Tuesday, November 16, 2004
U2 - The Unforgettable Fire - Countdown Day IV
I'm a day behind and I plan to catch up tommorow with both Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum. For now, I focus on the task at hand, and the album at hand, which I like to call "The Forgettable Backfire". This album, to me, is pure drudgery, salvaged from the bottom of the U2 heap by the strength of one song, which is one of the five greatest U2 songs of all-time (another list, another time). That song, of course, is Pride (In the Name of Love). It's amazing how terrible 80% of the album is. After the high that was War and the band starting to become an international rock warrior, this album was far from a quality follow up.
I find it amazing that this was the first album to be produced/engineered by the team of Lanois/Eno which have been a seminal part of U2 and therefore Rock & Roll history. When you start the album, you are hit with "A Sort of Homecoming" and you begin to think, "eh, whatever. I hope the whole album isn't like this" and then BAM! You're smacked straight in the face on track to by Pride. Bono strutting his stuff more than ever before, beginning to use the "ohs" and "ahs" to bridge segments of lyrics which has become one of his signatures. Bono's voice still isn't what it has become with age, but on a song like this he shows his power.
Excited about the second track, you're hoping for a turnaround and a strong continuation. Unfortunately, you're hit with whatever it is that follows, and whatever follows after that. Granted, if I were "reading" this album, I would rank it much higher, up amongst the greatest song writing of the last quarter of the 20th century. However, while this is music and I am "listening" to it, by the fifth song I have been lulled in to a melancholy state of indifference. Then "Fourth of July" its and I am hypnotized into a deep sleep. All I can hear is the beautiful bass line.
"Bad" comes on and brings me back to life. "Ok, good, the band still rocks". A catchy classic. A great song from The Edge. Bono sings with passion and beauty. He's turning into a rather fine singer. I wait around and find a heart breaking closer "MLK" which,upon further review, I would want played at my own funeral, along with "Kite" off of ATYCLB.
Looking back, it might be better that a weak album came out before The Joshua Tree, making the impact of THE single greatest album of the rock & roll to that point even stronger. But had I been a U2 fan at the time (I was only six!), I would have probably been disappointed.
Top songs to hold on to:
1. Pride (In the Name of Love)