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by Zach Schonfeld, Newsweek

During the 1980s, U2 became entranced by America. Especially Bono. Though born and raised in Ireland, the singer obsessively mined the United States for lyrical inspiration. His gaze fell frequently on lingering injustice: civil rights struggles, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s murder, greedy televangelists. On Rattle and Hum, the band's messy 1988 sorta-soundtrack, the obsession expanded to include gospel ("Angel of Harlem") and blues ("When Love Comes to Town") and high-profile guest appearances from an older, more settled generation of classic rockers: Bob Dylan, B.B. King, even Jimi Hendrix's ghost (in the form of a "Star Spangled Banner" excerpt).

During the 2010s, Kendrick Lamar chronicled the bruised and broken promises of life in White America on rap albums drenched in jazzy paranoia. On 2015's To Pimp a Butterfly, he set his ruthless critiques to sprawling, sputtering funk-inspired beats. On tracks like "Alright," Lamar nodded to the Black Lives Matter movement and the swell in public attention to police shootings of black men. Butterfly inspired everyone from David Bowie to Kanye West to Barack Obama, who publicly expressed admiration for "How Much a Dollar Cost."

Now it's 2017 and lyrics about racial injustice are still disturbingly relevant and U2 is among that settled generation of classic rockers making high-profile guest appearances. Here's proof: Kendrick Lamar--who was not yet born when The Joshua Tree first came out--has gone ahead and featured U2 on his anticipated and enigmatic new album, DAMN.

Why?

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U2 kept fiddling with their ninth LP long after it hit shelves in early 1997, so here's a new take from live recordings, remixes and re-recordings

by Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

U2 are going all out to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree this year, complete with a new super-deluxe box set and a stadium tour where they'll play the 1987 LP straight through. Lost in all the hubbub is another major U2 milestone. The 20th anniversary of 1997's Pop came and went this month without a peep from the U2 camp, but that's not really surprising. The electronica-influenced disc polarized fans and critics when it came out. With the exception of the soundtrack to their 1988 film Rattle and Hum, it was their first album that was seen as a disappointment, and it forced them to retreat back to a more traditional U2 sound for 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind.

Looking back years later, U2 said the album was marred by their foolish decision to book a stadium tour long before it was ready. "Deadlines were looming ominously," Bono said. "Pop never had the chance to be properly finished. It is really the most expensive demo session in the history of music." But during the course of the PopMart Tour they made heroic efforts to fix the thing, releasing new mixes of the songs as singles and fiddling with the live arrangements as the tour progressed. The work continued in 2002 when they released The Best of 1990-2000, which featured new mixes of some Pop songs. If you piece it all together, they practically made an entirely new version of the album. The band never did piece it all together, though, so - as promised on a recent Rolling Stone Music Now podcast - we did it for them. Here's a new version of Pop in the original sequence. It's not better - it's just different.

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The rocker tells EW, "We're well into it. Edge just came up with a cracker the other day!"

by Kevin O'Donnell, Entertainment Weekly

When U2 were writing and recording their 2014 album Songs of Innocence, controversially given away for free on Apple's iTunes last fall, the Irish rockers had more than enough material to fill one album. "It became obvious that we were working on two separate albums," the Edge told Rolling Stone last year.

Now, with Bono, Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., and Adam Clayton nearing the finish line of their massive Innocence + Experience Tour--it ends with four shows in their native Ireland in late-November--the group will get back to work on that record, titled Songs of Experience.

When EW caught up with Bono to talk about the making of their classic 1991 album Achtung Baby for our 25th Anniversary issue, the lead singer also shared an update on their next album's progress. As of now, he reveals the group has around 18 tracks completed, which they will whittle down to around a dozen for the final record.

Bono says that U2 will release Songs of Experience, the companion album to last year's Songs of Innocence, in 2016.

by RTÉ.ie

Speaking to the Irish Times, Bono said: "We're going to get this album out next year; unusually for us, a lot of the songs are done already."

The singer also revealed that the concept behind the band's current iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour began on the opening night of the 360° tour in Barcelona in 2009.

"360 was a communal experience at its best," he said. "But to be a proper communal experience you have to have the song lines, you have to have the folk songs. If the audience are the centrepiece - and that was the idea behind 360 - then you have to have tunes to sing. The thing is: we had made quite an atmospheric album [No Line on the Horizon], quite a complex piece of work so it was slightly at odds with that."

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"A lot of my early memories of teenage years were of violence, and the sheer fear of leaving the house, going to catch the bus," frontman says

by Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone

Bono and the Edge broke down U2's songwriting process and recalled the rough North Dublin roots that inspired the Songs of Innocence cut, "Cedarwood Road," in a revealing interview for Song Exploder.

The song gets its name and story from the street Bono grew up on, but it began -- like many U2 tracks -- with a guitar riff the Edge came up with at home. In speaking about these initial steps, the Edge noted he sketches songs on GarageBand and works with drum loops Larry Mullen Jr. recorded for the demo process.

