With Or Without U2?

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Edmonton Express, February 1997

With Or Without U2?

By MIKE ROSS, Express Writer

LABEL: Island/PolyGram

Question of the day: Would Discotheque stink if it wasn't by U2?

If you've been listening to the radio, you've probably heard the new single a few times already. Now I challenge you to hum it.


Not so easy, is it? We dusted the poor thing for traces of a hook and came up blank. Basically, if you stripped away all the neat stuff - all the techno, funky, fuzzy whatnot that's so "in" these days - you'd have a whole lot of nothing where the song's supposed to be. Groovy beats on their own are never enough.

Like many tunes designed chiefly to be enjoyed on the dance floor, Discotheque seems to be on the subject of itself. Bono croons, "I want to be the song, the song that you hear in your head." What a card.

Unfortunately, U2's little joke isn't quite as popular at radio as some people thought it would be, which is possibly why you're reading a review of an album (and listening to it on the radio) that isn't in stores until March 4. With no explanation, the record label rushed Pop to the media nearly a week early.

Perhaps it was to allow more time to ferret out a good tune buried in all the hype.

Now the good news: the rest of Pop is not all like Discotheque. These guys may be full of it, but they're not stupid.


Do You Feel Loved: This one isn't like Discotheque - it's even more disco-sounding. The joke is funny once.

Mofo: Another techno-groove (relax, this is the last one) with a driving, genuinely interesting sound that's almost worthy enough on its own. Couched in grand, spiritual images, it seems to boil down to Bono complaining about how hard it is to be a rock star and still make important statements. Perhaps it's the punchline to the joke. In parodying a mainstream rock band, U2 has become one. They know it, too.

If God Will Send His Angels: Subtle and beautiful, this song slams corporate culture with lines like "they put Jesus in show business, now it's hard to get in the door." Good tune.

Staring at the Sun: We've discovered a hook, Jim. Carried by an almost folky feel, this song is another cryptic shot at the establishment. It looks like Bono is trying to keep the promise he made at the 1994 Grammys: "We will continue to abuse our position and f--- up the mainstream."

Last Night on Earth: This one's a winner: A snappy beat, thought-provoking lyrics and a solid rock chorus like the U2 we all know and love. What more could you ask for?

Gone: This fuzzy, meandering bit of filler lives down to its title.

Miami: By far the most horrible track on the album - an ugly portrait of the ugly American. An experimental, backwards-recorded rhythm track used throughout gets annoying real quick.

The Playboy Mansion: A metaphor for heaven. Clever, no? An effective blues feel, slide guitar and lovely background vocals make this another standout track.

If You Wear That Velvet Dress: Slow, sultry, hypnotic Latin groove underneath a dream-like tale of a mystery lover. Another highlight.

Please: Hey, real drums. This medium-paced, spooky-sounding song comes across as a lecture to a persistent ex-girlfriend. It contains this odd lyric: "your stick-on tattoos, now they're making the news." A shot at Pat Boone?

Wake Up Dead Man: Thick with religious significance, here's another song where you have to dig through self-indulgent wads of overproduction to find the melodies. It's hardly worth the effort.

To sum it up, Pop is a hit-and-miss affair that is by no means the worst album U2 has ever made. It's no Unforgettable Fire, but it's no Joshua Tree, either.



ORIGIN: Solidified in 1979, U2's Paul Hewson (now Bono Vox, although who hears `Vox' any more?) and Dave (the Edge) Evans joined Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. in Dublin. Quick favorites with the press, the band's biggest early break came with War, the cover of which featured a harsh looking lad in a battlefield, an older version of the same face they had on their earlier Boy album.

The Joshua Tree vaulted them like space monkeys into superstardom.


Boy: 1980. Sold 2.5 million copies worldwide. Hit single: I Will Follow.

October: 1981. Sold 2.5 million copies worldwide. Hit single: Gloria.

War: 1983. Sold seven million copies worldwide. Hit singles: New Year's Day, Two Hearts Beat As One, Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Under A Blood Red Sky: 1983. Live from Red Rocks album, sold 7.5 million copies worldwide.

The Unforgettable Fire: 1984. Sold 6.5 million copies worldwide. Hit singles: Pride (In the Name of Love), The Unforgettable Fire.

Wide Awake In America: 1985. EP, sold two million copies worldwide.

The Joshua Tree: 1987. Sold 15 million copies. Hit singles: I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For; With Or Without You; Where the Streets Have No Name. The Joshua Tree reached No. 1 album in 22 countries, later winning Grammy Awards for best album of the year and best rock performance. Widely considered their best album to date.

Rattle And Hum: 1988. Sold 9.5 million copies worldwide. Hit singles: Angel of Harlem; Desire; When Love Comes to Town, All I Want is You. Rattle and Hum was a double album of live tracks, Sun studio sessions and new material. Album accompanied concert film "U2 Rattle and Hum." Grammy for best rock performance and best video.

Achtung Baby: 1991. Sold 10 million copies worldwide. Hit singles: The Fly; One; Even Better than the Real Thing, Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses; Mysterious Ways. Also well-loved.

Zooropa: 1993. Sold seven million copies worldwide. Hit singles : Numb, Lemon, Stay (Faraway So Close).


MELON: 1995. An album of remixes given away to fan club members.

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me: 1995. This was a catchy song released for the Batman Forever soundtrack.

Original Soundtracks Volume 1: 1995. Under the name Passengers, U2 teamed up with Pavarotti, Howie B and Brian Eno. The album is a messy mix of instrumentals with limited vocals.

Theme from GOLDENEYE: Bono and Edge teamed up to provide Tina Turner with theme for the latest Bond flick.

Theme from Mission: Impossible: Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen teamed up to do the hit theme for the popular Tom Cruise movie.

U2 has also recorded with Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Johnny Cash, B. B. King and Frank Sinatra.

Copyright © 1997 Edmonton Express. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on February 1, 1997 4:10 AM.

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