Classic or Dud: U2

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To me, this one is a no brainer. Classic, by far. From their punk-based art rock in the early 80s with memorable songs such as "I Will Follow" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" to their electronica experimentation days with Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and Pop. Everyone criticizes them for their large tours during the 90s and the loss of their earnestness over that time. I admit, it was a change in their style, but I would rather see a band go on an experimentation and try music they have never heard before than make music that feels comfortable and the same. Besides, their latest album proves they still have all the old qualities that made them big. On the musical aspect, they have some real gems of albums with the largely passionate War to the masterpiece of The Joshua Tree. A few concept albums like Pop and Rattle and Hum give more variety to their repetoire. The thing I love about U2 most is the unique flow of Bono's voice with their wonderfully written songs. Very spiritualistic and in some cases Driven. Whew!!! Ok. There. U2? Classic.

Luptune Pitman, Wednesday, 28 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Classic. Of course they have produced a lot of crap. but history doesn't remember the crap that classics produce.

Rebel Yellow Bleach Blondie Boy, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

instead of just saying dud because of luptune i'll give some reasons: 1-those stupid sunglasses. 2-bono's horrid voice 3-that new single "walk on" 4-sunday bloody sunday. 5- "walk on"...and luptune likes them. dud

Kevin Enas, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

U2 have never been a large part of my life anyhow, but, what i have heard I hear like this. The songs sound fine, pleasant even, for maybe two, two and a half minutes tops, and then the whole bloody bombast *thing* bursts in and the songs are just ruined for me(see with or without you *par example*) Not to mention the fumbeld grasp on politics, pop, religion, irony, *soul* fer fucks sake , or the dumb messiah complex. But the music though, really now!Is it just me or in the "anthems" (ahem) does The Edge play that same bloody jangly, ehoey riff (see those first two songs on The Joshua Tree, Beautiful Day et al) So Dud then, quite obviously.

Stephen, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Dud, dud, dud. They're just so...leather trousers, if you see what I mean.

DG, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Maybe I'm wrong, but I've always seen U2 as being one of the flagship whipping boys for the indie community. Someone please explain. No fair bringing up Bono's ridiculous political posturing or the inherent smugness of all their recent tour gimmicks. For U2 fans, those are as tiresome as the "they don't write their own songs" or the "it's manufactured" cop-outs that pop fans have to listen to. All of their albums from The Unforgettable Fire to Zooropa are spankin' good, and songs like With Or Without You and Bad are undeniably fantastic. The new album and singles are crap, but still...overall, an easy CLASSIC.

Shane Knepshield, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, but the reason pop fans are bored of that kind of criticism is that we like it that way or at least dont mind it and we defend it or explain why it doesn't matter. Being bored of a criticism just because people repeat it a lot isn't that good a defense against that criticism.

I think they're a dud because of Bono's rather predictable vocal stylings and with a handful of exceptions I've not seen much in the songs to redeem that. But they were onto something production wise with the Eno/Lanois sound on the Joshua Tree, a kind of stadium artrock shimmer which was marred by Bono's OTT bellowing but made for some grand rock singles anyhow. Since they discovered 'irony' they've been utterly unbearable.

Tom, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I think this one is more accurately answered over time.

1984 -- "What's this 'Pride' song on the radio? Hm, sounds nice."

1987 -- "This _Joshua Tree_ album is pretty good."

1988 -- "This _Rattle and Hum_ album is pretty shit, one or two tracks aside."

Through to the present -- occasional good tune to the contrary, *snore*

At this point, seeing U2 would rank up there as a 'pleasure' for me in the same way that seeing the Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen would. I leave that kind of joy to the deadened, blinkered likes of Robert Hilburn. Never has the continuing mainstream critical consensus been ever so increasingly frustrating and obnoxious, but I suppose they make a great band for somebody who buys one album a year.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Dud. Not particularly objectionably dud, just sort of fairly harmless *nuisance* - like the tap that always drips, or a creaky floorboard that you really *should* find time to fix. They're just sort of AROUND aren't they these days? Just making a sort of bleating noise about something or other.

I thought they might be onto something with 'Achtung Baby', which I don't mind, but then of course pomp and bluster took hold again, and it's back to business as usual.

