Xanax And Wine is the demo of Fast Cars and shares its wild rhythm and almost finalized verses. The chorus on the other hand is totally different, and without being uninteresting from a melodic point of view, it doesn't fit at all with the rest of the song. The overall result is unbalanced and leads to a catchy but not sufficiently effective piece.
Wave Of Sorrow is about Bono and Ali's journey to Ethiopia in the mid-1980s and was composed during Joshua Tree's recording sessions. The band claimed to have been inspired by a track by Patti Smith to compose this song, so it is easier to understand why its sounds do not fit the album's atmosphere at all.
Promenade concludes the A side of The Unforgettable Fire in a melodious and atmospheric way. It is a pretty ballad full of poetry but probably too short and seems to lack ambition. Better than 4th Of July or MLK in a fairly similar role, she might have deserved better than this ungrateful transitional position.
Do You Feel Loved is a special track, built on a supercharged and omnipresent bass line. Bono said that the band was looking to make a "sexy" and "groovy" title and be "almost there". Everything is indeed in the nuance. Apart from this bass that makes your whole body vibrate, Do You Feel Loved seems wobbly, overproduced, and soulless. His live performances were so unconvincing that the song was removed from the Popmart Tour setlists after 6 shows and never came back to life again. The worst Pop title in our ranking.
When I Look At The World forms with Wild Honey and Peace On Earth the magic trio of All That You Can't Leave Behind. The three weak points of the album follow one another without mercy for our greatest misfortune. Let's face it, When I Look At The World is a little less bad than the other two and, despite its obvious overproduction, even has a certain charm. Nothing to regret, however, that the band never wanted to play it live. Thank you to them or pity, it depends.
Released on the B-side of A Celebration in 1982, Trash Trampoline And The Party Girl has survived better than the single it accompanied. Simply renamed "Party Girl" over time, this uninteresting track has built its reputation in concert, becoming a festive track released by the band on a few great occasions. It must be said that its extreme poverty makes it an easy track to improvise and very reassuring for the U2s.
Are You Gonna Wait Forever? has nothing to do with the insipid B-sides that U2 has often abused. Released with Vertigo's single, the title is a good companion, musically worked and featuring the guitar. It's a friendly B-side that had a certain potential but ends up getting tired of its lack of rhythm and inventiveness.
U2 is not known to leave room for improvisation on his albums, preferring on the contrary to refine all the details to the point of spending months torturing the mix of a song. Elvis Presley And America is therefore a counter-example since it is a vocal improvisation of Bono on a slow track from A Sort Of Homecoming. The result is an atypical atmospheric track, which could have been only a demo, but in which the singer is at the top of his game.
On War, U2 was already trying to renew the sound of their first two albums. Red Light is a good expression of this with its female choirs and the surprising appearance of a trumpet. The ensemble gives an original look to the song but the whole thing lacks musicality.
The Refugee is War's strangest title. It goes a little bit in all directions with Bono talking more than he sings, Larry mistreating his drums like cans, and The Edge bringing us a guitar sound that we will find 15 years later on Holy Joe. A title of the space, perhaps not totally finished or even squarely ahead of its time. Who knows!
Few people remember that A Day Without Me was released as Boy's first single because it is far from being the best track. Not that he's particularly bad, but he doesn't have the brilliance of a track like I Will Follow, which succeeded him as his second single. A Day Without Me is a melodious track, probably Boy's most pop song, but it didn't leave its mark on the band's setlists or on the fans' memories.
The worst Zooropa title in our ranking, Some Days Are Better Than Others is a light song, without much pretension, neither musical nor textual. The production work is meticulous, the bass is prominent and The Edge gives us a refreshing electro solo. But the whole is more than average and the track will remain the only one from Zooropa that has never been played live.
Salome is a groovy, dancing track, in which The Edge relies entirely on rhythmic in the verses to better appropriate the chorus with its singing and a vibrant guitar riff. Certainly not the B side of the century, but a correct piece that went down in history for giving its name to the famous demos stolen during the recording of Achtung Baby.
