April 03, 2009
U2's European Chart Reign Continues
Paul Sexton, Billboard
U2 begins a fourth week atop European Top 100 Albums with No Line on the Horizon (Mercury/Universal), while the European Hot 100 Singles survey is headed for a sixth week by Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" (Interscope/Universal).
Horizon has three remaining No. 1 berths across the region, in Portugal, Greece and Hungary, but falls from the top in Spain, Italy, Switzerland and the Belgian region of Flanders. Lady Gaga continues to lie in wait for U2 to relinquish top spot on the composite chart, with The Fame at No. 2 again, after making climbs of 7-3 in the United Kingdom and 6-4 in Switzerland. But the set is down 1-2 in both Ireland and Austria.
The highest pan-European album debut entry of the week is the Pet Shop Boys' Yes (Parlophone/EMI), at No. 3. That follows first-week showings at No. 3 in Germany, No. 4 in the United Kingdom (on sales of 27,000), No. 5 in Austria and No. 10 in Spain. The duo's last studio set Fundamental opened at No. 2 Europe-wide in June 2006.
Only By The Night (Hand Me Down/Sony Music Entertainment) continues to hold down a top five composite European place -- at No. 4 -- for Kings of Leon. It's up 3-2 in the United Kingdom and 10-4 in Greece, and holds at No. 2 in Flanders.
German rock act Silbermond returns to the Top 100 Albums survey at No. 5 with Nichts Passiert (Columbia), which debuts at No. 1 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The album includes the former German No. 1 single "Irgendwas Bleibt," and follows 2006's Laut Gedacht, which also debuted at the top there and at No. 3 on the aggregate chart.
Ronan Keating makes a 7-6 move on Top 100 Albums with Songs For My Mother (Polydor/Universal), after securing a second week atop the U.K. chart. Sales of 36,000 there make for a two-week total of 123,000. The covers collection also rises 4-1 in Keating's native Ireland.
The Annie Lennox Collection (RCA/Sony Music Entertainment) drops 3-7 in its third week, after declining 2-5 in the United Kingdom, 3-5 in Ireland and 4-7 in Italy. Peter Fox moves down two places on the collective listing to No. 8 with Stadtaffe (Downbeat/Warner Music), which is replaced by Silbermond at the top of the German chart. The Prodigy's Invaders Must Die (Takemetothehospital) is down 5-9 overall, despite a 12-7 rise in the United Kingdom, and Kelly Clarkson falls two spots to No. 10 with All I Wanted (RCA/Sony Music Entertainment), although it's new at No. 6 in Greece.
"Poker Face" has running U.K. sales to last weekend of 309,000 and is spending a second week at No. 1 there. It's also on top again in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Flanders and moves 2-1 in neighboring Wallony, but dips 1-2 in Finland.
© 2009 Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
March 02, 2009
U2's follow-up to No Line on the Horizon due this year
Bono confirms next U2 album, a 'companion' to No Line on the Horizon, scheduled for 2009 release
By Sean Michaels, Guardian
Even with U2's 12th studio album, No Line on the Horizon, arriving in British shops today, the Irish band are not wasting any time. Album number 13 will be released later this year, according to Bono, drawn from the same recording sessions.
The as-yet untitled album will be a "companion" to this week's release, with a "more meditative and processional tone," according to the New York Times.
U2 have certainly had enough time to make two records. Five years have passed since their last album, and the interim saw the band work in studios across the world -- including a session in Turkey and an aborted project with Rick Rubin.
Bono still expects No Line on the Horizon to have "a bumpy ride." "It's very hard to be relevant," he explained. But although his band is getting older, they are also getting faster. With its 149 bpm tempo, "Get On Your Boots," U2's new single, is their toe-tappingest ever -- and is almost within range of drum 'n' bass.
Though U2 have become more prolific, fans shouldn't expect a major shift in their business practices. They are locked into a record deal with Universal for "several more albums," according to manager Paul McGuinness, and the Edge at least has no interest in self-releasing U2's work.
"My instinct is to stick with the record guys," he told the New York Times. "They have to sell your records or sell the downloads, whatever it ends up being. To do that, first of all you've got to love and understand the music, and right now I'm not seeing any group that rivals the record labels on that front."
The band's announcement of a second LP marks a substantial evolution from plans last year to release two EPs.
"About a year ago, we decided we wanted to put it out in November," Bono told the NME in a recent interview. "We were going to release two EP sets, Daylight and Darkness; we had all these ideas, but in the end we just took the best songs and made the one record."
Or rather, they made two.
© 2009 Guardian.
U2 looks to a new 'Horizon'
Denise Quan, CNN
Getting an exclusive broadcast interview with all four members of U2 was the easy part. Getting an advance copy of their new CD required a bit more strategizing.
We were scheduled to speak with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers during the two days they were in Los Angeles for the Grammy Awards, where they'd be opening the show with their new single, "Get on Your Boots." But before that happened, I needed to hear the music.
Lori Earl, the band's longtime publicist, said I would be given one of five dubs of the band's 12th studio album, No Line on the Horizon. Needless to say, they were concerned about piracy -- especially three weeks ahead of the record's March 3 release date.
I was to tell no one I had the CD. Messengering it to my office wasn't an option, because it might sit unattended in a mailroom or on my desk. Delivering it to my house was also deemed a security risk. We talked briefly about an executive from the record label hand-carrying the CD and passing it off to me at a pre-Grammy event honoring Neil Diamond. Finally, it was decided the safest option was for me to drive out to Pacific Palisades and pick the disc up from someone named Cheryl.
It was raining cats and dogs at 10 p.m. as I drove to the band-designated location. Cheryl brought the package down to my car, grinning broadly. The CD was hand-numbered, and my name was printed on the disc with a Sharpie. There was a note on the plastic case that read, "Do not duplicate, copy, clone, upload or distribute in any manner."
"Put this in your CD player and crank it up," Cheryl instructed. "Listen to it more than once. It's the kind of album that gets better each time you listen to it."
I drove home in the pouring rain with the new U2 record blasting from my stereo. The first two tracks were almost danceable. The third cut -- a gorgeous spiritual ballad called "Moment of Surrender" -- was grounded by a throbbing bass line and lasted nearly eight minutes. Track four featured a group shout-along chorus.
The new album signaled an exciting departure for the band. It was much more experimental than their last two offerings -- and I wanted to talk about it with someone. But I couldn't discuss it with anyone. Not my best friend, not my cameraman, not even my mother. By the time I got home, the lyric sheets had been e-mailed to my BlackBerry.
The next day, CNN interviewed Bono and the Edge at the Chateau Marmont -- in one of the old bungalows that all seem haunted. Then we raced down to Staples Center to grab drummer Larry Mullen Jr. after the band rehearsed for the Grammys. We borrowed Neil Diamond's dressing room, joked about the massage table that was set up in the corner, and tried not to eat the box of designer chocolates someone had left him as a gift. We didn't see bassist Adam Clayton until the next day, after U2 had performed on the Grammys.
"After this interview, I'm being whisked away in a limo to the airport," he said.
"To hop on your private plane?" I asked.
"I'm afraid so," he said with a smile.
By the way, the album eventually did leak -- through a supposed record label glitch in Australia. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Thank God they traced it to someone's desk in Australia, and not to my house in Los Angeles.
Today, U2 begins an unprecedented five-night residency on Late Night With David Letterman. Tuesday, No Line on the Horizon hits store shelves and digital outlets in the United States.
The band members talked to CNN about burnout -- Horizon was recorded after a marathon, 129-show tour -- band infighting and a bird incident involving Mullen's drum kit. The following is an edited version of those interviews.
CNN: You guys must have been terribly burned out after your last tour.
Bono: We won't do burned out! (laughs)
Larry Mullen Jr.: There is no such thing in U2 as taking a long break. When we come off the road, it's straight into the studio. And that's just the way we work. You know, we've got no place to go. I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I had time off.
CNN: Well, you did work in some pretty great locations.
Edge: Yeah, we did. We did a lot of recording in Fez [Morocco] on this one, as well as some in New York, and some in London [England] and a little bit in Dublin [Ireland]. I think for our band, something about changing our location gives us a different perspective, and always seems to change the music in a way.
Bono: Fez is beautiful little city. It's the religious capital of Morocco, and they have a religious music festival there -- you know, Sufi singers and Bango drummers from all over the world. I was invited to speak there, and I asked the band -- would they be interested in coming along? And surprisingly, they agreed. We set up in a little hotel -- they call them riads -- and it's a hotel around a courtyard. We set up the band in the courtyard with the square sky over our heads and birds flying in used to come [and] s*** on Larry Mullen's drum kit. He wasn't happy with that.
Mullen: We don't find it easy to make music. We find it a real challenge. It doesn't come easy, and that's why it takes us two years to come out with a record.
CNN: You make it look like it comes naturally, and it's easy.
Mullen: Um, no. I think it's called "show business."
Edge: You've got to almost see it as play, and then, ironically, you get to some very intense stuff.
Adam Clayton: There was some kind of weird magic from the very, very beginning. I think it was because we had been touring a lot, so we could play really well together. But we were really -- I don't know. We were really nice to each other, and that kind of feeling carried through to the end of the recording. And even now, we're getting on great.
CNN: No catfights? No power struggles?
Mullen: Oh, there's lots of them. There's catfights all the time. We spent 30 years arguing, but generally speaking, on a musical level there is consensus. Everything else -- we disagree.
Clayton: A lot of times when we were in that creative environment, the antagonism and the fighting is what produces the pearls. But this was an environment where everybody supported each other, and I think we produced more delicate tones. With this record, it was like we had our self-confidence as a band, and we started to play much more for each other and to each other than in terms of how far we can kick it out of the ballpark.
CNN: Are you pleased with the new album?
Mullen: It's not an easy record, and it's complex. "[Get on Your] Boots" is one of those things where our audience is kind of divided on whether they think it's a good or bad thing. I'm very pleased with it. I think it shakes it up a bit, and we need to do that. We've had two albums -- All That You Can't Leave Behind and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb -- and they were very U2 as U2. This album is a lot more experimental.
CNN: I remember getting a press release last fall that said, "U2 is delaying the release of their new album because they have too much material, and they're on a creative roll and don't want to stop recording." I thought, "Who delays a record because they have too much material?" Usually, it's the other way around.
Bono: If we're going to make an album, it's very important to us that every song on the album is a "10." I think the reason people aren't buying albums is a lot of times they only get one or two good songs. For us, every song had to be extraordinary, and special, and unique, and the whole had to be better than the sum of its parts. You'll have to decide if we achieved that, but that's what we were attempting.
Edge: No album of ours is ever made in a vacuum. There's always a huge amount of what's going on in the culture that informs our work. But when it comes out in the end, it always sounds like U2.
Clayton: We see each other a lot -- just to figure out what music we're listening to, what movies people are seeing, just to know where their heads are at. And if we don't have too much to talk about, we just swap knitting tips.
Bono: Edge lives down the road -- literally -- and our kids go to school together, and we hang out a lot. We always look forward to seeing Larry and Adam, but you know, they guard their privacy more than we do.
CNN: Sounds like you've figured out how to work together and live together.
Bono: Everybody has just enough rope, just enough time, to be an a**hole. You know what I mean? 'Cuz everyone's going to be one at some point. Or maybe that's just me! But, you know, people need space to make mistakes. People have to do their own growing, and we don't all grow at the same time.
CNN: So what I want to know is what are your mistakes?
Bono: Oh, how long do you have?! (laughs)
Edge: I don't think the relationships would work if other than for the music. The interesting thing is we're so different, and that's our strength. We are united in one cause, which is U2, and the work that we do and the music that we make. As long as we're making great music, there will never be any issues with our band. But if we make one bad album, I'd say the fighting, the friction that would cause, would be huge.
Bono: Individual egos, as big as they may appear -- and they may not be as big as they appear -- are certainly subsumed to the band ego. That's the real thing.
Clayton: I think head-butting is something that you do when you're a young man. As you travel down the road together, you stop thinking about what the band can do for you, and you think much more about what you can do for the band. You start to really appreciate what everyone else does, and realize how good they make you look.
Bono: It's very hard to imagine anyone else being in the Beatles. It's very hard to imagine anyone else being in U2. People tell me that if you go to a U2 show, when we walk out on stage, everybody has the hairs going up in the back of their neck. What we don't tell everyone is that happens to us, too. And I don't know why that is. I think it's chemistry.
Mullen: We were always labeled "big" -- you know, "U2's a big band." And you want to be a great band, and I think that's one of the reasons we stick at it. There's still work to be done.
© 2009 Cable News Network.
March 01, 2009
Last Gang in Town
By Jon Pareles, New York Times
Onstage at the Earl's Court Exhibition Center here was a glittery dress rehearsal for the annual Brit Awards, Britain's equivalent of the Grammys. Although U2 was not among the nominees, it had the opening slot for the Feb. 19 show: a live performance of the hard-riffing "Get On Your Boots" from its new album, No Line on the Horizon (Interscope). U2 had blasted the same song earlier in the month at the Grammy Awards.
After the run-through the four band members headed to a grimy loading zone behind the auditorium for a photo session. The photographer had them walk down a ramp; Bono, who often calls himself a "Method actor," wanted to know what kind of walk. A short discussion settled it. The band started a proud, seasoned swagger as Bono announced, "Last gang in town!"
It wasn't exactly a joke. U2 has entered the fourth decade of a career that began in 1978, when its members were teenage schoolmates in Dublin; they are now in their late 40s. And U2 may well be the last of the megabands: long-running, internationally recognized rockers whose every album, from Boy in 1980 to How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb in 2004, has sold millions of copies worldwide. In an era when CD sales have plummeted, Top 40 radio favors hip-hop and teen-pop, albums are fractured by MP3 players' shuffle mode and the old idea of a rock mainstream seems more and more like a mirage, U2 still, unabashedly, wants to release a blockbuster.
"How do you puncture pop consciousness with a tune anymore?" Bono said later over a pint of Guinness in the restaurant of the venerable hotel Claridge's. "That's actually your first job as a songwriter."
A conversation with Bono is a free-associative adventure. Between thoughts about the album he dispensed fascinating digressions, casual but carefully placed on and off the record. He gave a full-voiced demonstration of Italian opera vowels and Frank Sinatra style -- heads swiveled nearby -- and mused on cathedral architecture; he described encounters with presidential candidates and plans for his future columns on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. He spoke fondly about his band mates as characters he's still trying to figure out, about songs as bursts of serendipity and about what he wants in a performance: "spastic elastic energy."
From its beginnings, in the wake of punk-rock, U2 made music on a grand scale. The band's early signature sound -- Bono's ardent Irish tenor backed by open, echoing guitar chords from the Edge and the anthemic march beats of Larry Mullen Jr. on drums and Adam Clayton on bass -- was suited to resound through the biggest spaces while Bono sang of boundless yearnings: romantic, social, spiritual.
Once the band reached the arena and stadium circuit in the 1980s, it stayed there. It has had no lineup changes, no breakups, no reunions and no catering to nostalgia. "People don't know what's going to happen next," Bono said. "Our fans are not sure. Could we embarrass them? Maybe. Could we inspire them? Maybe. They don't know. That's very important, because when you become a comfortable, reliable friend, I'm not sure that's the place for rock 'n' roll."
Bono added: "It's very hard to be relevant, so there's a lot of stake for us on this album. I know the quality of the work is there, but will it be taken? I really don't know. I'm genuinely curious. I think it might have a bumpy start."
In the United States radio stations gave "Get On Your Boots" a lukewarm reception; its fuzz-toned guitar riff doesn't suit Top 40 playlists full of Taylor Swift, Britney Spears and Beyoncé. U2 also faces competition from younger bands steeped in its own music. At the Brit Awards other rock bands performing on the show -- Coldplay, Kings of Leon, even the grown-up English boy band Take That -- couldn't help sounding like U2 knockoffs.
Later that night Coldplay and the Killers shared a bill at the 2,000-capacity Shepherd's Bush Empire, in a benefit for War Child International. For the finale Bono joined Coldplay, Gary Barlow from Take That, and Brandon Flowers from the Killers in the Killers' song "All These Things That I've Done." Backstage, Mr. Flowers marveled at having Bono sing his song: "I was trying to write 'Where the Streets Have No Name,' so it's a real honor."
Yet even as other bands mine U2's catalog, the band defies its past. After two albums of comparatively straightforward guitar-driven rock, No Line on the Horizon, U2's head-spinning 12th studio album, takes new experimental tangents and redefines the band yet again. The album, to be released Tuesday, burbles with cross-rhythms, layered guitars and electronic undercurrents in songs the band wrote with its longtime producers, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. It's not as startling a swerve as 1991's Achtung Baby, on which U2 reinvented itself after the earnest '80s with irony and electronic beats. But No Line on the Horizon, the result of a convoluted two-year process, presents a band that is still restless and impassioned, kicking formulas aside.
In songs about true love, worldwide connections, transcendence and technology the music heads for extremes. "Get On Your Boots," at 149 beats per minute, is U2's fastest song ever, while "Cedars of Lebanon," which ends the album, is a somber meditation on war, separation and enmity. The album includes likely arena singalongs in "Magnificent," "Unknown Caller" and "I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight," but it also encompasses the ricocheting patterns of "Fez — Being Born" and the stately "White as Snow," which bases its melody on the Advent hymn "Veni, Veni Emmanuel." (Mr. Clayton said "White as Snow" was conceived as the last thoughts of an Afghan killed by an improvised explosive device; its four minutes are the time it takes to die.)
"Get On Your Boots," Bono said, is an almost journalistic collection of images of taking his family to a fun fair in southern France on the eve of the war in Iraq, with warplanes zooming overhead. One verse proclaims, "I don't want to talk about wars between nations/Not right now."
That line, along with hints in "White as Snow" and "Cedars of Lebanon," provides what Bono described as "peripheral vision": a recognition of the turbulent world beyond the private thoughts in the lyrics. "That's the elephant in the room, the absence of this thing, that almost draws attention to it," he said. "It never takes away from the personal or the psychodramas that are going on, but it's there."
One theme that runs through the songs, Bono said, "is the ability to surrender, to give yourself, whether in reverie or revelry. And the journey of the artist is surely the journey away from self-consciousness." He paused and smiled ruefully. "Fame is all about self-consciousness."
Bono has leveraged celebrity into political clout. Part policy wonk, part showman, part charmer, he works on causes like ending extreme poverty in Africa. While he has been mocked as St. Bono, he strives not to be too single-minded. He said: "Edge is always whispering in my ear: 'You're an artist. That's how you're getting away with this. If you start to behave in a correct fashion and very serious and doing a serious job, it's awful.' "
Bono added: "I feel as an artist that my job is to try and understand the forces that are shaping the world that our songs occupy. And maybe, if you get a chance, try to shape it. That's what the band didn't understand. They thought the natural flak that we would receive for daring to want to play with the big boys, philosophically and every other way, would frighten our audience away. But actually our audience feels much more powerful."
The Edge suggested that being a rocker is like a vacation from Bono's political efforts. "I think that's what he looks forward to," he said. "There is no end to the other thing. That struggle is ongoing. With U2 it's like, there's things you can say, well, we did that. We delivered a record. We delivered a show."
Making the new album was "arduous," Mr. Mullen said. "There has to be a simpler way," he continued, "but we don't understand simple or easy." At first U2 decided to record with Rick Rubin, who has produced the Dixie Chicks, Johnny Cash and Metallica. Mr. Rubin is renowned for getting bands back to basics, and instead of overseeing U2's habitual free-form studio sessions, he urged the band to bring finished songs into the studio. Two songs made with Mr. Rubin appeared on U218 Singles, a 2006 anthology.
But the group shelved the rest of the Rubin sessions and started again with a contrary strategy. Bono had been invited to the annual ecumenical Festival of Sacred Music in Fez, Morocco. He asked the other band members to join him and perhaps do some recording there during a two-week stay. To his surprise they all agreed, as did Mr. Eno and Mr. Lanois.
They rented a house and set up equipment in a courtyard open to the sky and started making music with no deadline or goal. "This was far from back to basics," the Edge said. "This was exploring the fringes." While hints of triple-time trance rhythms and Arabic vocal inflections occasionally surface, U2 avoided what band members call "musical tourism."
The band plunged into recording. The instrumental foundations of three songs -- "No Line on the Horizon," "Moment of Surrender" and "Unknown Caller" -- each emerged virtually complete in a few hours. Yet after those two prolific weeks, recording stretched out for two years: in Dublin, in the south of France, in London. Steve Lillywhite, who produced U2's first albums, and Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas helped shape and finish songs.
The deadline that would have allowed U2 to release the album before the lucrative Christmas season came and went, but the band wasn't satisfied with the music until November. U2 expects to release a companion album, which band members say will have a more meditative and processional tone, before the end of the year.
Making the music was determinedly intuitive: a collation of momentary impulses and collaborative sparks. Bono's lyrics blurt out declarations of love, character sketches and self-mocking admonitions: "Be careful of small men with big ideas." The Edge, after making a guitar documentary, It Might Get Loud, with Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Jack White of the White Stripes, decided to try writing the kind of brash guitar riffs he had long shunned. Mr. Eno brought loops and textures that became seeds of songs and pushed the band toward vocal harmonies. Through the album U2's longtime strengths -- hymnlike melodies, guitar superstructures -- are preserved but revitalized, bent in new ways as the songs reach for U2's defining duality: an intimacy that strives to encompass the universe.
With the album's release intuition gives way to calculation. No Line on the Horizon sets up a worldwide stadium tour that begins in July. U2 intends to perform in the round, offering affordable seats to fans behind the stage and up front, hoping to attract a new, younger audience.
Because U2 can no longer depend on exposure through radio and MTV, it lined up major television moments. Three days after the Brits, the band finished an awards-show trifecta by performing at the Echo Awards in Germany. U2 is to appear all this week on Late Show With David Letterman. Those are prerogatives for a brand-name band, but they are also signs that U2 isn't taking anything for granted.
The group also represents one last hope for the increasingly desperate recording business: a bankable act. Last year U2 signed a 12-year deal with the concert promoter Live Nation that covers global rights to the band's touring, merchandising and branding. Unlike Madonna and Jay-Z, whose deals with Live Nation include future recordings, U2 has kept its recording and publishing with Universal Music, which absorbed U2's previous labels, Island and Interscope. The band's manager, Paul McGuinness, said via e-mail that U2 is signed to Universal for "several more albums," declining to specify a number.
The Edge said: "My instinct is to stick with the record guys. They have to sell your records or sell the downloads, whatever it ends up being. To do that, first of all you've got to love and understand the music, and right now I'm not seeing any group that rivals the record labels on that front."
Bono put it bluntly. "I'm interested in commerce," he said. "The excuse for bigness is that songs demand to be heard if they're any good. And without the kind of momentum of being in a big rock 'n' roll band, you won't get your songs heard."
As the Brit Awards rehearsal started, U2 used its sound check to play Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" in full blare, like a classic-rock cover band. "Weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs," Bono announced afterward. "We're available for work. U2."
© 2009 New York Times.
February 27, 2009
'Horizon' evolves with U2's audacity, creativity, innovation
By Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY
HOLLYWOOD - Trading a woozy tingle for a restorative jolt, Bono and Edge abruptly switch from margaritas to coffee as they prepare to leave their hotel for a rehearsal stage in downtown Los Angeles. They grew accustomed to such giddy and pronounced mood swings while recording U2's 12th album, No Line on the Horizon, a kaleidoscopic quest that rivals 1991's Achtung Baby for audacity and innovation.
"We had to learn a lot before we could do this," Bono, 48, says. "Normally, you zone in on a particular area and make it your own. On this, we seemed to be able to meander from joy to despair, from introspection to exhibitionism. And there's a lot of humor. I'm surprised, because people don't generally buy a U2 album for the laughs.
"There's fun and frolics here. Real joy, and that's the essence, the life force, of rock 'n' roll."
One of the year's most eagerly anticipated albums, Horizon is garnering raves for brazen and byzantine sonic architecture that rises from U2's familiar foundation of heartfelt rock. The 11-track disc, out Tuesday, found the Irish foursome recording in Morocco, then in Dublin and later in New York and London. The album closes the band's longest gap between studio albums, following 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which sold 9 million copies worldwide and generated eight Grammys.
Edge, 47, is relieved to emerge from what he calls the "oil rig" after a long spell of concentrated but isolating creativity with Bono, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. and bassist Adam Clayton. Horizon's lengthy gestation wasn't the result of setbacks or writer's block, but rather a geyser of impulses and detours.
"We would have loved to finish the album last summer, but the songs weren't finished with us," says Edge, sharing a couch with Bono in a Chateau Marmont bungalow cluttered with video gear. "Realizing there was more to this album than what we had, we kept going. We dropped two or three songs, finished up others. It would have been a darker record before."
At Mullen's urging, the band had no timetable and missed the lucrative fall release schedule.
By briefly considering a late 2008 release date, "we lost our way a bit, but when we blew out the deadline, we came back," Bono says. "When anyone said, 'Look, we have to put this out,' Larry said, 'Oh, it's going to ruin everything.' We were making music for its own sake and for each other, and Larry wanted to keep that as long as we could. It was a lovely thing to be lost in."
More cloistered than on past efforts, the band "wasn't thinking about who would be listening to the music in the future or how it would go over live," Edge says.
Second disc on the horizon
After a leisurely recording pace, the band spent a frenzied 48 hours in London rotating seven final mixes, eight vocal versions and lyric rewrites.
Tunes left behind, including the soulful "Every Breaking Wave," are slated for a more meditative album due possibly by year's end. U2 also is sitting on material from early sessions with Rick Rubin, benched after the band reconnected with longtime collaborators Brian Eno and Danny Lanois, who produced Horizon with Steve Lillywhite.
"Rick is a minimalist, which is about getting back to pure essence," Bono says. "That's the theme of this album lyrically, but musically, this is maximalist. He wants to make a U2 album that is hard as nails and tender as can be but musically bare-boned. There is a place for that. This was the time for experimentation, wanderlust and finding other colors."
Edge says they aren't wed to any single formula.
"Rick is methodical, and I'm excited about working in that style as well," he says, noting that the songs he and Bono have been writing for next year's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Broadway musical require a more disciplined approach.
"There's no strict route to a U2 song," Edge says. "The only thing that's consistent is the search for inspiration. It can start from a drumbeat, a guitar part, a title, a lyric. An entire piece of music can suddenly arrive. We subscribe to the idea that there's no such thing as failure. There's just giving up. We do not give up. We are relentless."
U2's tenacity and artistic daring pay off in Horizon's towering splendor, says Blender editor Joe Levy.
"It combines two moments: the epic grandeur of The Joshua Tree and the experimental audio research of Achtung Baby and Zooropa," he says. "They're at a point where they can be the biggest band in the world and still be edgy, with a capital 'E' in this case. They haven't come out swinging this hard and reaching this high since Joshua. On the surface, it's classic U2. Put on the headphones, and you hear an album every bit as sonically ambitious as Achtung Baby."
Horizon's immediacy, nimble complexities and clear messages cement U2's standing as the only veteran rock band with consistent artistic relevance and commercial clout, he says.
"They don't do it by utilizing the same set of tricks or by having Justin Timberlake and Timbaland on speed-dial," Levy says. "None of their '80s contemporaries -- Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Prince or Michael Jackson -- managed to continuously keep the focus on new music."
On the road, the band is eclipsed only by the Rolling Stones, whose Bigger Bang is history's top-grossing tour with $558 million, according to Billboard Boxscore. U2's Vertigo tour ranks second with $389 million, and the band will get another shot at the record book when it hits stadiums this summer, its first outdoor U.S. trek in 12 years.
"When U2 tours, it's a major global live entertainment event," says Ray Waddell, Billboard's touring editor. "Only a handful of bands have achieved that sort of international touring superstar status. Though you hate to say anyone is recession-proof, U2 is about as close to that as you can get. It's can't-miss entertainment.
"That said, any band would be foolish not to take into account economic conditions when mounting a major tour, and the U2 team is anything but foolish."
Mediocrity 'would kill us'
Sinking CD sales and the crumbling economy didn't dissuade U2 from gambling on stadiums (the band nearly went broke staging the extravagant 1997-98 PopMart tour) and plowing fresh turf on Horizon.
"The point was to get out of the comfort zone into uncharted territory," Edge says. "We love it when we don't know what we're doing. We're more alive. It has to be about discovery or we lose interest.
"Even so, no matter how far out we go, it always ends up sounding like U2."
Fan loyalty, critical acceptance and the industry's abiding support should fuel U2's nerve, but the band says its self-confidence is the first casualty during months of studio skydiving and spelunking.
"You don't get this much attitude if you're not insecure," Bono says with a laugh. "Insecurity is our best security, and the moment we lose that insecurity, we're in deep trouble. It's important to be out of our depth."
He recites a line from "Cedars of Lebanon," a somber tune from the view of a war correspondent: "Choose your enemies carefully because they will define you."
It's a sly cautionary tag on a character study that reflects a collective regret and despair in today's uneasy world. And it's a U2 mantra.
"U2 never took on obvious enemies -- pretending to sneer at fashion or the establishment," Bono says. "They're useless enemies. The more interesting enemies are your own hypocrisy, the obstacles to realizing your own potential."
More than 30 years after forming in Dublin, "U2 only survives as long as everyone is willing to totally commit," Edge says. "As long as our agendas are aligned and the singular band ego is bigger than our individual egos, we can go on. If that ever is no longer possible, we'd pack it in. None of us could hack turning out mediocre records. It would kill us."
Bono, the globe-trotting activist with demanding commitments worldwide, rediscovered U2's value during a spate of separation anxiety.
"Because I'm on my own in my other lives, I had an epiphany about how much I need to be in this band," he says. "Over the years, you perhaps take for granted the opportunity to make music. I'm very happy as an activist, but it's a very demanding life, a slog, and it can be dirty work. This record put me back in the place I was as a teenager, working in a gas station, dreaming of getting to rehearsal with the band.
"It was so intoxicating to hear an electric guitar or the silver sound of a cymbal. Maybe I needed to be reminded of that."
© 2009 USA Today.
February 24, 2009
Last.fm Denies Handing U2 Leak Listeners To RIAA
David J. Prince, Billboard
Last.fm founder Richard Jones responded forcefully today (Feb. 23) to accusations that the company had given user data to the RIAA in order to track illegal downloads of U2's upcoming album, "No Line On the Horizon." Jones’ refutation follows a similar denial made by the RIAA on Saturday.
The controversy started with the leak of U2's "No Line On The Horizon" last week. The album appeared on file-sharing sites after Universal Music's Australian arm accidentally began selling downloads two weeks early. But on Friday, the technology blog Techcrunch sparked privacy concerns when they posted a rumor claiming that Last.fm, the CBS-owned music streaming and social networking site that allows registered user to keep track over their digital listening habits by "scrobbling" tracks played on computers, MP3s players and other streaming sites, had shared private user data with the RIAA that could identify individuals who had listened to the unreleased U2 tracks.
"I denied it vehemently [in] the Techcrunch article, as did several other Last.fm staffers," Jones wrote today in a post on the company's blog. "We denied it in the Last.fm forums, on twitter, via email. Basically we denied it to anyone that would listen, and now we're denying it on our blog."
Another staffer, Russ Garret, issued "a full and categorical denial" on Last.fm's forum. "We'd never personally identify our users to a third party - that goes against everything we stand for.
The RIAA's denial came on Saturday via ArsTechnica.com. "[We're] not sure where that rumor came from," RIAA spokesperson Cara Duckworth told the site. "It's not true."
Although Techcrunch writer Erick Schonfeld has updated the original post with Last.fm's extensive denials, he has resisted calls to retract the post altogether. In an update he writes, "Despite my attempts to corroborate [the rumor], I still don't have enough information to determine whether it is absolutely true. But I still don't have enough information to determine that it is absolutely false either. What I do have are a lot of unanswered questions about how exactly Last.fm shares user data with the record industry."
"We never share personally identifiable data such as email and IP addresses," Last.fm founder Jones said in his post today. "The only type of data we make available to labels and artists, other than what you see on the site, is aggregate data of listeners and number of plays."
© Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
February 23, 2009
No hit on the horizon: For first time since 1997, a U2 single fails to hit UK top 10
Emile Laurac, Irish Independent
THE lead single from U2's much-hyped new album last night failed to breach the UK Top Ten, with the band hitting the charts at their lowest point in over a decade.
'Get On Your Boots' was the highest new entry of the week in the UK, but fans were bitterly disappointed that it only charted at 12.