Dr. C, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

well, i suppose there's 3 stages to u2 isn't there?

the earnest stage, in, like the 80s, when they really meant it, and they rocked and all that stuff, and i don't even remember, just some ugly people on the tv. turn that over. boring. dud, of course they were dud. the 80s were grey and horrible, and they were grey and horrible for the simple reason that u2 were in them, dud dud dud.

the irony/postmodern thingy in the 90s, they didn't mean it anymore, they're only playing! "oh, we were pompous in the 80s, how silly we were' lets be as over the top as poss and subvert. irony, yeah!! no no no, dud again. is this phase more or less dud than the initial phase? can't decide.

now. they really mean it again. they're going to change the world with their big tuneful rock thats a bit pop too. and the pope likes them. and noel g too! dud, but not as dud as the other 2 phases. no wait, more dud.

aaargh, u2! the biggest dud of them all. but funny i guess.

so, dud then

gareth, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

There may be a "mainstream critical consensus" somewhere, but I doubt U2 is part of it - too many people hate them.

Musically, I think they go from Dud to Classic and back a lot, but mainly I have a big U2 trauma, because they were by 10 miles the favorite band of all obnoxious rich kids at school - "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is their fucking "Stairway To Heaven" and it's ruined that song for me.

I seem to prefer Under A Blood Red Sky, Rattle & Hum and Zooropa over The Joshua Tree (too much bombast, "Where The Streets Have No Name" has no discernible tune) Achtung Baby (half of it is undistinctive atmospheric in-one-ear-out-the-other stuff) and the latest one (hits-plus-filler), but that might be just a personal thing.

I have no opinion about Bono's personality, but I remember once kids from my secondary school making some sort of amateur video, lipsynching to some song or other - this would be in the mid-80's - and halfway through it one of them starts brandishing a big white flag around, not as a statement or anything, but 'cause that's what rock bands do, right ? Bono does it !

They were a very pernicious influence at one point. They were one of the bands that made it almost impossible at one point for mainstream rock fans to enjoy music that isn't stadium-size. Plus almost every goddamn new Canadian rock band around 1987-89 sounded like U2 and Simple Minds.

Patrick, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

No, I have never owned an album of theirs and they are dud dud dud. God, I just keep on wanting to type dud over and over and over and over again. If there's any group that represents what I can't bear in rock music it's U2. Worse than the Cure. I'm sorry I can't bring myself to articulate the reasons. With most bands I don't like (I don't know... Guns n' Roses) I can twist around my thoughts if I feel Iike it and decide that in fact they're great. But not U2. God I hate U2. I really do. Sorry.

Nick, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Classic. They had a shitload of great tunes in the early days and a pretty freakin' original sound. I think Bono can sing pretty well even if he is a bit overzealous at time. JOSHUA TREE is a top notch record. Got pretty sucky in the late 80s with that RATTLE AND HUM dung, but I think they've redeemed themselves pretty well of late. Not nearly as necessary today as they were in the early 80s but the best thing on the freakin' radio and they still occasionally surprise me with some original song ideas. Oh yes, and Thom Yorke, you still sound like "new" Bono.

Tim Baier, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I agree with Nick Dastoor, only more so. Horrible. I've never owned one of their albums either, I'm delighted to say.

Tim, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Another good band ruined by an extremely punchable lead singer (see also Radiohead). 'Rattle and hum' was so embarrasing, it ended up being funnier than 'Spinal tap'. Even when Bono's heart is in the right place (cancelling 3rd world debt) you know he's feeding his already elephantine ego by being seen with the Pope or the President. Hes just a coke-addled middle crisis merchant. Having said that, there has always been some interesting shit going on in U2's music. A lot of it down to Eno's production but The Edge has a fantastic guitar style. Simon Reynolds once called him 'the cinematographer of the guitar' which is spot-on. 'New years day' is the best example of that 80's rock thing you will hear. 'The unforgettable fire' is the best song Scott Walker never wrote. Steve Albini would kill to write a riff as tight as 'Wire'. The new album is complete shite however and I am sick to the sight of them. The Irish rock scene has been polluted by too many lame-o U2 copyists (Cactus World News, JJ72). I think I'll sit on the fence with this one.

