Thursday, 22 December 2011

Strange Covers - Ahk-toong Bay-bi

I've got a bit of a strange relationship with U2 that swings between thinking they are fantastic (Zooropa , Achtung Baby , Unforgettable Fire) to them having me reach for the off button (Rattle and Hum, Pop, all that flag waving of the first 3 lps) to what is more worrying indifference (The last 2 lps have completely passed me by  - not sure I could even name a track from either of them)

However recently the anniversary of the release of for me their high water mark in creativity has signalled a rush of activity. Big collectors box sets , a BBC 4 documentary (strangely completely devoid of the sense of fun and mischief that seeped into the lp and tour it was celebrating), Glastonbury ,etc.

Q magazine have marked the occasion by giving away a version of the lp made up of cover versions. Some are straightforward (The Fray try to out U2 U2, some are a misfires (I don't really get Glasvegas and there version of Acrobat does nothing to change that) and some that take the song to a different place. (Patti Smith , the Killers are interesting versions and One gets the Damien Rice treatment)

The most effective is by Basildon's best who were having their own rock and roll moment at the time having released the all conquering Violator


  1. Ah U2 too easy to hate and dismiss in retrospect and difficult for me to put my finger on just what spoiled things for me during their career.
    I make no apologies for enjoying Boy and October... they were energetic albums, full of post punk-isms (if not orginal ones they were certainly culled from bands and artists I was enjoying at the time such as Joy Division, The Comsat Angels - yes edge you owe that band a lot!, John McGeoch).
    Live in the early 80's they were wonderfully exciting...then WAR came along and it all got a little to serious and suspiciously like a play for world domination (soon to be achieved).
    The Unforgettable Fire surprised me a bit and I thought that maybe Eno and Lanois might push them in a more experimental direction, but no...
    Joshua Tree is pretty damn awful. Breakthrough is music business code for making money in America. To achieve that means appeasment and not stretching your boundaries. I wasn't looking for another British band, yeah, yeah they're Irish, to explore the blues, folk or jazz...we've still got Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck for that and I still don't care. Bullet The Blue Sky is the only saving grace of this album.
    I won't say anything more about Rattle And Hum except - next...
    Then the "Band of the 80's" (yeah right Rolling Stone) entered the 90's from the side door.
    Achtung Baby is a reawakening of spirit, musicality and confidence for U2. Once again taking inspiration and sounds from what was around them - industrial, house and Madchester, U2 found themselves again. I don't care how much you want to credit Eno and Lanois for the finished product, Flood was the studio hero on Actung Baby. It's an album full of hits and very few misses. It's an album by a band that was at edge, at the end of a very weak teather that got it back together...if just for a while.
    The accompanying Z00-TV tour is the last time I saw or wanted to see U2. Bono's Fly persona was effective and the stage multimedia was just right.
    I never really got back on the U2 bandwagon after Actung Baby. Zooropa felt like an afterthought and should have just been a 4 song EP and they gave away some of the good songs to others on The Passengers album, Pop was just a mistake.
    U2's 2000's output has been pretty forgettable. I enjoy Beautiful Day, but I too can maybe name 3 other songs from this period.

  2. wow...sorry about how long that rant was...I guess I'm a bit more passionate on the subject of U2 than I thought. Happy Christmas!!

  3. Hi Echo

    I think we follow the same U2 path although I think you are alittle harsh on Zooropa - the title track and Lemon for me are 2 of their best songs, which is why I found Pop such a disappointment and have never eally recovered.

    For Boy and October i was probably too much into the Liverpool bands and so bought Mac's mountain goat comment hook line and sinker

  4. Funny because I am first and foremost a die hard fan of the greatest group of all time...Echo and the Bunnymen. I love Mac's distain for Bono & Co. It made for some great fan baiting at the time.
    At the time of their release Boy and October were relevant to the the sounds of Post Punk that I was attracted to. Certainly they were no Bunnymen or Magazine or New Order, but there was an energy and what seemed like a purpose in those albums... In retrospect and considering what I still turn to from that time period, U2 is kind of low on the list.

    As for Zooropa, yes Lemon, Numb, Zooropa, Stay and Some Days... would have made a wildly perfect EP. Flood is the man on this album and Eno as director rather than hands on producer was good for the band.

  5. Flood gets a lot of credit in the bbc documentary about the recording of the lp. The whole programme though is very po faced and serious which seemed odd as this is what the band felt thay had become with rattle and hum and that AB was a reaction against


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