This is in contrast to the Irish charts, where the first single from album 'No Line On The Horizon' shot straight to the top spot.
Online U2 fan forums last night blamed a host of factors for the relatively low UK placing, ranging from the changed nature of the charts to internet leaks.
Certainly the changed attitudes of the record-buying public mean that album sales will be the true barometer of the band's popularity. But unless the single rises up the charts in the coming weeks it will mark U2's worst performance since 1997's 'If God Will Send His Angels'.
That song was the fifth single from the 'Pop' album and was not aggressively hyped or marketed in the way 'Get On Your Boots' has been. And while number 12 is a respectable position for most bands, the world-conquering might of U2 has only failed to dent the UK top 10 four times in 25 years.
The band have enjoyed a remarkable run of success since their very first number 10 hit 'New Year's Day' in 1983.
Elsewhere in the charts, last week's Brit Awards had a huge impact on the record-buying public.
Double Brit award winners Kings of Leon knocked Lily Allen off the top of the album charts with 'Only By The Night', which won the group the best international album prize.
'The Fear' kept Allen at the top of the singles chart although Kings of Leon, who also won best international group, moved up from 12 to three with 'Use Somebody'.
© 2009 Independent.
February 22, 2009
Inside the cluttered creative hub of U2's latest album recording
By MAIL ON SUNDAY REPORTER
There was a time when bands like The Beatles could manage a recording session with a piano, a couple of guitars and a long-haired sound engineer.
Not now – especially if you are the supergroup U2.
Here, working on new album No Line On The Horizon - out a week on Monday – at Olympic Studios in Barnes, West London, it’s obvious the band clearly don’t do off-the-shelf recording.
They began with an empty wood-panelled, sound-proofed room and laid out four mini-recording areas – one for each member’s contribution to be recorded separately.
First down were the Indian and Afghan handwoven rugs to stop scratches on the polished floor and to ‘warm’ the acoustics.
Then came the grand piano in the background followed by the ‘building’ of each section.
They included a pod for drummer Larry Mullen Jnr, who is surrounded by 7ft high folding grey felt and Perspex screens with up to eight microphones and a mixing desk.
Adam Clayton, who sips at a mug of tea, has nine guitars and is surrounded by amps, speakers and mixers. David Howell Evans – aka ‘The Edge’ in his trademark woollen hat – stands amid a tangle of loose leads.
The band have dispensed with the wide black gaffer tape which usually holds the leads in place on the floor.
In the foreground, Bono has the least paraphernalia – a music stand and a guitar. He has a couple of black leather chairs to relax in. The silver wand to his left is an acoustic shield, hiding another microphone.
Each track takes up to two weeks to complete.
The band played each song through in full and then recorded their individual element for the overdubbing section.
Last month, EMI revealed plans to sell Olympic so it could concentrate on its other flagship studio, Abbey Road.
However, U2 so enjoyed recording there, they are believed to be interested in buying it.
If they do, perhaps they can build a small canteen rather than having to use Adam Clayton’s packing cases for the most important piece of electrical equipment of all: the kettle.
© 2009 Daily Mail.
February 18, 2009
What The U2 Leak Says About Music Biz
David K. Randall, Forbes
Recorded music sales continue to trip up even the most seasoned artists.
For the second consecutive time, it appears that a U2 album has leaked before its official on-sale date. Fans on a U2 message board were elated Tuesday that Universal Australia, the Australian arm of Universal Music Group, began selling No Line on the Horizon as digital downloads for two hours before the tracks were pulled. The album is scheduled to be released on March 3.
A spokesman from Universal said that he was not aware of the leak, and calls to Interscope, the label that put out the record, were not returned.
The move shows once again how groups that became famous for selling massive amounts of records in the '80s and '90s are tripping up when putting out new albums. Bruce Springsteen was recently forced to apologize to fans after signing a deal to sell a greatest hits compilation exclusively at Wal-Mart, despite the retailer's history of questionable labor practices. Guns N' Roses signed a similar exclusivity deal with Best Buy that resulted in disappointing sales.
For artists, the question is how to make an album release an event when fans no longer have to wait outside of a record store at midnight to purchase it. Footage of those fans often helped spread the word that a new album was on sale and made the album stand out amid other temptations for entertainment dollars.
U2 either sees this as a colossal blunder -- or a marketing ploy to get fans talking beforehand. Representatives from the band did not return requests for comment.
The band itself won't take much of a financial hit. Albums sales generally make up less than one-eighth of an artist's income, and many of the fans that are clamoring for the album early are most likely die-hard fans who will purchase either a physical copy or one of the limited-edition box sets priced at $95. The band also recently made $19 million from exercising a put in its contract with Live Nation.
But it may interfere with the band's choreographed attempts to market the album. The group opened the Grammys with a single, "Get Your Boots On," and recently announced that they would play Letterman for a week straight. The band is expected to tour this summer, which would be a boost for Live Nation.
Bono, the band's lead singer, is a partial owner of Elevation Partners, a private equity firm with a substantial investment in Forbes.
© 2009 Forbes.com LLC™. All Rights Reserved.
February 15, 2009
From Morocco to Dublin, via meetings with presidents and royalty, the making of the new U2 album saw the band confront a changing world, and face up to their own vulnerabilities. Over 18 months, Sean O'Hagan followed them
Sean O'Hagan, The Observer
It is the middle of January this year and Bono is at home in Killiney, County Dublin, with an hour to spare before he heads into town for an afternoon of meetings. "Things are looking good," he says. "It's a beautiful, sunny, winter's day and Edna O'Brien has just been sent me her book on Lord Byron."
He has been up "from the early hours", his working day now devoted to juggling the demands of family, rock stardom and the ongoing campaign for African aid and debt relief. U2's long-awaited new album, No Line on the Horizon, is finally finished. "It began and ended in a flash," he says. "The last 24 hours were just extraordinary. It was like Chinese calligraphy, where the monks take ages to mix the ink and then - bam! - it all happens in seconds."
In three days' time, the band will fly to Washington, where they will perform Pride, their Martin Luther King song, and City of Blinding Lights, their Barack Obama song, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. "The world is waking up again," says Bono. "It's going to be a tough transformation, but it's going to be exciting. Things are shifting in surprising ways."
Over the next hour, Bono will talk about what it means to be the world's biggest rock star and the world's most famous global campaigner, about music and faith and activism, and the tensions his high-profile tightrope walk has caused in the band. He will also talk about U2's new music, and the shift in his song-writing style away from the first person ("I'd just worn myself out as a subject matter").
No Line on the Horizon is U2's 12th studio album. It sees the world's biggest band challenging themselves - and their audience's expectations - in a way that they have not done since the 90s' experimentation of Achtung Baby and Zooropa. It was, though, a difficult and protracted birth, and I was a witness to its gestation. In the original plan, hatched almost two years ago in a casual conversation with Bono, I had been invited to Fez to track the making of the new album, stage by stage, from inception to completion. So it was that, what seems like an eternity ago, I boarded a plane to Morocco.
Fez, Morocco, June 2007
Bono, guitarist The Edge, drummer Larry Mullen and bassist Adam Clayton are gathered, with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois in the ancient North African walled city to start recording a handful of new songs. Their "studio" is the enclosed courtyard of a riad on the edge of the medina. Moroccan carpets have been spread across the stone floor, ornate pillars and spreading palms tower over the amplifiers and sound desks, and, from time to time, small birds dart overhead, startled by the constant bursts of rough and ready music.
The mood matches the makeshift setting: a batch of new songs, tentative, half-formed, sketchy, are elaborated on or set aside for future reference. Eno, who has assumed the role of musical director, shouts out tempo changes, instructions, suggestions. "The chords sound a little too vanilla," he says of one laid-back, swampy groove. Bono, who has a couch all to himself, concurs. "We need to find that nightclub-in-Tripoli feel," he shouts back, swaying to the beat, "then move it on down to Bamako." The vibe is one of unhurried creativity, the six musicians - Eno on keyboards, Lanois on guitar and pedal steel - stretching out and enjoying themselves. It feels like the beginning of a new adventure.
"What's happening down here is beyond reason," Bono had enthused, when the idea of me shadowing them had first been broached. "Spirits are hovering. We're chasing the Joujouka drummers and different structures for pop."
The legendary Joujouka drummers drew both Brian Jones and William Burroughs to Fez in the late 60s, but this time around, other guiding spirits were also at work. Every night, as darkness fell, the haunting voices of devotional Sufi singers would rise up and drift across the rooftops, their song-prayers lasting for hours at a time. "There was definitely something in the air down there," Bono will tell me later. "And we picked up on it."
Could he describe what that something was exactly?
"Not without sounding pretentious," he says, laughing. "I mean, a lot of people have gone there, searching. There's a bit of the Mighty Boosh about it. Out in the desert, looking for the new sound. Have you seen that episode where they are out in the desert looking for the new sound? They find Chris De Burgh and he's been out looking for the new sound for 10 years [laughs]. It's probably no more profound than that."
Eighteen months later, though, sitting at a table in his home studio in Notting Hill, Brian Eno, a man not given to exaggeration, will describe a song that "was hatched almost fully formed in a breathtaking few hours" in Fez as "the most amazing studio experience I've ever had". Which is saying something. That song is called Moment of Surrender, a thing of complex rhythmic beauty and cumulative power, that, as Bono will later point out, occupies the same place on No Line on the Horizon as One did on Achtung Baby. That is to say, it is the emotional centrepiece of a big, overloaded, creatively risky record. "Apart from some editing and the addition of the short cello piece that introduces it," says Eno, "the song appears on the album exactly as it was the first and only time we played it."
Later, too, Larry Mullen, who in the past has been less than enthused by U2's more experimental work - he all but disowned the ambient album Original Soundtracks 1, released as Passengers, back in 1995 - will tell me that "the work we did in Fez was the most joyous and liberating part of the whole album process. It was what I had always imagined being in U2 would be about: just playing music for the joy of it with no real end in sight. It was chaotic at times but even the chaos was creative. You can lose sight of that sometimes with all the other stuff that now comes with being in U2."
(Later Bono will say of Morocco: "What surprised me was that Larry went with it. I was waiting for the eyes to roll. But they didn't. I mean, most of the time, it's hard enough to get Larry to come over to the south side of Dublin.")
On the second day I spend in Fez, I catch a dramatic glimpse of "all the other stuff that now comes with being in U2". In the afternoon, Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and the 41st richest man in the world, drops in on rehearsals. And he brings his band with him; four middle-aged guys in sailing gear and baseball hats. A couple of them even strap on guitars, and, for a brief moment, it looks like they might sit in on a U2 rehearsal. Then, after an impromptu burst of bar-room rock, they depart, grinning like teenagers.
That evening, Allen and his buddies reappear at a dinner that Bono is hosting on the hotel balcony for Queen Rania of Jordan, who, the following afternoon, will also drop in on a U2 rehearsal. "The elegant Jordanian Royal", as she is referred to in the tabloids, sits on a couch, looking, well, elegant and regal, while Bono sings one of the quieter songs the group have been working on. It's a long way from bottom of the bill at McGonagles and the last bus home to Ballymun Avenue, that's all I can say.
Both Queen Rania and Paul Allen are major players in the world of high-end global philanthropy, which is one of several rarefied socio-political networks that Bono now inhabits as part of his other gig: the world's most well-known campaigner for African debt relief. There were moments in Fez, though, when it was difficult to tell which one was now his day job.
After dinner, I chat with Mullen over a few cold beers. "There is a danger," he says, when I mention how strange it was to witness Bono's two worlds colliding in such a spectacular fashion, "that people start to perceive U2 as a part of the Bono show. Now, I admire and support everything he does," he continues, "but that is categorically not the case."
When U2's sojourn in Fez ends a few weeks later, Bono jets off to a Ted [Technology Entertainment Design] conference in Tanzania, while the rest of the band head back home to Dublin.
U2 have now been together for 33 years now, an eternity in pop terms. For the past 22 years, since their fifth album, The Joshua Tree, pitched them into the ether of global rock stardom, they have been the biggest rock group in the world.
In their time at the top, the band have seen several generations of contenders to their throne come and go, including the Clash, the Smiths, Nirvana, the Stone Roses and Blur. For a moment, it looked like REM, then Radiohead might steal their thunder, or even Oasis. As if... Maybe the Kings of Leon or the Killers may yet step up to the challenge, but let's just wait and see. Thus far, love them or hate them, U2 have been unassailable. No other rock band has lasted longer, nor made such consistently good, and often challenging, rock music, nor staged such epic and technologically cutting edge shows.
What is most intriguing - and, to their detractors, infuriating - about U2 is that they succeeded by ignoring, indeed breaking, most of the unwritten rules of rock stardom. They didn't - with the exception of the pre-rehab Adam Clayton - do sex or drugs and, as their critics pointed out, neither did they really do rock'n'roll. They were not rebellious, nor angst-ridden, nor did they trade on adolescent alienation or anger. Instead, they did joy. And spiritual joy, to boot. This made them unfashionable in Britain, the irony capital of the world, where sincerity, especially sincerity tinged with spirituality, is seen, at best, as uncool, at worst as downright embarrassing.
"One of the reason's for U2's longevity," says Brian Eno, "is that they are not in music for entirely selfish reasons. I don't want to make them appear as evangelists, which, of course, they were seen as by some sections of the music media in the early 80s, but I do believe that they really think that what they do serves some greater purpose than simply filling their bank accounts."
Initially, I had little time for U2, their songs, their haircuts, their Christianity. My epiphany occurred when I was sent to Rome by the NME in the summer of 1987 to interview Bono after the first gig of their European tour - The Joshua Tree tour. Put simply, it was a revelation: a rock group whose music made sense in a stadium, whose songs retained - and inspired - a kind of communal intimacy in a crowd of 60,000 people. And, boy, did Bono work that crowd. He was one part rock star, one part showbiz trouper, one part preacher man. In America, where cool is not such a reductive currency, U2 were embraced with open arms. The rest, as they say, is history.
By Achtung Baby, as Bono famously put it, they "discovered that irony was not the enemy of soul". The Zoo TV extravaganza was, and remains, the most technically innovative - touring rock show of recent times. And anyone who still thinks U2 don't have a sense of humour obviously missed the Pop Mart tour, where they emerged nightly out of a giant lemon dressed like some postmodern version of the Village People.
This is the version of U2 that I prefer, the one that challenges our preconceptions of U2. It has not been around for a while, but now it has popped out of the closet again on (most of) No Line on the Horizon, which is a world away from the two traditional sounding, good-but-not great albums that preceded it. They seem to me, at times, to be the last of something: the last rock band that insists rock music has some greater meaning at a time when the form seems dogged by a lack of cultural resonance.
Hanover Quay Studios, Dublin, June, 2008
For the past year, the group have been working in fits and starts in New York, the south of France and Dublin. Steve Lillywhite is now on board as a co-producer alongside Eno and Lanois. When I arrive, he and Lanois each are working on separate versions of a song called Sexy Boots, the title of which, after much discussion, will be changed to Get Your Boots On. It will subsequently become the first single: a Zeppelin riff welded to a bubblegum pop melody; surprising, sexy, sinuous. Later, Bono will play me three other almost finished songs: Unknown Caller, No Line on the Horizon and Chromium Chords, which will later be re-titled Fez - Being Born. The songs, on first hearing, sound dense and elusive. You can hear Lanois and Eno's presence on all of them. I try to take them in as Bono talks - and sometimes sings - me though them.
The album has developed, he says, into a kind of "fractured journey, a physical journey from Paris to Tripoli via Cadiz, but also an emotional and psychological journey". It sounds, I say, like a concept album. "Don't even mention those words," he says.
That evening, as we sit down for dinner, more songs are played on the sound system: Magnificent, the most U2-sounding song, epic and soaring; Cedars of Lebanon, a more intimate song delivered in a half-spoken style; Breathe, which sounds like a page torn out of the Dylan-on-amphetamine songbook ("Nine o nine, St John Divine on the line, my pulse is fine, but I'm running down the road like loose electricity"). He seems fired up on the possibilities of where this album is going.
"I just got tired of the first-person so I invented all these characters; a traffic cop, a junkie, a soldier serving in Afghanistan."
As Moment of Surrender starts, he jumps up and sings along to the hallucinatory lyrics. "I was speeding on the subway/ Through the stations of the cross/ Every eye looking every other way/ Counting down till the pain would stop." A spiritual epiphany? A junkie's final fall from grace?
Before I can ask, Bono has returned to the table, his laptop open, and is reciting what sounds like a Beat poem. It namechecks Keats and Shelley, St Augustus, a neon Jesus and "the gods of Apollo and Zeus", and there's a line about "tourists with bad breath" and "campaigners against bad debt". There's reams of this stuff, surreal, freeform verse that makes a certain kind of Ginsbergian sense. It does not make it on to the album, but may surface in future live shows if the spirit moves him.
Around midnight, taxis are called, and I head for the Shelbourne Hotel for a late drink with Daniel Lanois. He looks tired. "It's taking longer than we thought," he says, sipping on a beer and a brandy chaser. "They always go the extra mile. They're intense people. I'm intense myself."
Lanois is an old-school rock'n'roller who has worked with Dylan and the Neville Brothers, and who likes to keep things loose and atmospheric. He appears laid-back, but is anything but. I tell him something that Bono had said about him earlier - "Danny's attitude is, 'It's going to be a great album or somebody is going to die.'" He laughs and raises his glass. "That about covers it, Sean. I ain't here for the money, man. None of us are. It ain't about a salary, it's about making a fucking great U2 record."
Has that been difficult this time around?
"Kind of, but, then again, U2 albums have always been difficult."
A few months later, in September 2008, it is announced that the release date of the new U2 album has been put back from November to March. One nagging question hovers unanswered over the postponement: is Bono's other life as a campaigner and activist leaving him too little time to give himself fully to U2?
"When Bono's there, he's there," The Edge tells me later. "He still gives huge amounts of his time and energy, but his life is undoubtedly different now." Larry Mullen concurs. "I can tell you categorically that all the other stuff is not affecting his work. He has boxes of lyrics, great lyrics."
Have his absences impinged on the making of this album?
"Well , when you are four guys working together and one of them is away a lot, you miss that chemistry, and you miss his input. But there's no sour grapes there. We get on with it. We work, you know, U2 works."
Later, I ask Bono the same question. How does he find the time for U2 these days? He takes a deep breath.
"When I'm with U2 doing U2 work, they have me 100% or we would not be here now and we certainly would not have made an album like this one. Look, my day is long. My creative life is over at midday. But, you know, I get up very early. Plus, I don't go out and set fire to myself on a regular basis. I still do it on the odd Friday night, but not the way I used to. I give my time to my family, my band, and my interest in the wider world. It all seems to be fuel for me. My engine seems to be working better these days."
At a time when celebrity is a degraded currency, Bono has turned his fame into the ultimate calling card for his activism. It has helped opened doors from the Vatican to the White House, helped ensure unprecedented amounts of aid and debt relief for Africa, helped save and transform countless lives that would have been lost for want of retroviral drugs, and it has led to unlikely alliances, maybe even enduring friendships, with Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton, but also with George Bush, Tony Blair and Nicolas Sarkozy.
In all of this, Bono has not only rewritten the rules of rock stardom, but willed himself into a place where no other rock star has gone before. It has been a high-profile tightrope walk that has earned him much praise and much negative criticism, even scorn. "There are probably more annoying things than being hectored to about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat," thundered the travel writer Paul Theroux in a very public broadside a few years back, "but I can't think of one at the moment."
I ask Bono if he can understand why a lot of people, myself included, not to mention his drummer, found his perceived closeness to Blair and Bush hard to take? He sighs.
"I can understand that, for sure, but the results speak for themselves. I can take it on the nose from everybody, including my own band, but by the time he leaves the White House, George Bush will have trebled aid to Africa. We are into him for $50bn."
SOH So, is it part of the deal that you then don't criticise him about anything else he has done - the war in Iraq, say, or Guantanamo? Morally, that's quite a tricky trade-off.
Bono "No, it's more that I don't make a song and dance about my criticism. Everyone in the White House knows where I stood on the war. In the run up and when it was just about to happen, I had many conversations where I expressed my feelings. But I felt I had to focus on this one thing which was, don't make a deal on extreme poverty. Make it truly colourless politically. It was the power of one clear idea. And it succeeded. And it was very, very difficult, and there was a lot of hand-holding, hours and hours, weeks and weeks, meeting after meeting after meeting, trying to get people not to play politics with the world's poor. And for me to alienate people who, to be fair to them, were often sending their sons to Iraq I just felt, I don't want to be shouting my mouth off about this war when really I have a chance, along with other people, of achieving for the first time broad political consensus on this one hugely important single issue of Africa and aid."
He reaches for his drink and shakes his head.
"But you're right, you're right, you're right...I mean, you know me, and you know how difficult it is for me to shut up about anything."
SOH What intrigues me, though, is this tricky place you are in, which is quite unprecedented in pop star terms. You have used your celebrity to go into the world of political activism, but also the world of corporate wealth and the super-rich, and all in the cause of fighting poverty. It's a tricky place for a rock'n'roller to be.
Bono "I know, I know. It's dangerous. And it worries Larry, and it worries the whole band, if truth be told. But, you know, here's the thing - they thought, all of them, Larry, Edge, Adam, that my campaigning would sink the ship."
SOH The U2 ship?
Bono "Yeah! They thought that the rotten tomatoes world rain down and people would not be able to hack it. That was before they started throwing them themselves [laughs]. They thought, one, that it would distract me. And more than that... They were just not into it at all.
SOH All three of them were against it?
Bono "Oh, I think so. I mean, Edge pleaded with me right at the start not to meet Bush. Five or six years ago. They all did."
SOH Initially, Bush wasn't so keen on meeting you, either. So how long did it take you to get a meeting with him?
Bono "It took a while. He just did not want to meet me at first."
SOH How much difference does your faith make in these situations - your Christian faith?
Bono "A big difference. I mean, I had been a serious scourge of the religious right, and particularly the evangelicals, for their inaction on Africa. And, to be fair to them, after taking a serious beating they did get up and do something, and that gave Bush cover on his right flank."
SOH Did you ever get into theological debate with Bush?
Bono "Oh yeah! I wouldn't talk about it, but yeah."
SOH OK, I have to ask you this one. Did you ever pray with him?
Bono "Whoaah! (He reaches for his drink.) But I didn't inhale [laughs]. Look, I would always use the scriptures to argue my corner. There are 2,103 verses of scripture pertaining to dealing with the poor. That helps, and it also helps to know that.
"Boy, did my days of Bible study come in handy! And, by the way, it's an offence to me that religious people can close their eyes to this stuff. It's just really not allowed."
SOH From where I'm sitting, though, a lot of the people that you are bargaining with, and who are undoubtedly helping save lives in Africa, have also, by their actions elsewhere, shown a blatant disregard for human life on a grand scale. Surely, that, too, is their legacy?
Bono "Look, it's appalling and shocking and not ever excusable, the waste of human life. But on our issues, all I can say to you is that there are 29 million children in Africa who were not going to school and who now are. That's just in seven years. Now, that's not an excuse for a wrong-headed adventure. It's not an excuse. But I don't believe Tony Blair is evil. I know him enough to know that he is a sincere and serious person who would in any unserious way make those decisions and, though I disagreed with those decisions at the time, I think it's really simplistic to think that he is anyone's poodle."
SOH So, hand on heart, when you are dealing with these political heavyweights, do you ever think you are being played?
Bono "I don't care if I get the results. You have to judge me only by the results. If there were no results and you saw a picture of me hanging out with George Bush or Tony Blair or whoever, that would be a different matter. But if you see a picture of me and Bush and two years later you hear people saying 'How on earth did a conservative administration start the largest response to the Aids emergency yet?' I understand why people threw tomatoes at me at the time but even the worst critics have stopped."
SOH There must be moments in all this when you stop and think, this is too surreal. What the hell am I doing here?
Bono "All the time. I mean, there's me and Bob [Geldof] at the G8, and there's the Japanese and their plane is parked over here, and Air Force One is parked over there, and there's the French, the Italians, the Russians, the leaders and a tight coterie of advisers. And then there's fucking Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men who've somehow been let in. And Bush is going, 'Hey, Bono!' And there's Sarkozy and Merkel, who has given us the keys too because she's heard from Tony Blair that we were the right people to let in. Will we see the likes of it again? I don't know. It still feels mad to me, how that even happened."
London, early December, 2008
The album now has a title, No Line on the Horizon, which is beginning to sound like a self-fulfilling prophecy. "This is definitely the last week of recording," says Adam Clayton, who is wandering the studio corridor when I arrive, espresso in hand. "But then again, last week was definitely the last week of recording, and the week before that."
Downstairs, in a room adjacent to the big wood-panelled studio in which the Rolling Stones recorded Sympathy For the Devil, Bono, The Edge and Lillywhite are working on a single verse of a song called Stand Up Comedy. They have been working on the verse for hours, the song for 16 months - since Fez, in fact, when it was called For Your Love - but something is still not right. Lillywhite, a man possessed of seemingly endless reserves of effervescence, is hunched over a vast mixing desk, doing whatever it is producers do with sound levels, textures, equalisers.
"OK, let's try it one more time," he says, spinning around on his chair and signalling to Bono, who stands up and reaches for a cordless microphone. Lillywhite flicks a switch on the console and a thunderous guitar riff explodes out of the studio speakers. "Stand up, step out on the wire..." howls Bono, his face contorted with passion or, perhaps, pure frustration.
Lillywhite cuts the music and, within seconds, replays the take. Bono shakes his head as the playback blasts out of the speakers. "Annoying Bono just reared his head on that one," he says, reaching for a bottle of water. The other two crack up laughing. "He was definitely hovering," says The Edge.
Something gives in the room, an indefinable, but palpable, diminishing of tension. Still chuckling, Lillywhite re-cues the backing track, and Bono stands up to give it all he's got one more time again. It sounds like he has nailed it. "That was magic, Bono. We're done!" says Lillywhite, looking relieved beyond measure. He replays the take. Bono looks at The Edge. There is a long moment's silence. "I'm not sure," says The Edge, quietly. "I'm not sure. It sounds fine but it doesn't feel right."
When I pop upstairs to grab a coffee a few hours later, they are still working on the same verse.
"It can be frustrating at times when they sometimes take a song and work it into the ground, then work it back to life again," Brian Eno will tell me later. "That's what happened with Stand Up Comedy. I was thinking the other day that Edge has probably heard that song more times than even the most dedicated U2 fan ever will."
Songs - and characters - still survive from Dublin, but the album's narrative arc has since been jettisoned, along with two other songs, Winter and Every Breaking Wave, in the last few frantic days of recording. We will have to wait a while longer for the great U2 concept album. "It was painful to me in a way to let go off the original idea," Bono says, "but by then, I was getting harassed on all sides by everybody. The thing is," he says, grinning, "we came up out of punk rock. We were never going to make a concept album. We were never going to do the prog rock thing and let the plot get in the way of the songs."
It will be interesting to see how No Line on the Horizon, which announces its otherness in its minimal sleeve - one of Hiroshi Sugimoto's zen photographs of a grey sky merging into a grey sea - will be received by the group's traditional fanbase, that huge global constitution for whom U2 will always mean big, stirring songs borne on thudding rhythms and chiming guitars. Instead, they will find a big, dense multilayered album that is the sound of a band reinventing itself once more.
Six weeks later, I enjoy two final conversations with Bono, the first in the corner of the sedate bar of the Merrion Hotel in central Dublin. Remarkably, after the dogged months of studio toil, he looks fit and healthy, trimmer than of late and, when the shades eventually come off, bright-eyed. The buzz of excitement that had spread though the establishment on his arrival has subsided but a waiter hovers in attendance, bearing drinks, then snacks, then, just to be on the safe side, soft drinks.
SOH You said back in Fez, "This record is about the world, and the desire to get out of it, to escape it." Can you elaborate on that?
Bono "Did I say that [laughs]? Were we talking about the notion of peripheral vision, which, I think, is central to the understanding of this album."
SOH I'm not sure but go on.
Bono "Well, first up, it's a very personal album. These are very personal stories even though they are written in character and, in a way, they couldn't be further from my own politics. But, in the sense of the peripheral vision, there's a world out there. As the old blues song goes, a world gone wrong. You can feel it just at the edges - the war in Iraq, the dark clouds on the horizon. But there is also a deliberate shutting out of that in order to focus on more personal epiphanies."
SOH Why did you choose to do that?
Bono "I think because I'm so very much out in the world most of the time, whether the world of commerce, of politics, of activism, whatever. So I have learned to really value the interior life of being an artist and a writer and being in U2. It's become a very private and special place, the time when I'm working with the band. The songs have become more intimate. I wanted to get to an intimate and inner place. I want to get away from subject and subject matter into pure exchange. Not even conversation. Often, it's just like grunts or outbursts. When I think of Moment of Surrender, it's just there! Or Breathe [starts singing] '16th of June, nine o five, doorbell rings...' You're right there in the middle of this outburst. For somebody who spends a lot of time in the exterior word, this album is very much about the interior world."
SOH OK, I'm going to throw some lyrics at you.
Bono "Fire away."
SOH These are from I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight: "Every generation has a chance to change the world/ Pity the nation that won't listen to you, boys and girls."
Bono "Well, that is building up to the next line, 'The sweetest melody is the one we haven't heard.' That's just a nice thought. The solution to the problems we find ourselves in will have to be found by the new generation but often the new ideas just aren't listened to. That lyric is meant to be playful, by the way, not earnest in any way. There's a lot of mischief on this record.
SOH Was that one written with an eye on Obama coming into power?
Bono "Of course! The amount of U2 fans who supported him! The young U2 fanbase were really active in the campaign. Though the One campaigners are from every political colour, an enormous amount of them were also campaigning for Obama."
As we speak, the Obama inauguration is just a week away, and, in a few days, U2 will fly out to Washington to help kickstart the celebrations.
SOH Do you think that Obama's team is equal to the challenge: intellectually big enough to take these huge problems and tackle them on a conceptual level?
Bono "I do. And in a way that has not even been written about."
SOH You know this or you're projecting?
Bono "I know. We're already beginning the conversations."
SOH So you're hopeful? Even as the world freefalls into global financial meltdown...
Bono "Yes. Totally. It's a scary and an amazing time. Look, the world is waking up again. Not to get too grandiose on your ass, but there are shifts that always happen after a major crisis. So, after the First World War, the League of Nations; after the Second World War, the United Nations. The IMF, the World Bank, all came about after periods of crisis. And after 9/11, the Iraq dabacle, and the market meltdown of the last year, I think this is the moment when actually everything is up for grabs. It's like Bob Dylan says on Brownsville Girl [he breaks into a Dylan impersonation]: 'If there's an original idea out there right now, I could use it [laughs].' And there are original ideas out there, that's the thing."
SOH OK, on I'll Go Crazy...., you also sing, "The right to be ridiculous is something I hold dear."
Bono [Laughs] "That's me, That's not an in-character song. I mean it in the literal sense [laughs]. It's actually very important. One of the things I think we've been good at is not letting people put us in any kind of pious light. That happened to us for a while in the 80s and we never want to go back there. I'm always shocked that people are so shocked when they discover the silliness that is an everyday occurrence with U2. It's the final blow to people who can't stand us. That we seem to be having a better time than everyone else as well. It's like, it's not enough not to have broken up, to have made some hopefully inspiring music over the years, but also to be having a lot of fun. The mischief is part of our story and it isn't represented or read about. That's one of the reasons that people do a double take when they see me staggering out of a pub in Dublin at 4am. It can't be Bono, can it? Nah."
SOH So it irks you that people don't seem to get that side of you?
Bono "It takes the sexiness away from you, for a start. And the aliveness."
The conversation spirals off into illuminating territory, touching once again on the Christian faith that is the key determinant of both his music and his activism. It is a subject he does not often talk about, he says, because it inevitably gets reduced or trivialised, and "it leaves you open to being accused of being a hypocrite, especially if you are of the hopeless variety, which I am. I haven't broken all the commandments," he adds, laughing, "but I've wanted to."
He says that a lot of people he most admires are non-believers. Bill Gates. Warren Buffett. "People who are prepared to spend their entire life's fortune trying to make the lives of people they don't know a lot better. These people are more Christian than the Christians. Zealotry and certainty are worrying for me. Love keeps religion from zealotry."
SOH So without love, it becomes another kind of fixed ideology?