Michael Bourke, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

'coke-addled midlife crisis merchant'...:)....sorry, I had to speed- type that response during my lunchbreak

Michael Bourke, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Following up Tom's response, I should clarify that I wasn't trying to dismiss the validity of criticisms focusing on the band's annoying public persona. As an ardent U2 supporter, even I can't help wanting to slap Bono on occasion (why won't he just shut up?). I was merely trying to steer the inevitable U2 bashing towards being more of an evaluation of their music rather than a celebration of what a tool Bono is. But hey, you all have done a pretty good job of hitting them hard from both angles, so I'm more than satisfied. Now that I've fullfilled my compulsive need to try to explain myself, I'll step aside and let the previously scheduled U2 slaughter continue.

Shane Knepshield, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

DUD, with a few minor exceptions.

Robin Carmody, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I've said it once, but I will say it again....dud dud dud dud dud dud dud dud dud dud. You see? Their existence is only justified by an idiotic aquaintance of mine saying "Yeah, I like Indie music...you know, like U2."

DG, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

"Coke-addled midlife crisis merchant"??? Michael, admit it now: you are Nicky Wire ;)

ANYHOW, I apparently have to wave the flag nearly by myself but U2 are goddamned classics. Sure, Bono apparently has had sunglasses surgically attached to his face, and sure he's annoying, and sure Zooropa and Pop were piss, but no band who could put out something the level of Achtung Baby! should ever, ever, EVER be referred to as a dud. EVER. Their greatest hits album is just beautiful. I mean, yes, Bono is a twathead at times. I WILL GIVE ALL OF YOU THIS FACT. Mainly because it is a fact - I mean, he's like my dad's age and running around in those ridiculous colored sunglasses and sparkly shirts looking all the world like a glam-rock The Fly (thank god that phase is over), but come on - Bad, With or Without You, One - these are all fantastic songs.

You can't convince me you don't sing along with them in the pub. Not a one of you.

Ally, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

never been in a pub

mark s, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

unforgettable fire was truly otherworldly when i first heard it. i can't help but think that there is not any comparable contemporary band(creed ha!) working on a spiritual plain. i am not all that commited to anything but that record reeks of passion and faith and is remarkable. and u2 meant it didn't they? for a teen like me that was powerful stuff. i never thought joshua tree was as good as it was made out to be but UF is undeniably classic. that said they have not reached any place mildly interesting since the mid 80s. oh, but i did like that song 'acrobat'.

keith, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

No, I'm sorry, _Achtung Baby_ deserves death, among other things because *that's the stupidest fucking album title*. There are other candidates, but geez. Lame. Figures that the music was equally pseudo-involving. I'll grant "Until the End of the World," though the fact that my first encounter with said song was a live clip showing Bono loving himself even put me off that.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I REALLY hope you mean something different from "loving himself" than I was just picturing, Ned. *shivers*

Anyhow, how is Achtung Baby the stupidest album title? It's just there and bland, it's not like, say, Enter the Dragon. I still haven't figured out what that means.

Ally, Friday, 30 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

heh heh, i thought it was funniest when Bozo was hanging out with Dylan & co and giving us solemn proclamations every now and then like "Roy Orbison had the best voice of a white man of his generation" - that was his hilarious "Custodian of Rock" phase, circa Rattle & Hum.

The music itself is a bunch of hammy guitar effects pedal tricks, overlaid with a straining, toilet seat voice trying hard to be epic and enigmatic but just ending up thoroughly, soddenly middlebrow.

However their first LP - although still ultimately crap - was a leaner, artier thing, when they were grooving to northern soul and joy division. Worth checking out, if only to confrim to yourself it's a blind alley.

BTW where the fuck is the kudos attached to "meaning it"? Hitler meant it!

I read a funny story about John Lydon sacking his manager circa 1989 because he told him he should "try to be more like Bono". I wish I'd been a fly on the wall when that conversation took place..

DS, Friday, 30 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

You can always spot the 'custodians of rock' phase a couple of years before it comes. They wear leather waistcoats, hats and do photoshoots in the Arizona desert. Of course just out of shot is the helicopter waiting to whisk them back to air-conditioned comfort. Then before you know it the guitarist is trading 'licks' with Buddy Guy or someone.

