it's cool.

    Running To Stand Still : This is nice, it's tasteful, the mood and vocal are beautiful.

    Red Hill Mining Town : Ah, now we have something! One of my favourite U2 songs with simple yet effective guitar, strong bass melodies, powerful yet perfectly judged vocals, hooks galore both lyrically and melodically. A winner! God, this song is beautiful.

    In Gods Country : What, America? Still, this is a more uptempo number, more passion filled vocals, more good guitar and this adds variety to the album, reminds me a little of earlier U2, more so than other songs here, at least.

    Trip Through Your Wires : It's not a bad song, or anything. It just grates more than others here. Still, the harmonica is cool, even if the vocals sound a little strained to me, lyrics too, actually.

    One Tree Hill : This has a friend in 'Red Hill Mining Town' although it never quite manages to justify it's full five and a half minute length, for me.

    Exit : Superb song, dark and heavy, explosive, great drum work, and guitar everywhere.

    Mothers Of The Disappeared : A weird spooky song with low yet beautiful vocals, mentions of a heart beat, Bono singing wordlessly, wailing beautifully. A perfect way to close, everything comes around, we pray, and then go to sleep.

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    Readers Comments

    Owain James owain_james88@hotmail.com
    This is U2 greatest album. I own the album, and i don't know how i lived without it. Every song is great. Especially Bullet the blue sky, With or without you and I still haven't found what i'm looking for. Deserves 10 at least.

    Sean wdtsock007@aol.com
    I would concur on almost all of your comments about the songs--I am not a huge fan of "One Tree Hill," although it has grown on me like all of U2's stuff has. I would disagree with you about "Trip Through Your Wires," though--I see that song as an amalgamation of both the band's earlier boyish enthusiasm with the whole "America" sound, and far from feeling strained to me, it is one of the most joyous songs on the album to my ears.

    dan ouellette dan@neuroticadivine.com
    I couldn't disagree more with your rating. This album is the commercial attempt at remaking Unforgettable Fire... because it was so difficult for them to play that album live. I think they succeeded in making a crowd pleaser... but it has none of the originality of Fire.

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    20 years on its a bit funny coming back to this one . Has it stood the test of time ? The 1st 5 songs are always in the bands liveset so in some ways yes . I guess its the most consistent set of songs the band produced but kind of conservative and dull compared to the previous album . The monochrome production which kind of gives a lot of different material a "samey" type of sound suggests lanois was more involved sonically here than eno - I love "exit" a real highpoint here with its drone and crescendos of sound , "in gods country" at the other extreme shows the band had heard a few bunnymen albums . Its 1st 5 tracks though are what this is built around and built around the edges guitar ; from the cinematic guitars of the opener , to the hendrixsisms of "bullet the blue sky" to the country acoustics of "running to stand still" Its a 7/10 from me .

    Scorpio 58 United Kingdom
    The keyboards that the author refers to on "With or Without You" are not actually keyboards at all. At the time of recording, The Edge was experimenting with a prototype guitar invention called the "infinite guitar", which was held together by tape!! It is this sound that is heard on the track and not keyboards.

    Will Chicago
    9--So if you're a U2 fan, you have to treat this album as the equivalent of the Bible or Koran, right? While I acknowledge it's excellence, I still think Achtung Baby is U2's true masterpiece. If you listened to the first 4 tracks of the Joshua Tree back in '87, you likely immediately realized this album was soon going to join the ranks of the classics and would vault U2 into the upper echelon of rock superstars. And while that was true, it was the often overlooked tracks of the remainder of the album that made this album something special. So why don't I adore this to pieces like any good U2-ite should? For one, if you've listened to any live U2 material or attended any of their concerts for the past 20 years, you will have heard the first 4 songs ad naeseum. I could really go without the rest of my life without hearing the gospel music introspection of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and the album version of "Bullet the Blue Sky" just sounds kind of tired and unnecessary when compared to some of the killer live versions the bank trotted out over the years, especially on Zoo Tv. Furthermore, there's a sparseness ot the production that pervades The Joshua Tree and makes it sound kind of dead in some spots, particularly One Tree Hill and the clunky, meandering "Red Hill Mining Town". It's clear Bono was becoming the focus of the music and his vocals soar and emote in ways that have become part of the legend that is Bono. The ghostly atmosphere of "Running to Stand Still", the midnight intrigue of "Exit" that explodes into catharsis, and the electronic percussion of Mothers of the Disappeared are much better indications of the musical leaps forward U2 took with The Unforgettable Fire. However, the focus was turning to a more mainstream American rock, which the band admittedly does well. Overall, though, an album full of classics, but one that leaves me rather unmoved and not blown away by it all.

    Damien Seattle, Washington
    This is U2's most "American sounding" LP. It was intended as a double album "grab bag" of live tracks mixed with studio cuts and-- if you can wade through the sheer bulk of it-- there are several great songs. The live tracks give a good picture of what a U2 concert sounded like during the late 1980s. However, the best songs on the album are the new studio tracks: the '50s throwback "Desire"; the R&B infused "Angel of Harlem"; the folkish "Van Diemen's Land"; the Dylan co-written "Love Rescue Me"; the B.B. King collaboration "When Love Comes to Town"; the middle-America homage "Heartland." The best song on the entire album is probably the closing number, "All I Want is You," which features a beautiful coda section arranged by California music legend Van Dyke Parks. Part of me wishes U2 had released Rattle & Hum as a single album containing only the new studio recordings. I think the album would have had a greater impact.


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    Rattle And Hum 8 ( 1988 )
    Helter Skelter / Van Dieman's Land / Desire / Hawkmoon 269 / All Along The Watchtower / I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Freedom For My People / Silver And Gold / Pride / Angel Of Harlem / Love Rescue Me / When Love Comes To Town / Heartland / God Part II / Star Spangled Banner / Bullet The Blue Sky / All I Want Is You

    Perhaps U2, on the crest of a wave following 'Joshua Tree' simply followed it up with undue haste? Rattle And Hum is several things, actually - an album, a film, a travelogue and journey across American music.... The inclusion of live tracks to sit alongside newly written studio material has actually been done quite well. Not all of the live tracks work, but then, neither do all of the studio tracks, but they've made the transitions between the two types of material seem more or less natural. I prefer this approach than one disc studio, one disc live - an approach that often leaves either the studio disc or ( more usually ) the live disc neglected by the listener. That doesn't happen with 'Rattle And Hum'. Speaking of the live material though, Bono with his little song introductions do grate. "This is a song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles, we're stealing it back". Thanks Bono. For the record, they perform 'Helter Skelter' with the required amount of energy the song demands, but the best thing about it is when the loud guitar rock ends, and the cheers of the crowd fade into 'Van Diemens Land'. A delicate sort of blues/folk song played and sang by The Edge, his nasal voice working quite well. 'Van Diemens Land' is unambitious, for sure, containing none of the widescreen vision of Joshua Tree, but it comes across well. 'Desire' explodes from the speakers, especially following such a quiet song. The track sequencing has obviously had a lot of thought put into it, and it's this track sequencing that is one of the biggest joys in 'Rattle And Hum'. As for 'Desire' itself, it still sounds groovy over ten years after it first came out, it sounds little like anything from 'Joshua Tree' and the bass in particular sends the song skywards, filling out the sound very well. Plus, the harmonica is cool. 'Hawkmoon 269' is six minutes of Bono poetry combined with a gospel feel, a natural progression or follow-up from parts of 'Joshua Tree'. The song doesn't quite warrant it's length however, repeating itself, becoming tiresome, although always stays just the right side of 'enjoyable'. Four live tracks follow, varying from an entertaining enough cover of 'All Along The Watchtower' through to a great performance of the Joshua Tree out-take 'Silver And Gold' through to less enjoyable renditions of 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' and 'Pride'.

    'Angel Of Harlem' is placed at the beginning of side three of the vinyl version for greater impact. U2 playing their classic material live is followed by one of their finest and most tightly constructed pop songs, and yeah, 'Angel Of Harlem' is a pop song. This tribute to various giants of American Jazz music such as Billie Holiday and John Coltrane sounds pretty nice and touching to me, no doubt helped by the great catchy chorus, and especially helped by the mid-section of the song. This mid-section has some humming, a trumpet, great vocals all round as Bono soars upwards. 'Love Rescue Me' has a few touching and accomplished vocals but this journey into the desert or heartland of American blues and country is a little overlong and less naturally done than 'Angel Of Harlem'. It comes across as being calculated. 'When Love Comes To Town' features none other than B B King on vocals, but unfortunately the song is a complete dog, lacking in musical surprise, and with a very irritating chorus once you've heard it more than once. 'Heartland' is absolutely beautiful though. The textures and feel of the finest 'Joshua Tree' material returns. Oh, that brings me to a point. Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno had no part in the production duties for 'Rattle And Hum', replaced by Jimmy Iovine. The sound of the studio portions of 'Rattle And Hum' suffers as a result. Not so on 'Heartland' though, the vocal and guitar are both delicate and genuinely touching, the lyric is touching. 'God Part II' is apparently some sort of follow-up to the John Lennon song, 'God', and arrives on 'Rattle And Hum' complete with faint little Phil Spector Echo on the drums. Ok, so the concept and execution of 'God Part II' may irritate a few John Lennon fans, but the song itself has always been one of my favourites. I love the guitar, love the vocals - a welcome piece of aggression on an album that needed a bit more aggression around this stage in its running order. Sequencing done well, again, you see!

    'Rattle And Hum' closes with the actual Jimi Hendrix 'Star Spangled Banner' to lead into a live performance of their own 'Bullet The Blue Sky', which remains as fiery and great as ever apart from Bono totally hamming it up all over the place. 'All I Want Is You' is a little slice of beauty to close, and became the second biggest hit from the album in the UK, although the Americans didn't take to it as well. The guitar is 'Edge' guitar, the vocals are 'Bono' vocals, both in the best possible widescreen and emotional 'With Or Without You', U2 ballad fashion. The song builds up as it goes along reaches a great little louder guitar part around the four minute mark, which disappears for an extended and atmospheric closing sequence, strings come sweeping dramatically in.... 'All I Want Is You' is just that, sweeping, soaring, romantic and dramatic. Well, I think so. Overall 'Rattle And Hum' may not have the consistency of 'Joshua Tree' or the experimental joys of 'Unforgettable Fire' but it works as an enjoyable album overall.

