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"One of the central ideas of Zooropais that it is of the moment, it's catching the stuff that's in the ether at that time."

-- Edge

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Column: off the record..., vol. 8-299

@U2, March 23, 2008
By: Marylinn Maione


off the record, from @U2

Did I pull the short straw this week, or what? Very little in the way of real news in the U2 world this week, other than release dates for the re-issues of Boy, October, War and Under A Blood Red Sky, also coming out on DVD later this summer. I'm stoked about the video, because it came out around the time I first saw U2 live and fell hard for them, and it's been many years since I've seen it. In those days, the shows were short and frenzied; Bono literally couldn't contain himself and would climb speaker towers, the light rigging, and whatever else he could jump up on or down from. It was also during that time that I formed my standard response to people who tell me they don't like U2. I ask, "Have you ever seen them live?" The answer is usually "No," to which I reply, "Go, and then tell me you don't like them." The Red Rocks show is a good example of how seeing this band once can hook you for life.

While waiting impatiently for the new U2 album to come out, I've been biding my time by catching up with some of my other favorite bands. In this OTR column, I picked Radiohead's In Rainbows as my second best album of 2007, because I only knew two songs. Well, I bought the CD in early January and it's been on heavy rotation ever since. It's worse than that, actually. It's the only thing I've been listening to. Every. Waking. Moment. I take it with me everywhere and when I'm not listening to it, I hear the songs in my head. It's a stunning piece of work, from beginning to end. I read that the band wrote the songs, took them on the road, then went back to the studio and re-worked them after seeing how well they were received live.

Would U2 ever do that? I wish! How many songs are so much better live than their album versions? Just off the top of my head, "Elevation" comes to mind, as does "Gone," and of course "Where The Streets Have No Name," all of which just explode when played live. Every time a new album is in the works, Bono inevitably says, "The Edge is on fire!" We all laugh at hearing it again and again, but I think he's right, except that by the time the record is released, "the fire" has been so over-produced that we don't hear what Bono's hearing during the recording process until the tour starts. Only then, when the songs are allowed to grow in the live arena, do we understand that Bono is completely on the mark with his comments. It would be nice if they could capture that feeling on their album versions.

I'm hoping that U2's new album has some real fire, and is as cohesive and gorgeous as In Rainbows. Although I think there are good songs on How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, I remain underwhelmed by the album as a whole. Bono was jetting off to meet with world leaders during the recording of that album, and it has that sort of disjointed feel. As I said to another @U2 staffer recently, I'm ready for the band to just blow me away, as I know they are capable of doing. I'm taking it as a good sign that there's no news this week, and that the band is enjoying family time, and hopefully, some serious uninterrupted studio time.

It's been a long time since I hurt myself dancing around to an REM song in my kitchen, but it happened last night when "Supernatural Superserious" came on the radio. It's the first single from their upcoming release Accelerate, and is so contagious I couldn't help myself. I immediately went to REMHQ to hear it again and found the audio for another song, "Living Well Is The Best Revenge," which rocks just as much as the former. Back in the early '80s, I was a much bigger fan of REM than I was of U2, and loved every release until Monster. Sadly, they lost me after that, so it's great to hear my old heroes kick my arse again after all these years!

I know it might be overkill, but I feel the need to weigh in on U2 3D. My children, who bounced and drummed and kicked the seats in front of them for 80 minutes, seemed to love it. My own reaction to the whole spectacle can be summed up in two words: ho hum. I couldn't wait to see it, and to sit in the dark and barely be able to keep my eyes open is as shocking to me as it may be to some of you. It's not that I didn't think the effects were cool (they were), or that the sound was bad (it was great), I was just...bored. I knew the movie would consist of the hits, but I think the choice of mostly mid-tempo songs sucked all the drama out of the live U2 experience. The only time I got fired up was during that crushing version of "The Fly," and they killed my buzz by following with "With Or Without You." The reviews in our Forum have been mostly positive, so feel free to join the discussion if you disagree.

Happy Spring to everyone!

© @U2/Maione, 2008.

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June 25 2018

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