Bono "Yeah, that's right! Anyway, there's loads of pops in there about zealotry, religious and otherwise, and you're the only person who's picked up on this in the lyrics. I mean, 'Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady.' Come on?"
SOH That's a pop at the militant atheists.
Bono "And at myself. I mean, I have a bit of it, myself. I have a bit of the helping God across the road like a little old lady."
SOH Not as much as you used to...
Bono [Laughs] "No, but I do have a bit of it. People like myself, all activists, can be guilty of thinking that, because these are matters of life and death, we have an excuse to be fanatics. You have to know when you stop. At least, I do. That's why a lot of anti-poverty campaigners are so annoying. [laughs]. Me included. That's why people see me and they go, 'That fucking Bono, get him outta my face.'"
The following week, Bono and I have one final conversation, and I ask about the album's last lines: "Choose you enemies carefully, 'cause they will define you/ Make then interesting, because in some ways they will mind you/ They're not there in the beginning, but when your story ends/ Gonna last longer with you than your friends."
Bono "Yeah. Yeah. They're are going to be closer than your friends. They are going to shape you."
SOH Are you singing from experience here?
Bono "In a way, I guess. I think one of the things that has set our band apart is the fact that we chose interesting enemies. We didn't choose the obvious enemies - The Man, the establishment. We didn't buy into that. Our credo was: no them, there's only us. Think about it. Every other band was us and them. The Clash, our great heroes. Then U2 arrived and it was no them, only us.
"What that means is that we picked enemies that were more internal - our own hypocrisy. The main obstacle in the way of our band we always saw as ourselves and our limitations. We never blamed the record company. We never blamed the radio [laughs]. You never heard that from us in 25 years. It was always, can we be better? Can we make the song better, the show? What you're really dealing with then are the obstacles to realising your own potential. They are nearly always of a psychological, if not a spiritual, nature. The spectres that hold you back, they were our enemies. It was always, 'You're supposed to be in a rock'n'roll band. You're supposed to be rebellious, but you don't rebel against the obvious.' And we'd go, 'No, we don't. That's the point.'"
SOH In that way, your success ran counter to the course of rock'n'roll. You sang of the joy as opposed to the angst.
Bono "Yeah. I mean, the mark of succeeding for us is.... erm, let me try and get this right because it's important. Joy, for me, is the spilling over of a life well-lived."
"But to get back to the last lines of the record. We were talking about peripheral vision at the start of this conversation. That's the theme of the record. And, in one sense, it's a very tough-minded theme, even, some have said, bleak, but I don't think so."
SOH So, hang on, can you pinpoint that theme, break it down for me?
Bono "It's like, well, you think of the heartache of the invasion of Iraq, or the heartache of taking on heroin, which we've known from friends who have taken that drug, and you think of the wasted energy in a life that comes from just taking on the wrong fight. It could be with your lover. There it was and you blew it. You just didn't know what you had. That's why I love the opening of the album - No Line on the Horizon. There's no end in sight. It's infinity, it's optimistic. [sings] 'I know a girl who's like the sea.' The sea and the sky become the same colour and you lose the horizon line as it disappears into infinity. Infinity is a great place to start.
"You know, it's like that thing that people said about U2, that most bands start off writing about girls and end up writing about God, but we started off writing about God and ended up writing about girls. But we found the God in the girls, that would be my retort."
SOH OK. I need to process all this stuff.
Bono "Anyway, that image is very optimistic - no line on the horizon, whether about a band, a girl, the future. Life itself. It's like I say, the future needs a big kiss."
The future is another question for another interview. How long can U2 stay meaningful? Where will rock's greatest adventure end? For now, there is enough material left over from the sessions for an album that, Bono says, will be released before the end of the year. It will be "a more meditative album on the theme of pilgrimage". Despite the slog, he retains his sense of humour.
SOH The funniest line on the album may be on Stand Up Comedy: "Beware of small men with big ideas." Are you referring to yourself?
Bono "Yeah! For sure. That is the funniest line. Of course. It's saying, stand up to rock stars. That's about choosing your enemies, too. What are you gonna stand up for and what are you gonna stand up against? I love the notion of standing up to rock stars. Because they are a bunch of fucking megalomaniacs [laughs]. If you don't laugh at the end of that line, there's no hope. When I wrote it, I burst out laughing."
Bono calling: Who's on his speed dial?
Palled up with Bono during work on poverty in Africa. In 2005, the Microsoft billionaire and his wife were named Time magazine's joint "Persons of the Year", alongside - who else?- the U2 singer.
Another ally in the mission to help Africa, economics guru Sachs wrote The End of Poverty, which argued it could be eradicated. Bono pitched in with the foreword.
The Queen Of All Media is a player in Bono's Red charity, which combats HIV and Aids. In 2006, the pair publicised its work by going shopping together in Chicago.
Speaking at the 2004 Labour party conference, Bono invoked the Beatles, calling Blair and Gordon Brown the "John and Paul" of global development.
A controversial friendship, although endless pestering of the least popular president in recent memory did produce a $9bn rise in emergency relief for Aids in Africa and the Caribbean.
The 44th president used U2's City of Blinding Lights during his campaign, and, although he favours no one celebrity at the moment, inviting the band to play at his inauguration suggests Bono remains very welcome at the White House.
U2: A life in reinvention
1981: Finding God
The first inkling they were more than just another post-punk band - the religious themes of October were the result of the band falling in with Christian fellowship Shalom.
Key track: Gloria
1983: A little bit of politics
The next stage of their desire to use rock as a force for good, with War's Sunday Bloody Sunday wading in on the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Key track: Sunday Bloody Sunday
1987: Discovering America
During the Reagan era U2 investigate the US's complex national identity on The Joshua Tree (working title: The Two Americas).
Key track: Bullet the Blue Sky
1991: Irony, anyone?
Even Bono decides he's bored of himself. Cue wrapround sunglasses, alter egos The Fly and MacPhisto, plus their best album, Achtung Baby.
Key track: The Fly
2004: Back to basics
Post White Stripes, rock'n'roll is back on the agenda. U2 want in on How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, if only to offset Bono's second job as an international statesman.
Key track: Vertigo
© 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited.
February 08, 2009
Get On Your Boots Music Video
Watch the new video from Myspace.com. This time the video is here to stay.
January 21, 2009
Worldwide Radio Goes Wild For New U2
Jen Wilson, Billboard
U2's new single, "Get on Your Boots," scored massive audience numbers throughout Europe and the United Kingdom on its debut day of radio airplay yesterday (Jan. 19), according to Nielsen Music Control.
Arriving on the second day of the airplay-monitoring week, the new single shot straight to No. 1 on Ireland's airplay chart and No. 4 in the U.K., with total audiences of two million and 12.5 million respectively.
The song also fared well in Germany (78 million), Italy (11 million) and Austria (10 million), despite arriving near the end of the European monitoring week. Belgium and Holland showed a promising start with respective audiences of 3.5 and 2.6 million.
In the United States, "Boots" received 529 total spins, according to Nielsen BDS. KYSR-Los Angeles played it 24 times, while KENZ-Salt Lake City was second with 18.
"Get on Your Boots" was unveiled simultaneously around the world at 8:15 a.m. GMT yesterday. Originally U2 had announced the song would not be available digitally until Feb. 15, but it went live yesterday via Apple's iTunes Music Store in the United States.
The band's forthcoming album, No Line on the Horizon will be released March 2 through Mercury/Universal in the U.K. and the following day in North America through Interscope/Universal.
© 2009 Billboard.
January 20, 2009
U2's new album cover is a 'rip-off'
No Line On the Horizon's dull - sorry, minimalist - artwork boasts striking similarities to two other album covers
Sean Michaels, Guardian
U2's new album cover might be sparse, minimalist, austere -- but it's certainly not that original.
The artwork for No Line On the Horizon, unveiled this week, boasts striking similarities to two other album covers: Brothomstates, and Richard Chartier and Taylor Deupree.
All three covers use photographs by Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, showing sea, sky and horizon.
Posting on his blog, Deupree -- also known as 12K -- called U2's cover "nearly an exact rip-off" of his and Chartier's Specification.Fifteen, released in 2006. That album was commissioned by the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., in honour of a Sugimoto retrospective, and was performed at the opening of the exhibition. The CD was released in a (sold out) run of 1,000.
Of course, the cover to No Line On the Horizon isn't just a Sugimoto seascape -- there's a mysterious white equals sign as well. Alas, that too recalls the design of Brothomstates's Claro album cover. The album, released by Warp Records in 2001, doesn't have an equals sign -- but it does have a mysterious white square.
Though Brothomstates haven't commented on the similarity, Deupree's online comments take a relatively pragmatic stance. He admitted that his soundscapes haven't penetrated the mainstream, writing that "perhaps if our CD was available to a wider audience, U2's graphic designer would have been aware of it and attempted something a bit different."
He emphasised the difference between the two groups. Whereas he and Chartier were invited and endorsed by Hiroshi Sugimoto -- and permitted to use his photograph for free -- for U2 "it's simply a phone call and a cheque."
"Naturally, when something we have slaved over, fought for recognition over, is so easily undone by pop culture, it feels a bit cheap," he wrote. What for us is one of the greatest achievements in a career thus far is simply a phone call for U2."
"Before you let people run off about how 'cool' the new U2 cover is...show them ours first."
© 2009 Guardian.
January 06, 2009
U2 Break Down 'No Line on the Horizon'
Key tracks from the band's eclectic new album
Brian Hiatt, Rolling Stone
In early December, Rolling Stone traveled to London to visit U2 in the studio as Bono and Co. worked on the upcoming No Line on the Horizon. For the full story, see the new issue, which hits newsstands Wednesday, January 7th. Here's a first listen to 10 of the album's tracks:
"Get On Your Boots"
The likely first single, this blazing, fuzzed-out rocker picks up where "Vertigo" left off. "It started just with me playing and Larry drumming," the Edge recalls. "And we took it from there."
"Stand Up Comedy"
Another hard rock tune, powered by an unexpectedly slinky groove and a riff that lands between the Beatles' "Come Together" and Led Zep's "Heartbreaker." Edge recently hung out with Jimmy Page and Jack White for the upcoming documentary It Might Get Loud, and their penchant for blues-based rock rubbed off: "I was just fascinated with seeing how Jimmy played those riffs so simply, and with Jack as well," he says.
"It's kind of like this album's 'Beautiful Day' — it has that kind of joy to it," Bono says. With the refrain "I know I'll go crazy/If I don't go crazy tonight," it's the band's most unabashed pop tune since "Sweetest Thing."
This midtempo track could have fit on All That You Can't Leave Behind. "The idea is that the narrator is in an altered state, and his phone starts talking to him," says the Edge.
This strikingly experimental song lurches between disparate styles, including near-operatic choral music, Zooropa-style electronics, and churning arena rock.
"Cedars of Lebanon"
"On this album, you can feel what is going on in the world at the window, scratching at the windowpane," says Bono, who sings this atmospheric ballad from the point of view of a war correspondent.
"Only love can leave such a mark," Bono roars on what sounds like an instant U2 anthem. Will.i.am has already done what Bono calls "the most extraordinary" remix of the tune.
"Moment of Surrender"
This seven-minute-long track is one of the album's most ambitious, merging a Joshua Tree-style gospel feel with a hypnotically loping bass line and a syncopated beat.
"Every Breaking Wave"
A swelling soul-pop song, with bright synth sounds influenced by OMD and, Bono says, "early electronica." "You don't hear indie bands doing blue-eyed soul [like this]," he adds.
"No Line on the Horizon"
The title track's relentless groove began as a group improvisation. "It's very raw and very to the point," says the Edge. "It's like rock & roll 2009."
(c) Rolling Stone, 2009.
January 02, 2009
Q Magazine's U2 World Exclusive
The new issue of Q hits the shops today in the UK, (Europe and the rest of the world will be on sale very shortly). It features a world exclusive shoot and in depth interviews with each member of U2 on their new album. See Bono let loose with a fire extinguisher, and watch him experiment with a make-up box. Expect to read some dissent in the ranks about the frontman's activities.
The Q website (www.qthemusic.com) is also currently hosting a dedicated U2 section with exclusive content, video and out-takes from the Q U2 shoot. Click here for more info.
December 29, 2008
Is Bono nervous about the new U2 album? You bet
Niamh Horan, Irish Independent
Bono may have upstaged everyone at the opening of the Leopardstown Racing Festival, but not even the U2 frontman could halt the decline in betting turnover at the famous Christmas meeting.
Fresh from Christmas dinner in Dalkey and his victory over An Taisce, who tried to stop his rooftop extension, Bono was among the first to arrive at the Dublin race meeting.
He was there enjoying a well-earned break after putting the finishing touches to U2's latest album.
"Sure, you're always nervous, but we've gone at it as if it was our first and the critics who have gotten a chance to listen to it already have all said it's the best yet" Bono told me, referring to the album No Line on the Horizon. "We're going after the younger audience this time too," he revealed.
So could he sum up the album in three words for the fans who have yet to get the pleasure? "It's very long," he said with a laugh.
"My favourite song is a song called 'Moment of Surrender' and the first track is 150 BPM, the fastest song we've ever recorded," he said, beaming with a glint in his eye behind his trademark blue glasses.
Before he left he gave me a gentleman's kiss on the back of my hand.
Over at the bar, ordering hot whiskies, was millionaire property developer Johnny Ronan, who said he had received "about 10 copies" of The Builders as a present this Christmas but hasn't got around to reading the book -- in which he features -- just yet.
Outside in the parade ring, businessman and gambler JP McManus received his prize after his horse pipped Ryanair's Michael O'Leary's nag at the post.
When I enquired how it felt to beat the Ryanair boss by a hair's breadth, he gave me a smile and a very politically correct comment. "It's great to win any race."
O'Leary himself wasn't at the races. He was busy planning his own photo finish against Aer Lingus.
Still in the Leopardstown winners' enclosure, former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds stood joshing with RTE's Colm Murray.
"You taught me everything I know," said the sports commentator.
"You taught a lot of people everything they know. Sure look at Brian Cowen, he wouldn't be where he is today without you, would he?" Another politically correct smile spread over another flushed face.
Also enjoying the day's action was Dublin businessman Charlie Chawke, who said, rather optimistically, that "Sunderland is going to win the league," as he headed off with his son.
But while everybody was in good spirits, the betting ring was feeling the pinch.
The Tote reported a drop of approximately 20 percent in turnover at the traditional holiday race meetings in Leopardstown and Limerick.
This year, race organisers made the decision to do away with the reserved enclosure area for "equality purposes," according to Horse Racing Ireland's Michael O'Rourke.
And despite all the talk of a downturn, it seems to have paid off, with attendance hitting almost 17,000 -- slightly down on last year.
© Independent, 2008.
October 09, 2008
Bono's building site song for Tom
Sir Tom Jones asked U2's Bono to write him a song for his new solo album, 24 Hours, which will be released in the UK next month.
Sugar Daddy was written after the veteran singer met the supergroup frontman in a Dublin nightclub.
Even though Bono does not perform on the track, U2 guitarist The Edge plays on it.
It refers to Sir Tom's early days as a building site worker. He has now sold more than 100m records worldwide.
"I was in a club in Dublin and I was talking to Bono and asked him if he would write me a song, so he said I'll write you one but I need to know a lot about you so I can write something about you," Sir Tom told BBC Radio Wales.
"He came up with Sugar Daddy."
"I told him all kinds of things and about how I worked on building sites. He wrote 'you're gonna get your hands dirty when you're digging a ditch,' but the next line is fantastic - 'boredom is God's revenge on the rich!'"
He then saw Bono in another club in London and asked him for a writing credit as the song was all about him - but the U2 front man turned down his request.
The CD, 24 Hours, which has a "retro sound" is due to be released in October in the US, while in the UK it will be out a month later.
Only two cover versions have been included, Bruce Springsteen's The Hitter and I'm Alive by Tommy James and the Shondells.
It is produced drum 'n' bass outfit Future Cut, who have previously worked with Lily Allen and Dizzee Rascal.
Sir Tom, who now lives in Los Angeles, said he thought his voice had become better with age and had become "richer sounding".
He said he took care of his voice by using a humidity gauge when travelling to keep his throat from drying.
He also spoke of his relationship with his manager son Mark, which he compared to that of two brothers rather than father and son - and said he has always been ready to speak up about the music he is recording.
"There's not quite 17 years between us, I was 16 when he was born," he said.
"Mark's worked with me since he was 16, he came on the road and did the lighting. After my manager, Gordon Mills from Tonypandy, died Mark and his wife Donna, took over. It works really well."
© 2008 BBC.
September 10, 2008
The Edge: delaying release will take U2 album 'to next level'
Plus guitarist praises Mercury Prize winners Elbow
NME, September 10, 2008
U2's The Edge has told NME.COM that his band are still writing songs for their next album.
The band recently decided to push back the release date of the follow-up to 2004's 'How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb', declaring they wanted "2009 to be our year".
However, while many were anticipating that the record would come out this year, U2's guitarist explained the band were still hard at work on the album.
"We're still writing and we're trying to take it to the next level," said The Edge. "Its taking a while, but I'm told there's no short cut to greatness!"
The U2 man - who spoke to NME.COM after presenting Peter Gabriel with Amnesty International's 2008 Ambassador of Conscience award in London today (September 10) recognising the legend's work in the area of human rights - also added the he was really pleased that Elbow won the 2008 Nationwide Mercury Prize for 'The Seldom Seen Kid'.
"They're a really good band, good for them," he declared, before joking: "More power to your Elbow!"
Copyright © 2008 NME.
September 05, 2008
Next U2 Album Pushed to Early 2009
Jonathan Cohen, Billboard
Initially expected this fall as a fourth-quarter blockbuster, U2's next album has been pushed to early 2009 while the band continues to write and record material. "I thought a while back we might have the album wrapped by now, but why come up above ground now if there's more priceless stuff to be found?" Bono writes on U2.com.
Of late, the group has been recording in the south of France, having already logged time in Fez and Dublin with longtime collaborators Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite.
'We know we have to emerge soon but we also know that people don't want another U2 album unless it is our best ever album," Bono says. "It has to be our most innovative, our most challenging...or what's the point ?"
Bono says the band now has "50 or 60" new songs to consider for inclusion on the follow-up to 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
"The last two records were very personal, with a kind of three piece at their heart, the primary colors of rock -- bass, guitars and drum," he says. "But what we're about now is of the same order as the transition that took us from The Joshua Tree to Achtung Baby."
Among the songs in the mix are "Get on Your Boots," "For Your Love," "Breathe," "No Line on the Horizon" and the eight-minute "Moment of Surrender." One source who has heard several of the works-in-progress describes them to Billboard as "amazing and a little out there. I hope they don't change anything."
"I'm always the one who underestimates how easy it is to simply 'put out the songs now.' If it was just up to me they'd be out already!" Bono says. "But early next year people will be able to start hearing what we've been doing. We want 2009 to be our year, so we're going to start making an impression very early on."
Copyright © 2008 Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
September 02, 2008
In the Studio: U2
Title: TBC | Expected: TBC
Tom Doyle, Q magazine
As if to spotlight the pace with which U2 are close to completing their as-yet-untitled 12th album, Q's phone call to Edge is delayed by half an hour while he lays down an acoustic guitar overdub at the quartet's Dublin studio on a new song called "Get On Your Boots."
"Then we can put the mix to bed," the guitarist sighs with satisfaction. So this album is being completed as we speak? "Yeah. It's happening live in real time. It's totally frantic."
Having effectively abandoned their initial plan to work with Rick Rubin (although some material has survived), U2 took the unusual move of bringing in their long-time producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois as co-writers early on. "We thought, If we're all writing together we'll get more stuff and it'll be a more fruitful use of time," Edge says.
Experimental writing sessions held last year in Fez, Morocca, yielded numerous new songs. Some -- with the introduction of local musicians -- bear a distinctly North African flavour. A visit to the World Sacred Music Festival enhanced what Edge calls the "religious-sounding" tone of a few of the tracks. "But we don't want to be musical tourists," the guitarist states. "We came back with a certain flavour and influence of that trip and a sense of freedom."
As time went on, the music grew ever more diverse and spontaneous. "We wanted to give it some variety," Edge says. "There is some dark, heavy stuff but there are also some lighter things. Some we've really had to sweat to get and some just came so easily." Work-in-progress highlights include "f--k-off live rocker" "Breathe"; "For Your Love," which Edge says is one of his best-ever riffs; and the aforementioned "Get On Your Boots" ("Eddie Cochran with barbershop harmonies").
Other notable tracks include the eight-minute-long "Moment of Surrender" and "No Line on the Horizon," inspired by a distortion box called Death By Audio recommended by ex-Secret Machines guitarist Ben Curtis.
Opinion is currently divided as to whether the album will make a pre- or post-Christmas release. Anticipation couldn't be higher, however, with mixer Steve Lillywhite having already proclaimed the record "their best yet."
"Trying to weave it all together into a coherent collection is the challenge," Edge admits. "But, yeah, it has the potential to be our best."
Copyright © 2008 Q magazine.
August 24, 2008
Eavesdropping fan posts new U2 songs on web
A Dutch U2 fan put tracks from their new album on the internet after overhearing them being played at Bono's French home
John Burns, Sunday Times
THEY seem stuck in a moment they can't get out of. The launch of every U2 studio album since 1991 has now been preceded by a leak or theft of music, resulting in snatches of songs being posted on the internet or circulated on bootleg tapes.
To lose one album would be unfortunate; to lose six smacks of carelessness. As well as being the wealthiest band in the world, U2 may also be the unluckiest. They have been the victims of a bizarre medley of mugged couriers, German chambermaids and light-fingered French studio operators, as well as Dutch and Spanish eavesdroppers.
In the latest episode, excerpts of four tracks from the Dublin band's next album ended up on YouTube after Bono blared them at high volume from his house in Eze-sur-Mer in southern France. Ben van Riemsdijk, a Dutch fan, recorded the material on his phone and shared it online with other U2 enthusiasts.
Cynicism about the latest leak, which has resulted in extensive publicity about the band's album, has been fuelled by the fact that this is the third time U2 fans have been able to tape new material played at high volume in Bono's house.
In 2004, shortly before the release of U2's last studio album, a Spaniard standing on the beach outside claimed he was able to use a video camera to record How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. He subsequently posted tracks, including Vertigo, on the web.
Contributors to Interference.com, the fan website on which the latest clips were shared, pointed out last week that other "beach clips" were recorded in 2006 after another high-octane performance on Bono's stereo. The clips are always of poor sound quality, mixed with background noises such as waves and crickets, but of huge interest to diehard fans who discuss them avidly.
Van Riemsdijk said he spent July 25 on the public beach beside Bono's villa where the singer showed up at 6pm. "He starts playing these new songs really loud. The whole beach was listening and he knew that. On Interference, many of these incidents have been reported by fans," said the Dutchman, who is also a member of a U2 tribute band.
"Once I came home, I first discussed on Interference whether or not to share the clips as the quality is really bad. But some fans were curious so I posted the clips on Rapidshare and sent the link to some forum members. In no time, things got out of control. Hundreds of requests were made and after two days an article appeared in The Sun."
Van Riemsdijk argues that leaks of "beach clips" are likely to be positive. "I sometimes think that Bono deliberately turns up the music just to stir up the fanbase a little," he said. "U2 let fans listen to new material in their HQ studio. This way, the diehards keep interested and come back for more."
His clips eventually ended up on YouTube, at which point the band's record label stepped in. "We can confirm we were aware of the YouTube posting and that the leaked audio was removed at our request," said Chantal Hourihan of Universal Music. "Beyond that I am not in a position to comment."
Paul McGuinness, U2's manager, has criticised internet service providers (ISPs) for allowing theft of music. In Cannes earlier this year, he warned that "for ISPs in general, the days of prevaricating over their responsibilities for helping to protect music must end".
While Bono has praised Radiohead's decision to release their last album for free as "courageous and imaginative", U2 has no intention of following suit with its next offering, expected to be called No Line on the Horizon.
The complaint to YouTube is an indication that, officially, U2 will guard their material as zealously as usual. But the band has been the victim of a series of mishaps since 1991, when three hours of rehearsals for Achtung Baby were leaked, apparently after being dumped in a hotel bin.
Cynics pointed out that the effect was to reignite interest in U2 at a time when they were thought to be breaking up. Two years later, just before the release of Zooropa, a newspaper in Los Angeles reported that a courier carrying a tape of the album had been attacked. "He wasn't hurt, according to U2 publicists, but the mugger did get away with the tape," the newspaper said.
In 1996, songs from Pop were apparently "siphoned off" along cables feeding the band's video camera, which had been recording rehearsals at its Dublin studio. Discothèque and Wake Up Dead Man were later posted on the internet.
Other thefts include that of a suitcase full of lyrics in Oregon in 1981 and a laptop containing lyrics in 1999. Both were returned.
Copyright © 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd.
August 18, 2008
Bono blamed for unreleased U2 songs on Internet
Posted by Steven Musil, CNet
The next time U2 manager Paul McGuinness wants to rant about music piracy on the Internet, he may have to add his own boss to his list of targets.
Four songs from the Irish rock band's forthcoming album found themselves on the Internet after U2 front man Bono was caught playing the songs a bit too loudly on his stereo at his villa in the south of France, according to a report in The Sun. An alert passerby on the beach is credited with recognizing the iconic singer's voice and recording what he was hearing. He then supposedly posted the recordings to YouTube, but the tracks don't appear to have stuck around long on the video-sharing site.
The songs--thought to come from a forthcoming album called "No Line On The Horizon"--include the title track, "Sexy Boots," "Moment Of Surrender," and "For Your Love."
McGuinness, who wants to fight file sharing by forcing Internet service providers to ban people who pirate music, suggested earlier this year that Apple and other makers of digital music players were wrongly profiting from their "burglary kits." At the time, he placed much of the blame on tech companies, but also pointed a finger at record labels that "through lack of foresight and planning allowed a range of industries to arise that let people steal music."
If this tale rings true, it wouldn't be the first time U2 has lost control of unreleased music. In 2004, just before the release of their last album--"How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb"--the band reported that a CD containing unfinished music from that album had been stolen after a photo shoot in the south of France. The band announced it would release that album immediately if tracks from the CD were leaked online. But when songs from the album began appearing online a few months later, the band said they were finished versions, not songs from the stolen CD.
Editor's note: You can listen to the songs yourself by visiting the forum and finding the post that mentions the 4 leaked tracks. Inside contains a link to the website with the songs.
Copyright © 2008 CNET Networks, Inc., a CBS Company. All rights reserved.
July 30, 2008
U2 Set Sale For a New Horizon
Exclusive: New Studio Album & Tracklist Revealed
Stephen Maguire and Seamus Ross, Sunday Mirror
It's the beautiful day millions of U2 fans around the globe have waited patiently to see for the past four years.
Now we can reveal details of the supergroup's long-awaited new album.
It is believed to be titled No Line On The Horizon and will be on sale in music stores on November 14.
The band's record company Universal has already registered the internet domain name nolineonthehorizon.com -- prompting speculation this will be the new record.
And among the songs to be released on what many music insiders are calling the band's best work to date are "Moment of Surrender," "For Your Love," "Love Is All We Have Left" and "One Bird."
Others include "If I Could Live My Life Again," "The Cedars of Lebanon" and "No Line On The Horizon."
Earlier this week a 19-strong film crew headed to the Spanish city of Cadiz to shoot a video for the band's first single from the new album although the band were not believed to be present.
Last night an insider said the U2 machine is gearing up for the release of one of the most keenly-awaited albums in recent years.
"The album is more or less all in the bag except for a few minor details," the source revealed. A lot of people have been waiting a long time for this album as they do with every U2 album.
"But the word coming out is that the band is very, very happy with the end product and when U2 are happy it should be quite a piece of work. They're not easy to please."
Legendary producer Steve Lillywhite, who has worked with U2 for more than two decades, said the new album had blown him away.
It is the first original work since the band released the smash-hit How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb in November 2004. It sold an incredible 10 million copies and picked up eight Grammy Awards.
But music commentators think the new record could be even bigger for Bono, the Edge, Larry and Adam.
U2 are also expected to announce details of a huge worldwide tour, which would almost certainly include a number of nights at the new O2 Arena in the Dublin Docklands -- formerly known as the Point Theatre.
In a flurry of activity, the group have just re-released their first three albums -- Boy, October and War -- in extended formats and with previously unreleased tracks.
It has led to that rare thing -- U2 making a mistake.
A quantity of the re-released War albums have been printed with incorrect track listings inside a booklet.
But ironically, it won't hit sales, as the botched items are likely to become collector's pieces.
Copyright © 2008 MGN Ltd. All rights reserved.
July 16, 2008
Gigs & Bytes: U2 Streams For Free On Imeem
Deluxe editions of U2's first three albums - Boy, October and War - are now streaming on imeem.
The band's first three albums have been remastered from the original audio tapes. As with last year's remastered Joshua Tree, guitarist Edge oversaw the latest remastering of U2's catalog material.
Working with Universal Music Enterprises, the deluxe versions of the band's classic first three efforts also contain bonus material, including b-sides, live tracks and rare finds.
Among the extras on Boy, fans will find a previously unreleased mix of "I Will Follow" as well as a previously unreleased "Speed Of Life" and a live version of "Cartoon World" recorded in Dublin at National Stadium.
On October the goodies include live versions of "Gloria," "I Fall Down," "I Threw A Brick Through A Window," "Fire" and "October" recorded at London's Hammersmith Palais. Other extras include remixes, Richard Skinner BBC Session material and concert recordings made in the United States and Netherlands.
Among the extras on War are unreleased tracks such as "Angels Too Tied To The Ground," a club version of "Two Hearts Beat As One" and a Common Ground remix of "Tomorrow."
Streaming the first three U2 albums is the latest high-profile project for imeem, which has already scored considerable success this year debuting albums and videos by Radiohead, New Order, The Rolling Stones, Avril Lavigne and Ray J.
The U2 / imeem hookup is yet another example of bands and labels harnessing the promotional power of the Web. By streaming the albums, Universal and U2 are not only creating an awareness that the band's older material has been remastered, but are also making it extremely easy to listen and buy.
For example, in addition to streaming the albums, imeem is encouraging fans to embed the streams in their own blogs and social-networking pages, thus increasing awareness of the remastered albums. Of course, embedded streams make purchasing the CDs from imeem as easy as a mouse click.
Then there's the advantage of presenting the band's first three albums to a generation of music fans that weren't around when the titles were first released. Not only will U2 and Universal sell the remastered CDs to longtime fans, they might pick up a sizeable new audience as well, thus enlarging the total fan base for years to come. That's not a bad result for letting people listen for free.
Copyright © 2008 Pollstar. All Rights Reserved.
July 08, 2008
The best is yet to come
U2's legendary producer, Steve Lillywhite, claims the band's eagerly-awaited new album will be their BEST ever. He has worked with the band since their first album, Boy, was released in 1981, and now he is back in the studio with them as they put the finishing touches to their latest album prior to its October release.
Veteran DJ Tony Fenton said he met Steve and was struck by how the told how the famous producer was ranting about the new album. Tony said: "I met Steve recently and we got talking about the band's new album. He is so excited about the record and claims it's the best record they have ever done.
"I know people think he might say that -- but that's not the kind of thing somebody like Steve Lillywhite says easily. Like the rest of people who love music I'm so looking forward to it."
U2 even missed the recent Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert in London because they were so caught up in putting the final touches to the album at their Hanover Quay Studios in Dublin's Docklands.
The group recorded initially recorded a lot of new material in Morocco -- but then scrapped a lot of it and started again because they didn't think it was up to their high standards.
A source said: "U2 have never put out a dud record and they don't want to start now. In fact it's got to the stage with them that they want to put out a classic but still make it fresh and new. They know they are coming very close but they still have a bit of work to do yet."
The album is the first studio work the band will released since their smash hit How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb in 2004.
Copyright © 2008 Sunday Mirror.
June 10, 2008
No freebies to come with the new U2 release
U2 Album in October 2008?
Georgie Rogers, BBC 6,
Coldplay and Radiohead have been distributing their music in new ways by giving fans their music for free, but do not expect the same from rock giants U2.
Their new album is due out this year and U2's manager Paul McGuinness explained to 6 Music why they would not follow in Radiohead's footsteps.
He said: "There will be events around the release of the album but for U2 physical sales are still an enormous part of our business and we still sell a lot of actual CDs.
