Cedars of Lebanon is a neat album fence, well anchored in the oriental atmosphere of No Line On The Horizon, rocked by Bono's almost whispered vocals and Larry's almost military rhythm. One regret: that the title keeps this false rhythm. It could have been better included in our ranking.
In Electrical Storm, only the verse is really successful, especially on William Orbit's mix, more warm and using the acoustic guitar. However, far from being bad, the track suffers from a wobbly aspect, not finished, especially on the finish which doesn't seem to fit at all with the rest of the track. The live version will prove catastrophic, tested 2-3 nights on the 360° Tour and then definitively discarded. Finally, Larry's (rare) acting performance in the video clip is worth noting.
There are some interesting things in War's penultimate track, including energetic verses and a powerful guitar riff. The problem comes rather from the choruses, the choruses of The Coconuts, and the long finish. A title that is difficult to convince.
U2 explores trip-hop sounds on If You Wear That Velvet Dress. The result is a nice piece of atmosphere, between Bono's whispers, The Edge's hushed solo and the omnipresent bass. This singular track was transcended in 2002 by Jools Holland and his big band, with a simply fantastic performance by Bono. Before disappearing completely from the group's radar screens.
Spanish Eyes is a very special B-side that will be entitled not only to its video clip but also to regular live performances. Well, these are now limited to one appearance every 4 years during concerts in Spain or Mexico, but that's always the case and few fans complain about it. A rhythmic and exciting track, simple, refreshing and without any headache, to listen to from time to time for pleasure.
God Part II is a somewhat forgotten track from Rattle And Hum. Yet it is a song of sublime intensity, hard, angry, almost irrelevant on the album. Its darkness rather announces that of Achtung Baby and would not have really detonated next to The Fly. A heralding title therefore.
Always is an interesting track to understand the band's work in the studio and in particular the way they build and deconstruct their songs step by step. Always is the song that will allow the band to compose Beautiful Day and it will naturally come out on the B side of the latter. An honest and pleasant track to listen to for this relative with the first single from All That You Can't Leave Behind.
FEZ - Being Born would have made an excellent concert introduction if the band had had the courage to defend him on stage. An atypical piece of No Line On The Horizon, it resembles the culmination of the oriental experiments of the U2 of the time, mixing its rock with a delicious North African atmosphere. Of course, we are not talking about a masterpiece but a colourful title, without any ulterior motives, unstructured, and which transports you to the streets of Fez, far from the radio formatting usually so dear to the group.
Love Rescue Me is a beautiful and pleasant ballad, partly co-written by Bob Dylan. A song that certainly does the job, but that doesn't really stand out in the album Rattle And Hum and even less in the band's career, despite Bono's beautiful lyrical flights. A title a little too long, a little too wise, a little too clean. The group will do much better.
Stories For Boys was first released on the EP "U2 Three" in 1979 before being reworked and released on the Boy album. The song is interesting for The Edge's strong vocal presence on the chorus and was a must during the band's first two world tours. His appearance in snippet on Vertigo in 2005 was appreciated.
Love Comes Tumbling is a quality B-side from the Unforgettable Fire era, released on the EP Wide Awake In America. This title, carried by a major performance by Adam, illustrates well the move up the range of the band and its compositions in the mid-1980s. It easily exceeds many of the tracks released on the three previous albums.
Track 3 of U2's albums is often synonymous with a major title or even a hit. California (There Is No End To Love) could have played an important role on Songs Of Innocence and probably had the potential to do so.
It's not a bad track in itself, the chorus is catchy and the rhythm is there, you can feel the beginning of something, but the production is a monumental disappointment. From the ridiculous introduction to the pure and simple disappearance of The Edge, relegated to the background and drowned in Bono's "oh-oh" and synthesizers, one wonders what took the band to scuttle like that what seemed like a good idea.
California was played 4 or 5 times live on the Innocence + Experience tour, without any real motivation, as if U2 felt from the beginning that they wouldn't do it. The version played at the end of the concert at the Roxy Theatre is nevertheless effective and deserved a little emphasis from the group. Big frustration.