Disappearing Act is a demo from the Unforgettable Fire era that U2 briefly reworked in 2009 during the remastering of the album. The title, which begins surprisingly with what will become the introduction to I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, is far from uninteresting but seems totally disconnected. The guitar melody of the chorus is brilliant but is drowned in a piece without structure turning to mush and even brushing the road off when the synth enters the stage.
Demo from the sessions of All That You Can't Leave Behind, Levitate is an unfinished track, a little long and lacking in fishing. But it still reveals an interesting melody that would have deserved a better fate, amazing electronic sounds for the U2 of the time, and some snippets of sounds and lyrics that will end in Beautiful Day.
In the absolute, and even if it can easily cause boredom, 13 (There Is A Light) is not a bad song, nor a bad end of album, nor a bad end of concert. But the reuse of Song For Someone's texts will always leave him with this aftertaste of a bad joke. This is the lowest ranked Songs Of Experience title in our ranking.
The air of nothing and despite its 164th position, I Fall Down is one of October's best titles in our ranking. Maybe we should say one of the less bad ones. It must be said that this track starts out rather well with a catchy melody and seductive verses, but it quickly gets lost with a repetitive chorus and an oversimplified bridge. As for the lyrics, if anyone has any information....
White As Snow's sobriety clearly stands out in an album, No Line On The Horizon, which is quite broad artistically. It is both a quality and a defect. The title, stripped down, deals with a heavy subject and is a moment of introspection and intimacy in the middle of more rhythmic pieces. The production is meticulous and Edge's (and Lanois'?) backing vocals are literally whispering in our ear. It's a shame, however, that the track is a bit slow, breaks the rhythm of the album too much, and has never been defended live.
Alex Descends Into Hell For A Bottle Of Milk is the only trace we have left of the Orange Mécanique musical on which Bono and The Edge worked in 1990. This cold and industrial instrumental track prefigures the shift that the band will take a few months later on Achtung Baby.
Before becoming the hit we all know, Vertigo was a musically draft but textually committed song. Native Son is an interesting demo to listen to in order to understand the creative process of U2. Here the group will have carried out a kind of deconstruction by simplifying words and music to finally allow the emergence of one of its major titles.
Released on the B-side of Beautiful Day, Summer Rain is a friendly and unpretentious acoustic B-side, a disposable pop song well suited for this B-side role. Its pleasant melody could even have had its place on All That You Can't Leave Behind between Wild Horney and Peace On Earth.
Volcano is the weakest track on Songs Of Innocence and this is quite obvious from the first listening of the album. The bass line and bridge had some potential, but this chorus where Bono exclaims "Vol-ca-no" with a falsetto voice is probably the greatest embarrassment of the band's entire career. The band will try it in concert about ten times before giving up. We will understand 3 years later, at the release of Songs Of Experience, that Volcano was finally only a demo lost between Glastonbury and American Soul.
Fire was released as October's first single and was the first U2 single to make it into the English charts. The title is especially interesting for its seductive guitar riff and to which the band seemed particularly attached. This same riff was already present during Boy's recording sessions (as evidenced by the song Saturday Night from the time) and had even been released on the hidden track of some versions of the album.
Wire is a bit strange and explosive compared to the rest of The Unforgettable Fire. The fast and light rhythmic gives it a very funk color, while The Edge's playing and Bono's singing are more nervous, raw and unstructured, based on a large part of improvisation. An interesting paradox and undoubtedly the most rock track of the album.
With the first single from Songs Of Experience, U2 borders on the correctional by giving us a synthetic title, smelling like bleach and polishing to the extreme, succeeding in being both overproduced and mixed despite common sense. The composition itself is not bad, however, the melody is rather good, The Edge makes a welcome contribution and the ambition to make a joyful and catchy track seems quite commendable. Unfortunately, the desire not to take any risks and to please as many people as possible overwhelms everything in its path.
The masterpiece is completed live by a bossanova version without interest and boring to die for. Generous, Bono and Adam even went so far as to make a fool of themselves during a playback performance on Kygo's remix at the NRJ Music Awards. Sad.