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    Readers Comments

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Interesting to note that even though this is mostly a live soundtrack to a movie that the band seen fit to include a number of decent new songs . Even more so they had enough good material for a follow up album to the joshua tree (including b sides). A sequence of van diemens land/desire/hawkmoon/still havent found (gospel version) a room at the heartbreak hotel/angel of harlem/love rescue me/hallelujah here she comes/when love comes to town/heartland/god part2/all i want is you/ would have provided a great new album and a foray into americana which would have been a better direction to follow than the one they persued with "achtung baby". As well as being more suited to their talents. Incidentally its "heartland" that is the outtake from the joshua tree - "silver and gold" was recorded by bono with keith and ron from the stones for a anti apartheid album prior to this in 1985 . And god the end of song diatribe from bono on the live version here is cringeworthy! in the extreme ...

    Stephen stephendfall@yahoo.co.uk
    If you are a Bob Dylan completist, and you are tempted to buy this album to hear Bob Dylan playing Hammond organ on Hawkmoon 269 and singing with Bongo on Love Rescue Me, my advice is not to bother. Either Bob messed up his parts and they deliberately buried them low in the mix, or U2's egomania was such that Bob's role was minimised to allow sufficient room for Bozo's gifts to dazzle. Whatever the reason, it's unlikely that Bob plays this album to his mates very often.

    tom kowalski Poland
    they say that this album has sold in like 12 milion copies or something. I really find that hard to believe. Yes there are some good to great moments on the record, for instance heartland or van diemend's land to name a few. however it's just badly produced. the mojority of the songs are just weak. that's all i got to say about this album

    Will Chicago
    4--Oh Lord, what a mess. If you loved the political, social, relgious consciousness that pervades U2's music, then chances are you loved this album. However, if you found the posturing and proclamations of self-importance nauseating and the music rather lame, Rattle & Hum gave you all the ammunition you ever needed. And critics panned this as an ill-advised attempt at American R&B music. U2 claim(and I believe them) that they were merely homaging the greats when did covers of and even featured the likes of Dylan, the Beatles, Hendrix, and B.B. King and tried to show their appreication of black culture with references to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Martin Luther King Jr., and gospel choirs doing backing vocals during live performances. But one could be excused for thinking they were placing themselves amongst the greats after The Joshua Tree put them on the rock 'n roll map. And while the movement towards Americana and desert landscape that painted the Joshua Tree were inspired, 4 Irish guys doing roots and blues music was doomed to be scoffed at. It's not that all the music on this album is bad, but most of the live songs are marred by Bono's grandstanding and sermonizing. The quality of those tracks range from good versions of their songs (Bullet the Blue Sky and Silver & Gold), passable covers (Helter Skelter), and flat-out embarrassing (a poor take on "All Along the Watchtower"). The most unintentionally funny moment is when Bono tells Edge to play the blues and what follows is anything but the blues!

    The new songs are also a mixed bad. "Desire" is a minor hit, "Angel of Harlem" slight in its music and impact. Lowlights include "Van Diemen's Land", a Edge-sung throwaway that is likely about the difficulties of life of a slave. While I appreciate The Edge's backing vocals in most U2 songs, I find he lacks the chops to sing anything solo and this song is a prime example. "Hawkmoon 269" is the epitome of all that was wrong with U2 at this time: bloated, ridiculous, and self-serviing with Bono screaming the lyrics, an unnecessary choir doing backing vocals, and music that was rather bland and uninventive. "Love Rescue Me" has a nice late-night drunken duet feel to it, though I'm not even sure why Bob Dylan was included since you can only hear him in passing during the chorus. "Heartland" is very poignant and actually one of my favorite U2 tunes, though it seems more fitting on the Joshua Tree. "God Part 2" is another fine example of the pretensions of this album, serving as the "sequel" to Lennon's presumably Part 1 and featuring some arrogant lyrics like "Don't believe the 60's is the golden age of pop, glorify the past so the future dries up". Yeah, way to insult bands that achieved far more greatness than you ever will, U2. Come back to us when you can come up with a "Revolver" or "Pet Sounds". Ironically, U2 nearly did when they followed-up this disaster with "Achtung Baby".

    Damien Seattle, Washington
    This is U2's most "American sounding" LP. It was intended as a double album "grab bag" of live tracks mixed with studio cuts and-- if you can wade through the sheer bulk of it-- there are several great songs. The live tracks give a good picture of what a U2 concert sounded like during the late 1980s. However, the best songs on the album are the new studio tracks: the '50s throwback "Desire"; the R&B infused "Angel of Harlem"; the folkish "Van Diemen's Land"; the Dylan co-written "Love Rescue Me"; the B.B. King collaboration "When Love Comes to Town"; the middle-America homage "Heartland." The best song on the entire album is probably the closing number, "All I Want is You," which features a beautiful coda section arranged by California music legend Van Dyke Parks. Part of me wishes U2 had released Rattle & Hum as a single album containing only the new studio recordings. I think the album would have had a greater impact.


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    Achtung Baby ( 1991 )
    Zoo Station / Even Better Than The Real Thing / One / Until The End Of The World / Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses / So Cruel / The Fly / Mysterious Ways / Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World / Ultra Violet (Light My Way) / Acrobat / Love Is Blindness

    U2, on the cusp of a new decade said in what seemed like a farewell live performance that they were gonna go away and dream it up all over again. The wait for new material seemed like a hell of a long time to me personally, broken only by a weird Bono version of the Cole Porter song 'Night And Day', which was proof enough by itself that the new material U2 were working on would indeed be different. With dance music really breaking and making itself heard in the charts all through 1989 and 1990, especially, sweeping away such Eighties stadium acts as Simple Minds in the process, it was indeed important, almost essential, that U2 came back with a different sound. Well, let's put it this way. At their biggest, Simple Minds were pretty much as big as U2 for a while there, but Simple Minds never managed to survive with their reputation or fan-base intact into the nineties. They never made the transition smoothly, daringly or naturally. U2, when they did eventually break their silence with the release of 'The Fly' excited many, alienated a few, but the net result was the maintaining of a significant portion of their fan-base whilst attracting a good many new fans into the bargain. It was a big deal. BBC Radio one had the worldwide exclusive airing of 'The Fly', and I was very annoyed when some of my friends didn't like it, or worse, said that it sounded like INXS. 'The Fly' does not sound like INXS. Lets take a look at 'The Fly' in particular here. Yep, there's a dance beat! But, what's this? A huge, cavernous guitar part from The Edge, dirty horrible guitar all over the place, a new guitar sound not heard on previous U2 records. Bono goes into this little beautiful Falsetto part, singing harmony over himself. The bass sounds supernova, groovy as hell. It doesn't sound like a U2 bass sound, although a few previous U2 songs had certainly hinted at what a great bass player they had themselves. The drum beats continue, the guitar keeps coming back in. CRUNCH! Here comes the solo! 'The Fly' retained elements of every single aspect of U2, possibly bar the lyrics which are totally different to anything we'd heard from them before at the time. U2, seemingly effortlessly ( although, they'd spent a HELL of a lot of time in the studio for this album ), had acheived a dance/rock crossover that worked, worked at a time the likes of Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and others were breaking big and threatening to become 'the new music'. U2 with 'The Fly' pissed off a few, pissed off many, but won over far more fans than they alienated.

    All of the singles from 'Achtung Baby' were appreciable and sizable hit singles. This series of singles helped push sales of the album forwards, onwards - the album outsold 'Rattle And Hum' in any event. 'Mysterious Ways', 'Even Better Than The Real Thing'. Both are superbly produced tracks and very good songs. 'One' is a beautiful song, more usual in it's sound and the song many U2 fans latched onto upon their first exposure to the 'Achtung Baby' album. Another such song to comfort old U2 fans was 'Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses' - a much more usual U2 song than even 'One', although 'Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses' is just plain dumb and irritating. You imagine a whole U2 album released in 1991 that sounded like 'Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses'? They'd have gone the same way as 'Simple Minds'. As far as the album tracks are concerned, they are all good. All of them, this is a very consistent album for the most part. 'Zoo Station' with it's guitar switching between and across your speakers, Bono sounding beautiful singing these 'weird' U2 lyrics, playful, nonsensical lyrics but they should make you smile. They make me smile. 'Until The End Of The World' is stupendously dark and menacing - again the guitar mixes well with dance programming and technology. Neither Rock nor Dance music this song, it was a genuinely new sound at the time. U2 didn't invent that sound of course, loads of groups were attempting it, i've already mentioned The Stone Roses, for one. U2 happily embraced this sound though and ended up sounding different, very different to how they'd sounded before but still ended up being recognizably U2. It shouldn't be underestimated how WELL they did this whole thing! 'Cruel' is a lilting little mid-tempo song, certainly no favourite of mine even though it's not exactly bad, just a little 'plodding' perhaps? Same comments apply to 'Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World' actually, only this time the bass parts sound better, and the lyric is better, a silly funny lyric, a charming and 'nice' lyric. All three of the closing songs are great, and for me, it's these songs that really push 'Achtung Baby' into classic status. 'Ultra Violet' is another great dance/rock mix, 'Acrobat' becomes a furious and enjoyably aggressive assualt, 'Love Is Blindless' is dark and funeral like, most closely resembling that Bono version of 'Night And Day' I heard, though quite a bit more desolate and beautiful.

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    Readers Comments

    Chris Catalano chris@joyfulcomputer.com
    It never ceases to amaze me how overlooked that closing power trio of songs was/ is. Thanks for hearing it like I do. Are you a musician? I am, and you are right, so there. Love the lyrics to "You're so cruel, but it is musically a bit dull, and "Trying' to throw your..." is just bogus. My favorite band and fave CD. Hey, they are human.

    Simon B., slb23@shaw.ca
    This is a pretty good U2 album, IMO. It has a slight early 90's sound to it, but a few of the songs sound ahead of their time. "One" (despite being slightly overplayed on the radio) is still affective to this day; "The Fly", "Even Better Than the Real Thing" and "Mysterious Ways" are still catchy pop/rock hits; and "Until the End of the World", and "Who's Gonna Ride Your WIld Horses" are still great back-to-back anthems. Unlike the reviewer above me, though, I almost never listen to the closing three songs. Still, this is (IMHO) one of the better albums of the 90's. 8/10

    Anders B, Denmark andersb_the_swede@yahoo.dk
    Acthung Baby to me is the best album U2 have ever made. I am one of those new fans who emerged, when this album was released back in the fall of 1991. I think all songs with exception of the annoying track Mysterious Ways could have been put out as successful singles. (And then again, Mysterious Ways actually was a successful single, when thinking about it). They are all very good - some of them classics - and U2 never quite have been able to create songs like this afterwards. This is probably also because of the eminent timing of this record, where U2 made this fantastic fusion of rock and dance and experimental computer sounds. True, other bands had invented this crossover before, but none of these bands had the ability to write such good songs. I think, the lyrics are important in that context - it is almost poetry in some of the songs. One of the 10 best records all of time.