"The Black Cat" in Gaelic is a rather unbalanced but very endearing piece of Boy and which has the particularity to follow each other admirably with Into The Heart. A track that breathed surprisingly (too much?) maturity and that has aged rather well, testifies to its successful resurrection in concert during the Vertigo Tour in 2005.
There is a whole myth around this title since the band had the crazy intention of integrating it into their set on the 360° Tour. As usual, the Irish will never implement this idea, creating a totally irrational frustration among the fans. Drowning Man is not a bad title, far from it, the use of the electric violin even gives it a certain singularity, but apart from that? Not much, to be honest.
It's hard to separate Holy Joe from this Popmart Tour announcement press conference in a New York supermarket. U2 was then a classy fucking band and this groovy title totally reflects this state of mind. Released under two different mixes, the B side of the Discotheque is especially interesting in its Guilty Mix version which enhances the riff of The Edge and the dynamics of the song. Nevertheless, we will regret its slightly detailed and messy appearance. Unless it is the contrary that makes its charm....
U2 has decided to do a Beautiful Day bis on his album Songs Of Experience. If the desire to reproduce one of their latest hits is commendable, the production is perplexing. More pop than its predecessor, Get Out Of Your Own Way is an illusion on the album thanks to its refined production and its rapped transition to American Soul. In live on the other hand, the beautiful promise turns short and turns into a wet firecracker.
Stand Up Comedy belongs to these few titles from No Line On The Horizon in which U2 abandons its oriental inspirations to brew wider. As if it was necessary to compensate at all costs for this overly assertive artistic choice and catch up with the few fans lost along the way. The result is a rock song that is well paced, well constructed, far from being bad but clearly irrelevant, lost in the middle of a concept that should have been assumed to the end.
Nine months before the release of Songs of Innocence and the fiasco of its partnership with Apple, U2 is already using the biggest strings to occupy the media space. What could be better than a previously unreleased single unveiled during an evening commercial of the Superbowl, sponsored by Bank Of America, and attached to a charity?
Invisible carries within him the weight of this inability to make simple and spontaneous. Even if the track is rather well structured and the melody is successful, the electronic drums seal the track and give it a very artificial aspect. Artificial like the clip, shot during a fake concert, and in which Bono monkeyed all his favorite postures.
The live version during the Innocence + Experience Tour will be more interesting but, played in the barricade, will suffer from the scenic configuration.
The First Time is an atmospheric ballad without much pretension but we appreciate it for its sobriety and authenticity, in the middle of an album with more synthetic sounds. A charming appearance in 1999 with the introduction of the film Million Dollar Hotel.
If Achtung Baby makes a mark by its darkness, this does not prevent U2 from using humour, especially with Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World in which Bono tells us about his nighttime drinking. A nice ballad whose festive character will be revealed in concert during the Zoo TV Tour with a rigorous champagne opening. Unfortunately, the track will not survive the tour and will even be sacrificed on the video of the Sydney concert. We had to sanction that: this is the lowest ranked Achtung Baby title in our ranking.
In Pop's fifth single, Bono sends us so much "God" and "Jesus" that it becomes indecent, especially in a secular country like France. It's hard to appreciate the charms of a track whose name and chorus are so ridiculous. However, by digging well, we appreciate the melody, the sound of The Edge, and even this passage where Bono does scat. The production is nevertheless a little heavy and the band will not be able to get rid of it, slaughtering the song once in concert, before converting it into an elongated snippet. An even worse fate than Staring At The Sun.
Van Diemen's Land is an unpretentious song, just for fun. A beautiful solo ballad, soft, poetic, made for the good old friend, The Edge. We would almost have liked U2 to dig a little deeper and extend this beautiful idea, finally much too short.
Crazy Tonight is a pop track without much surprise, full of pep and sweating the desire of U2 to be played on the US radios. Which is not really a compliment. The title seems totally off topic after the first four tracks of No Line On The Horizon. Nevertheless, we appreciate the text, built on sentences in the form of a slogan, the production polished and above all this brilliant remix that will make the whole planet bouncing during the 360° Tour.
One Step Closer goes a little unnoticed on How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. Perhaps the fault lies in its slow pace and bare appearance. Yet it is a profound title, a true introspection of Bono confiding in his father. The production is exemplary in the use of the pedal steel guitar which gives this atmospheric piece a particular charm. We wait in vain for the final to take off a little, too bad.