Dr. C, Friday, 30 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

i don't sing along in the pub.

i don't care how much joy division they listen to (i mean, so does mogwai from all accounts). the overcooked grandiose "epic" vocals and cornball lyrics ("we eat and drink while tomorrow they die" *slap*) and totally nondescript rhythm section ruin very promising guitar parts and eno's production. i'd at least listen to an instrumental album by the edge.

search: "new year's day"

sundar subramanian, Friday, 30 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

so u2 = hitler? i only wished to convey the thought that they were not contrived.

keith, Friday, 30 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I find Dr. C's analysis spot on. The alternate symptoms in the late eighties were wearing bad paisley clothing and getting produced by Jeff Lynne.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 31 March 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

u2 = total classic. it's music for anyone who remembers being young and stupid, but who still had dreams and a whole lot of passion -- that is, before cynicism gets the best of you and your idealism is shot to hell.

if one doesn't like bono's voice or even bono himself, then there's not much you can do. though if you can dislike the band just because of bono, you probably don't much like the music in the first place. for example, i hate thom yorke. truly and thoroughly. but when the music's fine, i can put that aside. (stunning revelation: i quite like "pyramid song.")

i'm arguably the most classic rock person on this board, so it should be no surprise that i'm a sucker for their grandiose arena rock. here's a question: how many of you that rate the rolling stones a classic, rate u2 a dud?

fred solinger, Sunday, 1 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I do at least rate "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby ..." as something closer to classic than I do any U2 song.

Robin Carmody, Sunday, 1 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Total shite. Only 'Under a Blood Red Sky' is okayish. The rest is well wank of the highest order. Of course it doesn't help when your singer is such a wanker and proud of it. And they're always at least 5 years behind the cool thing. At least Eno got some easy money producing their shit.

Omar, Tuesday, 3 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

yeh but fred, rolling stones are a classic, and u2 are a dud, because rolling stones have got 'shine a light' and 'have you seen your mother...' and 'under my thumb' and 'lets spend the night together' and all of 'their satanic majesties request' (underrated album or what?), whereas u2 have got... um, er, um...

gareth, Tuesday, 3 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

who are you guys kidding? u2 are classic! this thread is kind of pointless, i don't understand why so many people say dud. i can't stand the rockstar posing, especially after the 'returntoform' of the new record that personally i find boring as shite, but they're still u2, and they've been around for about 20 years and they still have hit singles that hold up over time and i can stand sitting through. classic, naturally. you try being as successful as consistently as they have!

michael dieter, Tuesday, 3 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Classic or Dud is no place for objectivity, Michael. I think cutting my fingernails is more consistently and aesthetically 'successful' than anything Bono's done for 14 years.

Tom, Tuesday, 3 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

" you try being as successful as consistently as they have! "

Michael, I don't understand your argument. Is it of '50 000 000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong!' variety? The majority is always right, huh? Not that it even is a majority.

Nick, Tuesday, 3 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

two months pass...
This is not a question worth discussing, since obviously, whether you like to admit it or not, U2 is considered to be a classic group. In about 5 years or so, they will definitely be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with the other classic rock groups. I was surprised to see that so many of you reacted negatively to the group, calling them duds. I've never met someone who had such animosity to the group, usually at the worst people think U2 is ok music, but in no way are they a contraversial or disappointing group.

But I won't use the argument that U2 has millions of followers around the world, because so do NSYNC and Britney Spears, and we all know how talented (gag) they are. Instead, think about their 20+ year career history, and the number of hits they've produced. Whether someone likes U2's music or not should not be criteria in considering a group to be a classic. I'm not a Rolling Stones fan, but I have to admit, they are a classic, whether I like their music or not. U2 is in the same category- despite personal musical preference, they supercede personal taste because, in essence, THEY ARE A CLASSIC! You do not need to be a fan of U2's music to realize that they are a classic. Besides, how many are involved with Greenpeace, Amnesty International, etc etc and donate countless hours and money to causes, such as relieving 3rd world debt? Too many other rock groups are too high on coke and are too self-involved to partake.

Many of the previous arguments I've read are hardly convincing and seem petty, "U2 = dud, their music sucks and it's for old people and like, Bono's a twat and egomaniac...blah blah blah" So what if Bono's a drama queen? It's all part of the Rock act and makes it more interesting to the fans and followers (of which, you all know, they have millions). The group isn't just about Bono, come on, it's the entire package. U2 is without a doubt, a classic, and an undeniably great group.