"We will obviously work with whatever technology is available to make the release of the new record as interesting as possible."
McGuinness feels Radiohead's free giveaway and pay-what-you-like scheme was not a very business-savvy move.
Speaking to 6 Music, he said: "We should all be aware that Radiohead's honesty box release of their album to some extent backfired."
Continuing: "Even though it was available on their own website for no money at all, if that was what you preferred to pay - 60 to 70 per cent of the people who downloaded the record stole it anyway even though it was available for free."
With regards to an actual release date McGuinness revealed they are hoping to put the record out in Autumn 2008.
"The exact date is not clear yet but I would think towards the end of October," McGuinness said.
Copyright © 2008 BBC 6.
June 03, 2008
Early U2 Reissues Packed with Rarities
Jonathan Cohen, Billboard,
A wealth of previously unreleased and rare material will be found on reissues of the early U2 albums "Boy," "War" and "October," due July 22 via Universal. Each album will be available as a remastered single CD, a deluxe set with a second disc of extras and on vinyl.
U2's 1980 debut album, "Boy," features the previously unreleased tracks "Speed of Life," "Saturday Night" and "Cartoon World" and a previously unreleased mix of "I Will Follow." "Boy-Girl" and "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" are captured in live versions taped at London's Marquee.
The new edition of 1981's "October" boasts a series of tracks taped live at London's Hammersmith Palais and Boston's Paradise Theatre, a BBC session with Richard Skinner and Common Ground's remix of "Tomorrow."
1983's "War" is bolstered here with the previously unreleased track "Angels Too Tied to the Ground," several remixes of "New Year's Day" and "Two Hearts Beat as One" plus the 7-inch single edit of "New Year's Day."
U2 is recording its next album with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. No release date has been set, but rumblings are that it may be out before the end of the year via Interscope.
Here are the tracklists for the U2 reissue bonus discs:
I Will Follow (Previously Unreleased Mix)
11 O'Clock Tick Tock
Speed of Life (Previously Unreleased Track)
Saturday Night (Previously Unreleased Track)
Things To Make and Do
Out of Control
Stories For Boys
Boy-Girl (Live at the Marquee, London)
11 O'Clock Tick Tock (Live at the Marquee, London -- Previously Unreleased Version)
Cartoon World (Live at the National Stadium, Dublin -- Previously Unreleased Track)
"Gloria" (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London)
"I Fall Down" (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London)
"I Threw a Brick Through a Window" (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London)
"Fire" (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London)
"October" (Live at Hammersmith Palais, London)
"With a Shout" (Richard Skinner BBC Session)
"Scarlet" (Richard Skinner BBC Session)
"I Threw a Brick Through a Window" (Richard Skinner BBC Session)
"Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl"
"I Will Follow" (Live at Paradise Theatre, Boston)
"The Ocean" (Live at Paradise Theatre, Boston)
"The Cry/Electric Co." (Live at Paradise Theatre, Boston)
"11 O'Clock Tick Tock" (Live at Paradise Theatre, Boston)
"I Will Follow" (Live From Hattem, Netherlands)
"Tomorrow" (Bono & Adam Clayton, Common Ground Remix)
"Angels Too Tied to the Ground" (Previously Unreleased Track)
"New Year's Day" (7" single edit)
"New Year's Day" (USA Remix)
"New Year's Day" (Ferry Corsten Extended Vocal Mix)
"New Year's Day" (Ferry Corsten Vocal Radio Mix)
"Two Hearts Beat As One" (Long Mix)
"Two Hearts Beat As One" (USA Remix)
"Two Hearts Beat As One" (Club Version)
"Treasure (Whatever Happened to Pete the Chop)"
Copyright © 2008 Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
April 26, 2008
U2 Scrap Work And Start Again
Rockers U2 are scrapping all the tracks they have written for their next album to start all over again - ditching a year's worth of work.
The band has been working on the follow up to 2004 LP How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb for the past 12 months, but they're far from happy with the results.
Guitarist The Edge reveals bandmembers have mostly messed around in the studio - and they have now decided to get stuck in and finish the record.
He tells CMUMusic.com, "We went into this project allowing ourselves the indulgence of making music without thinking about where it was going to end up. We're starting to get serious now".
© 2008 Contactmusic.com Ltd. All rights reserved.
March 19, 2008
Producer is U2's 'gatekeeper of the bedrock'
Jason Macneil, The Edmonton Sun
From his work on The Joshua Tree to, more recently, that on How To Build An Atomic Bomb, Daniel Lanois and U2 have a strong and unique bond. Lanois says the relationship is almost other-worldly.
"I think we work well together because there's kind of a premonitional force in the room when I work with these guys," he says. "We sense that something might be right but we're not convinced yet and it's still the unknown. It's that unknown that keeps us going. We want to do something original. Bono wants to say something that has never been said before. We know we're going to have to roll up our sleeves, put our thinking caps on and do beautiful work."
A recent quote from Bono also described the relationship the band has with both Lanois and fellow producer Brian Eno. "Daniel Lanois, in a certain sense, is about the ancient," Bono said. "And Brian Eno is about the modern, the future, the things that haven't happened."
"I'm about the ancient? I'll take that as a compliment," Lanois says with a laugh. "I'm just on a different floor than Eno. He uses his airplane time to build these rhythmic tapestries that he brings to the studio. And we'll often use them as a springboard for building a song. I've got a good barometer for what feels good so anything we do that we carry on with will have a reliable, emotional plateau in it for us to keep working on it.
"I will fight for a very soulful bedrock and I won't carry on until we have it. I'll pay special attention to the ingredients that I deem to be viable as soulful. Eno will come in with these incredible electro-beginnings but in the end the bedrock that we end up with, I'm the gatekeeper of the bedrock."
Copyright © 2008 Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.
March 14, 2008
Africa Celebrates U2
(PR) On April 1, 2008, Shout! Factory will release In The Name Of Love: Africa Celebrates U2, an album celebrating the music, culture and future of Africa, and an unprecedented musical homage to Bono and U2 for their ongoing humanitarian relief efforts aiding the beloved continent. A portion of the record's proceeds will directly benefit The Global Fund. Interviews with select artists are available upon request.
Produced by Shawn Amos and Paul Heck, In The Name Of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 features Grammy Award-winning/nominated African artists as well as top up-and-coming talents including Angelique Kidjo, Les Nubians, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, Vieux Farka Touré, Vusi Mahlasela and the Soweto Gospel Choir.
Initially inspired by his work in South Africa while running the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation, Amos re-entered the music industry with a heartfelt initiative to cultivate greater awareness of the emerging socio-economic success stories happening within many of the country's regions. Amos, a longtime fan of U2, witnessed Bono's direct philanthropic impact via the launch of the ONE campaign and (RED), and his poignant outspoken public commentary on the immediate financial needs facing Africa.
Amos felt it was essential that African musicians unite and collectively share their voices of pride, accomplishment and appreciation for both their native country and icons like Bono who've substantially embraced the fight against the global AIDS crisis, extreme poverty and the spread of malaria. On December 1, 2006 at the World AIDS Day benefit concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Amos approached Red Hot producer Paul Heck about co-producing In The Name Of Love: Africa Celebrates U2. Several notable African artists were performing as part of Heck's live production of Red Hot + Riot: The Music and Spirit of Fela Kuti including Les Nubians, Tony Allen, Cheikh Lô and Keziah Jones. Heck expressed support for the budding project, and quickly became an invaluable partner with his strong ties to various well-established African artists and knowledge of a handful of buzz-worthy upstarts. Together, they consulted with the artists appearing at the World AIDS Day event, bringing Amos's personal dream a step closer to becoming a reality.
"Paul and I wanted to develop an easy entry point for the growing global community where they could get more involved and learn something deeper about Africa," says Amos. "It's really a focus on the key successes of several regions, and the African artists who originate from these areas. It's our goal for the public to learn more about all the good that's happening in Africa. We are trying to garner excitement about the culture, in addition to drawing people toward the struggles of Darfur, etc. This is a project which celebrates Africa!"
12 original interpretations of classic U2 hit songs and some of their more obscure material are featured on In The Name Of Love: Africa Celebrates U2. The collection kicks off with Angelique Kidjo's powerful multilingual cover of the 1991 chart-topper, "Mysterious Ways." Aerosmith's Joe Perry joins Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars for an upbeat, guitar-driven take on "Seconds," a track from U2's third studio release, War (1983). Rising Malian star, Vieux Farka Touré offers a trancy, Sahara Desert blues-influenced rendition of "Bullet The Blue Sky," an absolute standout performance of one of U2's most-played live in concert tunes. Additional highlights include Les Nubians dubbed-out dancefloor ready version of "With Or Without You," the Soweto Gospel Choir's epic a cappella version of "Pride In The Name Of Love," and Tony Allen's Afrobeat translation of "Where The Streets Have No Name Paul Heck notes that, "I was amazed when we approached the artists of how quickly they chose the songs they wanted to do. Many of them grew up listening to U2, and knew the songs so well."
In The Name Of Love: Africa Celebrates U2
1. Angelique Kidjo "Mysterious Ways"
2. Vieux Farka Touré "Bullet The Blue Sky"
3. Ba Cissoko "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
4. Vusi Mahlasela "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own"
5. Tony Allen "Where The Streets Have No Name"
6. Cheikh Lô "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
7. Keziah Jones "One"
8. Les Nubians "With Or Without You"
9. Soweto Gospel Choir "Pride (In The Name Of Love)"
10. Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars "Seconds"
11. African Underground All-Stars Featuring Chosan, Optimus & Iyeoka "Desire"
12. Waldemar Bastos "Love Is Blindness"
Copyright © 2008 Iconoclast Entertainment Group.
February 20, 2008
U2 Hits The Studio In Dublin
Jonathan Cohen, Billboard
U2 has hit the studio in Dublin to continue work on its next studio album with longtime collaborators Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. "We're going to try and break new sonic ground and deliver a masterpiece," Lanois tells Billboard.com. "The sleeves are rolled up. Bono is all charged up with a lyrical angle."
As previously reported, U2, Eno and Lanois have spent time working on new material on three prior occasions in France and Morocco, and Lanois confirms the results are prolific.
"There's so much material," he says, referring to speculation that the sessions could yield two new albums. "When you get Eno and I and those guys in the room, before lunch there's like eight things."
"We've had some exciting beginnings via jam sessions," he continues. "Now we will pick our favorite beginnings and say, 'OK, that's a lovely springboard. Now what are we trying to say?' The springboards are sometimes melodic, sometimes riff-based, but I can assure you they are exciting."
There's no date yet for the project, which will be the follow-up to 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
In other U2 news, the group has contributed to a new charity single, "The Ballad of Ronnie Drew," proceeds from which will benefit the cancer-stricken Irish artist of the same name. The track will be available in Ireland only as a download beginning Friday (Feb. 22) and week later on CD.
In addition to U2, "The Ballad of Ronnie Drew" features appearances by the Pogues' Shane MacGowan, the Frames' Glen Hansard, Sinead O'Connor, Andrea Corr, Damien Dempsey, Ronan Keating, Chris de Burgh, Gavin Friday and members of the Dubliners.
© 2008 Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
January 02, 2008
Lanois Promises 'Innovative' Songs on New U2 Album
by Steve Baltin, Spinner
Twenty years ago, producer Daniel Lanois teamed with U2 on the band's landmark album, 'The Joshua Tree.' Two decades later, Lanois is back in the studio with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, working on their forthcoming album, due this year.
"I'm doing some writing with [Brian] Eno and U2," Lanois tells Spinner of the effort. "We're gonna knock out another record that's promising to be a fantastically innovative collection of songs. I'm excited about that."
As for what the new songs will offer, Lanois says that some hints may be gleaned from the music they've been listening to of late. "We've been referencing Jimi Hendrix records recently," Lanois says. "I was interested in the drum feels and that track 'Crosstown Traffic' has an incredible drum performance. When [we were] working a couple of weeks back, we wanted to hear some of that Mitch Mitchell drumming."
Lanois also revels in his collaboration with Eno, also a former U2 collaborator and who appears in Lanois' film, 'Here Is What Is.' "I play really well with Eno," Lanois says. "In a manner of minutes we've got something happening in the room that's special -- even without talking about it. We just pick up our instruments and we're there. I might have an idea, Eno might have an idea, somebody else has an idea, and as we jockey them around, momentum builds up and there's some kind of a whirlwind. We just thank our lucky stars that we have that chemistry within us."
Spinner.com © 2007 AOL LLC. All Rights Reserved.
December 06, 2007
U2 go "trance"
The new U2 album has been influenced by "trance" and will feature "hardcore" guitars, according to Bono. The Irish rock legends have been working on the follow to 2004's "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" with producer Brian Eno in recent months. Sessions in Africa are said to have progressed well and the band's singer claims the results will shock fans and critics alike. Speaking about the Moroccan recordings, Bono said: "We got this little riad, a small hotel with a courtyard in the middle and set up the band there, with a square of sky over our head. "The two great catalysts of U2's recording life, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, joined us. We'd record during the day and then disappear into windy streets of the medina at night. It was an inspiring experience and a drummer's paradise." Bono says people can expect a "dancefloor shock" from the new album, which is not currently scheduled for a release. "Normally when you play a U2 tune, it clears the dancefloor. And that may not be true of this", he explained. "There's some trance influences. But there's some very hardcore guitar coming out of The Edge. Real molten metal. "It's not like anything we've ever done before, and we don't think it sounds like anything anyone else has done either."
Copyright © 2007 Yahoo! All rights reserved.
October 20, 2007
U2's Joshua Tree Blooms Again
Jonathan Cohen, N.Y., Billboard.com
To celebrate the 20th birthday of its landmark album, "The Joshua Tree," U2 is reissuing the set in four different incarnations on Nov. 20 via UMe. The album will be available as a remastered single CD, a 2-CD set, a 2-CD/1-DVD collectible box and a double vinyl package.
The single-disc will be housed in a jewel case, but the 2-CD set comes in a hard back case. The 2-CD/1-DVD version has a base and lid to accomodate the discs as well as five portfolio prints. Band members have contributed new linear notes for the package.
The second CD in the 2-disc package sports rare material from the period, including a single edit of "Where the Streets Have No Name" and B-sides such as "Spanish Eyes" and "Sweetest Thing" The DVD comprises a July 4, 1987, show at the Paris Hippodrome, as well as the documentary "Outside It's America," a long-whispered-about but never released video for "Red Hill Mining Town" and an alternate version of the "With or Without You" clip.
Produced by Brian Eno, "The Joshua Tree" shot U2's commercial fortunes into the stratosphere. The album's first three tracks were huge singles, with both "With or Without You" and " I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Here is the bonus disk track list:
"Luminous Times (Hold On to Love)"
"Walk to the Water"
"Silver and Gold"
"Deep in the Heart"
"Race Against Time"
"Where The Streets Have No Name" (single edit)
"Silver and Gold (Sun City)"
"Introduction to Songs of Experience"
"Wave of Sorrow (Birdland)"
"Deser of Our Love"
© 2007 Nielsen Business Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
January 06, 2007
U2 May Change Musical Direction on Next Album
NEW YORK (Billboard) - With its monster-selling Vertigo world tour complete, U2 may be ready to rock less, according to frontman Bono
"Our band has certainly reached the end of where we've been at for the last couple of albums," the newly dubbed honorary knight said during a BBC Radio interview earlier this week. "I want to see what else we can do with it, take it to the next level; I think that's what we've got to do."
Asked if that might mean a move away from rock 'n' roll, Bono replied, "We're gonna continue to be a band, but maybe the rock will have to go; maybe the rock has to get a lot harder. But whatever it is, it's not gonna stay where it is."
He said he's like U2 to explore compositions featuring just voice and acoustic guitar. "I would like to do a couple of tunes in that direction, with just a lot of space around the voice," he said. "I'd like to strip things down; that's something I'd be very interested in at the moment."
U2 is expected to get busy in the studio after the New Year, with an eye on releasing a new album before the end of 2007. Bono said casual fans were the target for the recently released compilation "U218 Singles," which includes two new songs.
"We've never been much of a singles band," he said. "But we did it because we have a very young audience coming through, and we wanted to, you know, just be very available for people who want to check us out, you know? We wanted to have something they could check us out very easy on."
Copyright © 2007 Reuters/Billboard. All rights reserved.
November 02, 2006
U218 Singles Will Be Released on November 21, 2006
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- U218 Singles is the first single disc collection to span the band's career from Boy (1980) to How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004). Also included are two tracks recorded last month with producer Rick Rubin at Abbey Road Studios in London: The Saints Are Coming (with Green Day) and a new, previously unreleased track Window In The Skies.
U218 Singles will be released on CD and 12" vinyl and as a full length DVD featuring the single promo videos. The collection will also be available as a limited edition CD with a bonus DVD of 10 tracks recorded live in Milan, Italy on the Vertigo//05 tour.
The full tracklisting is as follows:
1. Beautiful Day
2. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
3. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
4. With Or Without You
6. New Year's Day
7. Mysterious Ways
8. Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of
9. Where The Streets Have No Name
10. Sweetest Thing
11. Sunday Bloody Sunday
14. Walk On
16. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
17. The Saints Are Coming
18. Window In The Skies
U2 will be back on tour in November and December, with shows in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Hawaii.
Source: Interscope Records
September 12, 2006
U2 In Studio With Green Day and More
by Brenda Clemons, U2 Station staff writer
After a long dry period, U2 are active again. Here's the latest:
Of great interest is the confirmation that U2 are in Abbey Road Studios working on a new album with producer Rick Rubin that they say will be released in 2007. (Although we all know how long it really takes U2 to record an entire album). At the Sarajevo Film Festival Bono told reporters, "Edge, right now, is on fire. He is really rockin. He is playing guitar like I've never seen him playing guitar. So, I like to think the best is yet to come."
It is confirmed that U2 are currently in the studio with Green Day. The two groups are collaborating on a cover version of The Skids song, The Saints Are Coming. Proceeds are going to Music Rising. Music Rising donates musical instruments to New Orleans musicians whom lost their possessions during Hurricane Katrina.
It is rumoured that U2 and Green Day will perform together during The September 25 New Orleans Saints home game. This rumour is unconfirmed.
The much anticipated book U2 By U2 is scheduled for release on Sept. 26. The list price is $26.37. The release date of the deluxe edition is scheduled for Dec. 1. The difference between the two is that the deluxe edition will be a limited number edition with a poster.
Also on the horizon is the book, U2 and Philosophy, by Mark Wrothall. The author has previously written several books on philosophy. There is no release date yet but the list price is $25.00.
Both books are available at Amazon.com.
October 15, 2004
U2 Video Goes Down A Storm; Filming Is Hit By Lightning
10.15.04 - The Mirror
by: Paul Martin
U2's 1 million pounds comeback video was almost destroyed by freak weather conditions, I can reveal.
The stars nearly cancelled their Vertigo video shoot when a sandstorm hit the set and wrecked EUR200,000 worth of camera equipment.
And just as they got back on to the set a bolt of lightening struck just 100 yards from where Bono was standing.
The band staged the shoot on a remote part of the Delta de L'Ebre, on the Spanish coast.
They had originally planned to film the shoot in Nevada where the atomic bomb was tested but opted for the change of location at the last minute.
As the band were preparing for the second day of filming, a relentless windstorm struck, throwing sand into every eye and camera.
Bono revealed: "We had every kind of freak weather condition you can imagine- the rain, the snow and the sandstorm." Video director Martin Fougerol was on the verge of calling the shoot off and saving the rest of the equipment when the storm suddenly diverted. The Edge added: "It was pretty crazy stuff. We thought we were going to have to return to Dublin without a video. It got pretty tough out there. Bono and I were sharing a tent and we couldn't come out for at least six hours."
In the spectacular new video, frontman Bono and the band perform as a helicopter flies around above the band, diving in and pulling up while they perform on a huge beach surface of the remote river basin. Crew members had to dig a huge moat around the outer perimeter of the shoot, offering protection from the sandstorm so filming could be completed.
Bono said the hassle was well worth it. He explained: 'We've made all kinds of videos over the years with uneven results.
"High-concept, story, abstract... but we've never done a video that has a graphic arts background and this is what it is.
"There seems to be so much clutter everywhere. Turn on music television and there's big cluttered sets, people walking round with clutter around their necks, great cluttered award shows, so this is our attempt to empty the frame."
Copyright © 2004 The Mirror. All rights reserved.
September 29, 2004
U2 Sets Album Track List as Single Takes Off
9.29.04 - Billboard
By Jonathan Cohen
NEW YORK (Billboard) - U2 has confirmed the full track list for its upcoming album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," due Nov. 23 via Interscope.
The set does not include the tracks "Tough" or "Full Metal Jacket," which band members previously had mentioned as possible selections. Among the newly announced titles are "Miracle Drug," "One Step Closer" and "Love and Peace or Else."
The album's first single, "Vertigo," is already making a bomb-size impact on U.S. radio outlets. After just three days of airplay, the cut is expected to debut this week in the top 20 of Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart and the top 30 of the Mainstream Rock Tracks tally.
At present, "Vertigo" is available for download exclusively via Apple's iTunes Music Store. According to a spokesperson, the track ascended into the service's top 10 within 24 hours and is now No. 1 on the list of most downloaded selections.
U2's official Web site (http://www.u2.com) is hosting clips of the band performing "Vertigo" in its Dublin recording studio plus other exclusive footage of a recent photo shoot.
And while the band is not expected to begin touring until next spring, tidbits have begun leaking out about specific stops. According to Ireland's Sunday Business Report, U2 will play Dublin's Croke Park on June 26-27, with the possibility of a third show, depending on demand.
Here is the track list for "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb":
"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"
Copyright © 2004 Reuters/Billboard. All rights reserved.
September 14, 2004
U2 to Release New 'Atomic Bomb' Album in November
9.14.04 - Reuters
By Jeffrey Goldfarb
LONDON (Reuters) - Irish rock band U2 unveiled on Tuesday the title of their next album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," evoking the violence and rebellion of their early records.
The album, recorded in Dublin and the south of France, made headlines in July after recordings from it went missing.
The disappearance of rough versions of some tracks from a recording studio in Nice, France, had prompted fears they would appear on the Internet before the official release.
But a band spokeswoman said: "They didn't show up anywhere as far as we're aware."
Invoking the atomic bomb recalls the band's earlier albums "War," "Under a Blood Red Sky" and "The Unforgettable Fire."
The new album will arrive in North American record stores on Nov. 23, one day after its release in Europe.
The group, and especially frontman Bono, have long been associated with global political causes and fans have been waiting to hear if there will be fresh messages from U2 on their first album since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"Vertigo" will be the first single from the album, which is U2's first studio recording since the 2000 success "All That You Can't Leave Behind."
The song will air on radio on Sept. 24, according to U2's label Interscope, a unit of Vivendi's Universal Music.
The new album will include a cover of Kraftwerk's "Neon Lights," along with songs entitled "Crumbs From Your Table," "Yahweh," "City of Blinding Lights," "A Man and a Woman" and "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own."
U2, who have sold 120 million records since the release of their first album 24 years ago, were also nominated for membership to the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week, along with Grandmaster Flash, Randy Newman (news) and others.
Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
September 07, 2004
New U2 Album Tracklisting Leaked?
9.7.04 - XFM News
After U2 revealed the names of six songs to be featured on their upcoming new album last week, come reports of a full running order for the 11 track release, expected to hit shops in November.
According to unofficial reports the record will be called 'Vertigo' and, as rumoured, it has been given a November 22 release date, with the first single, also entitled 'Vertigo', expected in shops late September.
U2 themselves issued a statement last week confirming that the songs 'Vertigo', 'Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own', 'City of Blinding Lights', 'A Man and A Woman', 'Yahweh' and 'Crumbs From Your Table' would all appear on the Steve Lillywhite-produced record.
"It feels like a special record", Bono explained in the October edition of Q Magazine, "From the start we wanted to make our own 'Who's Next' [classic 1971 Who album] where every track mattered and I think we have done that."
The album's release is also expected to be followed by a massive world tour, which will take in more than 50 cities and is rumoured to include a headlining slot at the 2005 Glastonbury festival.
A full tracklisting for the new record also surfaced online today (September 4), which - while still unofficial - includes all the songs mentioned by the band and has been replicated on a number of major record shop pre-order websites.
2. 'Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own'
3. 'City of Blinding Lights'
4. 'A Man And A Woman'
6. 'Crumbs From Your Table'
7. 'All Because Of You'
9. 'Miracle Drug'
10. 'Full Metal Jacket/Native Son'
11. 'Love Peace Or Else'
Copyright © 2004 Capital Radio plc. All rights reserved.
August 12, 2004
Beautiful Pay: U2 Spend EUR10 Million On Album
8.12.04 - The Mirror
Byline: Paul Martin
U2 will splash out an incredible £10million promoting their new album as they bid to make it their biggest ever. The stars have been locked in meetings with their record label Island to plan their spectacular comeback.
The Dubliners are to spend a fortune on a massive TV advertising, poster and publicity campaign around the world. And they have secretly called in a top Hollywood movie director to make the video for their first single.
The album, rumoured to be called Vertigo, will be followed by a massive world tour, taking in more than 50 cities.
A source close to the group told me: "This is the biggest money they have ever spent on promoting an album.
"They believe it is their best work ever and they want the whole world to know it's out there.
"The money will be ploughed into a huge publicity blitz, the likes of which no band have ever done before. Their last album was big but this is going to be even bigger. Fans won't believe what the band are planning."
The album is set for release in November and is expected to top the charts around the world. Their new work was plunged into crisis in July when a pre-copy of their album went missing from their French recording studio.
Bono threatened to release the new album online at Apple's Itunes Music Store if tracks from the missing CD were leaked illegally on the web. But his worst fears haven't been realised and now he's determined to make U2's new album their biggest seller ever.
"He's so hyped up about this and really wants to give it his best shot," added the source. "All the band have been discussing ideas for the first video.
"They have been talking to a great film director but I can't reveal his name yet.
"The budget for the promotion has been signed-off by their record company and it's all systems go for the return of U2."
Copyright © 2004 The Mirror UK. All rights reserved.
July 16, 2004
They Still Haven't Found What They're Looking For!
7.16.04 - NME
U2 have lost a CD containing songs from their forthcoming album, NME.COM can reveal.
The band have been working on the follow-up to 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' for much of the year. The album, which is said to have a working title of 'Vertigo', isn't due until the autumn at the earliest.
During a photo session in Nice a CD containing some new songs from the forthcoming album went missing.
Guitarist The Edge said: "A large slice of two years work lifted via a piece of round plastic. It doesn't seem credible but that's what's just happened to us...and it was my CD."
Band manager Paul McGuiness said: "The recording of this album has been going so well. The band is so excited about its release. It would be a shame if unfinished work fell into the wrong hands."
Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group UK, added: "This matter is of great concern to us. As the missing CD is our property we are very keen to find it as soon as possible. The French police are being extremely helpful in this regard."
It is currently unknown if any of the new songs have leaked onto the Internet.
Copyright © 2004 NME. All rights reserved.
February 10, 2004
Steve Lillywhite To Produce Next U2 Album
2.10.04 - Billboard
Mercury U.K. joint managing director Steve Lillywhite has left his role with the label to return to his roots in record production. Lillywhite tells Billboard.biz he will take no time off and will begin producing an album by U2 next week. The as-yet-untitled set is due from Interscope/Island later this year.
"It's the first time I'll have gone in to actually start a record with them in 20 years," says Lillywhite. "I worked on 'The Joshua Tree,' 'Achtung Baby' and 'All That You Can't Leave Behind,' but this will be the first time I've really set up the mikes and done everything for a long time."
Lillywhite also oversaw the band's first two albums, 1980's "Boy" and 1981's "October." He adds, "I've heard some great songs. The Edge is playing some really great guitar."
The new U2 album will be the follow-up to 2000's "All That You Can't Leave Behind," which debuted at No. 3 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 4.1 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. The set was named best rock album at the 2001 Grammys and placed three tracks in the top-10 of Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks airplay chart: "Beautiful Day" (No. 5), "Elevation" (No. 8) and "Walk On" (No. 10).
Lillywhite, one of Britain's top rock producers, has a list of credits that includes the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, Morrissey and the Dave Matthews Band. In 2002, he was brought to Universal U.K. by chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge.
"I've had two great years, and I've loved a lot of it," says Lillywhite, "but really I wasn't that made out for getting up early in the morning. That's 25 years of producing records. I got more and more of an urge to be in the studio, so Lucian and I had a chat and decided it was best that I return to that."
Copyright © 2004 Billboard. All rights reserved.
December 13, 2003
Bono Talks New Album
12.13.03 - Uncut
"Bullet The Blue Sky" Bono tells Uncut how U2 have gone "punk rock" on the French Riveira.
U2 have completed the main recording sessions for their next album, scheduled for release early in 2004, at a secret studio on the French Riveira. Guitarist The Edge summed up the new record, as yet untitled, as "raw rock'n'roll....a band in its primary colours of guitar, bass, drums, voice and a lot of vitality and energy"
Speaking exclusively to Uncut, Bono goes a step further, describing the album as "punk rock made on Venus", dominated by guitars that go up to "Number 11". He confirms the album will continue in the classic-rock vein of 2000's Grammy winning All That You Can't Leave Behind, and that U2's usual production team of Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno have been replaced by studio veteran Chris Thomas.
"He worked on The White Album", says Bono. "He made Never Mind the Bollocks and Dark Side of the Moon. And the first four Roxy Music records that are really hard to get your head round, I think he's on three of them. But we particularly wanted him to work on the guitar sound. It's a guitar-driven record. It's got a lot of big, big tunes. You know? Remember tunes?"
Bono insists the break with Lanois and Eno is purely for musical reasons. "They.....um, they don't really like the loud music. Heh heh! Eno's not on it, but Daniel's coming in to play - his tour's ending in Dublin and I think he's going to sit in, as we musos say. I'd love Brian to be on it because Brian was on those Roxy Music records too, we shouldn't forget. And it is otherworldly - its kind of punk rock made on Venus rather than Mars."
Holding album sessions on the Meditteranean, Bono claims, was designed to stimulate creative inspiration. "We've tried pretty much everything to make it feel like it's not a studio that we're working in," he says.
According to Bono, the new album will be dominated by The Edge's guitar. "it's made by a man who is really sick of the sight of his singer shaking hands with dodgy politicians," he quips. "When you've got as much spleen and suffused rage as The Edge has, I think Number 11 was the only way to go.
"People forget just how extraordinary a guitar player he is," Bono continues. "Everybody else is just replaying the blues again and again, it's just Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. But this is someone who, in the colour spectrum, [bold]owns[/bold] a few colours. In the same way as great musicians like Miles Davis, or great guitar players like Sterling Morrison - there are great guitar players who [bold]own[/bold] something."
But a guitar sound is not all the Edge owns, Uncut adds mischievously. He also owns a mansion, a hotel, a nightclub....
"Yes," Bono replies, "and he's slowly burning them all down."
Copyright © 2003 Uncut. All rights reserved.
August 05, 2003
U2 Making Ideas Come To Life On New Album
8.5.03 - Launch
U2 is currently working on the follow-up album to 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind. In July, Bono told Ireland's Sunday Independent newspaper that the band is closer than they've ever been to getting the sound they want.
"We are getting closer to making the music we have always wanted to make," Bono said. "There is a difference between the music that you hear in your head and what you put on a CD. Your grasp is sometimes further than your reach, and right now this band is on fire and about to do its best work."
Reports say the new album will showcase the Edge's guitar work. Bono told the New York Times, "The songs are very direct. They're big songs, big melodies and really, some full-on guitar playing by a very frustrated man. [The Edge] is so gifted. If this is a great record, and I really think it will be, it will have a lot to do with him."
The album is being produced by Chris Thomas, best known for his work with the Sex Pistols, INXS, the Beatles, Roxy Music and Pink Floyd.
Several months ago rumors were circulating that the title of the new album was Solar, but those rumors are untrue.
U2 expects to release their new album in 2004. They'll follow up the release with a world tour.
Copyright © 2003 Launch. All rights reserved.
April 24, 2003
Chris Thomas To Produce New U2
4.24.03 - Undercover
by Paul Cashmere
Chris Thomas has been named as the producer of the next U2 album.
Thomas is a veteran of the desk having knob twiddled for INXS (Listen Like Thieves), Pete Townshend (Empty Glass), The Pretenders, Sex Pistols (Never Mind The Bullocks) and Roxy Music (Stranded) as well as various works for Elton John and Paul McCartney.