    Mike Muellemi@student.gvsu.edu
    In my opinion, this is by far the best u2 album and maybe the best album of the early 90's.(sorry Boyz 2 Men, but you aren't cutting it) However, i think the most overlooked U2 song maybe ever is "Acrobat" The music is driving yet driving you to a place you arent sure if you're ready to go or not. The lyrics are a mixture of a nostalgic "learn from my mistakes. listen to me" and a "where did it all go". It's amazing and with the best message U2 has ever sent. "dont let the bastards grind you down"

    tim wilcox tim.violator@hotmail.co.uk
    listen to the album......still not sure.....still need convincing???. simple....watch zootv live at sidney australia 1993. WARNING THIS EXPIERIENCE MAY TURN YOU INTO A U2 FAN....FACT!!. like it says. "smell the flowers while you can".

    siegfrid siegfrid010101@yahoo.com
    There has never been a bigger bunch of phonies in all of r'n'roll times. u2 have consistently been ridiculed by all their contemporaries of (any)worth during the 80's as they've managed to establish themselves in the MTV led mob that needed their ambiguous lyrical nonsense and musical mediocre stumbles as the next thing for the reflective days of sensitive yuppies. u2 admired many bands of worth, but the only proof there is that they became one themselves is sales; often their fans, to prove their worth, compared them against every other trashy pop act that was coming up in the 80's and 90's, intead of comparing them with true contemporary rock bands that could rock your socks off without whinning endlessly about this and that in a mercilless hunt for mainstream publicity. Their history was and is a furius money making race; u2 have used all kinds of tricks to keep their hands on the green and have never allowed the multimillion seller aura to leave them. In fact t! heir whole journey in music is a struggle to stay "the best rock and roll band on the planet" (= the most ridiculus concept on the planet). Their "experimentations" are laughable; it's basically the same boring and average sound and song structure they had in the early 80's with a new coat, from whole teams of stellar producers working on it; the renting of "haunted"-historical studios for the recordings though surely proves that they were important...

    GAZZA
    This hasnt dated well at all im afraid . Lyrically it reaches new heights of bitterness and heartbreak , musically it falls flat. "one" "even better than the real thing" and "until the end of the world" are the best tracks hardhitting and well played . However the rest of its a mess, "zoo station" is all over the place , "wild horses" has no melody to speak of and the attempts at bringing funk and trip hop into their sound (mysterious ways,so cruel) fall flat on their face . I mean c'mon "the fly" is basically a rewrite of leonard cohens "everybody knows" !! I think i prefer the new songs on rattle and hum overrall. Fair enough try and experiment and incorporate new styles and sounds thats what keeps a band growing , but here it feels like an attempt to bolt a new style onto the band rather than provide U2s take on a style. Its a deeply dissapointing record and a gruelling listen. i think bono and co were looking for critical acclaim here after being! hammered for so long ,and the bands recent records suggest theyve realised that they were being led up a creative cul de sac between here and the pop album .

    Will Chicago
    10--Now THIS is their masterpice and deserves the praise and Top 20 great albums of all time recognition that The Joshua Tree often gets. I loved how your review focused on how dramatic the introduction of "The Fly" was to radio listeners, a revelation that would be lost in today's Internet-saturated world where anything and everything is available at all times. U2 was the biggest band in the world at that time(R.E.M. was close, though) and after the critical panning, yet commerical success, the band experienced from Rattle & Hum, the band showed its true colors and abilities, completely changed their sound and image, and aspired to even greater heights. I don't know if U2 is ever *really* innovative; rather, they seem to be masters at finding the current sound, molding it into the U2 sound, and managing to make it fresh and exciting. Achtung Baby was effectively that, taking the dance scene that was pervading England and Europe at that time, melding it with the a mixture of glam rock and grunge, the latter which would become the definitive sound of the 90's. Such a sound was done masterfully on "The Fly", "Zoostation", "Even Better than the Real Thing", and "Until the End of the World". Combine that with a band that was ironically embracing their rock star status, wearing leather, Bono donning his "Fly" persona, and lyrics drenched in sexual innuendo, and you had a band that made a mid-career reinvention. However, the true beauty of Achtung Baby is, beneath the dirty, distorted guitars, breathy vocals, and dense grime is an album of religious yearning and hysteria over personal relationships that is far more convincing and moving than anything the band every did before or after. Songs like "One", "So Cruel", and "Love is Blindness" are deeply moving and the album offers up not only some of Bono's finest vocals, but his best lyrical effort. The only hiccup in this masterpiece is "Who's Gonna Ride your Wild Horses" whose airy production stand in stark contrast to the dense atmosphere of the rest of the album and even that song isn't a bad one, just not well produced for the album its featured on.

    Damien Seattle, Washington
    This album is probably the most successful musical makeover in rock 'n roll history since The Beatles did Sgt. Pepper's. In fact, this album may have saved U2 from commercial death (along with dozens of other '80s bands) in the Nirvana-led grunge onslaught of the early 1990s. But U2 survived (and thrived) with the help of this forward leaning rock opus. Stylistically, U2 are all over the map on this record: the soulful groove of "Mysterious Ways"; the sheet-of-ice guitar of "The Fly"; the simmering heartache of "One" and "So Cruel"; the industrial pulse of "Zoo Station"; the krautrock leanings of "Until the End of the World" and "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)." To me, the musical achievement represented by Achtung Baby elevated U2 into a higher category of accomplishment than being "just another great band." How many bands as big as U2 have taken such a huge (and risky) musical U-turn and still made such an acclaimed and successful album? Very, very few.


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    Zooropa ( 1993 )
    Zooropa / Babyface / Numb / Lemon / Stay (Faraway, So Close!) / Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car / Some Days Are Better Than Others / The First Time / Dirty Day / The Wanderer

    I know of a person who bought this album, listened to it ONCE, then sold it. I know of a fellow reviewer who rates this record as one of the worst ever made by anyone, so much so, he gave it '0' out of 10. U2 were looking across at REM, a band releasing albums in quick succession - but REM weren't touring at that time, and U2 were touring everywhere. U2 decide to write the songs for 'Zooropa' on the fly, and record them when their schedule allowed. The result of this is 'Zooropa' comes across as a lot looser and more natural sounding than it otherwise might have done. Less of a dance/rock crossover this time, 'Zooropa' leans more towards the dance side of things, but this still isn't exactly Techno. With Brian Eno on board, we get a lot of interesting sounds! The album starts off slowly. Many of those that returned this album to the stores in utter disgust, a portion of those people may not even have made it past track three, and I can understand that. The title song takes a good few minutes to get going at all. When it does, it almost works. The pace certainly picks up, the lyrics are pure nonsense and the vocal treated, but there is still something about this. I mentioned that the album comes across as sounding loose and natural? U2 didn't have the time to second-guess themselves, but sometimes 'flaws' can actually enhance a recording. These flaws become part of an albums unique character. 'Babyface' is mid-tempo, seemingly totally straight-forward and rather dull, but it rewards repeated listening to reveal itself to be a pretty nice song. As for any 'techno crap' accusations, this song bares only a faint trace of Techno, virtually none at all. What it does 'bare', is electronic sections of keyboards and programming, and a beautiful tune. 'Numb' still isn't Techno, obviously it has to be something else then, doesn't it? Experimental electronica? Yeah, that fits. Quirky doesn't even begin to describe 'Numb', with it's slow drum beats, blasts of 'ugly' electronic noise and The Edge speaking his way through the lyrics. But then, Bono sails in with a stupid falsetto part that makes you smile. At least it should, what do you think this is, a SERIOUS song? It's a fun song, that's all. It borders on novelty music, but the Bono vocal parts are too good for this to just be dismissed.

    The real 'meat' of this 'Zooropa' album arrives next, the sheer glory and life-affirming joy that is 'Lemon'. We have ourselves a disco beat! We've even got Bono with a Disco falsetto vocal. We've got ourselves a hell of a bass sound, playful lyrics, and Bono sounding higher than The Bee-Gees. But, what's this? He swings to a more natural Bono way of singing in-between, and these vocal parts really stand out as a result. Backing vocals and harmonies come in, the song keeps on going, and then we reach the mid-section, which is a vocal glory, Bono singingly wordlessly and totally beautifully, "midnight, is where the day begins" harmonies underneath him. And still, the Disco beats continue! The vocal is so silly, that grinning is a possibility. Dismissing 'Lemon' as 'too silly' for its own good is also a possibility, but I love this song. Again, this isn't serious U2, this isn't the U2 anybody was prepared for, even after 'Achtung Baby'. 'Stay' was eventually released as a single, it was initially intended that no singles would be taken from 'Zooropa', although a video was made for 'Numb' and that song played on the radio. 'Stay' is the single most straight-forward and 'normal' piece of U2 music on the entire record. A strong song, a good ballad with good vocals. 'Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car' is a little strange, with it's bells, noises and whistles ( so to speak ) and it's electronic bed of grooves and 'tin' drums. The groove is the key, if you don't want dance-groove from U2, best not look in this direction. 'Some Days Are Better Than Others' is less electronic based than 'Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car' but still has a hell of a bass groove to push the song forwards. This is a real bass sound, not electronically treated this time, at least not obviously. The chorus of the song is strong, and this could have been a hit, I think. Good song! 'The First Time' is slow, very slow, and nothing much happens at all of note. 'Dirty Day' is U2 by numbers, although a strong vocal appears as well as the only really noticeable guitar on the entire album! 'The Wanderer' is another of those, 'What the hell are they doing??' moments on 'Zooropa'. Johnny Cash sings this, and the lyrics are just gloriously funny and tongue in cheek. The music is purely electronic, just this little shifting melody and atmosphere. Harmonies come in around Mr Cash, and it sends a chill up my spine. "I went drifting, through captials - of tin!" sings Johnny, and the effect of the electronic music, and this legendary king of Country is so strange it can't help itself but be striking, at least. 'Zooropa' as a whole is obviously no perfect piece of art, it's let down by lesser songs, but raised up by moments of joyous lunacy such as 'Lemon' and 'The Wanderer'. I wish U2 would make an album like 'Zooropa' every few years, you know, just to annoy everybody.