V. MacManus, Monday, 11 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Classic if only for a)not even trying to hide the fact they have the worst bass player in history, and b)the line "Man melts the sand so he can see the world outside."

tarden, Monday, 11 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Whether someone likes U2's music or not should not be criteria in considering a group to be a classic.

Oh, that's a completely rubbish argument. Why is wrong for people to consider things on their own terms, and not accept pronouncements from Rolling Stone, Q et al at face value? I rather like the idea of people actually thinking for themselves instead of blindly accepting what they are told.

Nicole, Monday, 11 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

U2 involved in Greenpeace & Amnesty International...leaving aside that Greenpeace denies the livelihoods of strip-miners and lumberjacks, and Amnesty meddles in the internal security of tin-pot dictatorships who do perfectly well on their own thanks, I think a band's musical achievements should be separated completely from the amount of grandstanding they indulge in.

tarden, Monday, 11 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Which cuts both ways of course, as I like U2's records a lot. I think Zooropa is better than Amnesiac. But Jubilee 2000? C'mon, it's not HIS money that he lent out 30 years ago and didn't get the interest back, was it?

tarden, Monday, 11 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Finally found a page on this thing where I disagree with EVERYONE!

I can't hardly stand early U2 (whiny, monotonous, overblown), but everything from Joshua Tree on I find to be real groovy. Even Rattle & Hum. Achtung Baby is a great classic. The first side of Joshua Tree is flawless. Am I crazy?

brah gruplee, Wednesday, 13 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

First side of Joshua Tree IS flawless, second side irredeemable, especially the godawful harmonica.

tarden, Thursday, 14 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

That _Joshua Tree_ analysis is so on the money that it's taken my breath away. And here I was thinking I was the only one who felt that way...

Early U2 is quite clearly the bomb. The first three albums are glorious in their entirety. After that, they tend to be a mixed affair (the sole exception being _Achtung, Baby_ which is pretty much brilliant except for one song which is so dull that I can no longer recall its name or tune).

Dan Perry, Thursday, 14 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Classic. Some people have been saying things like "boring" "dull" and the rolling stones are better. That is total BS!!! Listening to U2 is like listenening to something that has never been done or never will or should not be done again. This is solid gold. What isn't boring? Some wastoid band like limp bizkit or metallica that are trying so hard to be hardcore that they are just blabbing on and on without a purpose. And the Rolling Stones? One of the biggest sellouts in history. No band on earth bought more into the corperate rock of the seventys. Some of their later stuff sounds like disco CRAP!!! We need U2 not just for the euphoric music but for sincerity.

Luke, Thursday, 21 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

"Listening to U2 is like listenening to something that...should not be done again"

Are you sure you mean this? Though I entirely agree.

Tom, Thursday, 21 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Disco crap, but GOOD Disco Crap, see the misunderstood 'Hot Stuff'.

Omar, Thursday, 21 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
I can't help but agree with V. MacManus.

Look guys, U2 is a powerful band. They inspire extreme hatred in some people, but they inspire extreme love in far more. Regardless of how much Bono offends you (I'm still unclear as to how that can happen... he's quite harmless) the facts still stand: U2 is one of most artistically and commercially successful bands of all time.

Many of you mantain that they were good in the 80's but sold out in the 90's. I suggest looking up the word "irony" in the dictionary. During their ZooTV and PopMart stadium tours they flat out refused corporate sponsorship (unlike the Rolling $tones) and lost money as a result. Just as you wouldn't assume that a battered old book is of poor literary quality based on its cover, you shouldn't attribute shallowness to a band just because they have video screens and flashy lights.

And if U2 were a dud band, why would they go out of their way time after time after time to change their musical style, often against what is currently popular. 'War' was a big success, so why go do 'The Unforgettable'? If 'The Joshua Tree' made them the most popular thing to come out of Ireland since the potato, why do something like 'Rattle and Hum'? And if their earnest, save-the-whales style of the 80's worked so well, why in God's name would you go off with something like 'Achtung Baby' and ZooTV? And why then change into 'Pop'? Why?

Because they've got balls. U2 just keeps changing and growing, usually with success (UF, JT, Achtung) but sometimes getting burned (Rattle and Hum, Pop). Instead of choosing the quick and easy path by just repeating a familiar sound over and over, U2 never let the critics, the media, or any of you punks drag them down.

