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"The word suggests his shape, his vibe. There was a hearing-aid shop, Bonovox of O'Connell Street. I thought he looked like the place." — Guggi, on the origins of Bono's name

The Berlin Sessions

Propaganda, Issue 14
It won't be called Born in Berlin but it was. When U2's new album hits the shops this autumn, the city of Berlin will have played a key role in its making. In the city's Hansa Studios, for many years in the shadow of the Berlin Wall and just a short walk from the centre of East Berlin, Edge, Larry, Bono and Adam set to work on writing and recording their new songs.

The band spent two lengthy visits last autumn at "Hansa by the Wall" -- as the studio used to be called -- working 16-hour days with Daniel Lanois in its famous Studio Two. They arrived on one of the last flights into the old West Germany, hanging out with tens of thousands of others as the city celebrated Liberation Day and reunification.

Although the Wall has now come down, the band stayed in what used to be East Berlin, renting a house that had formerly been East German government property. It had been home at various times to Eastern Block politicians, including former Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev. It's big, sparse rooms, home to sound crew and band, felt like they were bugged even if they weren't -- and if they weren't that they ought to be.

U2 got down to the serious business of making the new record after a few days filming the video for Cole Porter's "Night and Day," their contribution to the Red Hot + Blue project. This was mostly shot in sub-zero temperatures on the balcony of the Berlin home of director Wim Wenders.

"When they arrived for their recording, they worked very hard," recalled Matthias Hartt, Studio Two manager at Hansa, which opened in 1972. "Studio Two has a unique sound; it is just right for them because it is such a big, live room."

For the last few years bands from the West have been thin on the ground at Hansa and West German groups have been the mainstay. Back in the mid-seventies David Bowie recorded the classic albums Low (1976) and Heroes (1977) there. Later, some of rock's most creative talents made the trek to Hansa, including Iggy Pop, David Byrne, and Nick Cave and the Birthday Party. Matthias Hartt says he loved what he heard of the new U2 recordings.

"They have a special way to record, they always like to go a step further, they always try to develop. It's going to be a great record."



© Propaganda, 1991. All rights reserved.