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    Readers Comments

    Sanbud sabikeo@aol.com
    Good review, it is a very underrated album...I can see how people may have been turned off, but sometimes I feel a guilty pleasure for U2's experimental days in comparison to their popular rock days (which they're repeating now)...I mean, it may not have been as mainstream, but I liked the ironic presentation of some of the songs, the beats, and the album in general. I enjoyed all of it, except perhaps Dirty Day or First Time, but even those grow on me to this day. Good album, actually my fourth favorite U2 album after Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, and War.

    Ricardo nunez101@hotmail.com
    It's a shame that this album doesn't get all the attention it deservs. It is easy to say that U2 is at it's most experimental stage here (just listen to side b); but wait, did I forget to mention the title track?- And then of course there is Lemon. This song is U2's masterpiece, the arrangement, the groove, the vocals, it's just intoxicating. People have to realize that most good artists like to explore new territories, whether if it's composing or recording in the studio, why would you want to do the same album over and over again? And that is definitely the case with Zooropa. I mean, this album was released after Achtung Baby, another ground breaking record, and for these guys to come up with Zooropa, which in my opinion is not better but way more intriguing than Achtung Baby, says a lot about how good U2 could be. This album feels like if U2 was not at all interested in making more hits, they just wanted to do music, fresh and imaginative music, and they really got it goi! ng on here. This is not you're typical U2 record, so it can be a little hard to warm up to for some, but you can be sure that you're ears will be challenged in ways that U2 have never done before.

    the fly thehouse1813@yahoo.com
    Zooropa is my one of my favorite albums by U2, behind Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby and Pop. I get really disappointed when I listen to this record and then listen to their new one.

    Laura laura_l05@hotmail.com
    Fair rating. I give it an 8, but not for the music indeed it's more for the risk they took to find a new sound and make it decent. I really liked Zooropa, and it's a shame that many critics and fans didn't know how to took this "different U2" and turned the album down, it was just a fun thing and like you said this isin't serious! it's all in good fun.

    siegfrid siegfrid010101@yahoo.com
    "I wish U2 would make an album like 'Zooropa' every few years, you know, just to annoy everybody" No need to, u2 manage to annoy with all their albums.

    Matt mwit0597@usyd.edu.au
    While it might not be their best album in the technical sense, I find myself turning to Zooropa more than I do any other U2 album and consider it to be my favorite of their albums. After enough listens there isn't a sub-par track on here!

    Jonathan Prout jonathan.prout@sjc.ox.ac.uk
    Ok, I really tried, but... it just isn't very good. A U2 album for people who like U2 but want them to be a bit more experimental. If you think that you don't like U2, don't imagine this is going to change anything.

    Will Chicago
    8.5--One of my U2 favorites, though I have cooled on it over the years. "Babyface" is a rather bland "Even Better than the Real Thing" rewrite and "Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Face Crashed Car" seems like middling experimentation. The rest is quite good, though it does show it's age now and the production was obviously hasty and rough around the edges("The Wanderer" could use some better synth work, for instance). Still, the title track, Numb, and Lemon are bold and some of the band's most interesting, artistically ambiguous work. "Stay" is a wonderful part rocker/part ballad, "The First Time" a space age ballad about the Christian Trinity. I must point out a few things about your review, though: for one, anybody who thinks this is a "techno" album has the wrong idea. It's coated heavily in electronica, but it's more like a space age punk such as Numb with the danceable character we saw in many tracks on Achtung Baby with the 21st century disco known as Lemon being the best example. Zooropa paints quite a few bizarre soundscapes in which every song is a new adventure, some better than others, but all exciting and full of surprises.

    Also, the lyrics are not ambiguous nonsense; there definitely is a theme here of a new world order dominated by technology that leaves a person connected with the whole world before him(satellite TV, this was back in 1993, remember), yet even more lonely and apart from humanity than ever before(I Feel Numb is the common refrain). "The Wanderer" readily sums up an apocalyptic journey through the weird and bizarre that the world has to offer, but ultimately, it's all about coming back home and to seeking out Jesus. This is some of U2's sharpest lyrics and far more interesting than their usual overused "peace, hope, and love" Hallmark card sentiments.

    Damien Seattle, Washington
    Perhaps this is U2 at their most experimental (some people call it their "Bowie phase"). There's so much experimentation going on it makes Achtung Baby seem tame. There are definitely a few interesting things happening here: the art-dance number "Lemon"; the space-country ballad "The Wanderer" (featuring Johnny Cash on vocals); the Sinatra influenced "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)"; fhe tripped-out title track, "Zooropa." However, there's also a few songs that are clearly just filler, like "Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car" and "Babyface." This album is pretty wierd so you almost have to be a musical egghead to like it-- but if you are this album has its rewards.


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    Pop 7 ( 1997 )
    Discotheque / Do You Feel Loved / Mofo / If God Will Send His Angels / Staring At The Sun / Last Night On Earth / Gone / Miami / The Playboy Mansion / If You Wear That Velvet Dress / Please / Wake Up Dead Man

    U2 spend time in the studio, not 'dreaming it all up again' this time out, but rather seemingly unsure of exactly what kind of album they wanted to make. Parts of 'Pop' carry on from 'Achtung Baby' and 'Zooropa', but usually more 'Achtung Baby' than 'Zooropa'. Only with added techno-beats, and yeah, this time out, they ARE techno-beats, there is no getting around it. But, unlike 'Achtung Baby' where the integration of the dance elements into the Rock guitar music came across as perfectly natural, with the two styles complimenting each other, through parts of 'Pop' is seems as if the dance elements have been grafted clumsily onto regular Rock songs. 'Discotheque' is a song that sounds like that. Sounds great turned up load, sounds lousy listened to any other way. 'Do You Feel Loved' contains absolutely no surprises, whereas 'Zooropa' had a surprise around every corner. A thumping dance beat enters, guitar goes all through the song, the beats continue but if they weren't there, the song would sound much the same structually, and wouldn't be missing much in the way of melody, either. It would work better as a Rock song, the dance elements here are just contemporary production, and that's all, it doesn't sound as if these dance beats are an integral part of the actual song itself. Does any of this make sense? All I know is, for me, 'Pop' was a huge disappointment after 'Achtung Baby' and 'Zooropa', and that something had changed in the music, only that it isn't immediately apparent what has changed. All of the songs on this album are four or five minutes long. Although the sound switches between more Dance based songs ( 'mofo' ) and more Rock based songs ( eg 'last night on earth' ), both of which are good songs by the way, it doesn't feel as if you are experiencing highs and lows. You can admire the professional production and execution of 'Pop', but can you love 'Pop' and hold it close to your heart?

    'If God Will Send His Angels' and 'Staring At The Sun' hint at 'All That You Can't Leave Behind', a far more usual and 'comforting' U2 sound to those that didn't like the dance U2 so much. 'Gone' and 'Miami' have their moments, both good and bad, 'The Playboy Mansion' features good vocals, 'If You Wear That Velvet Dress' is a slow yet interesting more experimental song, dark and atmospheric, touching in a funny kind of way. 'Please' was released as a single, not one of the groups most memorable singles, to be fair. As far as 'Pop' is concerned, U2 save the best til last. 'Wake Up Dead Man' sounds genuine, passionate, dark, angry, considered. The dance/rock mix on this song is far more akin to the one used on 'Achtung Baby' than elsewhere on this album, although other songs seem to be attemtping to 'get back' to 'Achtung Baby', only that U2 have forgetton how to do that 'Achtung Baby' kind of sound. Well, they do it all through 'Wake Up Dead Man', which added to the likes of 'Mofo', 'Last Night On Earth' etc, means there is enough here on this record, just about, to form a respectable and enjoyable album.

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    Readers Comments

    Royireland keyzer@eircim.net
    Firstly,the terrible reputation this record has picked up in recent years is really unfair,people semmed more concerned with how big the Popmart tour ended up being than on the record's quality.Secondly,how you can see Pop as inferior to Zooropa is beyond me.Zooropa's alright,but too full of filler like Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car or Dirty Day.Pop's opener-Discotheque,is easily one of the best songs in the group's history.Do You Feel Loved is ok,not bad,not great,an above average filler track.Mofo starts off very well,just goes on a minute too long or so.If God....is a gorgeous song,just very beautiful.Staring at the Sun,apparently not a favourite of the band,is still a very strong track,its incarnation here vastly superior to the plodding remix on the groups Best of 1990-2000 cd.Last Night on Earth and Gone are the two "rock" tracks to grace the album,last night..being very strong,gone being above average(By coicidence,Gone's makeover on 1990-2000 vastly improves! it).The slight lull in quality begins here...Miami is ok,tolerable...not much of anything really.The Playboy Mansion is much of the same.Please and If You Wear That Velvet Dress are good showcases of Mr.Hewson's voice but no a whole lot else,decent but nothing else.I've always loved wake up dead man,the broken hymn which closes U2's entire "subversive" chapter.Bono sounds broken,desolate-alone,just calling out for salavation...in the end it segues neatly-he seems to have lost everything,but by the opening of U2's next chapter,the first song thrills at the joy of the sky falling and it still being such a beautiful day.I really like Pop...i may be a minority,but whatever.8/10

    H chris@hyndman2001.fsnet.co.uk
    This is one of those Zooropa style records that you said should be put out every few years to piss folk off. U2 at their experimental best. A shame it came out BEFORE ATYCLB. I know , I find it hard to believe as well.

    leopoldo Gonrico, piktut@yahoo.com
    Pop is still a U2 album. i hate to say this but let us respect the true artistical point that this album is trying to express. its being creative and these songs are the fruits of those creative juices. yes, it may annoy some listeners but blue-blooded U2 fans will agree that we've been drawn to the bands ways to diversify their music. not to set a trend but to re-create themselves. to innovate their music. not to be stuck to a certain sound or monotonous identity and later fade out. this is U2's true artistic side. them being innovative. the songs are meatier than ever, its just given a different aura in this album. noted songs are Discotheque, If God Will Send His Angels and Staring at the Sun. enough of putting down this album. it is U2 at the peak of its creativity. detractors, deal with that!

    dan ouellette dan@neuroticadivine.com
    I hated this album when it came out... frankly I was still recovering from Actung Baby... which took some time. Recently I have begun to really appreicate this album. It's not my favorite but I really enjoy it more now.

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    This is one awful album - at least u2 realised this and reverted back to their more conventional sound . I had it down the 2nd hand shop pronto but so did many others . Discoteques not bad , and i liked the My bloody valentinesque guitars at the start of gone , but this was a nadir of sorts . Watching them work with howie b was a bit like seeing your dad try on unsuitable clothes during his midlife crisis . Truly awful .