Because like the Beatles and the other established classic bands, U2's twenty-year career has been a continuous growth process. U2 just keeps evolving, so they ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING NEW AND INTERESTING TO SAY.

And THAT is the critical component in seperating the wheat from the chaff. THAT is what makes U2 a classic, and THAT is what makes the Rolling $tones a dud.

Amen.

Sam Cunningham, Sunday, 29 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

both

classic in the sense that they came out with a few good pop songs and records

dud in the fact that they are absolute crap now, are absoulute hypocrites and sellouts (the abc documentry sponsored by McDonalds, ticket prices only the rich can afford, bono dissing the "violence" by anti-capitolist protestors in Genoa whilst he was on a luxury yacht with tony blair without one mention of that protestor who was shot twice in the head, etc), were influenced by punk and yet at the same time sneered at the genre, along with the fact that bono's ego is larger than the size of the american continent and believes that the world revolves around him

i also think they ripped off depeche mode-badly-when they came out with achtung baby, only a few good songs on that record, and pop was much, much worse

i no longer buy u2 albums anymore, not even used

the walrus, Friday, 3 August 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

What is this bizarre and much-cherished idea among U2 fans that U2 records sound radically different from one another?

Tom, Friday, 3 August 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I am not doubting his influence at all! I like his playing, he's a cool guitarist with a lot of good ideas, and that's all you need, not technical prowess or anything. Like, he knows:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOhWSGbhxAo

He's the absolutely right guitarist for U2. But I do think he's pretty limited and limiting.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:02 (eleven months ago) Permalink

i think him being a player who has experimented w/his sound to overcome his occasionally self admitted limitations has made him vv interesting and he was either crafty or lucky or both to hit upon a sound early on that really worked.

omar little, Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:02 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I totally agree. It's key that he has never had to be anyone but himself. But I was just saying that the incentive to change when you're in such an enviable position is low. Change the Edge, you totally change U2.

The other argument of course is that simple works, which is one reason he's still playing stadiums and Andy Summers, John McGeoch, Will Sergeant or Stuart Adamson (RIP) aren't.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:06 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Or, you know, Michael Brook or even Daniel Lanois or any of the other guitarists who influenced him or who work in a similar sonic realm.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:07 (eleven months ago) Permalink

like marv levy used to say, it’s simple but it ain’t easy. really nail the riff from “Bad” and get back to me.

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:14 (eleven months ago) Permalink

complexity isn’t why andy summers stopped filling stadiums lol. I agree we’d be all be better off if more players listened to daniel lanois.

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:16 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Right!

And that clip JiC linked (where he plays the same thing clean) is EXACTLY what I think of when I think of him nowadays.

I will never call myself a U2 fanboi. But would still vastly rather see them than yr Bonnamasturbatur/Satriwanki/Malmsteen thingy or Phish/Rush/Yes/Tool/whatever.

And though I am not a global superstar (and never will be) I follow more of an Edgian ethos in my own music. Play exactly like yourself, and put yourself in situations where that makes sense.

twas in the fleek midwinter (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:17 (eleven months ago) Permalink

For sure, doing even the simplest stuff he does while running around on stage in a stadium I imagine is really hard! Edge is the best Edge we will ever get.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:19 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I want to say achtung baby and zooropa was the last time he did anything that caught my attention. A song like Until the End of the World, he's moving around a lot more than usual, even has a guitar solo!

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:22 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Ok. I think there's at least an equally interesting debate about whether Adam Clayton can play bass or not.

Consensus in my youth was that Adam could not, in fact, play bass particularly well.

Consensus in their mid-career period was, who cares?

I don't know the current consensus. Still stuck on "don't care."

twas in the fleek midwinter (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:24 (eleven months ago) Permalink

my relationship with U2 ends abruptly around Zooropa/Passengers so it’s possible my perspective is tainted.

I think adam is okay - he doesn’t have jazz chops or anything but you can catch him bringing something to the song.

as an aside, it’s probably a different thread really but I can’t understand bonamassa at all. he’s like a walking museum of ancient licks and he will influence no one.

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:29 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Adam iirc couldn't even play bass when he joined up, they just thought he was a cool-looking dude and he happened to have a bass or something. i could be misremembering my U2 history. he's good, i think. he's had a lot of good bass lines in his career, memorable ones.