Soon is especially interesting for having been the introductory title during the 360° Tour, at least during the first two legs before U2 cowardly abandoned No Line On The Horizon and all that was close to it. We have fond memories of that warm Spanish evening in June 2009, the Camp Nou that died out and the first notes of Soon that resounded. The beginning of a beautiful adventure.
Tomorrow launches the second side of the October album and begins with the bagpipe, with a refined ballad that contrasts with the first half of the album. The title gradually changes and gains in interest when Larry enters the stage and Bono gets more nervous. Certainly the best track of October just behind its eponymous title.
On Indian Summer Sky, U2 already breathes America and the great outdoors. Three years before The Joshua Tree, this track is a prelude, a glimpse of what the band is preparing for us, like The Edge, which develops its characteristic guitar style, which will be found in Where The Streets Have No Name. It is one of the strong titles of The Unforgettable Fire, unfortunately forgotten over time.
Miami is a convoluted and unconvincing track in its studio version: suffocated at first by the drum machine, the track never takes off, Bono talks more than he sings and the guitar is sporadic and distant. In concert during the Popmart Tour, it was another story and Miami took on a more honourable, sharp dimension, in addition to offering a real stage performance. Before she too fell into oblivion.
Resulting from the sessions of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, Smile is only a demo but seems very successful. Its melody, sympathetic, perhaps had enough to appear on an album but was clearly not in the spirit of what the band wanted for Atomic Bomb.
First track of Songs Of Experience unveiled on the internet, The Blackout was also chosen as the opening track for the tour that followed. Proof that the group attached particular importance to it. However, it is difficult to see in this title anything other than an abortive attempt to revive the sound of Achtung Baby or even one under Invisible. The whole is overworked and needy, but creates an illusion at the beginning in concert with the scenography which is going well.
Nelson Mandela probably deserved better than a title of this banality to pay tribute to him in a biopic. Unfortunately the U2 were not of this opinion and tried to produce the smoothest and most consensual title possible, with the secret hope of winning an Oscar in the process. So the mission is half accomplished.
In early 2017 Bono told reporters that his favorite song from Songs Of Experience, then in preparation, was called The Showman. A "letter to fans" will be added later. The kind of thing that turns you on for a needy audience. This track could only be a rock track made for live, the new Vertigo, the masterpiece of the album. Instead, it is the "a little better" sequel to Wild Honey that we will discover nine months later. A syrupy pop song without much ambition that the band will never play on stage.
The Playboy Mansion did not have a big impact on many people and has been totally forgotten. Lost between Miami and If You Wear That Velvet Dress, who are already not Pop's giants, this track offers an interesting groove and a neat production, but not enough to raise the level of a dusty and boring album ending. It should be noted that in 2015, U2 will have the incongruous - and quickly abandoned - idea to rehearse this song to play it on his Innocence + Experience tour.
The Hands That Built America was composed for the trailer of the film Gangs Of New York. And it must be admitted that the orchestral version - especially the intro - that appears in the credits of the end is simply splendid. Unfortunately it is a boring version, amputated of the orchestra, and produced without any ambition that U2 will release in the trade on the best of 1990-2000. An incomprehensible choice.
With Luminous Times (Hold On To Love), U2 created a musically simple and stripped-down track that had no other ambition than to appear on a B side. Bono's performance, who sings with his guts, is nevertheless remarkable and bewitching. It gives the piece all its depth and darkness. A beautiful inspiration.
Released as the second single of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, there is no doubt that U2 believed in All Because Of You and wished it a better future. Certainly the title is rhythmic and gives pride of place to the guitar, with sounds reminiscent of the Who, but it lacks spontaneity. Nothing seems natural, the group seems to force its game from beginning to end. Played at each concert of the Vertigo Tour at an ungrateful place during the recalls, the title then disappeared from circulation until an improbable return in 2018, without convincing.
Into The Heart has a special role on Boy. His long introduction follows on from An Cat Dubh and seems endless, but this sequence is clearly one of the charms of this album and we regret that U2 did not use this kind of technique more often. Finally, the duo formed almost a single piece and brilliantly and efficiently assumed a transitional role towards the masterpiece Out Of Control.
