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Column: off the record…, vol. 12-528

@U2, August 19, 2012
By: Aaron J. Sams / @u2wanderer


off the record, from @U2

Although albums from U2 have been few and far between this last decade, I feel we have been spoiled when it comes to a release of material every year from the band. This has included videos, remastering projects, compilation albums, and even theatrical films. In the latter part of 2006 we got the Zoo TV: Live From Sydney concert finally released on DVD. The U218 Singles compilation was released, and the U218 Videos DVD came out. In the latter part of 2007 we got the 20th anniversary release of The Joshua Tree, and Popmart: Live From Mexico City was finally released on DVD. Also, 2008 was a great year, with the release of U23D in theaters, the spring remasters of Boy, October and War, and the fall release of Under A Blood Red Sky on DVD. In 2009 we got a new album, No Line On The Horizon, in the spring and a remastered 25th anniversary edition of The Unforgettable Fire. U2 360 At The Rose Bowl came out in the summer of 2010, and last year we had the 20th anniversary edition of Achtung Baby and the documentary From The Sky Down.

U2 has us trained to expect a release each year, usually in the fall of the year. Some may call it a cash grab, but I look forward to these releases. You can go back to 2000 and there has been a release each and every year of some major project. So here it is August and nothing has been announced yet. The rumors are swirling that something might be coming, and all signs point toward it not being a new album. Is something actually on the way? Or is it just wishful thinking by fans who are trained to expect an announcement right about now?

What could it be? We saw The Best Of 1990-2000 come out two years after the close of the last decade, so the timing could be right for a compilation spanning 2000-2010. The songs still seem too fresh to me, but I would happily change my mind if some of the songs recorded for Songs Of Ascent would finally make their way onto a release. Those were initially recorded in 2008 or before, so they do fit the criteria of being from that decade. I'd be happy with studio versions of "Mercy," "North Star" and "Every Breaking Wave."

And it could always be a re-release project. Pop may possibly be next to get the bonus disc deluxe treatment. I'd love it if along with the album and the b-sides disc, the band would take the time to re-record and re-mix the songs they felt were unfinished. It would be interesting to me to hear the band of today tackling those songs from yesterday.

Either way, please U2, announce something already! You've trained me to start salivating for some new release every year at this time! To those who may wonder, I don't have any inside knowledge of what might be coming next, and I am sitting and waiting as patiently as all of you are for news.

Sadly, I do wonder if we will ever get a full re-release of Zooropa. The album was re-released in last year's Achtung Baby box. That means that there was no deluxe edition with extra bonus tracks and b-sides released on its own. It shared space with Achtung Baby. While we did get to hear things like "Down All The Days," the early version of "Numb," my collection will feel incomplete without a full release.

I'd love to have the "Perfecto Mixes" of "Numb" and "Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car." Surely some demos are floating around, perhaps some of the tracks that weren't finished for Zooropa like "If God Will Send His Angels," "Wake Up Dead Man" and "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me." And I've been waiting for years to hear a version of "The Wanderer" from 1993 with Bono on vocals instead of Johnny Cash. It has been suggested that a version was recorded.

Maybe if there are no plans to re-release the Zooropa album in full it is a project that could be visited as a fan club release? If that is the case, leave off the already readily available commercially released stuff and treat the fans to some real rarities that we haven't heard before. I don't think I'd be alone when it came to drooling over a true disc of rarities from 1993.

The Olympics were the highlight of the summer for me. The TV at our house was on round the clock tuned to TV coverage of the games. The closing ceremonies had me looking at the stadium and wondering how much of that technology will work its way into U2 concerts of the future. Coldplay already has fans wearing lights on a wristband that the band controls from the stage. The Olympics set up LED displays at each seat in the stadium that could be programmed for different images.  What's next from U2 and Willie Williams? It definitely makes the mind wander....

And for those who didn't catch the news before, the Isles Of Wonder soundtrack from the London Games' opening ceremonies included a new remix of "Where The Streets Have No Name" that has now been issued on CD as well as a digital release. There was no U2 content in the closing ceremonies but that didn't stop me from enjoying every minute of the performances and spectacle.

Our staff has been writing "U2 Lists" for a while, and I loved Carol Foster's recent "Top 10 Sentimental Collectibles" list. It had me thinking about my own list, and I realized most wouldn't even realize that my top item was a U2 collectible. My own choice of my favorite sentimental collectible? Johnny Cash signed his name on a random piece of paper via his ophthalmologist's daughter and sent it to me years ago. It arrived along with a thank you for helping draw attention to his song "The Wanderer" over the years. I don't even have anything signed by U2 in my collection. But seeing Johnny's signature always makes me feel blessed as a U2 fan for the wealth of music they have opened me to over the years. I have to take a moment to thank Steff, a great friend, for thinking of me all those years ago and telling Johnny Cash about my love of the song in the first place.

All this talk of Johnny Cash, Zooropa and "The Wanderer" requires me to link to the performance that Bono gave in Nashville in 2011. I do love that song.

(c) @U2/Sams, 2012.

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