    Jim Barbarino cornuto1@gmail.com
    An unfairly maligned album. Perhaps U2 took the experimental dance music too far trying to sustain it for 3 albums, but at least they were trying to innovate and in my opinion it came off alright. The album opens strongly with Discotheque - great use of electronica. The first half of the record is very solid, with Staring at the Sun and Last Night on Earth the highlights. It starts to taper off and culminates in the trio of "Miami" "...Mansion" and "...Velvet Dress" and really flatten the record. Things pick up towards the end with Please and the blues style closer Wake Up Dead Man. There are still some good tracks on this album, I give it a 7.5/10.

    Will Chicago
    7.5--Unfairly maligned, overly ambitious yet not nearly as experimental as often stated, Pop is a colorful collection of mostly typical U2 pop rock tunes dressed in techno/electronical ambiance. A rock/electronica convergence was the anticapted path of the future in the late 90's with bands like Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers causing old hands like U2 and Madonna to try their hand at the current trend. Electronica rock never really took off and, really, the music industry, ever since reaching the 21st century, has folded into itself of little amibtion and much regurgitation. Pop is not a great album by any means, but it does have some great moments scattered across different songs. Even the electronica elements so often associated with the album are only heavily evident in the first 3 songs: "Discoteque" is catchy and features some great riffing by The Edge, but it was a mistake making this the centerpiece of the album and subsequent tour. "Do You Feel Loved" could have been a better single choice with its radio-ready chorus. "Mofo" is a song that must be heard to be believed that it actually came from U2. Pop retreats into typical U2 rockers dressed up in sunny tremolo guitars and synths in "Staring at the Sun", which is followed nicely by the late-night prog rock intro of "Last Night on Earth" before the soaring siren sound of The Edge's guitar marks the entrance of "Gone", a truly underappreciated great U2 rocker. "Miami" and "The Playboy Mansion" are rather awful and limp in their acid trip-hop and country lounge meanderings in which Bono puts in a good effort, but the rest of the band seems stilted by all the studio effects and drum loops being used. "Velvet Dress" has an appealing smoke-filled cabaret room feel to it, but takes too long to develop. Pop recovers with the raw Please, a condemnation of terrorist action that serves as 90's U2's take on Sunday Bloody Sunday. A rather lyrically grim and pessimistic album comes to a close with the equivalent of an anti-prayer in "Wake Up Dead Man" in which Bono basically challenges Jesus to wake up and look at the mess of a world he's left behind. Pop is poorly produced and seemingly rushed, with many songs going on too long and the band running low on ideas in the 90's experimentation stage. Still, the album oozes with far more character and risk-taking than we would see in the next 2 albums from them.

    Damien Seattle, Washington
    More experiments, but this time in more of an electronic direction. Some songs seem both forced and half-baked, like "If God Will Send His Angels," "Mofo," and "Discoteque" (which has a great guitar riff but the rest of the song doesn't really live up to it.) And the less that is said about "The Playboy Mansion" the better. But there are other songs that stand up well to repeated listens: the Beatle-esque "Staring at the Sun"; the hard rocking "Gone"; the introspective "Please"; the quasi-country closing number "Wake Up Dead Man." I admire the experimental zeal displayed on Pop, but there's just not very many classic songs here.


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    All That You Can't Leave Behind 6 ( 2000 )
    Beautiful Day / Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of / Elevation / Walk On / Kite / In A Little While / Wild Honey / Peace On Earth / When I Look At The World / New York / Grace

    Chronologically, I'm writing this review immediately after writing my review of the 'War' album by U2. I don't know why exactly i've decided to do that, it just seems to make more sense in a funny way, given that 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' owes very little to the albums U2 were producing all through the nineties. They've well and truly turned their back on anything remotely approaching ambition here, and have just made a regular rock U2 album instead. But, it lacks a certain something that's hard to actually put a finger on. So, let's see what we can 'deduce' from the songs one at a time, and then the album as a whole. 'Beautiful Day'? It has energy, a certain passion that fills you if you allow it to, but bar the production and mixing which obviously distances this from the likes of 'War' or 'Joshua Tree', there is absolutely nothing surprising about it. Perhaps i'm being unfair? In fact, i'm sure I am! Nobody really expects bands that have been around as long as U2 have to go around experimenting and what have you. Although, with the likes of 'Zooropa' of course, they did precisely that! So, is this album a step backwards? 'Stuck In A Moment', like 'Beautiful Day' was released as a single. So were songs three and four, by the way. Most of the first half of this album was released as a single, and I hate that. It spoils the flow of the record, completely. The key change in U2 land was the release of their first greatest hits album, which compiled highlights of their career upto and including the 'Rattle And Hum' material. A song from 1987 called 'Sweetest Thing', which had previously been a Joshua Tree b-side, was re-worked and released as a single. It was a very well received single, perhaps indicating to the guys in U2 that it was ok for them to try to sound like they did 13 years previously. But, it's a dangerous road to take, a road that leads to the nostalgia circuit, aka Rolling Stones tours. They still release a new album, here and there, but there is always something uneasy about the experience of listening to new Rolling Stones records. Remember a song from 'Rattle And Hum' called 'God Part II'? Furiously dark and a wonderful guitar rock assault. 'Elevation' tries a similar trick whilst retaining faint elements of the nineties U2 production style, but never enough to call this a dance/rock crossover exactly. Anyways, the point I was beginning to try to make, is 'Elevation' surely doesn't bear comparison with something like 'God Part II', even though with soaring vocals and slightly dirty guitars, it appears to be trying to. 'Walk On' is a nice enough little pop song, but then, we've heard all these Edge guitar sounds before. U2 playing it safe?

    'Kite' has a good, strong melody running all the way through it, and works completely. When the material is good, it doesn't matter a damn about the production, style of playing or approach. Trouble is, too often on 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' the material is just pleasant, nice enough, nothing too taxing. A little bland, in a word. 'In A Little While' is better than 'Kite', I love the feel of this song. 'Wild Honey' sadly isn't a cover of The Beach Boys 1967 song of the same name, rather a very average U2 song, the kind of song they'd have rejected or released as a b-side if this was still the Eighties. 'Peace On Earth' unsurprisingly is a ballad, 'When I Look At The World' sounds like it fell off the 'Achtung Baby' writing process for not being good enough. 'New York' features lots of edge guitar, although the song is rather plodding and trying, especially appearing this late in the album. This is an album that fades, badly. U2 albums, good U2 albums, never used to do that. Think 'Joshua Tree' or 'Achtung Baby' in particular. The closing 'Grace' is the biggest waste of time I can think of, boring as hell. And, that's your great, being relieved at U2 playing guitars again, 'comeback' album. Comeback to what, exactly?

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    Readers Comments

    gi joe dcostigan@caroina.rr.com
    You must be kidding right.I think this is truley a great record and I loved it.I love the paino and thought this was a fantastic group of spritual songs.Must be easy to be critical all the time.What creatative works have you made????

    H chris@hyndman2001.fsnet.co.uk
    Spot on review, an album of new songs that sounds like a greatest hits album. Possibley the laziest album in the history of music.

    TS tom.shea@gmail.com
    This album seemed seemed strong when it came out, but in retrospect, I think it was embraced more than anything because of the absence or kitch and irony. Upon revisiting it, I must agreed with your accessment that is not one the U2's stronger albums. "Walk On," "Stuck In A Moment" and "In A Little While" are among their best songs but along side them sits much filler. "Elevation" is POP-lite. "Beautiful Day" turned into a nice, if simplistic, anthem when performed live but on record the synth that opens the song and runs through it drives me nuts. I completely agree with you that "All That You Can't" peters out three 3 tracks shy of the end. "Peace On Earth" is a decent song but following it up with "When I Look At The World" saps it's power and slows the album to langerous pace. "New York" starts with a facinatingly subtle drum and bass part that was obviously the work of Eno, only to have Bono ruin it with lame lyrics. Not since the "Passenger" Soundtrac! ks album has U2 shown more obviously how they can start with a good idea and go on to ham-fistedly bludgeon it into submission. "Grace" is simply a dull song. All in all, I may be in a minority but I think "Pop" may be a strong album. I am exciting to hear the new album, though. It sounds like they have decided to drop some of the "ATYCLB" adult-contemporary gloss and rock. It's about time. HIGHLY RECOMMEND: U2 GO HOME-Live At Slane Castle DVD

    The Hedge hedge@hoymail.com
    Absoloute tripe!! How can anyone say this is an average record. Great uplifting songs. If it was so bad why did it sell 11 million???

    Paul W pw48@st-andrews.ac.uk
    Hi, Big fan of your site, love your review of the U2 albums especially. I agree, ATYCLB was not a good album. It played more like the Best of (of an inferior band) than a new U2 exploration. Was wondering, and I hesitate, knowing your loathing of silly punk bands, if you'd consider reviewing the new Greenday album, "American Idiot." I have listened and, despite being someone who isn't that partial to most Greenday stuff, found it an impressive album. Lyrically excellant and musically more mature than most, even if it isn't that experimental. Just thought it'd interest you to hear it. If you don't like it to begin with, give it time. It'll slowly grow on you.

    kristin the great clumsy_munkey@hotmail.com
    what a disgusting review! such a good album, i don't know what you were hearing. you can't call any album that contains Walk On average.

    Boyan scruffy@abv.bg
    Man, you are vrazy to give ATYCLB a 6 and HTDAAB a 7,5!!! the first is a masterpiece i can't pick a single song that isn't great except maybe grace and on the other side this vertigo crap has only 2 good songs City of Blinding Lights and Sometimes You can't make it on your own ... you should consider re-reviewing these 2 bits and decide whish is better:)

    Mike Muellemi@student.gvsu.edu
    It sold 11 million albums because it was a pop album at its finest. Overly done, but with no texture what-so-ever. It blows my mind that this is the same band who not 20 years earlier were tearing off the green and the orange of the Irish flag to show unity. Now they run around a giant heart shaped stage while selling nosebleed seets for $140 a shot. i dont think so. it cant be so.

    Barry hollowaybj12@uww.edu
    I stumbled across your site and felt your reviews of all U2's albums not off base and you made good cases for those I may have slightly disagreed with...that is, except for this album. While I agree it is not their "best" album as many would claim (usually by non-life-long fans). I think it's rating is fairly low. I would be interested to see a poll on how people felt of this album in America as compared to the UK where it seems you are from. I think this album had an important impact on the 9/11 grieving process we went through over here. That can be seen through U2's beautiful performance at our "Super Bowl." What seemed like trite songs about picking yourself up fit well into that part of history. I'm sure there are examples of this from your country with relation to ours. Like Elton John's "England's Rose"? Maybe that's a bad example, but I hope you get my point.