Early in his career, Thomas scored a job working for George Martin and played keyboards on The Beatles classic White Album.
He mixed Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon and has his name attached to movie soundtracks such as Pretty In Pink, Trainspotting, Mission Impossible, Ghostbusters 2 and Small Soldiers.
In recent years he has been involved with Pulp, Tall Paul Vs INXS and the soundtrack to 24 Hour Party People.
A Chris Thomas / U2 production is expected to be guitar driven.
In a recent interview Bono told the New York Times "It's a very visceral album. The songs are very direct. They're big songs, big melodies and really, some full-on guitar playing by a very frustrated man....[The Edge] is so gifted. If this is a great record, and I really think it will be, it will have a lot to do with him."
There is no scheduled release date the album at this stage.
Copyright © 2003 Undercover Media Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
November 07, 2002
11.7.02 - Dotmusic
U2 are to feature the "mother of all rock'n'roll tunes" on their hugely anticipated new album, dotmusic can exclusively reveal.
The song, which has the working title of 'Full Metal Jacket', currently exists as a rough demo but frontman Bono has described the track as "remarkable".
"Larry and Adam haven't heard it yet," he explained. "But Edge brought round a CD of a new tune - just a provisional title, 'Full Metal Jacket' - It is the roughest, the mother of all rock'n'roll tunes.
"I don't know where it came from but it's a remarkable guitar thing. You want to hear it - it's a reason to make a record - this song is that good!"
Speaking during a global webchat on msn.com yesterday, band members Bono, Larry Mullen, the Edge (all in New York) and Adam Clayton (on holiday in Nepal) answered questions that had been submitted by fans across the world.
The band said they were unable to pinpoint the theme of the new long-player, but said they were enjoying the process of creating music again.
"We're at the great early phase where it's all about possibilities and nothing has to be ultimate," said the Edge. "You know, it doesn't have to be finished right now. We can try out all sorts of things and see where it takes us."
When asked if the band would like to work with any other artists in the future, Bono revealed his ambition to collaborate with a well-known Australian artist.
"We've been very lucky, we have worked with some of the greats," he said. "But Rolf Harris would definitely be high on my list"
"Steve Lilywhite (longtime U2 producer) said that one of the most innovative people he's ever worked with in a studio was Rolf Harris. He was famous for the song 'Two Little Boys' and in fact, on occasion, Edge and myself are known to sing it. So, big up Rolf!"
Elsewhere, the band reflected on their 20-year career, with Bono admitting that he regretted his 80s mullet. "I don't think people should ever look like their hair has been ironed," he said.
The band, who have made their name with groundbreaking and innovative live concerts, said their 1997 gig in Sarajevo was probably the highlight of their career so far.
"There have been a few moments that are really outstanding," said drummer Larry Mullen. "But the one that probably stands out more than any other one is Sarajevo.
"We played there on the 'PopMart' tour and there is no doubt that that is an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life.
"If I had to spend 20 years in the band just to play that show and to have done that, I think it would have been worthwhile. It was an amazing experience."
U2's greatest hits album, 'The Best of 1990-2000', was released in the UK this week.
Copyright © 2002 Dotmusic. All rights reserved.
October 21, 2002
U2 Album Tracks Available Online
10.21.02 - RTE
U2 are streaming tracks from their new compilation, 'The Best Of 1990-2000' on their website every day this week.
Each day one or two new tracks will be made available on U2.com, as the 4 November album release date approaches.
The rare b-sides and remixed tracks, which feature on the strictly limited edition release 'The Best Of The B-sides', will also be streamed online.
U2's new single 'Electrical Storm' goes on sale today.
Two versions of the new single, including a remix by William Orbit, are also available on the official U2 website.
Copyright © 2002 RTE. All rights reserved.
September 08, 2002
Single Really Goes Down A Storm
9.8.02 - Newcastle Journal
U2 have had to re-think promotion plans for their new single after Bono handed a copy over as a wedding gift.
The singer gave a demo version of Electrical Storm to BBC Radio 1 DJ Sarah HB when she got married and the song ended up on Internet sites after she played it on her programme weeks before its official release. So record bosses brought forward their plans by a fortnight after the play started a frenzy among the band's fans.
The U2 star was in France when he bumped into his old pal and gave her a rough copy.
He even decorated the single, inspired by the aftermath of September 11, with a cartoon of the happy couple.
A friend of the DJ said: "She was unaware of the frenzy she would set off as copies of the single were bounced around the Internet."
The track will be released on October 21.
Copyright © 2002 The Newcastle Journal. All rights reserved.
September 01, 2002
Exclusive! U2: Best Of 1990 - 2000
9.1.02 - U2.com
The second volume of U2's Best of Collection, covering the years 1990-2000, will be released on November 4th. A limited edition Best of the B-sides will also be released, along with a new single Electrical Storm and , in December, a Best Of 1990 - 2000 DVD.
The second volume of U2's Best Of collection will be released by Universal-Island Records on November 4th. Covering the years from 1990 to 2000, its sixteen tracks are the highlights of the albums Achtung Baby, Zooropa, Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1, Pop and All That You Can't Leave Behind. Two brand new tracks have been recorded for this set, Electrical Storm, which will be released as a single, and The Hands That Built America which will feature on the soundtrack to the Martin Scorsese movie The Gangs Of New York, released by Miramax in December 2002.
In addition, four songs, Discotheque, Gone, Numb and Staring At The Sun have been substantially reworked by producer Mike Hedges.
A strictly limited edition run of U2: The Best Of 1990 - 2000 will feature a second cd collection, The Best Of The B-sides, as well as a bonus DVD with exclusive content including the History Mix of U2 in the '90s. This special value set will be available for one week only, after which the A-sides will be sold as a single cd.
The single, Electrical Storm, due for release on October 21st will be available on two CDs and a DVD format. The tracklistings are:
CD1 - Electrical Storm (William Orbit Mix) plus two remixes of New York, Nice Mix and Nasty Mix both by KLF's Jimmy Cauty.
CD2 - Electrical Storm and a live medley of Bad, 40 and Where The Streets Have No Name recorded in Boston on the Elevation tour.
DVD - Electrical Storm (William Orbit Mix) and video, exclusive sound bites from the band and a collection of photographs by Anton Corbijn.
The video for Electrical Storm is directed by Anton Corbijn and features actress Samantha Morton, who stars in Spielberg's Minority Report and received an Oscar nomination for her role in Woody Allen's Sweet And Lowdown.
The full album tracklisting is:
1. Even Better Than The Real Thing
2. Mysterious Ways
3. Beautiful Day
4. Electrical Storm (William Orbit Mix) (new song)
6. Miss Sarajevo
7. Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
8. Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of
9. Gone (new mix)
10. Until The End Of The World
11. The Hands That Built America (new song)
12. Discotheque (new mix)
13. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
14. Staring At The Sun (new mix)
15. Numb (new mix)
16. The First Time
17. The Fly
The 1990s was a period of reinvention and experimentation for U2, embracing rapidly developing technology and incorporating it into their distinctive sound. Many of the tracks on the B-sides collection are remixes of U2 tracks by leading DJs and producers, including Paul Oakenfold and Alan Moulder.
The B-sides tracklisting is as follows:
1. Lady With The Spinning Head (Extended Dance Mix)
2. Dirty Day (Junk Day Mix)
3. Electrical Storm
4. Summer Rain
5. North & South Of The River
6. Your Blue Room
7. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (The Gun Mix)
8. Salome (Zooromancer Mix)
9. Even Better Than The Real Thing (Perfecto Mix)
10. Numb (Give Me Some More Dignity Mix)
11. Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Club Mix)
12. If God Will Send His Angels - (Big Yam Mix)
13. Lemon (Jeep Mix)
14. Discotheque (Hexidecimal Mix)
This collection follows the release in 1998 of The Best Of 1980 - 1990, which topped the charts and achieved platinum sales throughout the world.
Finally, a Best Of 1990 - 2000 DVD will be released on December 2nd and will feature promo videos of tracks from the A-sides cd, complete with commentary by the directors, who include Wim Wenders, Kevin Godley, Stephane Sednaoui, Anton Corbijn and Jonas Akerlund. Six bonus tracks are included on the DVD - Please, If God Will Send His Angels, Wild Horses, Lemon, Last Night On Earth and MoFo. In addition, many of the tracks feature alternative versions of the clips made for different countries, as early cuts or to accompany different mixes. Further exclusive content includes a mini documentary, The Road To Sarajevo, filmed in the Bosnian capital in the run up to U2's historic 1997 concert and complete with performance footage.
Copyright © 2002 U2.com. All rights reserved.
August 28, 2002
U2 'Storms' The Beach For New Video
8.28.02 - Billboard
U2 shot a video for its new single, "Electrical Storm," last week in the French seaside town Eze. The clip stars actress Samantha Morton ("Minority Report") as a mermaid and was directed by longtime U2 collaborator Anton Corbijn, who photographed the cover of the band's 1987 album "The Joshua Tree." According to Ireland's Evening Herald, filming lasted from 6 a.m. last Wednesday to 3 a.m. the following morning.
"Electrical Storm" is slated as one of two new songs on "The Best of 1990 - 2000," due in November from Interscope. According to the band's official Web site, the cut "is set for radio play in the U.S. as early as this week, as soon as production work on the track is finished."
A demo of the song was played on BBC Radio 1 over the weekend; fast-acting fans recorded the broadcast and have been distributing MP3 files across the Internet. A commercial single for "Electrical Storm" is due Oct. 21 internationally.
The other new song set for inclusion on "Greatest Hits" is "The Hands That Built America," which was penned for Martin Scorsese's upcoming Miramax film "Gangs of New York." The film is due Dec. 25 in U.S. theaters; it is not yet known if a commercial soundtrack will be released.
U2's "The Best of 1980 - 1990" debuted in December 1998 at No. 2 on The Billboard 200. That set's remix of the cut "Sweetest Thing" hit No. 9 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart and No. 12 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 tally.
As previously reported, U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. is among the panelists who will select the second annual Shortlist Prize for Artistic Achievement in Music, to be handed out Oct. 29 at Los Angeles' Knitting Factory. Mullen's five nominations for the award's "Long List" were albums from Bjork, Andrew W.K., JJ72, Doves, and the Hives.
-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
Copyright © 2002 Billboard. All rights reserved.
July 30, 2002
New U2 Single Due In October
7.30.02 - Jam! Music
U2 has bolted back into the studio and recorded their brand new single, "Electric Storm".
The single will be released in October and will accompany their forthcoming 17-song "Best of" album in November, according to French U2 fansite U2achtung.com.
The report also said a second new track on the "Best of" release will be "The Hands That Built America", written for Martin Scorsese's long-delayed epic, "Gangs Of New York". The group's official website has post a snippet of the band performing the new song in the studio.
"Electric Storm" will be released to radio on Sept. 16.
Meanwhile, a New York Post report says U2 are lined up to headline a massive concert in New York's Times Square on Sept. 5 - just six days before the September 11 anniversary -- to kick off the National Football League's new season.
The report also says the other top musical acts will perform at the show, which is expected to draw thousands of fans.
Copyright © 2002 Jam! Music. All rights reserved.
July 15, 2002
A Beautiful Year
7.15.02 - Dotmusic
U2 will release a whole host of new material later this year, dotmusic can confirm.
Internet sources have been speculating about the much-anticipated new releases for some time, and now a source close to the band has told dotmusic that it is "looking very likely" that a single and 'best of' CD will be released this year.
The source was unable to confirm release dates for the new material, but it is believed that a single will hit shops in mid-October with a 'best of' CD following a few weeks later.
The forthcoming releases are as yet untitled, although it is thought that the best of compilation will carry on from previous anthology, 'Best of: 1980-1990' and be simply titled 'Best of: 1990- 2000'.
A DVD featuring all the band's greatest videos is also likely to be released in time for Christmas.
Earlier this year, there was speculation that the band would play some live shows in the summer. This later proved to be false and our source was able to confirm that the band will not be playing live again until next year.
Copyright © 2002 Dotmusic. All rights reserved.
April 08, 2002
Another U2 Greatest Hits Album Planned
4.8.02 - NME.com
Songs from U2's current studio sessions are likely to be included on a new Greatest Hits compilation, according to US reports.
As previously announced on NME.COM, the Irish group has ruled out plans for live shows this summer and has returned to the studio to work on new songs.
A spokesperson for the band's US label Interscope told MTV news that a compilation album lifting material from their 1991 'Achtung Baby' album to the present day was in the pipeline. It may also feature new material
The album could be released before the end of the year. Other songs recorded during the sessions could be held over for the follow-up to their 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' album.
Copyright © 2002 NME.com. All rights reserved.
January 18, 2002
U2 Putting Limited-Edition Album On Sale At Target Stores
1.18.02 - Launch
U2 has teamed up with Target Stores for a limited-edition CD that will only be available through the nationwide retailer. Titled U2 7, the collection features seven U2 songs, ranging from an acoustic version of "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of," to remixes of "Beautiful Day" and "Elevation," to the regular versions of the B-sides "Summer Rain" and "Always." The CD has a $6.99 list price. U2 7 will be available in all Target stores, as well as at target.com, starting Tuesday (January 22).
U2 is up for eight awards at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, which takes place February 27 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The nominations include record of the year and best rock song for "Walk On"; album of the year and best rock album for All That You Can't Leave Behind; song of the year and best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal for "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of"; and best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal and best rock song for "Elevation."
The band is set to play the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans on February 3.
-- Bruce Simon, New York
Copyright © 2002 Yahoo! Inc. All Rights Reserved.
November 28, 2000
U2 Album Banned in Burma
11.28.00 - Rolling Stone
It's been a long time since Bono marched around stage waving a white flag, but the outspoken Irishman and the rest of his cohorts in U2 apparently still have a knack for buggin' certain people, particularly when they mean to. The band's new album, All That You Can't Leave Behind, has been banned in Burma by the country's ruling military dictatorship.
The reason? The song "Walk On," which is dedicated in the album's liner notes to Daw Aung San Sun Kyi, the leader of Burma's pro-democracy movement who has been under virtual house arrest since 1989 along with other members of her National League for Democracy. The liner notes also list a Web and mailing address for the pro-democracy Burma Campaign. According to a BBC transcript of a Burmese opposition radio report, Burma's SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) military intelligence office has barred the import of any magazine, journal or tape that so much as mentions Aung San Sun Kyi's name. Doing so carries a fine of three to twenty years in prison.
U2 have devoted space on their newly launched Web site, www.U2.com, to the plight of democracy in Burma, crediting the nation's military dictatorship -- a "destructive tyranny" which has ruled since 1962 -- with "one of the worst human rights records in the world." Charges against the regime include the use of more child soldiers than any other country in the world, the forced labor of eight million men, women and children, an ethnic cleansing campaign against half a million Shan, Karen and Karenni people and the detainment of more than 1,500 political prisoners.
According to their Web site, U2 was scheduled to film a video for "Walk On" last week in Rio de Janeiro with Swedish director Jonas Akerlund, who shot their recent clip for "Beautiful Day." "Walk On" will be the band's next single in America. (A different single, "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of," has been picked for the European market -- with a video set to be filmed this week in Los Angeles).
(November 28, 2000)
Copyright © Yahoo! and Rolling Stone. All Rights Reserved.
November 01, 2000
U2 'Leave Behind' Pop Foray
11.1.00 - Reuters
By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The last time U2 played in Los Angeles, 65,000 fans watched the Irish rock quartet go through their paces at the site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games.
Now fast forward three years to October 2000 and U2 are playing for 250 fans on a studio soundstage.
The performance was taped for USA cable TV show "Jimmy & Doug's Farmclub.com," which would not warrant their attention but for the fact that "Jimmy" is Jimmy Iovine, a former U2 producer who now runs their U.S. label, Interscope Records.
U2 are promoting a new album, "All That You Can't Leave Behind," the 10th studio release of their 22-year career. They play four new songs, one of them, "Elevation," twice, and wrap with the 1983 tune "Surrender" during the taping last Friday.
Then they answer a few questions about the album, the state of pop music and singer Bono's pet topic of third world debt. This being Los Angeles, they can barely be heard above the din of the jaded crowd. But you will not hear them complain. At one point Bono proclaims, "Death to whingeing rock stars."
As super-rich rock stars go, U2 have always seemed fairly normal, weathering occasional backlashes against their soapbox stands with good grace. Still boasting the original lineup, they continue to live in Dublin, where all attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School. It was there that drummer Larry Mullen Jr. decided to form a band and put up a notice.
With Bono (real name Paul Hewson) on vocals, The Edge (Dave Evans) on guitar and Adam Clayton on bass, U2 would go on to become one of Ireland's best-known exports.
"Because we were mates, I suppose from the beginning, there's a lot of real respect and trust there between the different members of the group," Edge told Reuters in an interview. "We're pretty tough with one another. It's not necessarily like we go into a U2 session and everyone's completely polite. Everyone is prepared to tell you exactly what they think when it comes to it."
From their early days, U2 gained notice for their fervent live performances and provocative songs such as "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (about the violence in Ireland), "Silver and Gold" (apartheid) and "The Unforgettable Fire" (nuclear holocaust). Their 1987 album "The Joshua Tree" sealed their reputation as superstars and won the album of the year Grammy.
Unlike their previous releases, U2 will not launch a simultaneous tour, opting instead to wait until next March, when they will kick off an arena tour -- probably in Miami, U2 manager Paul McGuinness told Reuters at the taping.
Of course, the album could be off the charts by then, but Edge is not worried. "We didn't feel like rushing out there because we wanna just spend a bit of time figuring out what we wanna do and give ourselves a bit of breathing space to make some videos. We've always hit the road pretty much immediately and everything else then becomes a bit of a scramble."
U2 were last on the road for the 1997-98 PopMart world tour, which kicked off in Las Vegas seven weeks after their "Pop" album's release. Its electronica foray confused fans and it sold a modest 6 million worldwide, about a third of what "Joshua Tree" did. The stadium extravaganza began shakily and a satirical take on consumerism didn't go over well in America.
"We're used to playing with some heady concepts and expecting everyone to weigh in there and follow. I think we just left people scratching their heads a little bit," Edge said. "I would have to say it's more that we didn't communicate what we were up to very well."
Should the band have to communicate? "Should we have to?" Edge repeated, choosing his words carefully. "We never would play down to our audience or try to spoon-feed them. But at the same time if you're going to call your album 'Pop' and (the tour) PopMart, those words have got so much baggage."
Everything hinged on one three-letter word: Pop. U2 meant it in a broad, pop art sense. Many people viewed it as a synonym for lightweight and decided they did not want anything to do with it. U2 have not decided on a name for their next tour but it is a safe bet they will consult some dictionaries.
Edge said the new album should be easier to grasp because they tried to strip sound and production to the essentials. They recorded it in Dublin with longtime collaborators Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who worked on 1984's "The Unforgettable Fire," "The Joshua Tree" and 1991's "Achtung Baby."
The album title comes from a line salvaged from an unused tune and recycled on the track "Walk On," a ballad dedicated to Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi: "The only baggage you can bring/Is all that you can't leave behind."
"It's an attempt to say that what made it to the record ... is literally just the songs that we couldn't possibly leave off," Edge said.
The first single, "Beautiful Day," topped the European pop charts. Edge said U2 is engaged in "a bit of a lively debate" about the next, which seems to be a tossup among "Walk On," "Elevation" and "Stuck in a Moment Without You," a gospel-tinged track about a friend's suicide.
Expect the debate to be settled amicably. Edge said he has not been on the wrong end of Bono's fist for 20 years and attributes the band's longevity to the lack of rivalry.
Mullen, 39, keeps the band on its rock 'n' roll course. "He's anti anything pretentious, anti anything too arty, flowery," Edge said. "Larry is generally going to tell you something's too long or it's too slow or where is the melody."
Clayton, 40, is a "naturally avant garde" bass player who, like Edge, was born in England. "He's got a great sense of the loyalty factor. He's always there backing everyone up."
Bono, 40, has the vision thing. "He's a great guy to have on your team because he's got incredible energy. He's dogged, y'know. He'll just keep on pushing."
And Edge described himself as the music guy. "I tend to start a lot of the ideas or come up with chord patterns that we can toss around, or whatever. I'm the guy who's hanging on to all those great demos -- we should try this one again."
Bono writes most of the lyrics and Edge most of the music. But the whole band gets credit for the music, which Edge sometimes feels is a little generous. "As well as feeling like I have maybe a much larger responsibility than Adam and Larry for music, I know that they make me look very good," he said.
"And I guess that's the way a band works: People are in bands, hopefully, and I know in our case, because we're better than we would be as individuals."
Copyright © 2000 Yahoo! Inc., and Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
October 24, 2000
U2 Drops Jagger Vocals
10.24.00 - Wall Of Sound
U2 has decided to nix a version of a song featuring backing vocals by Mick Jagger and his 16-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, from its forthcoming album, All That You Can't Leave Behind.
The Jaggers wound up lending their pipes to the ballad "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" after they dropped by to visit the Irish rock act in a Dublin recording studio. But guitarist The Edge says the song eventually "took a different direction," and the band opted to go with an alternate, Mick-free rendition.
The band is sending a copy of the original mix to the rock star and his daughter (who sang backing vocals on select dates of the Rolling Stones' '97-'99 tour), though, and thanked them in the liner notes to the album, due in U.S. stores on Oct. 31.
The Edge stressed that the band was grateful for the duo's contributions. "They came in, we played them some stuff. It was nice to hear it through their ears," he said. "So we just wanted to say thanks to them for their generosity, really, just coming in and giving us their opinion on how it was going."
But the band expressed harsher sentiments for a younger generation of pop musicians on Monday. During the taping of a British radio set, singer Bono blasted record labels for "ignoring real talent in favor of pretty young things" - echoing similar sentiments recently expressed by George Michael, Elton John, and Blur - according to U.K. tabloid The Sun.
"People are sick to the teeth of processed and hyped pop bands," he continued. "It's crap. They want something real again, and that's where we come in. The tide is turning."
U2's new single, "Beautiful Day," recently entered the British charts at No. 1.
Copyright © Yahoo! and Wall of Sound. All Rights Reserved.
August 23, 2000
New U2 Album to Rock Halloween
8.23.00 - E! Online
After Pop's surprising fizzle three years ago, U2's out to prove it's still the world's biggest rock band.
The Irish quartet announced Monday that All That You Can't Leave Behind, its much-awaited new album and the 12th in the group's two-decade history, will be released October 31 on Interscope Records.
The Halloween treat aims to recapture the magic of the band's earlier works while still charting new territory.
"I think we've made a very special record, and I know everybody that's spent a year in the studio feels like that, but there's a certain clarity to this music that I don't think we've heard for a while," frontman Bono said in a recent interview.
The always-morphing band could use some new clarity. After reinventing themselves with the masterful Actung, Baby! in 1991, the rockers have struggled to maintain commercial viability. With the exception of a greatest hits package (1998's The Best of 1980-1990), the band's recent albums--Zooropa in 1993 and especially 1997's Pop--have failed to generate much enthusiasm among rock critics and record buyers.
Recording industry analysts are looking forward to the new disc, and are predicting U2 could once again rule the charts.
"Their built-in audience will ensure a solid opening week" says Dave Adelson, executive editor of Hits magazine and E! News Daily's music guru. "However if Ricky Martin comes out with an album the same day, that in no way means a number one debut or even a top five. That's the irony in today's pop-driven youth market."
Adelson also notes the album's success will depent a lot the kind of radio airplay it receives.
"It's not how you start, it's how you finish," adds Adelson. "If top 40 embraces a U2 single, there's a possibility it could be [the band's] biggest album ever."
All That You Can't Leave Behind features 11 new tracks all produced by frequent U2 collaborators Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, who have supervised all the band's studio work since 1980's Boy.
The first single off the album, "Beautiful Day," written by U2 with lyrics by Bono, hits airwaves October 9. The tune will be issued as two different CD singles--the first containing two new tracks not on the album, "Summer Rain" and "Always," while the second CD includes live versions of "Discotechque" and "If You Wear That Velvet Dress" from a Mexico City performance during the band's PopMart tour. Swedish director Jonas Ackerlund, known for his work with Madonna and the Prodigy, just shot the "Beautiful Day" video at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport.
In addition to "Beautiful Day," the album includes the following cuts: "Elevation," "Walk On," "Stuck in a Moment," "Peace on Earth," "Kite," "New York," "In a Little While," "Wild Honey," "When I Look at the World" and "Grace."
Fans wanting a sneak peak of U2's new sound can go to the group's Website (www.u2.com), which explores all aspects of the new album. Fans can sample a 30-second clip of the new single, as well as watch a video of Bono and drummer Larry Mullens Jr. in the studio.
Copyright © 2000 E! Online Inc. All rights reserved.
August 20, 2000
New U2 is 'titanium soul'
8.20.00 - Jam! Music
Comparing it to a Beatles record, "in that every song feels like a single", Bono and U2 have finally unveiled the contents on their upcoming album, "All That You Can't Leave Behind".
Due out in late October, the long-gestating follow-up to "Pop" will contain 11 songs that Bono characterizes as "tunes rather than just ideas. There's no storytelling or artifice," he writes on the band's official website. "It's about the pure joy of playing in a band, with or without an audience."
"All That You Can't Leave Behind" was produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. Here is the complete track listing:
- Beautiful Day
- Walk On
- Stuck In A Moment
- Peace On Earth
- New York
- In A Little While
- Wild Honey
- When I Look At The World
In addition, a pair of non-album tracks -- "Summer Rain" and "Always" -- will be released in Europe on Oct. 9 as the B-side of the first single, "Beautiful Day". A second CD single of the same song will feature two live tracks, "Discotheque" and "If You Wear That Velvet Dress", both recorded in Mexico City. There's no word yet on North American release plans for the singles.
A video for "Beautiful Day" was shot this month at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. It was directed by Jonas Akerlund, best known for his work with Madonna and The Prodigy.
Copyright © 2000, Canoe Limited Partnership. All rights reserved.
August 02, 2000
U2 Stirring Their Souls in the Studio
8.2.00 - Rolling Stone.com
At work on their tenth studio album, U2 vow to stay true to rock & roll and themselves
Bono sits on a sofa in the center of U2's Dublin recording studio -- a laptop on his knees, a microphone in one hand -- listening to a vocal he has just sung. The song is called, for this moment, anyhow, "Stir My Soul." As it exists at around a quarter past six on a Friday evening in May, it is delicate and beautiful, driven by a hypnotic piano motif, over which Bono murmurs a mixture of words and melody before launching into a chorus largely consisting of the phrase "stir my soul" repeated over and over. The other three members of U2 sit scattered around the studio, with producer Daniel Lanois. (Co-producer Brian Eno prefers to contribute in short, sharp bursts; lately he's been coming in one week per month.)
U2 have an idea that "Stir My Soul" will be the song the band needs to open its new album, in the works for two years and scheduled for release this fall. "Some sort of opening gambit," Bono explains. "Sometimes you dream one up, and sometimes you find one on the floor." The Edge says that they've probably touched on a hundred different songs making this album. At the back of the studio is a white marker board that details the progress of the nineteen strongest contenders. According to the board, none of them are finished. This evening I will see just a little of the random, inspired, quick-changing process by which just one of them evolves.
A year ago, Bono says, this song was called "Jubilee," and he had it all worked out. It leaped off from the Old Testament concept of a jubilee year. "The Jews had this idea that every seven days you had the Sabbath day, the day not to work," he says. "Every seven years you let the land lie fallow, and seven times seven -- forty-nine years -- you had a year of jubilee, where the people who are indebted, you had to let go of their debts. Captives, slaves, had to be set free. It was a time of grace. Beautiful idea, really."
U2 marked it as a song they should get back to, but when they replayed it a few days ago, all that jubilee thinking was cast aside. Bono wrote an entirely new lyric. He sings me the opening lines -- "Speak to me of the supernatural things/I will listen if you can tell me why the songbird sings" -- and shows me a printout of the rest from his computer, almost as if he wants to prove that the new U2 album is not being delayed simply because the singer has failed to complete his homework. But even that version is history now. "Beautiful tune, beautiful melody," he says, "but it wasn't what we wanted it to be. We were looking for more of an invocation."
So two days ago, the song now known as "Stir My Soul" mutated once more. "We changed all the chords and increased the tempo by ten b.p.m.," says the Edge. Bono explains it like this: "Quincy Jones said to me once, 'You're waiting for God to walk through the room, or else it's just craft.' The way you write music is at once humdrum -- there's a fridge in the corner with apples and a bottle of milk, and there's a fax machine -- and at the same time you're waiting for a miracle, or else it's just the sum of the parts. And yesterday we got this great gift of this melody, and that's what we have now." Of course, the new melody didn't work with the old chorus, and so Bono has come up with a new one. "This Dusty Springfield one," as he refers to it. ("I'm man enough to say I've been very influenced by her," he adds. "We've a similar register in places -- since our first album, I've felt a little bit of her.")
But they're still not happy. They now worry that the chorus is too commonplace. The Edge tries to add some guitar.
"I like that," encourages Bono. "It's dizzier." Bono worries about a part of the song at the end of the chorus where it stops and regathers itself. "It's a little professional when it stops," he says to Lanois. "We might have to mess it up a bit."
Bono picks up the microphone and sings some heavenly "oh-whoa-oh-whoa's" onto the track, the conversation around him barely pausing. It is remarkable watching with what speed and with what little reverence U2 race to change, amend and evolve a song.
Right now, however, they break for dinner, which a cook prepares for them upstairs and which they all eat together around a table.
This new album will be U2's tenth in the studio. "At this point," Bono says, "it's kind of about self-respect and about wanting not to cave in to the obvious contour that you see with rock & roll bands, where their best work is always in their twenties. And our best work has been in our thirties, I think -- we did some good work in our twenties, but it's getting better." He talks about their last album, Pop, which they had to complete in a frantic rush due to the imminent, already-booked PopMart stadium tour: "We had some fun with, you know, fine art and technology, and wrote some great songs, didn't quite finish them, I accept, but the sense of adventure that was behind that record and that tour, I really stand by."
Some of the new songs began to form while they were still on tour. The Edge remembers coming up with the rudiments of "Stuck in a Moment and You Can't Get Out of It" -- which, in the version I hear, is a glorious rush of Philadelphia soul -- in a gospel tune he wrote on a piano in a Japanese hotel room. "I suppose I was consciously looking for something in that tradition," he says. "Having been through that whole experimentation period during Pop -- with techno and dance ideas and dance aesthetics -- it seemed like I wanted to get back to something a bit more earthy."
They began thinking about the new record soon after the tour finished, in Dublin. "We just started with the band," the Edge says. "We thought, 'Let's begin with the essence and develop it from there; we can experiment along the way.'"
"We're still playing with technology -- it's not any kind of revivalist thing," Bono points out.
Early on, they approached Lanois and Eno, whose collaboration with the band began sixteen years ago on The Unforgettable Fire and continued with The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby and Zooropa. Eno first suggested trying to make the record in two short weeks of improvisation, and U2 were intrigued enough to give it a go, working on three or four ideas a day. They came up with material that would be used on the soundtrack to the Wim Wenders movie The Million Dollar Hotel, based on a story co-written by Bono, but little in the way of songs. "I think we could make a record in two weeks," notes the Edge. "It just wouldn't be a great record."
So the band has fallen back into its more usual rhythm of writing and recording and revising. I hear a few of the songs, as finished as they are: "Elevation," a buzzing electro-rock song somewhere between T. Rex and hip-hop, over which Bono half-yelps, half-raps; "In a Little While," a more traditional melodic rhythm & blues, which Bono describes as having "a Holiday Inn-lobby-band feel"; a song provisionally called "Home (This Bird Has Flown)," which right now sounds the closest they have come in years to their surging late-Eighties sound.
"One of the only problems we've had," says Bono, "is that when you put the band in the room with no shenanigans or trickery, they tend to sound a bit like U2." "Who would have thought that'd be a problem when we started out?" mutters Larry Mullen Jr.
After dinner, while the Edge and I remain upstairs to talk, guitar parts spill up the stairs.
"Bono, probably," he evenly replies when I ask who's playing. When we go down, this turns out to be right: Bono has overdubbed two jagged guitar parts on "Stir My Soul."
The Edge listens. "The second half, I don't buy it," he says. "It sounds very . . . clever."