Often despised by fans and mocked for its syrupy side, Stuck (for close friends) is nevertheless a ballad that holds up well. Efficient and rather well written, it still works well, both in studio and live, full band, acoustic, or even symphonic. In short, a solid title. However, we remain perplexed by this video where Bono falls eighteen times from his truck.
Like A Song is generally underestimated but it is nevertheless one of War's solid tracks. A nervous title in which Larry is at the top. We will regret the long final and its total absence in concert. The piece was strangely played only once one night in February 1983 in Dundee, before being definitively buried.
Oh Berlin's charm is obviously to immerse ourselves one again in the recording sessions of Achtung Baby in Berlin. No other song has so much in it the atmosphere and sound of this pivotal period for U2. With this track, released as a bonus for the twenty years of the album, the Irish offered us an indelible memory of that time and absolute proof that no other European city meant so much to them.
Sometimes it happens that U2 decide to completely loose themselves. Fast Cars, recorded on the last day of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb's recording sessions, is one of those (too rare) moments when the band plays only for fun. A rhythmic track that transports you with its freshness and spontaneity. A real success that will end up on the bonus track on the album and will have some live versions on the Vertigo Tour stage.
With Down All The Days, we discover what Numb could have been with Bono and other lyrics. This Achtung Baby demo would almost exceed the final track as it breathes spontaneity and freshness. The finale where Bono seems to be improvising is superb.
With Gloria, U2 returns for his second album with the same vitality that Boy had been so successful. The energetic guitar riff energizes the song and guarantees its live success, as evidenced by its much appreciated return thirty-five years later during the Experience + Innocence Tour. But even if it is clearly October's best title, Gloria fails to reach the tops of I Will Follow or Out Of Control.
When Love Comes To Town is interesting because it represents the culmination of the Rattle And Hum concept. U2 succeeds in his incursion into the blues thanks to this duet with the master BB King. The latter will even take the Lovetown Tour route with the group. Its rare appearances in 2015 delighted the fans who had the chance to hear the song. To listen from time to time for those who love this musical style.
Without being equal, City Of Blinding Lights evokes Where The Streets Have No Name in many ways. Very successful in studio version, the track is probably one of the most accomplished of How To Dismantle An Atomib Bomb. We like the introduction that rises gently, Bono's calm singing and the structure of the song. When it was released in 2005, the song was a real success live. However, the novelty effect quickly faded away, the title becoming an absolutely unbearable mandatory part of each concert of the band.
It's hard to consider Lucifer's Hands without thinking of Return Of The Singray Guitar, the demo that U2 dared to throw at us at the opening of some concerts during the 360° Tour. The final version of the song is certainly a well-made B-side, but is it better than the original demo? The question is worth asking.
Bono would have said one day that Hawkmoon 269 was his favorite song of U2. Absolutely. The fact is that this title symbolizes Rattle And Hum, U2 experimenting with blues and choirs with talent. The track rises slowly, the sound is raw, Edge sounds pretty good and Bono handles different registers. In short, a beautiful piece that will not leave an indelible mark and will rarely be defended in concert.
With Love Is All We Have Left, U2 creates a twilight and bold introduction to Songs Of Experience. This atmospheric track is a real surprise and a more than seductive introduction. However, its interest quickly fades as the listens to it.
It took until 94th place to find a track from The Joshua Tree, which says a lot about the level of this album. Running To Stand Still is far from being a bad title. This is the first real ballad of U2's career, a bare piece based on piano and guitar, offering a real moment of meditation in concert. A great success to be credited with a sometimes overwhelming electrical transformation during the Zoo TV Tour.
Window In The Skies was released in 2006 in support of the U218 Singles compilation, the book U2 By U2 and opens a new chapter in the history of U2. A chapter of look back to contemplates the journey they made. The two brilliant video clips tell in their own way about the band's past and influences and already seem to herald the future Songs of Innocence. Musically the track is playful, pop and dancing, a nice track to wait between two albums.