Larry is probably the best musician in the bunch.

Bono has been both great and terrible in terms of both singing and lyrics.

omar little, Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:32 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Larry is p much unimpeachable, agreed

sympathy for the tasmanian devil (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:34 (eleven months ago) Permalink

thanking u mad puffin

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:37 (eleven months ago) Permalink

For sure, doing even the simplest stuff he does while running around on stage in a stadium I imagine is really hard!

I prefer when he falls off stages in stadium, tbh, if only he'd do more of that I've have more respect for him. Seriously though I think he's always been the only interesting musician in U2 and still is.

Whiney Houston (Tom D.), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:42 (eleven months ago) Permalink

my challenging opinion is that, in any creative field, if you don't think you're at least hypothetically capable of producing your very best work in the near future, you should just stop.

Karl Malone, Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:45 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I'm sure they think they are but hasn't the Edge got some ridiculous clifftop mansion to maintain?

Whiney Houston (Tom D.), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:48 (eleven months ago) Permalink

...And my counterchallop is that as long as someone wants to hear what you're doing now and where you're going next, you may as well continue exploring/experimenting.

No, most people don't go to see the Rolling Stones with a burning desire to hear them say "here's one from our new album."

But on the other hand, making Tom Rush or Bob Dylan slog around with the same ten songs they wrote when they were 20 seems cruel in a different way.

sympathy for the tasmanian devil (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:49 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Oh right, he hasn't built it yet - well, as of May 2016 that is, an update would be appreciated...

http://static.latimes.com/the-edge/

Whiney Houston (Tom D.), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:50 (eleven months ago) Permalink

IMO clifftop mansions are great for immensely rich older men with young, physically fit wives.

"Ooops, he slipped! There was nothing I could do!"

sympathy for the tasmanian devil (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:54 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Adam's bass playing is imo the highlight of "Pop." Adam, fwiw, also the only member of U2 to ever miss a gig (and, related, go to rehab).

I'd argue U2's major advances post Popmart have been stage design and presentation. The claw stadium stage, the Songs of Innocence set, even (in that context) the stripped down Joshua Tree redux stage.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 31 December 2017 18:04 (eleven months ago) Permalink

"Ooops, he slipped! There was nothing I could do!"

He's not too nimble on his feet either, as we have seen earlier.

Whiney Houston (Tom D.), Sunday, 31 December 2017 18:05 (eleven months ago) Permalink

i heard American Soul off the new album on the radio recently and it reminded me that the way they've focused on 'rocking out' in the last 15 years or so, contrary to all their previous strengths, is so strange and i can't believe they're still at it

ufo, Sunday, 31 December 2017 18:12 (eleven months ago) Permalink

um throwing Alex Lifeson in with Phish when he's probably the most economical guitarist of his generation is pretty bonkers

Joan Digimon (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Sunday, 31 December 2017 18:17 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I think the new one "rocks" a bit more than the last one. The last one was also a better album.

omar little, Sunday, 31 December 2017 18:19 (eleven months ago) Permalink

xpost Lifeson also clearly glommed on to what the Edge and cohort were up to.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 31 December 2017 18:21 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Bono thinks The Biggest Band in the World should record rock singles * shrug*

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 31 December 2017 18:23 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Edge should have just had them include this Bill Bailey clip in that doco

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8dZwXnMrRU

shackling the masses with plastic-wrapped snack picks (sic), Sunday, 31 December 2017 18:30 (eleven months ago) Permalink

also Rush literally afaik has never jammed or improv'ed ever in concert

Joan Digimon (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Sunday, 31 December 2017 18:31 (eleven months ago) Permalink

GUYS the distinction is "admired by chops-hungry muso types" / "reviled by chops-hungry muso types."

You can quibble all you like about who is included/excluded from each bucket, but it is a recognizable distinction.

sympathy for the tasmanian devil (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 31 December 2017 18:54 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Edge can't play

But hes read all the manuals of the post-playing equipment

This is not even up for argument tbh. He couldn't even figure out the chords for the weight ffs

remember the lmao (darraghmac), Monday, 1 January 2018 00:56 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Quick note here that Bono, in his introduction to Tom Doyle's Billy Mackenzie biography The Glamour Chase, specifically admitted that they tried to rip off the Associates (and that he knew there was no way for him to rip off Billy's singing, a wise assessment). And as Doyle himself says in the book, I think you can pretty clearly hear it on the band's 1980 song "Paperhouse," from their debut The Affectionate Punch -- definitely a proto-Edge guitar break in there:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U3xiazgtmA

Ned Raggett, Monday, 1 January 2018 03:41 (eleven months ago) Permalink

(Should add of course that said guitar is played by the other core member of the original band, Alan Rankine.)