    The Diplomat diplomat90210@gmail.com
    It's a bad album. It isn't U2, it's U2 makeing crappy new millenium pop/rock songs that get on the charts.Really, Kite however is a good song, though it is the same as every other song on the album: It sounds to "pop-y(pop-ish?)" (As in pop music, not the album) The entire album is also just too happy. Thats not U2, thats not my boys!

    gazza gary.hess44@hotmail.com
    As a sometime fan of u2 - i have to say this is their best work. After the patchy experiments of pop and passengers it was natural they would return to their original sound . The songs are ace - in a little while possibly their greatest song along with stuck in a .. their most sucessful soul unflexed track. Beautiful day,walk on and elevation are built for stadium rock - wild honey has some gorgeous folk guitar and my fave ground beneath her feet is gorgeous . Way better than the "please take us seriously" achtung baby which is as hard a listen as anyone can bear ...

    Wes Kenny weskenny@hotmail.com
    In reading your reviews, I find that I disagree with quite a few, but not to the extent that I do with this album. This to me was a terrific album. U2 Elevation live in Boston is the best video of a concert I have ever seen. Songs like Beatiful Day, New York and Walk On are great anthems. But I especially like In a Little While. I think this is a fantastic song. The lyrics seem to be very romantic or something, not typical U2, although Bono does say this song is about a hangover?? Great song, none the less. In relation to your previous review, I think that "Who's gonna ride your wild horses" is a great song. I know loads of people who list this as their favourite!

    Alex Korea
    I was a huge U2 fan since I learnt the words for Bad when I was about 6 years old. I went to see them 3 times when I was in my teens. In my opinion they gained a lot of fans with this record but it is because of this that I lost my interest in U2. There is not as much heartfelt songwriting as with their earlier records. Neither does this record have the cutting edge sounds and irony of Achtung Baby and Zooropa. The songs sound run-of-the-mill and tired. I think U2 created some of the most important and best albums in the history of pop/rock, but I feel that they should retire and focus more on their humanitarian work as their music seems only to decline with their age. Their last album that made me go 'ooh' and 'aah, this record is fantastic' was 1997s Pop.

    Jim Johnson Glasgow
    How I laughed when people said this is a return to the 80s U2!! Ha ha, these people are nuts!! This is not a patch on Joshua Tree, UFF, War etc. Kite is a decent song, Wild Honey is OK, the rest I could happily live without ever hearing again. Beautiful Day has been played to death on radio etc, it is pointless, bland, lyrics that sound as though they were written by a 7 year old!! I laugh at the way the so called "true" U2 fans dismissed Achtung Baby and Zooropa, these were exciting, vibrant, original albums. U2 play it safe, this sells millions, the average U2 fanatic is happy. Come on, there must be a lot of U2 fans out there who agree, and wish the band had quit after Pop, if they were just going to come up this pointless crap.

    Will Chicago
    7--I have been torn on this album for 10 years now. At times I've loved it, other times loathed it for U2 going the safe route and becoming an adult contemporary band. This is hardly the "going back to their roots" music that it was made out to be since it sounds nothing like their 80's work. Instead, it was a concerted effort to make a pop rock album in the vein of "Rubber Soul" with Bono going as far to describe it as "titanium soul". Yeah, there's that Bono and U2 egolomania for you, again. While I love that particular Beatles album and the Beatles themselves, love the Beach Boys and their brand of glorious pure pop even moreso, U2's attempt seems so sugarcoated and concise that while it's a pleasant listen, it's not an album I feel the need to visit more than once in awhile. The Beatles and Beach Boys were the kings of pop rock due to their harmonies and abilities to write tunes that instantly appeal to the listener, yet leave you wanting to come back for more. "All that You Can't Leave Behind" features Bono's aging voice that has deteriorated noticeably over the years and songs so slick that anything you get out of them seems fleeting. Perhaps because a band like U2 seems to excel when things feel spontaneous and less calculated does this album come across as too calculated and by the numbers. "Beautiful Day" is a deserved, yet overplayed hit, "Elevation" a nice nod to Achtung Baby as guys in their 40's would make it sound. "In a Little While" is the real treat here, an R&B inspired number that uses Bono's croacky vocals to fine use while the interplay of music, keyboards, and drums is dazzling. "New York" is rather clunky, "Grace" overlong and snooze-inducing, "Kite" seemingly belongs on an 80's Bon Jovi record. It's not deserving of scorn, but I simply cannot love this album and it didn't help that the band went back to their usual pretensions of "we are the only band that matters"-seriously, they were competing with The Backstreet Boys and N'Sync at this time for relevance which tells you how desperate these guys are to remain in the spotlight and keep up sales.

    Damien Seattle, Washington
    This was U2's return to their classic 1980s sound after a decade of musical adventurism. "Beautiful Day" gave them their first big radio hit in several years and other highlights include "In a Little While," "Walk On," "Kite," and "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of." However, side 2 starts to sound filler-ish ("When I Look at the World," "Grace") and I don't feel that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts on this album (which is true of U2's previous classic albums.)


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    How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb ( 2004 )
    Vertigo / Miracle Drug / Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own / Love And Peace Or Else / City Of Blinding Lights / All Because Of You / A Man And A Woman / Crumbs From Your Table / One Step Closer / Original Of The Species / Yahweh / Fast Cars

    U2 seem to make albums in groups of three. If you are fairly familiar with the back catalogue of U2, the following groupings will make sense to you. Boy, October, War. Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree, Rattle And Hum. Achtung Baby, Zooropa, Pop. All That They Can't Leave Behind, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb... and? Well, another similarly long titled album in a few years time, no doubt. Which will, it would appear judging by past progress, share with 'How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb' a huge slab of sense of U2's musical past. Any semblance of the modernity or progress they embarked upon with 'Achtung Baby' has flown out of the window. U2 are now content to make records befitting their age. They tastefully employ computer programming these days, rather than try to meld themselves and their own style with Grime, Drum 'n' Bass, or whatever the latest trend happens to be. Which is all fine and well, the U2 fanbase is so huge and well-established, that U2 don't actually need to experiment too radically just at the moment. How long they can put out records in the same style, is another matter. Judging by past history, after their next album - they'll be looking into other directions once more. A shift will take place. Such shifts become more difficult the more albums you have behind you, however. Well, this is all speculation anyway. What everyone is dying to hear about is this particular album sat right in front of me and blaring from my speakers. 'How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb'. Sounds like a Radiohead song title doesn't it? What's in a name anyway, the key thing is that this album is certainly an improvement over 'All That You Can't Leave Behind'.

    'Vertigo' which blasts this album off, is basically a vastly superior re-write of 'Elevation' from their previous album. Which is no terribly bad thing, it would seem. 'City Of Blinding Lights' is one of the very few other songs present with a similar energy, however. The tantalisingly brief burst of classic mid-eighties 'Edge' guitar which opens the song gives way to a song that's power-rock-ballad, albeit, one with a suitable amount of energy. Emotive, which is a word that often crops up in discussions of U2 records, of course. The second song here, 'Miracle Drug' is clearly aimed at being 'emotive' and will probably be the next single. It's typical U2, mentions of sun in eyes, new born babies. A song that's so apparently 'uplifting', that it seems to be a song almost mathematically calculated at being so. Which is actually the main problem with this album. At times, it comes across as a particularly talented U2 tribute band making an album, rather than U2 themselves. We wonder how long Bono's voice will hold out if he continues to sing in the same bellowing manner that he does, etc, etc. On the otherhand, Edge, Clayton and Larry all sound superb, if deeply unimaginative, in their playing. Yeah, this album plays it very safe, although credit where credit is due. This is a collection of solid songs that will appeal to lots of people. It's an album that sounds like the best album U2 were capable of making at this particular juncture in history and time. Oh, special mention to 'One Step Closer', a genuinely beautiful song that's played and arranged subtly and delicately.

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    Tragic Sally tragic_sally@hotmail.com
    A typical U2 album in terms of musical style and content. Probably not their best by some way but the production is decent enough. Unfortunately the truth is that Bono and the lads are now dated and have little new or innovative to offer. For anyone who liked the older stuff excellent and original as it was at the time then this album may still appeal but in reality music has moved on.

    Jim georgejoecoyle@yahoo.com
    u2 are getting criticism for playing it safe on this record and the reason for this is because they led the field in experimentalism for so long. but tell me, when did bruce springsteen, rem, the who , the stones etc ever change direction.bruce springsteens most recent record is a definite example of a man tryin to remake some of his older records (eg. nebraska), yet it is being acclaimed! for me improvement is progress. this is a huge improvement on the last record and contains many excellent tunes. u2 have never made the same record twice! boy : a naive yet excellent debut. october: a more religious yet gritty record. war: their most polished record to that point. lyrically more adept. uff: atmospheric, first real mainstream crossover. the joshua tree: americacn folk record with rock edge to it. rattle and hum: folk influence with emphasis on lyrical content. achtung baby: industrial noise and gritty guitars. zooropa: dance beats and rhythms with synthesisers, pop: focus ! on techno beats and dense production. atyclb: stripped down more relaxed sound. htdaab: edges trademark in beefed up guitar record. if you sit down and listen to this record and claim it is a bad record, you must be tone deaf. people are criticising on the basis of who made the record rather than the music itself.

    Chris B chrisbennett911@hotmail.com
    God knows i wanted to like this album. Honestly!! Being a long term u2 fan i was hoping for it to be something else. Remember when u2 felt like the world's greatest secret, and you felt part of something? I feel the band have lost their focus and somethings missing. All the parts are still there, yet... City of blinding lights reminds us why we are still talking about them and going to see them but a lot of it feels so forced. I still feel they may have a great record in them, because when they are good, they are something else. A difficult record to review, i would give a six.

    daniblues daniblues@gmail.com
    After being disillusioned by the accommodated "All that you can´t leave behind" and "How to dismantle an atomic bomb" albums I really think maybe it´s time to dream up all again...

    Cesar ecesar@gmail.com
    In this album U2 recovers "the edgy" classic sound and packs it with great , solid songs: Vertigo, Miracle, Sometimes, City, Original, these are little wonders that reminds me of the good ol' Unforgettable Fire days. Very superior to the previous one, and very underrated.

    adam adamcollins8@aol.com
    Solid album. The highlights being the first four songs and two or three more before the end. Embrassing moment is the dreadful 'Yaweh'. A few too many fillers and maybe not worth the 4 year wait. If they had included 'Electrical Storm' & 'The hands that built America' instead of releasing these in 2002, it would have greatly improved it. It's a great album for a band in their mid 40's but bands such as 'Muse' make much better rock albums these days.