"My job is to find a way to inspire Adam and Larry and Bono, so I don't often care to finish out a piece fully," the Edge said. "I just want to get something down that I think is a great starting point and then I know that whatever I come up with, they'll come up with something better. So I just need to get it going where its identity is clear and it's got some kind of vitality and point of view that's interesting."

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Heavy metal act trolls Irish rockers after their 'Opiate' vinyl accidentally appears in 'Songs of Innocence' packages

by Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone

This past Record Store Day was once again packed with unique, limited edition releases, but one of the stranger collectibles happened entirely by accident: Some pressings of U2's Songs of Innocence deluxe vinyl edition, released in celebration of Record Store Day, inexplicably contained a copy of Tool's Opiate EP instead. The mix-up appears to have only affected a few customers at one U.K. record shop, but that didn't stop Tool from trolling U2 about the error.

"Nice freakin' try, U2," the 10,000 Days band posted on their official site. "Some very lucky people who purchased U2's Songs Of Innocence during a recent record store release found instead a copy of Tool's 1992 Opiate EP inside. Kind of makes you believe in mysterious higher powers, doesn't it?"

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by Greg Moskovitch, Tone Deaf

As much as we here at the Tone Deaf office love Record Store Day, we must admit it can be an upheaval, even when things are going to plan. From making sure you get to your favourite stores before they sell-out of your choice picks, to battling the maddening crowds, it can be a stressful ordeal.

That's why you've got to feel extra sorry for the poor souls who made it to their local record store in time to pick up a highly coveted vinyl copy of arena mega-stars U2's Songs Of Innocence, which you may remember as that album that showed up in your iTunes library without explanation last year.

What happened? Well, if you're yet to pierce the seal of your own copy of Songs Of Innocence on vinyl, you may want to go and double check that you got the right album. As FACT reports, several copies of the record somehow ended up with Tool's 1992 Opiate EP inside the sleeve.

Twitter user Kristin Waite first tweeted about the error, writing, "Reports of a misprint/press/packaging of U2 [Songs Of Innocence] release for event - some getting 2013 Tool LP." Waite appropriately hash-tagged her missive with "#oops".

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Lead issues video apology for marketing stunt at September Apple launch in which new album was given to 500 million users

by Robert Booth, The Guardian

For a global rock band that has sold more than 150m records worldwide, won 22 Grammy awards and has a frontman whose ego is as big as the stadiums they sell out, U2's explanation for why gave away their latest album to half a billion iTunes users seems unlikely: they were worried that otherwise no one would listen.

The Irish band's lead singer, Bono, has issued a contrite video apology for last month's marketing stunt which angered thousands of users of the music software who found that regardless of their tastes they woke up one day to find U2's album Songs of Innocence had appeared on their phones or iPods. U2 worked with Apple to ensure the album, which received a lukewarm critical reception in some quarters, was given away to an estimated 500 million iTunes account holders as part of the promotional exercise that went along with the launch of the California tech giant's latest phone.

Bono apologised in response to a question from a Facebook user named Harriet Madeline Jobson in a question-and-answer session on the social network site which had been billed as a celebration of the launch of the band's 13th studio album of a 34-year career. She asked: "Can you please never release an album on iTunes that automatically downloads to peoples' playlists ever again? It's really rude."

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Former Stooges frontman's John Peel lecture also takes aim at free downloaders and music industry executives

by John Plunkett, The Guardian

Iggy Pop has criticised U2 over their controversial tie-up with Apple in the course of a broadside against the record industry that also saw him lambast music executives and people who download songs for free.

The "godfather of punk", delivering the fourth annual John Peel lecture at the Radio Festival in Salford on Monday, said the music industry was now "laughably, maybe, almost entirely pirate" and said electronic devices had "estranged people from their morals, making it easier to steal music than to pay for it".

But he reserved some of his toughest criticism for Irish band U2, who prompted howls of protest when they gave away their latest album as a free download for iTunes users as part of Apple's launch of its new iPhones and Apple watch.

"The people who don't want the free U2 download are trying to say, 'Don't try to force me,' and they've got a point," said Pop at the event, hosted by 6 Music's Lauren Laverne, on Monday night. "Part of the process when you buy something from an artist, it's kind of an anointing, you are giving that person love.

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'Songs of Innocence,' the band's latest release delivered for free, is firmly entrenched with 26 million customers downloading the set in its entirety.

by Shirley Halperin and Andrew Hampp, Billboard

U2 has gone from setting records to breaking them and, with the band's game-changing Apple partnership, simply defying all imaginable expectations.

So how did the album Songs of Innocence fare after being made available to 500 million people around the world as a free download on iTunes? No surprise here, scale pays off.

Eddy Cue, Apple's senior VP of internet software and services, tells Billboard that U2's Songs of Innocence has racked up a staggering 26 million complete downloads since its Sept. 9 release as a free download exclusively to Apple's 500 million global iTunes customers. In total, Cue adds, over 81 million Apple customers experienced songs from Innocence, a global figure that includes plays and streams through iTunes, iTunes Radio and Beats Music. "To help put this into perspective," he says, "prior to this, 14 million customers had purchased music from U2 since the opening of the iTunes Store in 2003."

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