Ned Raggett, Monday, 1 January 2018 03:41 (eleven months ago) Permalink

so as ILM's likely most loyal U2 fan i feel the need to add my 2 cents about the new album. don't read if you hate them, or me i guess.

like all U2 albums, if you're a U2 fan you're probably going to enjoy it but it feels like only half their work, there are a lot of songs on here that sound very much unlike them. more generic. This one too often feels like the work of other parties in places (recognizing that U2 has worked with other parties before of course but it felt a lot more collaborative in those instances.) though in a few cases on this album it works, the song w/Haim and a couple of the tracks with Andy Barlow from Lamb are nice.

But this is down there with Rattle and Hum and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb but where the former fell flat on its face sometimes bc of miscalculation and the latter was U2 settling into a very by-the-numbers groove, at least in R&H there were some genuinely outstanding songs and in HTDAAB they nailed a classic U2 sound and there are a couple of genuinely rousing tracks.

(also: after sitting with it for awhile i think Songs of Innocence is the better album and actually winds up in the middle of their discography quality-wise for me. upthread i complained about it but i think it's actually very good and sounds like a very heartfelt U2 album -- similar to No Line on the Horizon, albeit not nearly as great.)

my updated, subjective album rankings:

Achtung Baby
The Joshua Tree
Zooropa
War
Unforgettable
Passengers
Pop
Boy
No Line on the Horizon
Songs of Innocence
All That You Can’t Leave Behind
October
Rattle and Hum/How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb/Songs of Experience

omar little, Friday, 5 January 2018 17:35 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Probably wouldn't quibble with that ranking, even if I might shift a couple of the top ones around. Haven't even bothered with the new one.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 5 January 2018 17:57 (eleven months ago) Permalink

clicked this What's Going On cover expecting it to be disastrous, to my surprise it is not horrible https://open.spotify.com/track/5CPWcXuqQ2QSXJmc1sT19u

niels, Friday, 5 January 2018 20:29 (eleven months ago) Permalink

War
The Joshua Tree
Unforgettable
Achtung Baby
No Line on the Horizon
Rattle and Hum
Passengers
Boy
Zooropa
October
Pop
Songs of Experience
Songs of Innocence
All That You Can’t Leave Behind
How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

reggie (qualmsley), Friday, 5 January 2018 22:08 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Just look at these two

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Sunday, 7 January 2018 20:31 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Putt on your boots

failsun ra (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 7 January 2018 20:35 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Just-For-Men-Gel of Harlem

attention vampire (MatthewK), Sunday, 7 January 2018 21:12 (eleven months ago) Permalink

where the geeks have no shame

pee-wee and the power men (bizarro gazzara), Sunday, 7 January 2018 21:14 (eleven months ago) Permalink

i still haven't found what i'm looking for, which is my golf ball, so i'll have to take a two stroke penalty

omar little, Sunday, 7 January 2018 21:19 (eleven months ago) Permalink

how long, how long must we play this hole

failsun ra (Ye Mad Puffin), Sunday, 7 January 2018 22:08 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Before and after hairplugs.

MaresNest, Sunday, 7 January 2018 22:38 (eleven months ago) Permalink

Stuck in a sandtrap you can't get out of.

Whiney Houston (Tom D.), Sunday, 7 January 2018 22:45 (eleven months ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

“You’re the best thing about me” is worse than “I’m my own best friend” and bono should just go crawl under a rock somewhere and not bother anybody

calstars, Saturday, 13 October 2018 22:53 (one month ago) Permalink

one month passes...

this hardwell remix, which truly goes hard, is hilarious https://open.spotify.com/track/242D4gArhDykTJodk93EP1?si=ecxVeq4TQo-FhU10iDNqmA

niels, Friday, 23 November 2018 10:39 (two weeks ago) Permalink


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