    Will Chicago
    4--Their laziest album with absolutely nothing you haven't heard and haven't heard done better on their previous albums. It took 4 years after ATYCLB to record this?? At first, I was thrilled to actually hear some distorted guitar and a rhythm section with some muscle after the flacid, but plesant, musicianship of the last album. Yet, after awhile, everything on this album just blends into 1 similar sounding dredge after another, not helped by dated production that makes songs like "Miracle Drug", "Crumbs from Your Table", and "Yahweh" sound like they could easily have been from an 80's U2 album. It's never good when the centerpiece of the album and the very tour is named after the first song from this album, "Vertigo." Sure, it harkens back to the early post-punk days of U2 with a bit of Achtung Baby glamour thrown in for good measure; however, with it's Spanish intro, cliched Edge riffs, and "Hello, Hello!", it's U2's most undeserved hit.

    Atomic Bomb sounds like a U2 cover band trying to write their own U2 material. In fact, you can pick out the inspiration of most songs from U2's catalogue: Miracle Drug's rhythm seems ripped right out of "Beautiful Day", U2's worst ballad, the painfully slow-developing "Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own" wishes to become the next "One", the muddy sounding acid industrial blues of "Love and Peace" sounds like an offshoot of the far superior "Exit" from the Joshua Tree with "God Part 2" thrown in for good measure. And then there's "City of Blinding Lights", an attempt to merge Where the Street Have No Name and New Year's Day if I've ever heard one. The only spark of creativity is "Man and a Woman", a song so pedestrian I'm sure if U2 has forgotten about it. That's not to say it's unlistenable; Bono sounds about 10 years younger and in excellent form, it's performed ably and even enjoyable in some parts particularly U2 attempt at homagin the Who with "All Because of You". Even this track sounds so dated, so familiar that you can't help but feel deja vu 11 times over while listening to this album. And this was the 1st U2 album I had encountered in which I didn't bother analyzing the lyrics in further details since they seemed so perfunctory. If you like U2 trotting out weak updates and going over old material competently, then by all means, get this and eat it up. I remember the day when U2 at least tried even at the risk of failing.

    Damien Seattle, Washington
    This album may be slightly more consistent from beginning to end than All That You Can't Leave Behind. On the other hand, the "top level" songs aren't quite as good. "City of Blinding Lights" seems to be the popular choice as the best song here and I agree. The rockers-- "Vertigo," "Love and Peace or Else," and "All Because of You"-- are competent if a bit on the formulaic side. As it turms out, the songs I find myself going back to the most often are the mellow, acoustic tracks like "One Step Closer" and "A Man and a Woman." This album is uniformly good but rarely spectacular.


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    18 Singles 4 ( 2006 )
    Beautiful Day / I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Pride (in The Name Of Love) / With Or Without You / Vertigo / New Year's Day / Mysterious Ways / Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of / Where The Streets Have No Name / Sweetest Thing / Sunday Bloody Sunday / One / Desire / Walk On / Elevation / Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own / The Saints Are Coming / Window In The Skies

    U2 bassist Adam Clayton recently explained to the Sun Newspaper how they went about the task of choosing which tracks featured on the compilation. He said: “We basically looked at all the radio playlists from around the world and worked out which songs people seem to like best and put them on the CD. So far, so bad. Still, there is an edition... also available as a limited edition CD with a bonus DVD of 10 tracks recorded live in Milan, Italy on the Vertigo//05 tour. Remembering this comes with two new songs, it seems U2 have all bases covered. On the face of it, this is the most pointless, worthless release of U2's career. Then again, if you're a fan of the last two albums and don't really remember U2 of the 80s, then go ahead and delve in, if you must. We forget I suppose. Let's see here, there's a good half of this album given over to U2 of the 00s, rather than the 80s and 90s. We have far better U2 compilations already out for those two decades anyway. So, that makes sense, I guess. What, they couldn't have waited a few years and then released a proper companion compilation at the end of this decade? Well, they wanted a single disc collection. As the quote at the top indicates, this isn't an artistic enterprise, purely a commercial one. So, imagine a 14 to 19 year old. If you're a 19 year old now, you were only thirteen when 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' was first released. You might be at the age now you want to investigate U2, so '18 Singles' may provide you with a good chance of doing that. If you're fourteen, you were six or seven when 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' was released. Maybe now is the time you're buying a couple or four CDs a year. It's Xmas. "Hey! I've got a record voucher, let's buy U2 18 Singles!!". So, I guess this compilation is for those people, with the two new songs and DVD edition being for the existing fan. It's still all a bit shitty though isn't it?

    So, two new songs? Well, 'The Saints Are Coming' is a cover of an old skids song. U2 blow any credibility they might possibly have remaining by recording it with Green Day. Yes, I know this particular song was released as a single for charity, but that doesn't suddenly make it a better performance or recording or collaboration. It's hardly a memorable U2 single, in fact, it's probably the most disposable U2 single ever released. 'Window In The Skies' on the otherhand is a U2 original and very much in the mode of 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' and 'How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb'. So, the guitar chimes in best Edge fashion. We've got some strings and a strained sounding bono and terrible lyrics. It's not even b-side quality, if we're being honest. What's with the ignoring of all three of U2s 90s albums, by the way? Well, two 'Achtung Baby' songs do feature, but nothing that strays too far from the intial U2 blueprint first put together way back in 1980. If U2 want us to forget the 90s ever existed, we may as well forget that U2 existed beyond 1989. You know, i'd personally be very sorry to lose 'Achtung Baby' and 'Zooropa' but if they want to play that game, i'm sure it can be arranged.

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    gazza, garyhess.44@hotmail.com
    I have to say adrian this cd is an excercise in greed pure and simple (depeche mode equally guilty) 2 volumes of greatest hits were brought out not that long ago ! And you are right about the new track its awful .

    Rulo rulo55_89@hotmail.com
    First of all, congrats' for the site & the reviews. These are the most objective & clear reviews I've ever read on the net. I agree with you in almost every quote dude. I just wanted to make a comment about 'Window'. OK, U2 has made infinitely better songs? of course... They could have done better with their '06 break and release more decent songs? oh yeah... but the song is beautiful, I know they played it safe again, but in a very very very gorgeous way don't u think?

    U2 Fan kitz4eva@aol.com
    U2 have experimented and kept reinventing themselves across the years. They have knocked off the rocky fans in zooropia and pop, etc, but have gained a hardcore dsico following They havent been scared to try a new style, they havent been afraid to throw away signature U2 and miff hundreds of fans yet gain so many more. They have obviously decided to reinvent signature u2, and if that's what they want, then Kudos. U2 may have played some bum notes, but my (young) view is that they have been mostly spectacular and any U2 fan will agree

    Ctrak nig3town@yahoo.co.uk
    Unfortunately this album was a contractural obligation- they'd signed a three-album deal and wanted to move label, but couldn't due to the terms. Hence they've had to put out this release, try and be diplomatic about it, and take flak for it being pointless, which admittedly, it is. Saints is admittedly not the greatest U2 single ever released, but I'd have to disagree over Window In The Skies. I'd put it just short of Mysterious Ways, Numb and Mofo. Still, opinions are opinions...

    Elle elles@hotmail.com
    i loved it this coming from a girlwith all the u2 albums i think the whole album was great even though i have heard them all so much and the u2/greenday cover of saints was really great also (but i do have to say u2 could have done a great job without greenday)and as for windows that is also another good hit from u2 good on ya boys 30yrs on with the same line up and still rocking how many bands can say that


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    No Line On The Horizon ( 2009 )
    No Line on the Horizon / Magnificent / Moment of Surrender / Unknown Caller / I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight / Get on Your Boots / Stand Up Comedy / Fez - Being Born / White as Snow / Breathe / Cedars of Lebanon

    Will Brian Eno and/or Daniel Lanois be producing the next Kings Of Leon album, do you think? I know they've done good work as producers both together and apart, but they're not the only ticket in town, surely? Coldplay are recording their next album with Eno, Kings Of Leon seem a dead cert to work with Daniel Lanois at some stage in their career. As for U2, was there really any need for the Lanois/Eno hookup once more? Well, initial recording sessions with Rick Rubin fell flat, leading U2 to sack Rubin from early sessions for the LP. My thought is U2 could and should have brought in some new blood, in a similar way to how they introduced Flood to the inner circle for 'Achtung Baby'. The last two U2 albums were fine if you liked that sort of thing but U2 themselves have been sensible enough to realise 'Beautiful Day' part three wasn't really what the public would have wanted this time out. So, 'Get On Your Boots' comes out as a somewhat brave first single release. For fans of 'Achtung Baby', 'Zooropa' or even 'Pop', 'Get On Your Boots' raises hopes that U2 have really gone for broke and tried to experiment once more. So, a terrific and dumb bass-line and a very trashy song are the order of the day. Fun, but surely not a song to have the same impact as previous lead U2 singles?

    The rest of this new U2 long-player bears almost no resemblance at all to 'Get On Your Boots', by the way. In fact, the rest of this LP more or less resembles a 'trying less hard' version of the previous few LPs, albeit with better textures and production. The title track for instance has plenty of atmosphere and sounds a bit like U2 have been listening to recent Kings Of Leon album tracks. Well, you would do if you were Bono, he's always had a desire to remain relevant and cool, in some shape or fashion. Then again, a good third of 'No Line On The Horizon' songs remind you of U2 circa 'Joshua Tree', almost as if U2 have been trying to write a follow-up to that particular career peak. You know what, i'm not sure U2 really knew what kind of album they wanted 'No Line On The Horizon' to be. It appears to be rather confused in that respect. Whatever kind of album this is however, it's not enough to stop songs like 'Unknown Caller' grow into 'Joshua Tree' style pieces of class. I don't like the keyboard line though - they needed a proper church organ sound as the rest of the music temporaily dropped out.

    'Stand Up Comedy' appears to be U2 listening to 'Monster' era REM of all things. The closing 'Cedars Of Lebanon' seems to be a Lou Reed that never became a rock god at all, but decided to mess around at home one day and talk into his tape recorder. 'Cedars OfLebanon' is nothing more than a relaxed U2 keyboard/rhythm section groove that goes nowhere over which Bono embrasses himself. We badly need a few genuine highlights then, don't we? Thank goodness for 'FEZ - Being Born', U2 haven't sounded as passionate as this since 1985. Oh by all means, 'Being Born' retains modern production touches but this seems like far more than just going through the motions. 'Magnificent' is also a good song, traditional in structural terms, very U2 but Edge's ringing guitar does still sound excellent and Bono actually has something to sing. The seven minute 'Moment Of Surrender' is a nice song but seven minutes? We've got a total of eleven songs here running to fifty three minutes, that's an average of about 5 minutes per song, which is also a problem for 'No Line On The Horizon'. Songs are padded out, other songs merely not developed properly. You'd almost suggest the album sounds like U2 were rushed. The last time to my knowledge a rushed U2 made an album we got 'Zooropa' but 'No Line On The Horizon' is no 'Zooropa'.