The last track of The Joshua Tree is a captivating, poignant ballad, carried by the acoustic guitar and choirs of The Edge. A tribute to the "Madres de Plaza de May" movement, a protest movement that emerged from the military dictatorship in Argentina, the title is seductive because of its political commitment. Little played in concert in 1987, it culminated strangely ten years later, when the group played it on stage in South America during the Popmart Tour.
Red Flag Day offers us reminiscences of War on Songs Of Experience and it is a sympathetic wink thirty-five years later. The problem is that Bono no longer has the same voice as he did then. The power-pop chorus is too much for our 60-year-old singer who will break his voice in concert, before logically giving up and sending the track back to oblivion.
The most rock and hardest track on How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, Love And Peace is a cold, almost metallic track. A cry of anger against the war, it took on its full dimension live during the Vertigo Tour. Sometimes used as a concert opening in the United States, it is as a main course in Europe that it will make a lasting impression, forming a devastating trio alongside Sunday Bloody Sunday and Bullet The Blue Sky.
Initially co-written with Christy Moore in 1995, North And South Of The River was re-recorded by the band during Pop sessions. It could have been on the album without anyone saying anything wrong with her. The song, sad and tearful, deals with the Irish conflict but in a very different way than Please, closer to the despondency than the incantation. His only live performance, during a concert in tribute to the victims of the Omagh bombing in 1998, is as splendid as it is unique.
Angel of Harlem is undoubtedly one of Rattle And Hum's most successful songs. A tribute to Billie Holiday, the song is about jazz and New York City. He will have a beautiful and regular career in concert, keeping enough freshness to remain appreciated even thirty years later.
It's the blues and country music that sweat in Trip Through Your Wires. We like the communicative good mood of the song and Bono's performance on the harmonica, something new at the time. Intensely played live in 1987, the track will disappear completely from circulation before its lightness seduces us again in 2017 during the tour celebrating Joshua Tree's 30th birthday.
Crumbs From Your Table is a classic and does not bring anything innovative to the band's discography. Nevertheless, it remains an effective, colourful and rhythmic piece, carried by the play of The Edge and lyrics committed against the "pauvrète" as Bono once said in its very bad french. The title is one of the successes of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, even if the band will unfortunately not defend it live.
Walk On is certainly the most meticulous composition of All That You Can't Leave Behind. Brilliant, efficient and positive, it plays a central role on the album and even gives it its name. Placed last on the setlists during the Elevation Tour, the song was also one of the highlights of the concerts and a fabulous closing track.
However, something went wrong with this song and we can't say exactly what. Why did they trash it with a single version in which Bono no longer has a voice? Why did they shoot that insipid video clip in Brazil? Why did they disguise the title with the 9/11 fire department on stage? Why did they finally make a boring and soulless joke out of it during the 360° Tour?
Even Aung San Suu Kyi will eventually sully this beautiful tribute and contribute to her disillusionment. Walk On remains in the end a very good title, certainly, but not the masterpiece it could have been.
Slow Dancing has the particularity of having been released twice on the B-side, in two different versions, first on Stay (Faraway, So Close!) in 1993 and then on the If God Will Send His Angels single in 1997. We would prefer this last version, a complete band, performed by Willie Nelson for whom the title was originally written. A nice B-side.
Lemon is one of the strangest tracks on U2's discography. We like its futuristic sounds and its fast rhythm, carried by a light and colorful bass line. But it is of course Bono's performance that transports us; the singer excels in what will remain his most acute song of his career. Late debarkation in the setlists during the Oceania leg of the Zoo TV Tour, the track will only be played a dozen times in public. But enough to enchant us forever with its unique atmosphere on the video of the Sydney concert.
Without revolutionizing the genre, U2 gratifies us with This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now with one of the most successful songs of his late career. An effective title, well constructed, well produced and above all well written, full of maturity. We regret only one thing: that the band never defended him live.
Miss Sarajevo is one of the few pieces of the Passengers experience worth a listen. The duo with Pavarotti works very well and makes it a unique title in the band's career. The piece, with its poignant subject, will take a prominent place in the group's concerts from the Vertigo Tour, where Bono will superbly perform the Italian tenor part, to the recent Joshua Tree tribute tour.