Adam Clayton sits quietly at one side, picking at a bass guitar. Mullen, who has been feeling under the weather, slips home. These two seem to say by far the least at this stage of the recording process, but you get the sense that they're silently influencing events and that a very different record would be made if they didn't turn up each day. Likewise, watching the four of them, you can feel their stubborn collective determination not to settle for second best, or even for something wonderful that doesn't seem fresh, however long it takes.
The Edge listens to Bono's guitar parts again, then turns to me: "See what happens when I turn my back for a minute?" He replays some of Bono's part, without the bits he doesn't like, then he starts playing some more guitar of his own: simple, fuzzed-up notes close together on the fret board, which nonetheless start building and soaring.
Bono looks up, grinning. "That's a special part," he says. The Edge plays more, longer, getting deep into it. Bono gets more excited, kicks a leg in the air: "Oh, boy. It's just, this blue note drops in. It's not even blue, it's purple. It's moldy green. . . ." Bono leans over to me. "I remember Bob Dylan telling me once: It's OK for Edge to play solos, just about. But Edge feels he's not a man who believes in it. It's a very special occasion. . . . You have to hate doing it to be really good at it." The Edge plays on, and Bono leaps to his feet. He launches into a delighted reverie and mentions Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane," which at this moment does not seem particularly inappropriate.
They have finished for the night. "I remember what Bob said," Bono continues. "Bob said, 'What the best ones are about, it's about telling stories.' " Bono grins. "A lot of people don't have anything to say. . . . "
If U2 currently have a problem, it seems to be the opposite: too much to say. In these four hours, the song has entirely shifted again, from sweet to squalling -- and given that this is just four hours from nearly two years' work, it's entirely possibly that nothing resembling either version will appear on the new U2 album. "We're fast," Bono sighs. "The problem is, we keep doing it. We never finish." But this is their way. "What gets us to our best moments," the Edge says, "is a kind of explosive energy, where it kind of all comes together. And you can be waiting a long time for that to happen, and that's the frustration sometimes for us: That's the only way we know how." According to their current schedule, they have only a few more weeks before the album will be finished. Bono begins reminiscing about how, with three days to go, they were told they couldn't possibly finish Achtung Baby. Gleefully, he recalls just how much that record changed in those final seventy-two hours. "That's when it gets really mental," he says.
"Nothing is sacred," notes the Edge. "Nothing is finished, literally, until the CD's in the shop."
(August 2, 2000)
Copyright © 2000 Rollingstone.com, Inc. All rights reserved.
July 12, 2000
U2 Album About To Be Wrapped Up
7.12.00 - music365
U2 are expected to finish their new album in the next few weeks - and will tour their album in 2001.
The band's management have released a statement saying the album will definitely be made available before the end of the year.
The statement reads: the band is currently in the studio and the new U2 album is due to be finished in the next few weeks. It's all on schedule for a late autumn release, but exact dates aren't yet fixed. Full details will be announced in due course once tracklisting, title and release dates have been fixed."
The album is being wrapped up in Dublin. It has been produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.
It has been confirmed that the band have definite plans to tour the new album next year, though it's not yet known how extensive the tour will be, or when the tour will start. The band's PopMart tour for 1997's 'Pop' was their most ambitious live undertaking.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000 365 Corporation plc, and all rights are reserved.
March 13, 2000
U2 Say They'll Give Up Pop Sound For Rock
3.13.00 - Sonicnet News
Singer tells chat audience that album will have 'feeling of people in a room, playing off each other.'
Staff Writer Brian Hiatt reports:
Superstar rockers U2 are abandoning the electronics of Pop and other '90s albums for the sound of "hand-played drums" on an album to be released in September or October, according to lead singer Bono.
"I wanted make sure we heard [drummer] Larry [Mullen] on the record," Bono said in a Yahoo! chat Sunday. "The presence of hand-played drums is very important in these times of canned beats and easy access to them. What's become a rare commodity is the presence of humanity and the feeling of people in a room playing, off each other."
"I'm very, very excited," U2's guitarist, the Edge, said in the chat. "I think it's some of the best things we've done in many, many years. I'm just dying to finish the record and get it out there."
The chat, set up to discuss U2's work on the soundtrack to "The Million Dollar Hotel," was supposed to include only Bono (born Paul Hewson), but the Edge (born David Evans), producer Daniel Lanois and frequent band photographer Anton Corbijn briefly participated.
The online chat - held amid a raucous 40th birthday party in Ireland for U2 bassist Adam Clayton - quickly digressed from "The Million Dollar Hotel" soundtrack to the band's next album.
While the band's last album, Pop (1997), and its predecessors, Zooropa (1993) and Achtung Baby (1991), were largely driven by electronic dance beats, the sound of the new album will be more stripped-down and live, according to Bono.
The singer credited DJ Howie B., who accompanied U2 on the Pop tour, with giving the band the courage to return to rock.
"[He] kept reminding us how unique the band was and how we didn't need to connect with a hip-hop or a dance audience - that within both, there is a U2 audience," Bono said. "[T]his record it's about differentiation, stressing the differences between dance music and being in a band - there is stuff we can do that no DJ can touch, and vice versa."
Yet the band doesn't envision a return to the echoing, anthemic sound of classic albums such as 1987's The Joshua Tree, according to Bono.
"We have no reverse gears on our tank, so the idea of a return to basics is not in the cards," he said. "We advance towards simplicity; we advance toward a stripped-down sound. That is the essence of U2."
The new album's co-producer, Lanois, who worked on The Joshua Tree, said the band still has a lot of work to do. "We're well on our way. We have a lot of its pieces already in play, and now we need to flesh them out," he said. "It's usually a combination of fun and hard work. We've had fun; we have more hard work ahead of us."
In the next few months, the band will finish the lyrics to the album's songs, then decide which 10 or 12 will make it onto the album, according to Bono. "Our problem is that we love starting things and hate finishing them," he said. "We get bored with the technical side of things."
The movie soundtrack, to be released Tuesday (March 14), is being given minimal promotion because of the upcoming album, according to the singer. "The Million Dollar Hotel" includes two new U2 songs, "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" and "Stateless", in addition to the previously released "The First Time" and Bono solo tracks.
"It's got to be a quiet release because the next U2 album is going to very noisy," Bono said.
The Irish band released their first album, Boy, in 1980. They became superstars with the release of Joshua Tree, which spawned such stadium-ready hits as "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."
Copyright © 2000 SonicNet, Inc. All rights reserved.
December 21, 1999
U2's New LP To Be Their Greatest Ever
U2's new album will be "the greatest record we've ever made", according to the band's bassist Adam Clayton. As yet there is no confirmed title, track listing or release date, though a spokesperson for the band did confirm, when contacted by Music365, that the album will be released in late summer.
Speaking in the new edition of Propoganda, the official U2 fanzine, Clayton said that sessions had begun a mere six weeks after the band's worldwide 'PopMart' tour had ended, and that the band have been in the studio frequently since last summer. The album will be distilled from around 20 pieces of music that they have been working on with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.
Clayton said that, unlike with their last album, 'Pop', the emphasis has been on "trying to preserve the recording of the band as a unit". "I'd like to think that we are making the greatest U2 record we've ever made," Clayton concludes. "Bono already does think that!"
At the moment the record's working title is a closely guarded secret, though some working titles for tracks have emerged. Asked by Propoganda to talk about a new song he liked, the band's drummer, Larry Mullen Jr, nominated 'Bulldozer', while singer Bono offered the following enigmatic story concerning a song called 'Kite'. "There's a hill behind my house," he explained. "I took my two little girls up the hill to prove to them and myself I could be the perfect parent. I bought a large four foot by three foot kite - it lasted sixty seconds before it was taken out of my hands and crashed to the ground. The next attempt was taken off in a great gust never to be seen again... The third shot and the two little girls disappeared - I'm still there..."
Additionally, the album is expected to contain 'The Ground Beneath Her Feet', the lyrics of which were written by novelist Salman Rushdie, and the title used as the title of his most recent novel.
Also, as reported earlier on Music365, Bono has inscribed five lines of lyrics for the album on Jubilee2000's "chain of words" around St Martin In The Fields church in Trafalgar Square, London (see our earlier story).
Earlier this month the future of the new U2 album was put in jeopardy when Bono's laptop, which contained everything the singer had written for the LP, was stolen from his car in Dublin. It was later recovered and returned. See previous Music365 story.
Propoganda is available by subscription only. For further information, please contact U2 Propaganda, PO Box 5406, London, W7 1ZU.
Copyright © 1998, 1999 365 Corporation plc, and all rights are reserved.
December 10, 1999
Bono Has Found What He Was Looking For: Missing U2 Album Returned!
BONO's missing laptop has been found.
The U2 frontman's computer, which contained material for the band's new album, was taken from his car in Dublin on Monday December 6.
But according to Irish newspaper The Star today, Friday December 10, they have reunited Bono with his missing property. The singer is quoted as saying "Everything I had written was on it - now the album is back on track. Thanks so much."
The laptop was returned by a young Dubliner named Paul who hap bought it for £300 believing it had come from a reputable source. The man, who didn't want his second name made public, had bought the laptop for his wife who is learning to use computers. He said: "When you switch it on a picture of Bono's new baby (Elijah) appears and as I'm the father of a three month old child myself it made me even more anxious to give it back."
Paul and a reporter from The Star met the singing superstar last night to return the laptop. Bono said: "Everything I've written since August was on this and I hadn't backed up any of it - so I would really have been a goner. This is like my portable brain - unfortunately I've got a smaller one so this stores all my information".
The singer offered to buy Paul a new laptop. The good-natured citizen also stand to pick up a £2000 reward that was offered by U2's management team.
Copyright © 1998, 1999 365 Corporation plc, and all rights are reserved.
December 09, 1999
Lyrics For U2's Next Album Reported Stolen
Words and other work in progress for Irish rock band's record were in Bono's shoulder bag.
Staff Writer Brian Hiatt reports:
A shoulder bag that U2 singer Bono reported missing this week contained lyrics and other work in progress for the superstar rock band's next album, according to the band's manager.
"It's really important that we get it back," manager Paul McGuinness said in a statement Thursday (Dec. 9). "To anyone else it's just a personal computer, and a few pieces of paper. To Bono, obviously, it's much more important."
U2's management company, Principle Management Ltd., is offering a substantial reward for the bag's return, McGuinness said. Reuters reported Wednesday that Bono was offering about 2,000 Irish pounds ($2600).
The black shoulder bag, which had a red luggage tag bearing the management company's address and phone number, was discovered missing Monday night at Clarence Hotel in Dublin, Ireland, according to a statement released Wednesday through U2's UK publicity firm, RMP.
A bag matching that description was reported stolen from the hotel Tuesday, according to Irish police spokesperson Noreen Harrison.
Bono (born Paul Hewson) and U2 guitarist the Edge (born Dave Evans) are investors in the hotel.
U2's album is scheduled for release in 2000. Bono said in an online chat in June that the disc would return the band to a more organic sound than their most recent work.
"It's the sound of four people playing in a room, four people who've known each other all their lives," the 39-year-old singer said of the album, which the band is recording with producers Brian Eno and Lanois Ñ the team behind such previous hit albums as The Joshua Tree (1987).
The band's most recent studio album was Pop (1997).
Copyright © 1999 SonicNet, Inc. All rights reserved.
October 06, 1999
Bono Says U2 Making "Beautiful Soul Music"
10.6.99 - music365
U2's Bono has admitted the band have almost finished their forthcoming album, and that the record will be released early next year and he's hinted that band will turn their back on stadium-sized gigs in favour of indoor venues.
He has told the BBC's Radio 1 that the album, which the band are finishing off, is a collection of "beautiful soul songs".
And the star, who has been a vociferous spokesman for the Jubilee 2000 campaign for western nations to forgive debts from poorer countries, says the music has been an escape from the sometimes overwhelming diet of political and economic discussions. last week both the US and UK governments pledged to write off nearly $US9 billion in debt from poorer nations if the money is used to help the countries' infrastructures.
"It's getting a bit mad. I mean, I look in the mirror and I see a bowler hat and a briefcase. This is about the unhippest thing I've been involved in and I've been involved in a few un-hip things in my life!"
Bono says that the new album has a very band feel and will be well suited to live performances.
And he hopes the group, who have not toured since the 1997 PopMart tour, will be able to play smaller venues this time.
"These big gigs in stadiums, if they go right they're one of the most extraordinary nights of your life. If they go wrong they're a misery. With U2 I think we're great outdoors, but I think it's time to give people who wanna see us indoors a chance".
Copyright © 1998, 1999 365 Corporation plc, and all rights are reserved.
June 19, 1999
U2 To Revisit Early Sound On Next Album, Bono Says
6.11.99 - Sonicnet News
Singer says the superstar band also plans to significantly pare down its stage props on future tours.
Contributing Editor Brian Hiatt reports:
U2, who embraced flashy electronic sounds and even flashier onstage gimmickry during the '90s, plan a return to the guitar-bass-drums roots that first made them superstars for their next album and tour, according to lead singer Bono.
"It's the sound of four people playing in a room, four people who've known each other all their lives," the 39-year-old singer said Thursday (June 10) about the album, which the band is recording with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois -- the team behind such previous records as The Joshua Tree (1987).
Bono (born Paul Hewson) said the album, which has yet to be titled, likewise will find U2 reclaiming their earlier sound, which they abandoned for more experimental, electronic-tinged sonics beginning with 1991's Achtung Baby, which featured the hit "Mysterious Ways".
Bono discussed the superstar band's future during a SonicNet/Yahoo chat, which was his first-ever such experience and was intended to publicize his support for Jubilee 2000, a charity coalition that aims to persuade the world's wealthiest countries to forgive the massive debts owed by the poorest ones.
The singer is scheduled to travel to Cologne, Germany, next week to participate in a protest aimed at attendees of the G8 summit, a meeting of the world's leading economic powers. He will be joined there by former Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell (born Perry Bernstein), Radiohead singer Thom Yorke and former Boomtown Rats frontman and Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof, Jubilee 2000 officials said. Bono wrote Thursday that he and his fellow Jubilee supporters have no intention of performing in Germany.
"We're going to Cologne on business -- serious business," he wrote. "[There will be] 100,000 of us if the sun shines, and we're not going to take no for an answer."
Bono said his latest songs won't necessarily be political, despite his involvement in Jubilee 2000 and in the Jubilee-affiliated anti-poverty concert, Net Aid, which will be held in New Jersey, as well as in London and Geneva, on Oct. 8.
U2 have never shied away from political lyrics. The Irish rockers, who combine an earnest, searching spirituality with soaring melodies powered by the mighty lead guitar of the Edge (born David Evans), became superstars with their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree. Their multiplatinum-selling 1983 album, War, which focused on the conflicts in Northern Ireland, established the band's politically conscious reputation, which was also evident on 1984's "Pride (In the Name of Love)"; the song is a tribute to slain civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
"You have no choice of subject matter," Bono said. "You write what's in your heart and on your mind, unless of course it's crap, which means you thought about it too much."
He said he didn't know when he and his bandmates -- the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen -- will be finished with the new album, the follow-up to the dance-oriented Pop (1997). But the band has already given some thought to its next tour, he said.
Beginning with the ZooTV tour that followed Achtung Baby, U2's tours became increasingly elaborate productions, culminating in the 1997 PopMart tour, which featured -- among other costly props -- a massive yellow arch and a giant lemon from which the band emerged for its encores.
But PopMart may have been the band's last extravaganza, according to Bono: "NASA wants the lemon for their museum, McDonalds took the yellow arch back," he wrote. "So I guess that leaves a drum kit, one Vox amp and a loud [P.A.] to throw in the back of our humble jumbo."
Copyright © 1999 SonicNet, Inc. All rights reserved.
April 30, 1999
Eno, Lanois Back At Work With U2
4.30.99 - Billboard Online
Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois are working with U2 on their forthcoming album. They and the band are in Dublin writing and assembling material for the set, which as yet has no release date. The act is signed to the newly created Universal/Island in the U.K.; a U.S. label has not been determined.
Eno and Lanois were responsible for the fluid, theatrical sound of U2's 1984 album "The Unforgettable Fire."
The new album will feature a song co-written by Salman Rushdie and Bono. The track -- which has the same title as Rushdie's new novel involving the music business, "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" -- is described by Rushdie as "a ballad, a sad love song, very Celtic with a high, haunting melody but with a tabla drum which gives it an Indian resonance."
Plans to release the song on the Internet to coincide with the book's publication have been dropped. "I wanted the book to have its moment, and I didn't want it to be thought of merely as a seed-bed for a song by U2," Rushdie says. "But I'm thrilled they have done it, because I like the blurring of fiction and reality."
Prior to submitting the manuscript to his publisher, Rushdie consulted other music-business personalities, including U2 manager Paul McGuinness and guitarist/writer Mark Knopfler. -- Nigel Williamson, Dominic Pride, London
Copyright © 1999 Billboard Online. All rights reserved.
March 26, 1997
Bono Explains It All For You
Los Angeles Times, 1997
Bono Explains It All For You
By Robert Hilburn
Bono understands the confusion that "Discotheque," the first single from U2's new "Pop" album, has created with its infusion of electronic dance-club elements into the rock band's sound. Speaking by phone from Dublin on the eve of the album's release Tuesday, he outlined the band's aims in "Pop," the dance- culture connection and the album's most striking song, "Wake Up Dead Man."
"We didn't set out to make a club culture record. We were just inspired by a lot of the music being made by hip-hop and dance artists and we wanted to explore some of those elements," Bono said. "But we still wanted to make a U2 record and I think people will recognize that as soon as they hear the rest of 'Pop.'
"Some people are going to hear the words 'dance' and 'club culture' used and put on our record and go, 'That's not a club culture record.' And they are right," he said. "Most of 'Pop' is not something that would sound right on the sound system of a big dance club, but it wasn't designed for that.
"The real club culture aspect of the music is still to come in the remixes, which will be released as singles . The plan is to put out one CD single with a couple of B-sides the way we normally do and then put out a second CD single with remixes for the clubs. We already have an astonishing single remix of 'Staring at the Sun' done by Butch Vig and Danny Saber."
As for "Wake Up Dead Man," Bono said, "To me, the song goes back to the idea of David being the first blues singer, and the first man on record to shout at God in this angry fashion. There are a lot of people who feel that if there is a God, then roll him out because they've got some questions to ask. It's a very angry song."
Copyright © Los Angeles Times. All rights reserved.
Pop & more
by Mike Pattenden
Few releases can cause as much speculation, anticipation and activity as a new U2 album, but the scale of interest preceding the release of Pop, the band's 11th album, is unprecedented in recent years.
There have been leaks, broken embargoes and wild rumours surrounding the project since it began 14 months ago, and these have grown ever more frantic as it has approached completion. All par for the course for a band that can still consider itself the biggest in the world after more than a decade at the top.
The release of Discotheque, the first single from the LP, has only served to sharpen the appetite with its combination of powerhouse rhythm, muscular Edge riffs and insistent groove. A 300,000 ship-out, the biggest in Island's history, makes the record destined for the number one spot here but Discotheque has done little to stifle speculation as to the direction of the LP.
With long-time associate Flood joined in the studio by Soul II Soul/Massive Attack guru Nellee Hooper, trip hop artist Howie B and Steve Osborne, one half of Perfecto, many were led to expect a dance album from the band. This theory was further confused by conflicting comments from Bono that the band were "going to make a trip-hop record"/"a rock'n'roll record. Bright red. No whingeing."
In fact initial listens suggest that Pop is a rich hybrid, unmistakably U2: powerful, big-sounding, richly melodic but inflected with a distinct club feel in its atmospherics and styling. Songs like Mofo and Last Night On Earth sound like classic U2 while others, notably The Playboy Mansion and Miami, have a dancefloor feel. "It's very much a rock'n'roll record but at the same time it's steeped in dance culture," agrees manager Paul McGuinness. "Creatively, they always follow their noses, they intended to make a modern-sounding record at the outset and they've achieved that."
"The whole thing about calling the album Pop is to emphasise its diverseness," explains Flood. "Some of the singles are more obviously rock-orientated but that's not true of the album as a whole. The basic premise was that they wanted to move on, that they couldn't repeat themselves. They wanted to bring in elements from the dance world and integrate them, not necessarily with the aim of turning it into a danceable album, but to synthesise a new sound. That's why different people came in - they wanted to experiment with different influences."
Sessions for Pop began in November 1995 at the band's new studios at Hanover Quay, dubbed HQ, in Dublin's dockland area, with everyone generally working in 12-hour shifts most days, together or separately. The recording proceeded, with small breaks, through to Christmas of last year when it was finally completed with a batch of nearly 30 tracks whittled down to the 12 which appear on the LP. Occasional hiatuses occurred, notably early on when Larry Mullen sought medical help for a chronic back problem.
Virtually all the finished songs bear contributions from the various producers, often on the same track, with few bearing the stamp of one single member of the team. Such a modus operandi could have disintegrated into a war of egos but, says Flood, while there were obviously disagreements, things never got out of control.
One name did emerge as a very significant force in the making of the record, according to McGuinness. Howie B, (nee Bernstein) remains enthusiastic about his part in Pop. The DJ, producer and artist was associated with the Mo Wax crowd a few years back and his skills have become much in demand. He assisted with Everything But The Girl's fresh dancefloor direction on Walking Wounded and first collaborated with U2 on the Passengers project. This time he took his engineering skills, ideas and record collection into the studio with him. "I began just playing tunes, old school hip-hop, that sort of thing, and we talked," he says, explaining his part in the process. "Then we were jamming together in the studio. I was putting together beats and loops, digging out samples. For example, Discotheque started out as a little wee jam me and The Edge had that turned into this mad tune."
Frequently, he confesses, the recording took wild left-turns. "It went off at magic tangents and that was the best thing about it. Half the time I didn't have a clue what was going on. As long as you were able to react to what was happening and were honest, it was really exciting."
Island managing director Marc Marot explains how one of the tracks altered radically under this working régime. "I've got an early version of a track called Mofo which was originally a much more traditional-sounding U2 record then it turned into this monstrous Bomb The Bass meets U2 meets Nine Inch Nails type thing, which is 100 degrees hotter than the original."
The finished result, he says, ranks among their best work. "It is more than the album I hoped they'd produce. It more than surpasses my expectations. It's both extremely modern and traditional U2 at the same time. It has an experimental edge but the spine harks back to traditional U2 territory. Fans are going to be delighted with it."
McGuinness is equally bullish about the finished treatment and feels confident about its potential in the US, U2's biggest territory. "The record is very well-timed, particularly in the US where dance-based music has made very little impact until recently. With The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers beginning to make inroads, it comes at a good time and I think the sound behind Pop could even open up the market in America."
Reflecting the album's diversity Island America managing director Hooman Majd prefers to concentrate on Pop's strength in the modern rock area, where things have been stagnant in the US for some time. "I think it's incredibly impressive. Given the state of the American charts and suggestions that maybe the alternative market is a bit flat here I think this will turn everything upside down. It sounds very much of the time, everyone is hoping it will spark the market. Certainly the retailers who have heard it here feel strongly that it's an adventurous and exciting record."
Pop faces strong competition in the US from Live, whose new album Secret Samadhi is released two weeks earlier, and the continued success of No Doubt. Pop should have seen the light of day in November but was delayed when both sides felt that it wasn't quite ready. But this left Island without a major Christmas release, which Marot maintains they simply had to accept. "You can't take a three-month snapshot of a company and those sort of pressures certainly can't be allowed to intrude on an act. In the history of things people will remember Pop, not whether Island had a bad last quarter of '96," he says.
More serious were the various leaks which sprung around the single and resulted in the release-date being brought forward a week. An original problem which emanated from the band's fanbase on the internet was superseded by a security breach which ended with America's KROQ playing the single over Christmas. "We turned the original problem to our advantage, and generated a lot of press from it," says Marot. "We had stories in Time, Rolling Stone, Newsweek and the national newspapers but the second leak was more damaging. It was a question of our international media and retail plan being thrown into disarray. We chose a release window which we thought was best for the artist and were forced to change. We took a decision to bring Discotheque forward and we moved mountains to do it."
With a worldwide act the size of U2 a major release like Pop becomes a juggling act, maintains Marot. "You simply can't afford to be parochial about a record like this, you'll never see us going for a Chart Show exclusive if there's something needed somewhere else. We try to be even-handed and while the UK is U2's second biggest market they're still growing in the Far East and parts of Europe. There's potential here to take them beyond the 10m mark. However, that sort of volume of sales can't be achieved without touring as Majd is keen to point out. "Touring is crucial for big sales, a band like U2 put on a real show and it puts them in the shop window. People look at REM and say that the last record wasn't successful but one of the reasons it didn't do so well is that they didn't tour, same with Pearl Jam."
With this in mind U2 are set to announce a major world tour at a press conference in New York on February 12. Opening in the US this April it moves to Europe in July, runs through to October there before the band head back to America for a second leg.
Figures in the region of $100m are being bandied about, which would make it the biggest-grossing tour ever and a very attractive vehicle for outside sponsorship. McGuinness confirms they have had approaches but maintains nothing has been sealed. "There are always people who would like to be associated with the band, particularly in the information technology world. Since that's stuff we like to use it's not something we're rejecting out of hand but no deal has been inked so far." Heavyweight computer companies like Microsoft and Apple appear to be in the running. There is a distinct possibility that one of the acts on Mother Records - the label co-owned by the band, McGuinness and Malcolm Dunbar - is in the running for a support slot. Both the Longpigs and Audioweb have shown promise - the former performing well here - but a support slot on the tour could break them worldwide.
With U2 preparing for live action once again it would mean little let-up in the punishing schedule they have maintained throughout the Nineties. With two huge world tours, three major album releases plus a host of side projects, including the Eno collaboration Passengers, plus film soundtrack work on big budget movies like Batman and Mission:Impossible, U2 are rock music's biggest workaholics. "They are an example to younger bands who may have sold a million records on what it means to stay at the top. They work incredibly hard and I have nothing but admiration for them," says Marot.
It's difficult not to agree with him as U2 prepare to put the Pop into popular.
March 13, 1997
U2's 'Pop' Pops Off to a Good Start
Los Angeles Times, March 13, 1997
U2's 'Pop' Pops Off to a Good Start
U2's much-anticipated "Pop" album on Island Records is off to an encouraging start, entering the national sales chart at No. 1 by selling nearly 350,000 copies last week, according to SoundScan.
That's the highest single-week total this year and the biggest opening-week figure since the 479,000 copies generated by Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Tha Doggfather" last November. The results surely led to a sigh of relief in the record industry, which had seen several of its rock superstars, including Pearl Jam and R.E.M., come in with relatively disappointing opening-week figures -- a trend in recent months that has greatly troubled the $12-billion-a-year industry, whose sales have been flat for two years.
"It's a very healthy first week," said Geoff Mayfield, charts editor of Billboard magazine. "It's a very respectable start."
U2's last two albums, 1991's "Achtung Baby" and 1993's "Zoo-ropa," sold an estimated 275,000 and 377,000 copies in their first weeks. The albums went on to sell 5 million and 2 million, respectively.
Meanwhile, however, ticket sales for the Irish rock group's lavish world tour, which begins April 25 in Las Vegas, have been mixed. While shows have sold out and dates have been added in some cities, including New York and Chicago, Amusement Business magazine reported that only about 20,000 tickets have been sold in San Diego and Tempe, Ariz.
Copyright © 1997 Los Angeles Times. All rights reserved.
March 01, 1997
Pop, Pop, Pop Music
Q Magazine, March 1997
Pop, Pop, Pop Music
U2's New Album, Track by Track
DISCOTHEQUE The first single, complete with "boom"-enriched outro and accompanying video featuring soon-to-be-legendary appearance of U2 as the Village People. Bono: "When we were recording that, we had the whole studio in mirrorballs and disco lights."
DO YOU FEEL LOVED Heavy groove-based rocker in the tradition of "Even Better Than The Real Thing." Very likely single. Wry personal reference suspected in the opening lines:"Take these hands they're good for nothing/You know these hands never worked a day."
MOFO Sonic assault as U2 are possessed by the twin spirits of Underworld and The Prodigy, with Bono at his most cathartic. Breakneck double-tracked drumming quite likely the highlight of Larry Mullen's recorded career.
IF GOD WILL SEND HIS ANGELS Slow-winding ballad constructed around a title that existed during Zooropa sessions. Bono: "It's this guy beating up his girlfriend about her searching for answers and just telling her to look around. It's like science fiction gospel. Edge is calling it country hip-hop."
STARING AT THE SUN Infectious, sky-scraping pop song with echoes of Ray Davies and Bowie's Soul Love. Notable alone for middle eight couplet, "referee won't blow the whistle/God is good but will he listen?" Dead-cert summer number one.
LAST NIGHT ON EARTH U2 play Oasis at their own game. Steaming rocker with powerful Beatle-y chorus. The last track to be finished, with vocals recorded at 7am on the day of the album cut. Bono: "It felt like the last night on earth, alright."
GONE Soaring uplifter oddly reminiscent of The Verve, replete with darkly spiritual lyric. Likely to be emotional highpoint of candlelight vigil if U2's plane ever goes down. Edge: "There's many layers to that song and there's another level to it which I haven't figured yet."
MIAMI The strangest track of all. Electro experimental before Mullen kicks in with weighty John Bonham-styled groove. Lyrical snapshots of a band trip to Florida in spring '96. Edge: "It's sort of creative tourism."
THE PLAYBOY MANSION Touching tale of lottery playing average Joe fantasising about gaining entry to Hugh Hefner's private Disneyland, set to '60's flavoured trip-hop. Return to knowingly delivered truisms in verses, including the maybe libellous, "If coke is a mystery/Michael Jackson.....History."
IF YOU WEAR THAT VELVET DRESS Muted and frankly, horny ballad with echoes of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." Something for the weekend. Edge: "That was a song that basically came out of improvisation with Nellee Hooper."
PLEASE Shuffly meandering and moody bid-pacer. Edge: "One of the most intricate pieces of music we've ever written."
WAKE UP DEAD MAN Spaghetti-western atmosphere bristling with distant radio voices. A distorted Bono voices his frustration to Jesus "I'm alone in this world/And a f*cked up world it is too."
Copyright © 1997 Q Magazine. All rights reserved.
February 14, 1997
About Pop and more
The Guardian, February 14, 1997
Last November, out on the highway, U2 got mugged. It was on the information super- highway, of course, and there was no violence involved - just an intricate hack into their studio computers in Dublin which resulted in 30-second snatches of two unfinished songs from their new album being posted on the Internet, played by a US radio station, and then bootlegged on CDs which sold for £6 each.
There was a lot of bluster at the time, but in the end it did the group no harm: the finished version of Discotheque, one of the songs stolen, has just gone straight in at number one. Although the charts have been remarkably soft so far in 1997, with singles shooting to the top only to disappear a week later, this is only U2's third number one single and last week their record company, Island, sent 300,000 records - their biggest shipment ever - out into the shops to satisfy demand. Like the cyberspace robber, it's a clear indication of the excitement surrounding the band's eagerly awaited new album, Pop, a record which has been rumoured to be trip-hop, techno, even trance - but definitely moving in a new direction.
Pop had originally been scheduled for completion last September; but is now due in the shops on March 3. For a band as big as U2, this delay means more than disappointing the fans: when it was announced that the album wouldn't, after all, be ready for the lucrative pre-Christmas trading period, Island warned that it would be trading at a loss that quarter without the £30 million or so in sales the album was expected to generate, and shares in parent company Polygram fell as a result.
But for U2, this was important for other reasons. It was their first for almost a decade without Brian Eno as producer, a partnership that perhaps went as far it could go with Original Soundtracks Volume 1, an album released in 1995 under the alias Passengers and featuring U2 and Eno alongside Pavarotti and dance producer, DJ Howie B. Most of the band defend the project, but interviewed in Q magazine this month, drummer Larry Mullen made no attempt to conceal his dislike: "For me at least, there's a thin line between making interesting music and being self-indulgent. We crossed that line several times on Passengers. Mine is that it's a lot of very very bad, self-indulgent music".
This, and the current vitality of dance music, explains the new direction. Despite the sales approaching 70 million records, U2 have never been afraid to experiment. When they set out in 1978, their ambitions were unfashionably grand for a group influenced by the energy of punk. They wanted, from the start, to be one of the biggest bands in the world, and they succeeded. Their strategy of almost constant, gruelling touring of the US finally paid off when their album The Joshua Tree broke through there in 1987, eventually going on to sell 15 million copies world-wide. But by 1988, and the Rattle and Hum album, what had once sounded grand and swaggering had begun to sound pompous, and they were teetering on the edge of self-parody. They could easily have fallen victim to what is known as Simple Minds Syndrome, a disease whereby music echoes emptily around stadiums and causes those playing it to stagnate into huge, immovable fossils. But instead U2 imploded, introducing synthesisers and new technology into what had previously been a very orthodox guitar-led rock sound and triumphantly reinventing themselves with 1991's Achtung Baby.