Zooropa was only supposed to be a maxi but has become an album. Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car is probably one of the songs added at the end to make numbers. We appreciate its spontaneity, its avant-garde sounds at the time, and an original staging on the video of the Sydney concert. But the interest of this piece, which has disappeared from circulation and many memories, stops there.
Stateless is one of two unpublished U2 releases on the soundtrack of The Million Dollar Hotel, written by Bono and released in the spring of 2000. The song fits well with the atmosphere of the film but is more of a B-side than a hit-single. It was nevertheless a good warm-up for fans at the time, a few months before the release of All That You Can't Leave Behind. Stateless was also a domain name particularly appreciated by some amateurs.
Coincidentally, the two titles written by U2 for The Million Dollar Hotel follow each other in our ranking. The Ground Beneath Her Feet is much more interesting than Stateless for its exciting finale and text written by Salman Rushdie. But the rest is terribly long and soft. U2 from the soundtrack, too smooth, too wise, too consensual, and sealed by a live acoustic version whose only memory is enough to annoy us.
Another Time, Another Place's live career did not survive the October Tour and it's a bit of a shame because this track should have been revisited in recent years, like An Cat Dubh or Electric Co. A little forgotten at the end of Boy, it is nevertheless a sure value, a title proper, calm, which has aged rather well and which breathed surprisingly maturity.
Blow Your House Down is surely, with Oh Berlin, the best Achtung Baby demo ever made on the occasion of the album's 20th anniversary. This track would have made a good B-side, it contaminates by its catchy rhythm and an apparent good mood. Larry has a great time with the cymbals on each chorus and gives a brilliant sound to the song. However, the whole thing gets lost a little bit from the solo and is not at all in the tone of the album, which probably explains its exclusion.
Babyface suffers a little from the mix of the whole Zooropa album which gives a lot of importance to electronic sounds and gives a very artificial aspect to the drums. The title clearly lacks depth and does not emphasize enough the Edge friend. Nevertheless, the melody is endearing and the two overlapping Bono vocal tracks are successful.
11 O'Clock Tick Tock is a track from the band's early days, released as a single even before the Boy album was recorded. U2 had no means and it shows in the weak quality of the mix, loud and not very melodious. The studio version was quickly forgotten but the track remained in people's minds thanks to its rare but memorable live performances. Special mention for the latest one at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles in 2015.
It is quite interesting to compare the progress made between the first version of Twilight, the B-side of Another Day released in February 1980, and the one released on the Boy album eight months later. Both versions are a bit long but the band is unrecognizable and oh so much more experienced on the album. The title takes on a new dimension, Bono sings much better and Edge is much cleaner. This track, although effective, has not stood the test of time and has not experienced a resurrection live unlike some of his classmates.
A Room At The Heartbreak Hotel is only a B side, released on Angel Of Harlem's single, but it could very well have been on Rattle & Hum. It testifies to the musical richness of the U2 of the time, drawing on American music and using, for example, choristers and brass instruments. A homogeneous title, well produced, perhaps a little too wise after all to have had a greater career.
Seconds is far from being a major War track, but it's one of the band's first pop songs, built on an acoustic guitar and a refreshing melody. There is a clear desire to offer something new compared to the band's first two albums. Honourable mention therefore.
October is a unanimously appreciated song. This bare ballad, recorded one day when Larry and Adam had a swimming pool, is a nugget that allows The Edge to learn to play the piano. An unfortunately too short and shallow track, which is never as good as an introduction or transition, as during the 2015 concerts just before Bullet The Blue Sky.
Released as the second Pop single in the spring of 2017, Staring At The Sun was certainly scheduled to be the album's hit single. It was certainly the least bad commercial performance, but far from the expectations placed in it.
There is still a revealing track of the Pop syndrome, a good punchy idea with a nice, sunny melody, whose studio version works quite well with its unique and tweaked guitar sounds, so unique that they will prove unplayable live. The band will lose a few weeks trying to interpret the track on stage, before falling back for lack of a better acoustic version. A beautiful waste.