    For all the fun we've had with 'Get On Your Boots', the majority of 'No Line On The Horizon' isn't enough for me not to place this as the third in the 00s U2 sounding like they used to but without meaning as much trilogy that began with the 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' LP. Oh, can we have a single word album title next time out? Thanks.

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    CJF England
    Kinda get what you're saying about the album. Completely disagree with the 6.5 and 3rd place tho. Joshua Tree was seminal, but there's a lot that's raw in there. Only 3 or 4 tracks are the brilliant ones the album's known for. NLH certainly has melodies and lyrics worthy of that tally.

    luap musician Edinburgh
    i think it will grow on me but after a one time listen,i am not to sure.................... it certainly is not up there with the joshua tree,achtung baby or all that you cant leave behind.but its brave and you have to give them credit for putting themselve's out there. peace love and beer to everyone.

    Majid India
    I think most of the guys on this site seem to be u2 bashers.No line on the horizon is a decent album,it has got some good songs.On how to dismantle an atomic bomb,how can you forget miracle drug and sometimes you can't make it i think u guys are biased.u2 is u2 why compare it with bands like kings of leon that are recent it's a long time before they reach such status.you may argue that they are outdated but that is normal for a generation thats more inclined to modern music but i found their new album good enough and different.how much do u expect a band to change to reinvent itself?should they cease to be u2 and do a britney spears or linkin park next time?

    Steven Gordon London
    Sorry Adrian have to disagree with your score on this one. This is a real grower. It needs at least 3 to 4 listens before it all makes sense and then you grasp how good this actually is. In these times we need music to sound great instantly, we no longer have the patience. However, the more effort you put into it, the more you will be rewarded. Expectations are so high due to past history, but it delivers big time. I believe that there are different songs for everybody here. I think eventually it will be rated up there along with The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby! I think it deserves at least a 9.

    Niall Tyronne
    Sorry but that rating is total bullshit. This is a very good album, certainly the best U2 album since zooropa, and it deserves at least 8.5.. Oh, and comparing U2 with the also brilliant KOL is pretty daft don't u think.. Great site tho, I value ur opinion Adrian, so thats why this review pissed me off

    tom kowalski Poland
    i think it's definetely the best thing, they've put out since zooropa. The album surely kills the two previous efforts from 2000 and 2004 respectively. the songs aren't that experimental as they were described to be but they're better than the ones on the two previous records. There's definetely a momentum the band has reach on this record, especially the opening track, just amazing, not so much great live, however in the studion great

    Cesar Mexico
    Adrian, you are failed completely in this review, easily this album is the best since achtung baby, you need listen to it 4 or more times, to understand and saviour it completely, much better than ATYCLB and HTDAAB, believe me , only give it the chance, don't lose your love and patience with the music..., btw, I love your webpage.

    Sam smlloyd89@yahoo.com
    21st-century U2, prior to NLOTH, had seemed to be much more geared toward individual songs than full albums; ATYCLB and HTDAAB seem to be "singles albums" more than anything else, IMO. No Line was, therefore, somewhat of a shift; for the first time since Pop, it seemed like the boys were saying "We're focused on making a true album, and if that means we get fewer song downloads on ITunes so be it." Unfortunately, it seems like U2, honestly, JUST missed making a great album; all of the songs have the potential to be great, but none of them actually are. The title track seriously rocks...but it also contains some laughable lyrics. "Magnificent" is one of the most passionate anthems U2 has ever recorded...but it never really jumps. "Moment of Surrender" tears at your heartstrings like a classic U2 ballad should...but unlike a classic U2 ballad, it tries to grab you immediately instead of slowly building you up. Really, there's something to be said like that about ever! y song on the album; all the songs are in the "decent-yet-obviously-improveable" mold. Given the choice between an album like that, and an album like ATYCLB or HTDAAB (4 good/great songs and 7 mediocre/bad ones), I guess I'll take the one that I can listen to fully without having to constantly skip around. Not the greatest of praise, but heck, it beats most mainstream rock these days.

    Will Chicago
    8.5--Glad you could view this album along the lines of the great underappreciated U2 work, The Unforgettable Fire and Zooropa. In fact, I would call NLOTT a middle ground between those 2, experimental but not *too" experimental. Sadly, I have seen many fans pan this one and even U2 seem ready to retreat back into something like Atomic Bomb having stopped playing all but 3 tracks from this album on their recent tour. Also glad that you point out Fez-Being Born as a personal favorite since I agree, this is one breath of fresh air, opening with what sounds like a journey of discovery through the city in the title, a trip through a crowded bazaar where side streets and alleys lead into intrigue and mystery. The song then transitions into a rollicking ride of dazzling percussion and razorblade effects, like you're travelling down the coast of Africa at 100 mph. I also love Unknown Caller, it's hypnotic chorus giving way to a lovely French horn and organ before one of the Edge's most stunning solos is unleashed. U2 typically doesn't excel when it comes to complex arrangements in their songs; you won't hear much symphony from them, but NLOTT introduces a textured layer of sound that just simply celebrates sound, with many songs taking a full minute or more to actually reach the vocals, allowing the listener to just absorb the sound.

    "White as Snow" and the underrated "Cedars of Lebanon", delivered in a fine "around the barstool" Sinatra impersonation are fine examples of this. Sadly, U2 knew such songs would not have much commercial appeal, so they decided to hedge their bets with sugary adult contemporary dreck like "Go Crazy Tonight"(which actually is quite awesome on the 360 tour, but is lousy on the album), the misguided attempt at funk in "Stand Up Comedy", and the ho-hum rocker "Breathe". "Magnificent" follows the infectious, toe-tapping energy (but bad lyrics: "I know a girl/whose like the see/I see her changing/every day for me) of the title track with a U2 anthem that isn't as good as their best, but is pretty close. And "Moments of Surrender" achieves that gospel/blues vibe the band has been trying to to convincingly pull off since Rattle & Hum. The album is a curious mixture of experiments and safe commercial attempts that are pretty lame, but the album is worth it just for those highlights. A real treat for any fan who has an appreciation of U2's less "obvious" albums as the pure celebration of sound seems to have been the goal of this one.

    Damien Seattle
    This is a respectable effort for a band that had, at the time they recorded this album, been around for about 30 years. However, it's a "mellow meditation" type of record and lacks some of the fire and energy that is the hallmark of U2's best work. "Moment of Surrender" and "Unknown Caller" are probably the two best songs but neither of them truly blow me out of the water. "Magnificent" and "Breathe" are the latest intstallments in the "competent but not very compelling" line of U2 rockers. The biggest thing holding 'No Line' back is that it probably contains the worst 3 song stretch in the history of all U2 albums-- "Crazy Tonight," "Get On Your Boots," and "Stand Up Comedy." Much of the album was recorded in Morocco but there's only a few hints of it in the music ("Fez - Being Born," "Cedars of Lebanon"). It left me feeling as though this album was a bit of an opportunity missed.


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    Songs Of Innocence ( 2014 )
    The Miracle (of Joey Ramone) / Every Breaking Wave / California (There Is No End To Love) / Song For Someone / Iris (Hold Me Close) / Volcano / Raised By Wolves / Cedarwood Road / Sleep Like A Baby Tonight / This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now / The Troubles

    I've been a U2 man in the past, although I've never been an Apple man - having played around with computers since 1980 I don't want to really get too tied down to one manufacturers vision of what we all should be doing and using. Yes, U2 reach millions upon millions with this new LP set having been paid a pretty penny by Apple in order that every Itunes subscriber gets 'Songs For Innocence' downloaded into their music folders, whether they like it or not. Don't worry, after a few days Apple made it easier to delete the album - not a ringing endorsement of this musical product, you would think? Innovation isn't something to expect from a new U2 album these days and thinking about it, why should we? The difference in years from 2014 to when U2 started places them at the stage the Rolling Stones were circa 1998. U2 are now a veteran band, yet still a massively huge touring prospect. Different times, different strokes for different folks - but even The Rolling Stones moved with the times in terms of production techniques over the years and so it is here. Working with a number of contemporary producers, U2 go for that stadium sound with plenty of oohing and ahhing going on backing-vocal wise. Some listeners have wondered why U2 have seemingly tried to copy the likes of Coldplay in that regard - a strange comment when Coldplay's own stadium-owning sound owes so much to U2 of the nineteen eighties.

    This isn't a headphones album for when you are lying in bed concentrating on nothing but the music in your ears - this is a driving to work album or something to put on when you've got friends around - assuming they are of a certain age, of course. One thing I can also say is that whatever you have heard or not heard about this record, there are in fact some good songs here. Perhaps it's a case of lowered expections these days, but 'Iris' and 'Sleep Like A Baby' are both U2 highlights, albeit for different reasons. 'Sleep Like A Baby' is moody and has electronic edges and wouldn't have sounded out-of-place on 'Zooropa', 'Pop' or even 'The Unforgettable Fire'. 'Iris' also could have fitted on 'The Unforgettable Fire' or perhaps 'War' - sporting as it does ringing guitars and U2 rock in their classic mode. Elsewhere, fuzzy distorted guitars are a feature of the melodic 'The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)' and 'California (There Is No End To Love)' sports a Beach Boys homage during the opening vocal harmony section.

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    Readers Comments

    Damien Seattle, Washington
    This may be the most personal LP that U2 has ever made-- as evidenced by "Iris (Hold Me Close)," a touching song about Bono's mother. Lyrically, this album explores U2's Dublin roots whilst musically it draws on different eras of their music. "Volcano" and "Raised By Wolves" sound like they could've been outtakes from Boy or War. "Every Breaking Wave" has the feel of being a Joshua Tree era ballad. "Sleep Like a Baby Tonight" and "Cedarwood Road" echo U2's early 1990s experimentalism. "The Troubles"-- a haunting track about domestic violence-- may be the band's best album closer since "Love is Blindness" on Achtung Baby. I still struggle with the the more "pop-ish" songs like "The Miracle," "California (There is No End to Love)," and "Song for Someone." But they're certainly not bad songs-- they're just not exceptional songs.


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    this page last updated 10/08/15


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