Some tracks from this album were given to DJ Paul Oakenfold and his studio partner Steve Osborne to remix, making U2 one of the first big rock acts to dabble in the emerging club culture, and by 1993 they even had Oakenfold touring with them for nine months, warming up the stadiums instead of a support act. Which is why the rumours of a dance album were so readily believed, especially when Bjork/Madonna producer Nellee Hooper was brought in for a while. Eventually, however, U2 settled with the chaotic-sounding combination of Howie B and their regular engineer/co-producer Flood in the studio, plus Mark "Spike" Stent and Steve Osborne helping out on mixes.
"The basic premise was that they wanted to move on, that they couldn't repeat themselves," Flood told Music Week. "They wanted to bring in elements from the dance world and integrate them, not necessarily with the aim of turning it into a danceable album, but to synthesise a new sound. That's why different people came in; they wanted to experiment with different influences." "I began just playing tunes, old school hip-hop, that sort of thing and we talked," says Howie B. "Then we were jamming together in the studio. I was putting together beats and loops, digging out samples. It went off at magic tangents, and that was the best thing about it. Half the time I didn't have a clue what was going on. As long as you were able to react to what was happening and were honest, it was really exciting."
The result is not so much a dance album as an album influenced by the way dance records are put together. There are samples, sequencers and dense, layered textures, tunes built from samples and breakbeats, but there are also real drums, loud guitars and tracks that are far closer to Velvet Underground than The Prodigy. "You don't learn by drawing a line and saying these are the limits of rock'n'roll, or these are the size of the buildings you should play," Bono has said about the album. "Success is one thing in pop music, but staying relevant is a bigger challenge."
Ten years ago, U2 had no serious competition from their peers - no one really expected the likes of The Jesus And Mary Chain to go global. Now few doubt that groups like Oasis and Radiohead could, very soon, be packing in stadiums across America if they spend enough time there and work at it. And it is becoming ever more difficult for rock music to sound new. The weight of its history is pressing it flat, and with reissued CDs available in every record shop, the current generation is more aware of its legacy - which is why so much of the music they make verges on pastiche. With a group like Oasis, their youth, their attitude is what makes their retrospection seem fresh and exciting. But for groups like U2 and REM - men who are now in their mid-to-late thirties - it is more of a problem. Rock'n'Roll is still primarily an adolescent form, and both groups are struggling in their different ways to continue making music that is fresh without becoming parodies of their younger selves - like the Rolling Stones.
In Q, Bono admits that there was a ban on playing Beatles records in the studio during the making of the album, and that its title, Pop, is "a way of dodging the 'O' word, ie Oasis. Y'Know, what is rock music now ? What is it ? Because there once was a time when people hadn't heard the sound of an electric guitar overloading through a little printed circuit going into an amp. When people heard Hendrix, that was fresh. We're doing the same through sampling, just different little printed circuits. Using the technology, abusing the technology. It's the William Burrough's thing, that you cut up the past to form the future. There's a difference between liking something because it reminds you of something that was great. That karaoke aspect of where rock'n'roll is now."
Perhaps the most pertinent thing to be said about U2 is summed up in the final sentences of the potted biography they send out to the press. It reads, simply, "No one has ever left U2; no member has ever joined. The band remains in Dublin, Ireland where they grew up and met." U2 were school friends when they decided to form a band in 1978; almost 20 years later, they are still friends. There have been crises, of course, times when they looked like falling apart, but some of their best work (Achtung Baby, for instance), came out of these periods.
The band will not discuss their finances (such figures, their manager told me when I asked about the profits likely to be generated by their upcoming tour, "always look vulgar written down"), but are said to be worth something like £75 million each. They live in Ireland, away from the intrusions of the British tabloids. They don't welcome Hello! into their homes. They don't flaunt their wealth, their cars, their art collections, but nor do they sit around wringing their hands, complaining of Paradise Syndrome and whinging. Writing in his diary of 1995, A Year With Swollen Appendices, Brian Eno records warm, friendly dinner parties, late-night drinking sessions and people who seemed to be living proper, enjoyable lives without too much angst. In one entry he notes, "Fascinating to see that, after all this time, there is still such courtesy, understanding and love between them."
Their manager, Paul McGuinness, says the band have survived when many of their peers - The Pretenders, The Police - have fallen by the wayside because they are first and foremost friends, because they have managed to keep moving creatively, but most of all because they are "obsessively - sometimes annoyingly - democratic". All royalties are split between them five ways (McGuinness getting one share) , so there have never been the same conflicts about money and songwriting credits that tear many bands apart. All decisions are unanimous. Which is why, without someone like Eno to adjudicate, Pop perhaps took so long to finish.
Apart from a brief period when bassist Adam Clayton was engaged to Naomi Campbell, the band managed to supply the tabloids with remarkably little entertainment over the years. Clayton's relationship with the model was called off after he was reported to have gone on a bender in a London hotel, phoning out for prostitutes to party with him. In December 1993, he failed to turn up to a concert in Australia after unspecified "over- indulgence", and was replaced on stage by a roadie - the only time another musician has appeared on stage with the band. But even this, in the end, was undramatic. The band closed ranks, and rallied round in support. Clayton is now clean, sober, and not at all inclined to do the obligatory round of hand-wringing, confessional interviews now expected of celebrities in such circumstances. It is, he has said firmly, a personal matter.
If the press find reason to attack U2 at all, it is for being pompous, earnest or self- righteous, but even here they seem to have it wrong. Reviews of Pop will be mixed: sections of the rock press will resent the intrusion of dance music's technology, club culture will meanwhile complain of bandwagon-jumping and declare that it doesn't go far enough. In the end, neither will really matter. At a press conference in a K-Mart store in New York last Wednesday, U2 announced their Disco-Mart tour, playing 100 or so dates to an estimated five million people and selling their album to the world. Staging promises to be even more spectacular than the Zoo TV tour, with a screen half the size of a football pitch flashing images at the crowd, a 70-foot olive on a stick conveying the disco theme and the band arriving on stage inside a giant mirrorball. The circus will kick off in the US in spring, come to the UK at the end of summer, with dates at Wembley (August 22), Leeds (August 28), and Edinburgh (September 2), and will travel to places off the current world tour circuit like South Africa and Estonia. And despite speculation about involvement by Apple or Microsoft, once again there will not be a sponsor. "Sponsors," comments Paul McGuinness wryly, "tend to be rather needy." Fans used to paying £20 or more to watch their idols dancing around a giant soft drink or beer bottle on stage will tend to agree.
And Pop will sound good in stadiums. It isn't a trip-hop album, or a techno album. You can't dance to it, as the band proved themselves in their rather naff Village People parody video. What U2 have managed to do is something far more interesting. They've made a modern, relevant album that also sounds unmistakably like it was made by U2. "As Bob Dylan said, 'He not busy being born is busy dying,' and I think the death starts in your record collection," explains Bono. "I like to feel alive. I think I'm awake, and this is the noise that keeps me alive".
Copyright © 1997 The Guardian. All rights reserved.
February 09, 1997
Searching For A Sound To Bridge The Decades
New York Times, February 9, 1997
Searching For A Sound To Bridge The Decades
by Jon Pareles
DUBLIN -- It was crunch time for U2. The Irish band's next single had to be finished within three days, and the deadline for the complete album, which had not yet been entitled "Pop," was less than a month away. U2, with its producers and engineers, was recording and mixing in two studios simultaneously. Workdays stretched to 14 and 16 hours. But even at that stage, everything was subject to change -- including, as it turned out, the final deadline. "We have trouble finishing things," said the Edge, U2's guitarist. The album, originally due last September as a pre-Christmas release, was finished in late December, with all-night recording sessions up to the last minute. It is to be released March 4.
During the nine months it took to make "Pop," U2 invited a few journalists in to watch the band record. This observer joined the group just as it was finishing the single, which was released last week. It was a rare chance for an outsider to see a process that usually takes place in private. For a band like U2, making an album is essentially a slow-motion improvisation in which ideas are seized and refined while the tapes roll. What state was the album in? "Chaos," said Bono, U2's lead singer. "Promise," said the Edge.
U2 was intent on renewing itself, determined to sound like neither its 1980's incarnation -- as the most achingly sincere, and sometimes self-important, band of the decade -- or the raucous, buzz-and-crunch rock band that has survived the short attention spans of the early 1990's. Like R.E.M. in the United States, U2 has been able to maintain the respect of alternative rockers while reaching a broader audience; unlike R.E.M., whose latest album was a commercial disappointment, U2 will wholeheartedly promote "Pop" with a world tour that begins in the spring. U2's label, Island, and much of the recording business hope that U2 is one group from the 1980's that can still sell like superstars.
U2 made "Boy," its 1980 debut album, when its four members, friends from high school, were still teen-agers. The combination of the Edge's echoing guitar, Bono's impassioned voice and the martial rhythms of Adam Clayton on bass and Larry Mullen on drums was an arena-size peal, as instantly recognizable as the sound of the Who. The music itself evoked idealism with the resonance of a cathedral while carrying lyrics about adolescent turmoil and mystical Christianity. U2 made honesty sound like a holy quest, and millions of listeners responded, hearing their own yearnings in choruses like "I still haven't found what I'm looking for."
The band's old approach continues to reverberate in best-selling bands like Live. But in 1988, U2 reached a dead end with "Rattle and Hum." As it strained to create the sound of integrity, it ended up with awkward emulations of American blues and soul. So, a decade into its career, U2 transformed itself for its 1991 album, "Achtung Baby." It exchanged transparency for distortion and earnestness for a nervy ambiguity. "We were absolutely adamant that we didn't want to sound like U2," the Edge said. "We're so much better if we don't know what we're doing, because if it's too easy, then that's what it sounds like -- too easy."
For its Zoo TV world tour in 1992, U2 filled stadiums as it performed amid a barrage of television imagery, mocking and savoring both the global marketplace and U2's own celebrity. "Zooropa," released in 1993, certified that U2 wasn't looking back. "We're probably the only European band of our generation still releasing relevant records and still playing in large spaces," said Adam Clayton, U2's bass player. "We've grown up along with a section of our audience. But we've always been relevant to a younger audience, and we enjoy that position too much to give it up unwittingly. I think that in rock-and-roll, for a credible artist, the age limit may be about 35. But if you stay honest, you can push the age restriction a bit." Clayton and Bono are 36 years old; the Edge and Mullen are 35.
"Rock-and-roll is obsessed with juvenilia," said Bono. "But the sense of threat that rock-and-roll has is actually not about boys. There's nothing scary about a man trying to be a boy. Men are scarier than boys."
Before starting "Pop," U2 took a year off, then made "Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1," which was billed as a collaboration by Brian Eno and the four band members. It's an album of songs for real and imaginary films, full of eerie textures and juxtapositions; it eased the band back into the studio. By the time U2 started working on "Pop," the band's ninth full-length album, its members had grown fascinated by current dance music.
To make "Pop," U2 chose two producers. Flood, a soft-spoken Englishman, worked on "Zooropa" and has also produced albums for Depeche Mode and Smashing Pumpkins. Howie B., a disk jockey and remixer with his own independent label, Pussyfoot, is fluent in subgenres from acid jazz to trip-hop to techno to drum-and-bass to lounge. Potentially, Flood could shape the monumental tones and dynamics of arena rock; Howie B. could manipulate off-the-wall samples and sustain the abstract rhythms heard at after-hours dance clubs.
Like David Bowie, whose new album, "Earthling," embraces the chattering electronic rhythms of drum-and-bass dance music, U2 hears its future in up-to-date grooves. But it but doesn't intend to abandon melody.
"Musicians, painters, whatever, they have no choice but to describe where they live," said Bono, whose ordinary conversation is often true to a tradition of Irish bards. "Sometimes it may seem hard to keep your ear on the street because there's a lot of stuff you don't want to pick up. But as Bob Dylan said, 'He not busy being born is busy dying,' and I think the death starts in your record collection. I like to feel alive. I think I'm awake, and this is the noise that keeps me awake."
After "Pop" was finished, Bono described it as "a mixed-up kid of a record." Behind its surface exuberance, "Discotheque" broods over the elusiveness of love; from there, much of the album is moody and introspective. "Discotheque' is to get people dizzy so we can take advantage of them for the rest of the album," Bono said. The songs, consistent with U2's past, are often about searching: for love, for faith, for purpose. Amid the hipster drumbeats and rough-cut guitars, the songs are willing to confide their uncertainty. "That seems to be what U2 has to do now, to keep the context opposite the content," Bono said. "People think we're fun, but it's very personal music."
The title "Pop" was deliberately chosen. "Even though this record sounds like a sprawl, and the sounds are quite radical, there's a songwriting discipline at work here which is kind of pop," Bono said. "We were also annoyed at the word rock."
"It's a record about looking for some kind of transcendence as well as trash," he added. "And looking under the trash is where you seem to find that transcendence. In among the noise, that's where I hear that whisper."
But the concept was a matter of hindsight. In an era of 48-track recording, studio albums are less the execution of a conceptual blueprint than they are accretions of details: planned and improvised, inspired and accidental. A finished song is the residue of innumerable decisions, painstakingly assembled in the hope of sounding spontaneous and ineluctably right. "Sometimes a song is like a crystal," the Edge said. "Everything just develops in a clear and obvious way. But not very often."
The process can be wearying. "Options are the enemy," Bono said. "A door opens and you walk through it, and you're down a lane way, and there's a light on in somebody's bedroom, and you knock on a door, you're upstairs, you have a glass of wine, and the next thing you know you're in Italy. There are all these diversions, and they're so tantalizing."
In the studio, U2 keeps its options open. As its deadline loomed, the band had nearly two albums' worth of material in various stages of completion. Almost invariably, the words would come last, as Bono and the Edge responded to the mood of the music they had assembled.
"Sometimes it takes a few months for a record to focus," the Edge said. "You've got a lot of nearly finished ideas that could go lots of different ways, and then suddenly you see how things interact." On a board charting the progress of songs were notations like "Try new melody on chorus" and, for "Do You Feel Loved," the injunction: "Pop vs. rock ... discuss."
U2's policy is to discuss everything. The band makes its decisions by consensus, over lunches and dinners or in the studio. "Everybody gets involved in everything," Mullen explained. "Sometimes that can be a real pain, because everybody's got opinions. But we've fine-tuned it over the years, and we're all fighting for the same thing in the end, to make great songs."
Flood, who has seen all sorts of approaches to recording, was impressed by U2's insistence on unanimity.
"They're very egoless," he said. "The ego has to do with the four of them, not each of them separately."
For today's session, the first task was to wrap up the single. "Discotheque" would be the song to announce that U2 was back in action, with a jabbing, insistent guitar hook and echoes of dance hits from "Dance to the Music" to "Love to Love You, Baby." The song begins with the line, "You can reach but you can't grab it." Bono described it as "an earnest little riddle about love, though it comes off as bubble gum." "
For the past few days, Flood and U2 had been re-editing "Discotheque," shuffling its sections -- which had been assigned names like "Drugs" and "Religious" -- with a computer. Over lunch, listening to various versions, the whole band had approved a structure. But Bono wasn't happy with the way he had sung the word "tonight" three times in the song's last verse.
"All right, Conal, full disco!" Bono instructed the assistant engineer, who flicked some switches. In the control room, above the console, a spotlight illuminated a mirror ball; a machine projected a city skyline on the wall.
Bono clutched a microphone and started tapping his foot to the music. To record three words, he would sing the song all the way through; perhaps he would improve on the existing takes. He sang while half-climbing out of his chair, then stepped up onto a table and worked his arms and chest as if he were on stage. He tried singing in a big, melodramatic voice, and then in a gentle falsetto; he tried a slight hesitation before the third "tonight." Flood stayed poker-faced and silent until Bono asked what he thought. "The first line sounded good, the second ----" He shrugged.
Bono danced and shouted through the song again, working up a sweat by the time he was satisfied. The single wasn't done yet, however. Flood and the Edge would still be supervising alternate versions: one without vocals for television studio appearances, another without samples in case permissions weren't granted, and a third, four-minute version for radio stations. Mullen, who had avoided reading the lyric sheet, would listen to make sure he could understand the words. "I'm the lyric police," he said. The next night, the band would approve final mixes.
After his session, Bono decided to unwind with a Guinness at the local pub. A warning glance from U2's office manager turned out to be about his waistline. "Look," he said to her, pulling up his shirt. "Fat Elvis is gone." As he stood at the bar, a local man struck up a conversation about a house Bono used to live in. "You remember when you were robbed of a VCR and a couple of TV's?" the man asked. "That was me." Bono shrugged his forgiveness and asked the man what he had been doing since; he was regaled with a catalogue of petty crimes.
With "Discotheque" more or less complete, the single needed a B side: a finished second-echelon song not destined for the album. In U2's own studio, with a view of Dublin's Grand Canal basin, Howie B., Clayton and an assistant were working on "If You Wear That Velvet Dress," a smoky ballad filled with troubled longing. What it lacked was momentum, and Howie B. was trying to find it. Then, in the many arrangements the band had recorded, he did: a nudge from the bass at the end of one verse, a glimmering sample from a contemporary classical album in another, floating bell tones and the pi*ce de r*sistance: a hovering Hammond organ chord drifting in and out of the mix. Well after midnight, Clayton told Howie B. that the song didn't sound like a B side anymore; it could be an album track. Howie B. and his bleary-eyed assistant shared a gleeful high-five. Over lunch the next day, the band and both producers considered whether to make "Velvet Dress" an album track. Was it too similar in mood to other songs in the works? "It's really intense," Flood said, "and then you can't put anything else in that style on your album, which I think is really positive. It pushes you."
Two songs were complete. "Now we know how to finish the others," the Edge said. "Let's think of them all as B sides."
Since "Velvet Dress" was now headed for the album, the single still needed a B side, with the deadline two days away. "This is kind of a pressure situation," the Edge said. A new candidate for the B side was "Holy Joe," which in its current state was a three-chord rocker with no words beyond a few opening lines -- "I'm a humble guy/No, really, I try" -- and a chorus, "Come on, be good to me." Bono and the Edge were sequestered, trying to come up with the rest of the words. Flood, Howie B. and Mullen were going over the rhythm track, pulling out the punchiest sections, turning them into loops to use as the beat for the song.
Bono emerged with another B-side possibility: "North and South of the River," a song he wrote with Christy Moore, whom he calls "Ireland's Woody Guthrie." Written after warring factions in Northern Ireland announced a cease-fire agreement in 1994, it's a hopeful song about two lovers; the music merges the forthright marches of the old U2 with a hint of Motown backbeat. The song was complete, lyrics and all, although Bono would want to alter a few lines since the cease-fire hadn't put an end to the violence. The band gathered in the control room to listen to the song anew, and Bono asked for reactions. The song would be a serious flip side to the uptempo "Discotheque." Would the contrast be a good idea? The consensus was no; the song was too somber and political, too much like the old U2, for the band's re-emergence. Bono, biting his nails, went back to writing.
The Edge ambled into the control room with a guitar technician who hooked up an antique Gretsch guitar. He started to play along with the rhythm section: ferocious strummed chords, then choppier ones, then choked semi-funk, track upon track. "Holy Joe" was starting to sound like the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man."
Soon, Bono walked by with an open laptop; a few minutes later, he returned with a printout of the new lyrics. Edge scrutinized them with an editor's concentration. "It's just a sketch," Bono said, but Flood wanted him to record a vocal so that the band could build more music around it. Bono was looking for a rhyme for "precocious." When Clayton asked if "unctuous" has ever been used in a song, Bono misheard. "Anxious?" he said. "I'll take anxious."
He sang the new words, in high and low octaves, with other band members offering suggestions about tone and phrasing. But the song still wasn't crisp enough. As Bono and the Edge went off to refine the lyrics, Mullen decided to add percussion. An assistant brought in a djembe, an African hand drum. When Mullen hit it, the control-room speaker made a squawk of distortion.
Flood didn't hear a problem; he heard a noise to be exploited. Quickly, he and an assistant pointed a microphone at the tortured speaker, which emitted a raunchy, rhythmic hoot. Mullen added more layers of percussion: hand drums, egg-shaped rattles, maracas. Howie B., who had two turntables hooked up to the console, rooted through his record collection to find a useful sample -- horns from a Dean Martin album, perhaps? The Edge returned to try wah-wah guitar chords, then conferred with Clayton about what key the song was now in; each had his own theory. Bono sang up high, and then in a cackling whisper. The song had suddenly veered in a new direction, raw and rhythmic, and U2, with grins all around, was ready to chase it.
Copyright © 1997 New York Times. All rights reserved.
February 01, 1997
Ice Magazine Pop Preview
Ice Magazine, February 1997
NEW U2 ALBUM, POP, DUE IN STORES ON MARCH 4
The world's biggest rock band, U2, will release their highly anticipated new album, POP, on Island Records on March 4, worldwide. The album's first single, "Discotheque" has already been released to radio stations and video channels, and will be available in stores on February 4. Then POP, U2's first album since 1993's Zooropa, will almost certainly debut at the top spot in Billboard's album chart in mid-March, becoming the Irish band's fifth consecutive #1 album. A worldwide tour is planned to start shortly thereafter, probably in April, with early odds favoring Las Vegas, Nevada, as the tour's kick-off point.
The new album was recorded last year in Dublin, Ireland, at Hanover Studios, and was produced by Flood, the Englishman who co-produced Zooropa and, more recently, The Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Additional production was handled by Howie B. and Steve Osborne.
The track list for POP, in order: "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," "Velvet Dress," "Please," and "Wake Up Dead Man." In addition, the commercial maxi-single for "Discotheque" contains the non-album track "Holy Joe."
As exemplified by the sound of "Discotheque," the new album is being touted as another change in direction for U2. One closely involved source tells ICE, "It's a rock record, but there are a lot of electronic/techno influences present. There are some stone-cold hits on it, much more accessible then "Discotheque," but there are some really risky tracks on it, too."
Hooman Majd, Island's Executive Vice President, tells ICE, "There are definitely elements of dance music; Howie B's influence is definitely felt on this record. That's exciting, because it feels like a modern record, without being forced in any way. U2 is one of the few bands that can do that."
"They have the amazing ability to look around at what's going on and to be affected and influenced by exciting new things, and they certainly have been on this record. They're very attuned to what kids listen to, and they've always been fans of good music, whatever the genre, which is key to maintaining creativity over the long haul. But there are definitely songs that can be viewed as traditional U2-type songs, too."
Adds Stacie Negas, Island's Director of Marketing and the album's product manager, "It definitely has a contemporary-rock feel to it, and no matter what the band does, it's very identifiably U2." Several sources also agree that the music on POP tends to be less accessible when first heard, but then grows on the listener, a U2 trademark in recent years."
At first glance, some of the song titles appear intriguing, such as "The Playboy Mansion." The song centers around trying to get through the gates of Hugh Hefner's famous mansion, but Bono's lyrics don't make it clear whether the song is written from a man's perspective or a woman's. "To me, it seems like a comment on society, and how the Playboy Mansion is held in such high esteem," Negas tells ICE. "But I think you have to listen to it and make up your own mind."
"Miami: was influenced by the band's stay in the Florida city before they commenced recording of POP. "You feel like you're in Miami when you listen to the song," one source tells ICE. "It does capture it really well. It's not just the scenery; it's more about the people there and what they're doing." Sample lyric "Big girl with a sweet tooth/Watches skinny girl on a photo shoot."
"Mofo" is described by Negas as "basically the most techno song on the album, maybe the one which doesn't sound too U2-like. Then some really ethereal, Edge guitars come out of nowhere and fly in on top of this wall-of-techno sound. It's really cool." For those wondering, Bono doest not sing the word motherfucker, the word for which mofo is slang abbreviation.
"Staring at the Sun" received accolades from several sources as one of the album's highlights. "It's their most Beatle-esque song," says one source. "Edges's guitar sounds a bit like George Harrison."
The cover of POP features highly stylized, Andy Warhol-ish portraits of the four group members - Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullin, Jr.-in primary colors on metallic silver. The CD booklet also contains individual panels with each band member's portrait, giving consumers a choice as to who they want on the cover - the entire band or just one member. The cover art is in keeping with the "pop" theme of the album's title, which refers to pop art (as opposed to a short, loud noise, a soft drink or someone's father.)
Copyright © 1997 Howard Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
December 01, 1996
U2's Mysterious Way
Los Angeles Times, December 1, 1996
U2's Mysterious Way
When the band reunites in the studio after a yearlong break, the result is a kind of rhythmic techno-dance/'60s-pop-songwriting thing. OK, let them explain it to you.
by Robert Hilburn
DUBLIN, Ireland--For most of its celebrated career, U2 has preached the gospel of rock 'n' roll tradition, toasting at every turn such personal heroes as Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Bob Dylan.
So, why is Adam Clayton, the group's bassist,talking about such '90s techno-dance favorites as the Prodigy, Massive Attack, Tricky and the Chemical Brothers as he drives to U2's recording studio on the banks of the Grand Canal Basin?
"See what you think of this," says Clayton, who has just flown in from London, where he and drummer Larry Mullen represented the band at the MTV Europe Music Awards. He slips a cassette into the car's tape player, and music suddenly explodes from the speakers.
It's a burst of the sonic color you'd expect from a prized dance-floor entry--not the light audio confections associated with mainstream dance music in the United States during the last two decades but the hard-edged British dance music that bristles with attitude and bite.
Though the style is hugely popular in England, it has not secured much of a commercial foothold in America. For one thing, most of the British dance stars have tended to be relatively faceless, and the emphasis in the music is on textures rather than conventional pop songwriting techniques.
Just when you begin to wonder which of those hot British acts' music is playing in the car, you hear a voice through the speakers that sounds suspiciously like that of U2's Bono and some sharp, vibrating guitar lines that seem awfully similar to those of the band's the Edge.
Some dance outfit imitating U2?
"It's our new single--'Discotheque,' " he says. "What do you think?"
That's a question that many U2 fans will ask each other next month, when the single hits the airwaves and offers the first public clue to the musical direction of the Irish band's first album in nearly four years.
"Discotheque" is in some ways as radical a shift from the icy sweep of 1991's "Achtung Baby" and 1993's "Zooropa" as those albums were from the graceful eloquence of 1987's "The Joshua Tree." Not everything in the new album, titled "Pop" and due in March, reflects the dynamics of the electronic dance world as fully as the single, but most of the tracks will likely have at least a touch of those sonic influences.
It's a direction that the four members of the band were all equally enthusiastic about, they discovered, after nearly a yearlong break that followed their grueling 1992-93 world stadium tour.
"It was our first real time off in, what, 15 years?" Clayton says as he pulls up to the studio, which is housed in a building that's undistinguishable from the other warehouse spaces in this waterfront district.
"I think we needed that break to get away from each other for a while and explore music without worrying about what U2 should be doing. I went to New York and spent some time studying music, getting to know more about the technical side of the bass.
"At the end of that period, we started to realize that we were actually all listening to the same music. I was listening to a band called Leftfield and Massive Attack and Underworld. Bono and Edge were listening to the Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers as well as Oasis and some others. We all kind of went, 'Well, isn't this interesting?' You could sense that we were going to incorporate some of that sonic terrain into our own music."
Bono and Edge are already at work when Clayton arrives. The group has been recording in this studio, with its lovely view of the water, for much of the year. Record retailers around the world had been hoping the collection would be ready this fall to help boost holiday sales. But the summer deadline proved unworkable.
One reason for the delay, Edge says, was that the group needed time to get used to mixing sampling and other techno-dance elements with its traditional songwriting approach.
This is the first time in a decade that U2 has made a studio album without producer Brian Eno, who also collaborated with the group last year on the side project "Passengers," a series of pieces designed to accompany disparate film and theater presentations. The band members saw the project as a way to reintroduce themselves to the studio after the year off. They and Eno are still close, but all believed it was better for the band to make the new record with another producer, since the plan from the start was to move away from the ambient, atmospheric sound Eno favors.
So the group turned to Flood, the Englishman who co-produced "Zooropa" and the Smashing Pumpkins' "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness." U2 has also been joined in the studio by Howie B, a London producer with an encyclopedic knowledge of dance-related music. Nellee Hooper, the producer who helped shape the sound of Soul II Soul in the late '80s, was also aboard in the album's early stages.
The atmosphere in the studio is relaxed, even though the band's latest deadline is only a week away.
Unlike most recording acts, which finish one track before moving on to the next, U2 listens repeatedly to various tracks recorded over recent months to see what extra touches might be applied, be it a new vocal line or instrumental shading.
Bono at times will decide to change a word or even a whole line. It's a time-consuming approach because a new lyric or instrumental sequence could mean other adjustments in the track to make it all seem whole.
As the session stretches from late afternoon to early morning, the band, including Mullen, who arrives shortly after Clayton, will spend an hour or more on each of half a dozen tracks. Despite unifying textures, the tunes differ widely in content and form.
"Edge and I spent time together with our families in Nice during the time off," Bono says during a dinner break at the studio, "and we spent a lot of time listening to music and thinking about what we wanted to do next, and we were intrigued by two of the directions that seem to be going on these days.
"We liked the tendency in England toward pop songwriting in the [traditional] way of Lennon-McCartney and Lou Reed--something that Noel Gallagher and Oasis are doing. But we also liked the energy and adventurousness of the techno, hip-hop world. So, we decided to explore bringing those two disciplines together. That's what this record is about."
Edge, who is the group's quarterback in the studio, says the musical shift is not simply an attempt by the veteran band to reposition itself in today's changing musical scene.
"After 'Achtung Baby,' there was all this talk about U2 reinventing itself, and I guess it'd be easy for someone to say we've reinvented ourselves again. But the changes aren't some strategy--they come out of being interested and inspired by what other people are doing. All of a sudden you start to take on different aesthetics, something you haven't tried before, to see where you can take it. That's how you learn and how you grow."
Bono, his hair now closely cropped, is sitting in a chair by the control board while the rest of the band sits on a sofa facing him. They've just finished listening to one of the songs for the album, and he says he wants to change some of the words.
As the instrumental track begins playing, Bono picks up a microphone and sings the new words. At the end, he looks around the room for reaction. Like R.E.M., U2 tends to work as a democracy.
The consensus is that Bono needs to put more feeling into the vocal. So he starts again. This time he delivers the new lines with such passion that he has to stand up and move with the music. At the end, everyone looks pleased.
Still, he wonders about a couple of lines in the song, which updates a familiar U2 theme: the emptiness of placing one's faith in material goods.
Given Bono's confidence and authority onstage, it's fascinating to see how vulnerable he can be while waiting for his bandmates' opinions. As they think about the lines, Bono suggests, a bit anxiously, an alternative word or two. No, no, they agree, the words are fine.
With that song finished, at least for the moment, Edge says, "OK, what's next?"
That's another question U2 fans will be asking in the late spring when the band tries to live up to the enormous ambitions and expectations created by its "Zoo TV" tour with another worldwide stadium trek.
Bono says the band didn't feel wedded to another stadium tour, but it seemed to be where the aggressive nature of the new music can best be staged.
If the music takes a softer turn in the future, however, the group would probably move back to smaller settings.
"It's important to keep the options open in everything that you do," he says. "You don't learn by drawing a line and saying these are the limits of rock 'n' roll or this is the size of the buildings you should play. Success is one thing in pop music, but staying relevant is the bigger challenge.
"We are still a rock 'n' roll band, but when we looked around last year, it was clear that hip-hop and dance artists are making the music that defines these closing years of the 20th century, and we wanted to see what parts of that music would work for us."
Robert Hilburn Is The Times' Pop Music Critic
Copyright © 1996 Los Angeles Times. All rights reserved.
June 16, 1996
Adam Clayton Discusses the Next U2 Album
Reuters, June 16, 1996
Adam Clayton Discusses the Next U2 Album
By Gary Graff
DETROIT (Reuter) - There's a legion of U2 fans around the world who are dying to know what U2's next album -- due in stores this fall -- will sound like.
So are the members of the band.
"We work in such a strange way in that we spend a lot of time trying to throw the ideas around, and in the last couple of months of recording we really start making decisions and tying things down," explains Adam Clayton, U2's bassist.
"I heard somewhere that the definition of an artist is someone who doesn't like to make decisions."
When pressed, Clayton keeps his descriptions of the new material purposefully vague.
"At the moment, it sounds like the band playing," he says. "It's unfair for me to say what it will sound like; at the moment it's kind of just like U2 backing tracks. But it'll be great."
Expectations are high, of course, because the Irish band has been one of rock's most consistently creative forces -- and one of its best-selling -- since it formed in Dublin in 1978. Over the years, the group's sound has evolved; it began with raw, ringing power (marked by the Edge's sharp guitar stylings and frontman Bono's passionate vocals and yearning lyrics) and grew to incorporate more atmospheres and textures.
Its last album, 1993's "Zooropa," was an exercise in techno-mechanical instrumentation -- a far cry from surging early hits such as "New Year's Day," "I Will Follow" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)." Clayton does acknowledge that the new songs find U2 trying to fuse all of its disparate approaches together.
"I think there's a quality to the band's playing now that needs a lot less support from technology," Clayton, 36, says. "It's a big sound, but with a lot of space there. Musically we're all playing 100 times better than last time; we've really grown in the last couple of years. We're really pushing Edge to play some way-out there stuff.
"That's the way it's sounding at the moment, at least. By the time it's mixed and finished up, we could well have added in some digital treatments, some samples and loops.
There's still no title for the album, but a world tour is scheduled to start around May of 1997, Clayton says. U2 -- along with producer-engineer-remixer Flood -- began working on the album last October and Dublin, and they've done some recording in Miami earlier this year.
But that's not all the band's been up to. Last year it joined forces with an assortment of guests -- including opera great Luciano Pavarotti -- to form an ad-hoc group featured on "Passengers," an album of ambient, minimalist music.
Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen, Jr., meanwhile, recorded a new version of Lalo Schifrin's "Mission: Impossible" theme for the film based on the TV series.
That project was originally pitched to U2 as a band, Clayton says, but since work had begun on the new album, it seemed prudent to pass. But Clayton and Mullen -- who were "Mission: Impossible" fans in their youth, were intrigued.
"I sort of thought about it and said, 'Well, it's a rhythm section thing. It's an instrumental. It actually doesn't need a whole band,"' Clayton says.
The duo held true to the original version, putting in some modern, industrial sounds and layering on more percussion. There was, however, one significant change.
"The original score is in a 5/4 timing, which is pretty impossible to dance to," Clayton explains. "Larry came up with the idea of shifting it to 4/4.
"For all intents and purposes, it's hard to tell the difference, but by putting it into 4/4, it was immediately something people could move to, without thinking about it."
Clayton says there's even "been talk" about using the song in some way when U2 plays live again "To be able to do this tune in front of a U2 crowd is going to be really exciting," he says.
Copyright © 1996 Reuters/Variety. All rights reserved.
March 26, 1995
Eno: The Story Behind "Original Soundtracks 1"
By Tom Moon
Knight-Ridder News Service
It started with a producer's simple "Why don't we try ..."
The members of U2 and their producer, Brian Eno, were finishing up 1993's "Zooropa" album. The work had progressed more quickly than most U2 projects, but near the end, Eno says, the band hit "a stone wall."
"In the studio, it's easy to get to the screwdriver level, where you're debating about the slightest things and getting obsessive," Eno said last week from his New York hotel, recalling the genesis of "Original Soundtracks I," on which he and U2 perform as the collective Passengers. "Soundtracks" arrives in stores Tuesday.
"I suggested we do some improvising sessions, just turn the tape on and play, so we were working with a broad brush rather than the one-hair brushes we'd been using. It was designed to open us up a little, and it proved to be a good way of originating music."
The recordings were so fruitful that Eno proposed more. After the "Zoo TV" tour, the band returned to the studio -- without an agenda, he said, or a specific project in mind. From the sessions' 25 hours of taped experimentation came "Soundtracks," which reflects both the band's pop instincts and Eno's predilection for ethereal, "ambient" music that moves slowly and doesn't demand conscious attention.
As always, Eno's touch is evident throughout. The 47-year-old pop visionary, who has midwifed important works by David Bowie, Talking Heads and others, is a master of moods. Where other producers work to capture unusual instrumentation, Eno develops textures, a nearly tangible sonic world that suggests whole ways of being. He electrifies otherwise mundane material by limiting the range of sounds. His austere productions create heart-pounding drama from the wispiest sources. "I completely admire economy," explains Eno, in what could be his mantra.
In order to guide U2 toward a more exploratory way of making music, Eno devoted considerable time to preproduction. He generated a number of sequences and rhythm patterns, which were ready to use at a moment's notice. He decorated the walls with rare cloths from Africa, India and the Arab world. He installed a huge monitor and stockpiled a wide range of videos. "When things started getting dull, you'd just pop in a different tape," he said.
One cut on the 14-song "Soundtracks" -- "Miss Sarajevo," a song that features Bono and Luciano Pavarotti -- was inspired by a TV documentary of the same name. Other pieces on the album, which was finished in less than two months, were commissioned for films or suggested by existing films.
"News footage from 1953. Animations from students at the Royal College of Art. Films from the Orient. Everything. The idea was to have enough different types of things to suit whatever musical situation."
"More and more of my energy goes into preparation, because then the act of actually making the music is relatively fast," Eno said. "This is in opposition to the way most people generally work -- they're inside the music all the time. What I tried to do was think about what eventualities to expect. I needed to have things in reserve."
Eno, who has produced U2 landmarks including "The Joshua Tree," says that vocalist Bono, guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton, and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. have always taken an improvisatory approach to songwriting.
"A lot of their material would come from them standing around playing. What they would do then is say, 'OK, let's get (the fragments) properly structured.' ... They were generating the seeds that became songs.
"I love that sense of discovery. So I told them on this project, we'd just work with whatever we got. What we'd generate was not a map of the material, but the material itself."
Eno -- who said he wouldn't be surprised if other passages from these sessions turn up on the "rock and roll" record U2 plans to release next summer -- played synthesizer and acted as the archivist, notating particularly inspired moments in a log. He devised various "games" to keep the musicians on their toes, such as requiring everyone to switch instruments for a segment.
Though it sounds like the inclusion of Pavarotti was another game, Eno says the legendary tenor suggested the duet.
"He was really easy to work with -- he (recorded) the high notes first. People always assume that classical music is earnestly correct in the way it works, but those guys really know how to cheat. We've got nothing on them."
When the nightly sessions ended, Eno would retrieve the important moments, then mix them. His mission was to capture the development of certain episodes or ideas, but to keep things at a manageable length.
"Listening to the original improvisations as they came off the floor, you feel the excitement of the process. The dynamic between things falling apart slightly and coming back together again is an important aspect of improvisation. You have to be careful not to disturb the organic flow of the thing."
As Eno talks about the editing process, it's clear that he's not satisfied with all the cuts. Like many multimedia and electronic-music artists in the years before the computer boom, Eno feels limited by the current technology. His goal is to offer listeners more options, different ways of experiencing the same music.
"Like 'Always Forever Now,'" he said, citing another "Soundtracks" cut. "The full-length (version) of that is really fabulous. What you would really like to be able to do is have records or movies or whatever where you could offer choices. The listener could get radio length, a slightly more expanded 'standard' length, and a 'train-spotter' length for people who want all the gory details and the whole sweep of the thing."
Copyright © Knight-Ridder News Service. All rights reserved.
March 26, 1991
Salome Outtakes - The making and history behind this bootleg
U2 - The Achtung Baby Working Tapes
In the winter of 1990,
U2 were hard at work in Hansa Ton recording studios in Berlin, Germany. The
ultimate result of this effort would be the November '91 release of their next
album, Achtung Baby. However, in December 1990 that album was a great
way off, because U2 (unlike most other bands) entered the studio with very few
lyric or song ideas.
Instead, U2 came into the
studio to create as well as record. Here they sought inspirations for songs
from playing together. They would 'etch' out ideas while improvising around
some basic idea, or riff. Since all this 'jamming' was taking place in a recording
studio, even the simplest of ideas was captured on tape. The highlights of these
tapes were then edited down and compiled into 'working tapes' recorded onto
DAT (Digital Audio Tape) cassettes. Tapes of this nature were used to hold possible
song ideas, as well as a means for Brian Eno (and others) to hear the band's
progress and make suggestions about the music.
In April of 1991, it was
announced that such tapes had found their way into the hands of bootleggers.
Since then, the U2 'working tapes' have been pressed in a variety of forms.
May 1991 - THE NEW U2: REHEARSALS
AND FULL VERSIONS
The debut pressing of the
sessions. Available on vinyl only, as two separate double album packages. The
covers were identical except for the colours of the lettering. One cover featured
silver lettering, while the other had gold. In this pressing both LP's of the
silver lettered album proved to be identical. This resulted in four LP's being
released, but with only three LP's worth of material.
June 1991 - THE NEW U2:
REHEARSALS AND FULL VERSIONS
It was widely rumoured
that the set had been pressed again, but this time without any duplication between
the LP's. If true, this meant that there were now four LP's worth of material
Nov. 1991 - THE NEW U2:
REHEARSALS AND FULL VERSIONS
This time the pressings
were released as a boxed set of 5 LP's. Surprisingly, there was no duplication
within the set. All of these LP's were pressed on translucent vinyl, in either
blue or green (pink pressings have also been rumoured). There were now 5 LP's
worth of material available, which came to a staggering total of 3 hours, 27
minutes, and 28 seconds.
Feb. 1992 - SALOME: THE
[AXTUNG BEIBI] OUTAKES (sic)
This was the release that
had been deemed "too hot" to ever be pressed. The complete three and half hours
worth of material were now available as a triple compact disc set. Since these
CD's were mastered from the original DAT recordings, there's no quality loss
between the original working tapes and these CD's. Thus the sound quality is
far superior to the LP's. The title (Salome) is believed to have been a working
title used during the Achtung Baby sessions, but it's not clear which song it
was referring to.
With these releases U2 found
themselves in the dubious position of being: "the first major band to have studio
sessions released before the finished product was either released, abandoned or
the group broke up".
U2's manager Paul McGuinness
reacted to the bootlegs by releasing a press statement accusing the bootleggers
of cheating the fans by passing off inferior material. He also stated that the
finished product had evolved by leaps and bounds from what was being illegally
Regardless of the superior
polish of the finished material released as Achtung Baby, the material
found on the bootlegs is fascinating in and of itself. The most compelling aspect
about the bootlegged material is that, rather than offering slightly alternative
versions of tracks found on the finished record, they instead reveal the song
writing process itself. Familiar solos, bass lines, bridges and riffs abound,
and there is also a host of interesting songs that didn't find their way onto
What follows are pseudo
"liner notes" for the Achtung Baby 'working tapes'. For the purpose of
these notes, the Salome triple CD set is used as the source of reference.
Due to the nature of the
recordings, the actual TITLES of the songs are unknown. This makes discussions
of the material very difficult unless you happen to have the CD's available
for play at the moment of conversation, or are able to remember the running
order of each disc. Therefore, "Fan Working Titles" (hereafter referred to as
FWT) have been created. These are only meant as an aid when discussing and digesting
this material, and do not represent what U2 might have actually called the songs.
FWT's also help keep a lineage evident as a song evolves.
These "notes" attempt to
describe the songs musically and provide an audible association with the FWT's.
These are followed by one or more "sound bites" of lyrics from Bono. These "sound
bytes" further aid in the identification of the track for conversational reference,
and are labelled with the approximate time of their occurrence in brackets.
The quoted material under "Bono -" are silly and/or amusing things Bono says
(as opposed to sings).
Track 1 (5:59)
|This song must have been the most painful to evolve, since there are |
more takes of it than any other on SALOME.
You can virtually sing the words to Salome' (from the CD single Even
Better Than The Real Thing) to this take. Perhaps it's title here
still should be Got To Get Together Now, but it's Salome' for identity
The bassline leads one to believe this is an early form of ZOO STATION.
Later takes also support this theory.
|"Love, baby please don't go" |
"We got to get together now...break!"
Track 2 (4:11)
|Where Did It All Go Wrong?|
|Here, all 4 members of U2 keep up a frantic pace resulting in a fast, |
hard driving song that sounds GREAT! It's very repetitive, but that's
the hook. It's all 4 members of U2 moving pretty fast.
The music skips at 2:21.
|"Did you want it |
Did you get it"
"Did you feel it"
Track 3 (3:44)
|Where Did It All Go Wrong?|
|A much more catchy version with a cool, albeit out of place, bridge.|
|"Did you get it |
Did you need it
Did you really get what you wanted"
Track 4 (6:48)
|Heaven And Hell|
|U2 playing the same instrumental backing as DOCTOR DOCTOR, but with |
Bono singing completely different words.
A great slow song with a nice "fat" organ sound.
|"Nothing's feels like this before now |
You're heaven and hell
Baby, you're heaven and hell
Heaven and hell"
"Oh, heaven and hell
I wanna chance to hold you
I wanna chance to kill you
I wanna chance to keep you awake at night
When the sunlight bursts through the room
But you can't always get everything you want
You take cards from all under the table
Heaven and hell
Baby you're heaven
Heaven and hell
Yeah, you're heaven
Heaven and hell"
|"The organ, just organ" [4:24]. The band stops, organ picks up, and |
then band comes back in.
"Organ" [5:36]. The organ cuts in beautifully.
"This time when we come in, I want it quietly. Not the drums but everyone
Track 5 (2:36)
|U2 playing the same instrumental backing as HEAVEN AND HELL, but Bono |
singing completely different words.
The music "skips" at 1:47, fades out at 1:51, and back in at 1:55, and
then back out again at 2:35.
|"I can't hold you back" |
Tell me what to do
I got heartbreak in my pocket
I got sunlight next to you
Will the difference be adjourned"
Track 6 (3:57)
|This song fades in with a bouncy guitar riff and Bono singing in a low |
voice. There's plenty of reverb on Bono and plenty of Edge "cutting" to
ensure this song being scrapped early on.
The words are quite lost in the mix.
|"Jitterbug Baby" |
"Jitterbug, I got my high heeled shoes"
Out love is bad
When the sun is burning
And our love comes to
I got my high heel love
I am running to
My little Jitterbug Baby
|"Ok, here we go!" [2:28]|
Track 7 (9:16)
|A real bridge take. You can hear U2 take a song that wasn't working |
for them and change it drastically to try and make something out of it.
The change was for a slower "less crowded" sound which results in a bored
Towards the end of the take you can hear the familiar ZOO STATION-ish
sounds coming forth in bursts.
At 5:31 Bono sings something that prompts Larry to drum a little faster,
this in turn has The Edge (around 6:40) changing his guitar melody. It
changes the whole sound quite a bit!
At 7:00 Bono re-introduces lyrics from the beginning of the song (why?),
but soon calls out "We're going into the F, going down to the F" which
brings them into some place completely different. "E minor" from Bono
changes the sound of things even further. It seems something happens on
the spur of the moment that changes the song more than the simple chord
At 7:37 things really start coming together, so much as to prompt Bono
to say (at 7:55) "That's really great stuff, Larry Mullen." Further toying
with the song ultimately wears them down, and at 9:10 the steam runs out
|"We got to, got to get it together..." |
"Oh, honey child, oh honey child, honey child"
"I like when the hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-lights burnin'"
"I feel this love is getting higher"
|"Chorus! Ah, la la got to get to gether now |
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
Ya got to get to gether now- stop!
Two, three, four"
Track 8 (5:37)
|The beginning sounds almost like a "remixed" version of the song. U2 |
seem to be taken by the idea of radically changing the songs in an effort
to spur creativity. There's a great deal of "production" on this take;
plenty of assorted effects and sound loops.
The vocals can be heard, but it is difficult to understand much of what
is being said.
This songs later evolution into ZOO STATION is most evident in this take,
especially toward the end (ie, the fuzzy booming sound at 3:14).
The familiar ZOO STATION loop of clanking bells can also be heard throughout
|"Well, you're high as a kite |
Burning with all your might"
Track 9 (8:49)
|Sunset In Colors|
|A loose melody, mostly instrumental with a very bright sound. |
A very good song consisting mainly of The Edge on lead guitar.
|"Here comes the sunset, it comes in colors... |
Don't change it"
"I'm lost and I'm wasting all your time
Here comes changes, coming all the time"
|"I still can't hear my voice. Can you turn it up? Yeah, nice... A little |
Track 10 (6:08)
|Demo sounding with only a few words from Bono (though he seems to know |
the music!). Bono sings bits of TAKE YOU DOWN, another song from these
This is an early form of UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD. The familiar riff
is heard at the end of the choruses [4:14].
|"Don't hide away... |
You've got to take your chances"
|"Adam go around until you can hear the drums. You know the chords by |
now. It's the same thing." [3:16] "Okay, it's the verse. Okay, verse-
one, two three..." [5:20]
Track 11 (1:40)
|Fades in for short while and then back out again. Odd. Perhaps there |
is something in this short clip that U2 wanted to keep for future reference?
Track 12 (6:35)
|I Feel Free|
|Both Bono and The Edge sing vocals on this track, making it sound more |
planned, rather than the brainstorming session we heard in CHANCES AWAY.
Almost immediatley we hear the familiar riff from CHANCES AWAY, only this
time it is the basis of the song instead of the second half of the chorus.
This is an early form of UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD.
|"We shadow down, shadow down by the water" |
"Don't lock me down, lock me down
I feel free
I feel free
And I Feel Free
I Feel Free"
"Iiiieeeee feeeeeeeeeeeel freeeeeeeeeeee yeeaahh!"
Track 1 (4:31)
|I Feel Free|
|A fantastic shriek from Bono at the beginning. The UNTIL THE END OF |
THE WORLD guitar riff is the basis for the whole song. Vocals are mostly
Bono, but The Edge provides backup.
This take is much more free-form than Disc 1, Track 12.
This is an early form of UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD.
|"Where did you go |
Where did you go
I'd really like to know"
"I.. I.. I.. feel free..."
Track 2 (2:02)
|Sweet Baby Jane|
|Bono sings the first verse acapella (and stammers on a word!) in a thick |
'Bongloese'. The Edge follows him with guitar, then they both join up.
Adam comes in later. No Drums.
|(This was only attempted because the first verse is just Bono with no |
"And I'll come in to say goodbye
Took in seargant maims my b-bye
More than dreams and the bottom'll come
When she would encumber writing well"
(Good luck on further figuring out what he's singing)
"And if you catch me I'll take your time"
"Sweet baby Jane, sweet baby Jane
Sweet baby Jane, sweet baby Jane"
"And if you call, I'll come running
And if you ask, I will be given
And if you need me, I will be here"
Track 3 (5:35)
|Morning Child / Don't Turn Around|
|This song is an early form of WHO'S GONNA RIDE YOUR WILD HORSES. |
Bono sings "sweet morning child" a few times then later sings "don't turn
around" to the same melody. Bono asks for lyrics!
Bono tells The Edge [4:17] "Say 'don't turn around' over and over again"
and The Edge creates instant backup vocals.
The audio cuts to silence for about one second at 4:48. When it returns
Bono says, "Try not to do that".
At the end of the take Bono says "That alright mates?", someone replies,
"Yeah, that was real perfect."
|"Baby sweet talking baby |
Don't turn around and see
Don't turn around
We're suffering the same
Don't turn, we'll break"
"Don't turn around, don't turn around again"
"Don't turn.. Caledonia
Caledonia, Caledonia.. Don't turn around"
|"I don't know too many words" |
"Is this the chorus?"
"It's the verse again?"
"This is the chorus, yeah..."
"Sing 'don't turn around' over and again so I can keep singing" (and The
Edge sings backup).
Track 4 (4:00)
|Morning Child / Don't Turn Around|
|This song is an early form of WHO'S GONNA RIDE YOUR WILD HORSES. |
In this take you can really hear the acoustic guitar. The bridge here
is similar to how it turns out on the album (only better in my opinion;
Bono barely sings at all during this bridge).
Bono starts singing "morning child" towards the end of the take.
|"No, don't... ask why. Oh, no don't ask questions" |
"Morning morning morning morning child
Oh, lonely child"
Track 5 (5:09)
|Morning Child / Don't Turn Around|
|This song is an early form of WHO'S GONNA RIDE YOUR WILD HORSES. |
Bono sings "don't say goodbye" several times in the same melody as he
sings "morning child" and "don't turn around".
Bono goes for some vocal calisthetics toward the end of the take.
|"I've been down there, been down |
I've been down, I've been down there...
I've been down there, oh, I've been down there"
"Don't you turn around, don't turn around"
"Oh, in your eyes an angel dies
Love in the shadows and in December rain"
"Oh, don't say goodbye, don't say goodbye..." etc.
Track 6 (6:29)
|Nice instrumental song with harmonica and horns.|
Track 7 (4:51)
|Even Better Than The Real Thing|
|This is pretty much an instrumental version of EVEN BETTER THAN THE |
You can practically sing along with this one. The crescendo ending is
fantastic, much better than the commercial version.
Track 8 (7:44)
|She's gonna Turn Your Head Around|
|This "version" sounds very little like what it later evolves/changes |
into. The vocals have a heavy, plate sounding reverb. The audio is quieter
than other tracks. It fades out early.
Bono sings "she's gonna take her chances, gonna take her chances" to what
will be the melody of "She's Gonna Turn Your Head Around". He also sings
some other stuff to the same melody.
Bono adlibs though much of the song.
Doesn't Larry ever get tired?
|"How does it feel when you're letting go" |
"How does it fell when you're out of control"
"Is anybody calling? Is anybody home? Is anybody home"
"I'm calling out for love. Is anybody home"
"Sugar cane, sugar cane, sugar cane, sugar cane" etc.
"Midnight is when the day begins
| Sounds like a lot of improvisation here. |
"Just drums" [2:55] (the band cuts to just drums for a bit)
"Edge- dooh dooh dooh" [7:11] (The Edge follows Bono's vocals w/guitar)
"Doo doo dooo dooo dooo" [7:37]
Track 9 (7:38)
|She's Gonna Turn Your Head Around|
|There is now much less echo, more song structure, and a normal volume |
The chorus, "she's gonna blow your house down, she's gonna turn your head
around, she's gonna blow your house down", is now consistent.
This take KICKS!
|"She's gonna blow your house down |
She's gonna take your head off
She's gonna take you down"
|"Bridge! How does it feel when you've gone into the bridge now? |
How does it feel when you're in the bridge? Bridge, in the bridge, in
the bridge, and chorus! She's gonna blow your house down, take your head
around, she's gonna blow your house down."
"Let's do the bridge again."
"Bridge. Dah, dah, dah, dah.. AND INTO THE CHORUS!"
Track 10 (5:33)
|Back Mask U2|
|This is an early form of SO CRUEL. The connection becomes more evident |
There's plenty of percussion playing backwards behind the band. The sound
is slow and depressing.
Bono mumbles through most of the song (a la ELVIS PRESLEY AND AMERICA).
Toward the end it becomes mainly instrumental, although at x:xx we hear
a line we know from SO CRUEL.
|"And the day is dry |
And there's no water
And you can't see the road ahead
You can only see her"
"A promise comes to this house
Where no one can sleep"
Track 11 (7:41)
|She's Gonna Turn Your Head Around|
|Bono says "wake up!" a lot. |
The melody has changed a little bit.
Bono sings, "better wake up, better wake up tonight, better find a new
plan, better wake up tonight." to the chorus melody of SHE'S GONNA TURN
YOUR HEAD AROUND.
Bono sings in a very high pitched voice towards the end, "she's gonna
blow your house down, she's gonna turn your head around, she's gonna take
you down." It's as if he finally figured out the chorus!
|"How does it feel when your head is full of soul" |
"Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!"
|"Here comes the chorus" [0:27] |
"Better wake up, wake up tonight
Better sing a new song... so long" [4:29]
Track 12 (6:32)
|This version has Bono singing, and The Edge doing backup. Sounds sort |
of "family" like.
The audio cuts to silence for about 1/10th of a second at 5:14. Another
drop out is heard at 6:28.
|"And you know |
And you know that's going to be alright
No one's gonna tear
No one's gonna tear us apart
Every summer's gonna be alright
I'll come by
Yeah, come by in July
"If you want to take tomorrow,
Then you've got to take today"
|"You're on the air... Okay, here we go..." [0:14] |
"...then you've got to seize the day" [4:23]
Track 1 (1:05)
|This is a short clip of a song that sounds like a jam session. Something |
must be in this clip that U2 wanted to save for later development.
|"And you're calling out to someone you believe is in your heart"|
Track 2 (3:11)
|Back Mask U2|
|This is an early form of SO CRUEL. This is evident not only in the percussion, |
but also in the general emotion of the song (specifically, the last two
lines of the take).
One can really understand what Bono is singing!
|"When the night turns mean on you |
And the day is dry
And there's no water around
And you can't see the road ahead
You can only see her...
White and alive
She's laughing in the face of love
Your love is white and alive
This is your last chance in my dreams
In my dreams she stands over me
Surrounded on all sides
She has taken the higher ground
And I'm the willing victim of her love
And faith my favorite drug
And faith my favorite drug
I'm sick for love
Sick for her love
Sick foods you sell
Just the sight of you makes me wobble
I can't see straight, walk or talk to anyone else
I can't even talk to you
White and alive
I'm laughing in the face of your face
White and alive
Sick for love
Sick for love
So, between the horses of love and lust
I'm trampled underfoot"
Track 3 (4:19)
|This song is ACROBAT with slightly different words. It is the only song |
that survived these sessions virtually unchanged.
Bono sings "Don't let (X) take you down", where X seems to be assorted
different things, people, etc. It's hard to actually pick any but a few
A GREAT guitar solo from The Edge.
|"Don't let them take you down" |
"Don't let the teardrops grind you down"
"Don't let the tears take you donw"
"And you know that you try and you try
To make it right, to make it so
To make it sweet, they make it hard"
"How does it feel to be burned by the sun"
Track 4 (5:56)
|The bass line (reminicent of some Rolling Stones song) is the tell-tale |
clue that reveales this to be an early form of ZOO STATION.
It's very difficult to distinguish any lyrics.
|"...and the shotgun" (?) |
"We've got to get to gether now"
Track 5 (5:09)
|Morning Child / Don't Turn Around|
|Same take as the Disc 2, Track 5, except here the beginning has been |
Track 6 (5:16)
|Take You Down|
|This song is an early form of LADY WITH THE SPINNING HEAD, which later |
evolved into ULTRA VIOLET (Light My Way). The guitar solo was used again
in THE FLY, and the bridge moved on to be used as the intro to ULTRA VIOLET
(Light My Way).
The Edge is NOT signing backup, it's Bono! The left and right channels
are different takes of Bono singing to the same backing music. Each channel
sounds quite different from the other, and the two only come together
in one or two places. The vocals are not completely isolated to the left
or right channels. In each channel you can faintly hear the other. During
the guitar solo and bridge you can only hear one vocal track (in both
Hendrix like solo, wow!
A frantic ending. This song rips! Much, MUCH better than LADY WITH THE
|RIGHT CHANNEL: |
"Oh, wont you get it up and get
My heart in the sunlight"
"Going to the back light
Going back to the way we were
Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up dead man
Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up dead man"
"They're trying to take you down"
"And out you call
You want it so
And out you call"
|"I was singing a bit late in here" (The band slows down for a bit) |
"I know sometimes you get it wrong
You got to get it wrong
Sometimes you get it wrong
You take it anymore..."
Track 7 (5:24)
|Going Down South|
|Instrumental. Sounds like some 'hill billy' rock band. All that's missing |
is someone on washbasin and whisky jug.
Track 8 (3:52)
|This is Bono screwing around with a 12-string guitar while the backing |
of Salome'(Disc 3, Track 4) is playing. He's presumably trying to work
out something, but God only knows what. This take becomes truly
annoying to the listener after a couple of minutes (then again it was
never meant to be LISTENED to). The pluking of strings from the 12-string
can be heard, while in later takes, you hear strumming and chord progressions.
Track 9 (13:08)
|More Guitar overdubbing amounts to 13 minutes of an idea being pounded |
to death from an assortment of angles with plenty of reverb.
Track 10 (6:03)
|Oh God! More guitar overdubbing, although this time it seems more 'idea |
oriented'. U2 should be given credit for being a great band, but the process
of creating a song via this method is about as pleasant as giving yourself
a root canal.
Track 11 (8:05)
|The take starts with someone announcing: "Bono, 12 string...take 2." |
Not much progress here. It seems like someone is toying with the mix during
this take. By the end of the track, the vocals and guitar are turned down
so as to make the 12 string, percussion, and bass more prominent.
Track 12 (12:04)
|This track begins with a few seconds from the previous track (with it's |
percussion and bass biased mix). Then it's onto more 12-string overdubbing.
Fades in and out a couple of times. What they were trying to isolate is
BONO ON BOOTLEGS:
"The only thing that can
piss you off is if people are charging a lot of money for something that isn't
very good. It [the Achtung Baby working tapes] got bootlegged in Berlin and
it was just like having your notebook read out. That's the bit I didn't
like about it. There were no undiscovered works of genius, unfortunately,
it was more just gobbledy-gook..."
But he admits going out
and buying a copy of that bootleg anyway!
December 26, 1987
Joshua Tree Double LP
By Bill Tiede
There are many interviews with the band when Joshua Tree first came out of how many songs they had for this album. One interview was on Radio One in Dublin, with Dave Fanning, where Bono talks about how they originally thought of releasing a double album, but there were so few good 2lp releases (he mentions B. Dylan's Blonde on Blonde as being a good one) and he felt that their pared down version of JT was almost "too much" as in heavy, for one listen anyways. So Bono and Edge argued over which tracks to release on the album, and they decided as a group to release the additional tracks as B-sides.
I pored through other interviews and stories, and found one in Hot Press (Irelands version of Rolling Stone, sorta) as reprinted in America in Three Chords and the Truth, a book you may be able to still special order. Its from Harmony Books.
The following is repeated verbatim without permission from Hot Press, December, 1987, from an article and interview with Edge and Bono:
[Edge:] "... For instance, we disagreed vehemently about what songs should go on the album. If Bono had his way, 'The Joshua Tree' would have been more American and bluesy, and I was trying to pull it back."
That compromise led to the later flood of new B-side tracks. Bono will argue that "the album is almost incomplete. 'With or Without You' doesn't really make sense without 'Walk to the Water' or 'Luminous Times'. And 'Trip Through Your Wires' doesn't make that much sense without 'Sweetest Thing.'
[end of excerpt]
Of all the b-sides, only Race Against Time doesn't really cut it as an album track. Anyways, I put the b-sides where I thought they belonged based on the information available through these interviews and what sounded right to meand made a restored version. Maybe someday, the band will release the full version (and correct that annoying track index problem with Exit and One Tree Hill!)
Tracklisting for restored Joshua Tree:
Side A: Side B:
Where The Streets Have No Name Red Hill Mining Town
Silver And Gold (studio) In God's Country
I Still Haven't Found... Trip Through Your Wires
Spanish Eyes Sweetest Thing
With Or Without You One Tree Hill
Luminous Times Deep In The Heart
Walk To The Water Exit
Bullet The Blue Sky Race Against Time
Running To Stand Still Mothers Of The Disappeared
Well, there you are!
From: "Mark B. G."
Subject: save this for a rainy day
Here is how to make the Joshua Tree in it's intended form.
Note: you need a 90 minute cassette
1. WHERE THE STREETS HAVE NO NAME, from JT album
2. SILVER AND GOLD, from Where The Streets Have No Name single
3. I STILL HAVEN'T FOUND WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR, from JT album
4. SPANISH EYES, from I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
5. WITH OR WITHOUT YOU, from JT album
6. LUMINOUS TIMES (HOLD ON TO LOVE), With Or Without You single
7. WALK TO THE WATER, With Or Without You single
8. BULLET THE BLUE SKY, from JT album
9. RUNNING TO STAND STILL, from JT album
1. RED HILL MINING TOWN, from JT album
2. IN GOD'S COUNTRY, from JT album
3. TRIP THROUGH YOUR WIRES, from JT album
4. THE SWEETEST THING, Where The Streets Have No Name single
5. ONE TREE HILL, from JT album
6. DEEP IN THE HEART, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking
7. EXIT, from JT album
8. RACE AGAINST TIME, Where The Streets Have No Name single
9. MOTHERS OF THE DISAPPEARED, from JT album.