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Old 01-12-2019, 06:35 PM   #1
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A quick thought on NLOTH

The vinyl issue brought this album to mind recently (I don't have it, but it brought the album to mind) and I listened to it straight through for the first time since probably 2010. A couple of things stood out:

1. The weak link on the album is Bono. Specifically, Bono's lyrics. I was surprised by how many of the songs had really interesting music, a passable melodic line, and appalling lyrics. Magnificent, Unknown Caller, Get On Your Boots, and Stand Up Comedy all have the makings of good U2 songs, if they weren't each 50% inane lyrics and 50% "oh"s. He's written better lyrics since, but my goodness, he fell down a well on this record. Stand Up Comedy even starts to build a reasonable head of steam at one stage, only to run into "stop helping God across the road like a little old lady."

2. The original Crazy Tonight is a pretty good track. It's a sort of first draft of Get Out Of Your Own Way in a sense. It's got a recognizable riff, a nice melody, a guitar solo (remember those, Edge?), nothing to cringe at in the lyrics... It's at odds with the rest of the record, sure, and it's a harbinger of things to come in terms of songs that exist solely to shout the title in the chorus (see Love Is Bigger, although I suppose Sometimes You Can't Make It was the first of those....). The remix was a lot of fun on 360, but I think they missed a trick by never playing the original version live. I could have seen it as a main set closer on Innocence, maybe. I wonder if some of the general distaste for the track is down to U2 having attempted this sort of song and missed quite often, therefore all of them must be bad... this one, for what it is, is a success, I think.

It will probably go down as the most forgettable U2 record, and deservedly so. A fresh listen was interesting, but I can't think of a reason to listen to it through again.
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Old 01-12-2019, 08:06 PM   #2
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I haven't listened to the album in a bit, but I do think it's an interesting U2 album in the sense that it was the last time they tried something new (particularly after the previous two back to basics records, more so HTDAAB than ATYCLB).

Much has been written about the middle three songs and yeah, they're not good. I feel like Eno and Lanois did all they could to salvage it. As to how Soon and Winter were on the cutting room floor is beyond me. And I agree with Eno that Moment of Surrender would'e been a great, ballsy first single. I believe he called it "the most amazing studio experience I've ever had," which is quite something considering who he's shared a studio with throughout his career.

Whether the final result is indicative of that is up for debate. I like the song, though Bono's shouting vocal style can be straining at times. He does go for it on the album, especially on the title track, which is a great song IMO. I think Cedars of Lebanon is fantastic and the Leonard Cohen spoken word style suits him well. If only he'd use his lower register more as it can yield wonderful results, i.e. Book of Your Heart.

I like the future hymns idea, which was never fully realized except for with MOS. I'd be curious to hear all the sessions from NLOTH as apparently there's more stuff in the vein of Soon which I thought would've made for a great opener and was the entrance music on the tour.

Probably the most haphazard listen, because had they trusted their instincts more it probably could've been their masterpiece for 21st century era U2. I still think there's worthy stuff on it and it remains a solid listen with some cool artwork too.

Oh and touring this in stadiums was a terrible idea. Musically, I think HTDAAB Is their most forgettable (some decent tunes on it though). It certainly has not aged as well, despite plenty of acclaim at the time.
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Old 01-12-2019, 08:16 PM   #3
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I think No Line the song stands as a strong, experimental opener that had they not lost their nerve, could have propelled a masterpiece.

I love Magnificent, once I realized the lyrics were referencing Mary’s Magnificat from the Bible it made more sense. IMHO, this should have been the single.

I think the music of MOS is good, but Bono is way too over the top, but I really dig Breathe. Get rid of the middle three, and keep up the experiments and it could have been much stronger.
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:03 PM   #4
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The last good U2 album, preceding two hermetic snoozefests.
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Old 01-14-2019, 04:52 AM   #5
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Too bad the two songs on the final LP aren't the alternate version of NLOTH and Soon.
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Old 01-14-2019, 07:04 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Gzusfrk View Post
I think No Line the song stands as a strong, experimental opener that had they not lost their nerve, could have propelled a masterpiece.
I think NLOTH should have been the first single. It wouldn't have done much on the charts, granted. But it would have kick started their (much weaker) attempt at reinvention ala AB.

Remember, The Fly didn't do much but then they followed it up with Mysterious Ways they were off and running from there.

Though I don't know that NLOTH had a follow-up single of that magnitude.
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:55 AM   #7
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The only material I don't care much for on NLOTH is Boots and Cedars. Other than that, I think it's great, though I would have preferred a different drum track on Moment of Surrender.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:48 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by tommycharles View Post

Stand Up Comedy even starts to build a reasonable head of steam at one stage, only to run into "stop helping God across the road like a little old lady."

The original Crazy Tonight is a pretty good track. It's a sort of first draft of Get Out Of Your Own Way in a sense.

It will probably go down as the most forgettable U2 record, and deservedly so.
SOC is the only song I particularly dislike on the album. Though it's not isolated to a single line or lyric.

The original Crazy is good in my book. I'd rather not talk about GOOYOW (Beautiful Day redux #2).

It's not forgettable to me. I throw it into the mix quite often. And I'll be getting a copy of the clear vinyl version. I'm a sucker for things like that.
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Old 01-14-2019, 02:49 PM   #9
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I enjoy NLOTH. I was listening to it a few weeks ago and the first 4 tracks still get me. I think its an awesome opener of an album.

NLOTH (BOOM!!!, great lyrics, guitar, electrifying song)

Magnificent (stand out 2nd track, different from opener, great guitar and drums)

MOS (departure from anything U2's done. Very strong vocals from Bono)

Unknown Caller ( I know many don't like it but I like how it follows the other tracks, peaceful intro, lyrics aren't the best, but great music)

then....it falls off the tracks. Never recovers. The next 3 songs are just out of place attempts of U2 trying to make a charts splash. Having Every Breaking Wave or Winter here would have worked.
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Old 01-14-2019, 03:21 PM   #10
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Unknown Caller ( I know many don't like it but I like how it follows the other tracks, peaceful intro, lyrics aren't the best, but great music)
Consider Unknown Caller didactic spam and then reconsider the lyrics. (full disclosure: I stole "didactic spam" from a reviewer)

No love for Breathe? My own personal favorite on this album.
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Old 01-14-2019, 05:35 PM   #11
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We’re coming up on 10 years since the leak/release of NLOTH. I need to hop on the nostalgia wagon and see if I can reignite some love for this album. I can’t believe it’s been a decade!!

When NLOTH was released, I was going through a rather unhappy, transitional time in my life. I was 27, freshly married, in the middle of a massive home renovation (never renovate an old family house), and poor as fuck. Life was stressful. During ATYCLB and HTDAAB I was college aged and having a wild, crazy time partying with my friends and immersing myself in music 24/7. I always associate those with good memories. By 2009 adulthood had started to set in, and I hadn’t quite adjusted yet. Add that to the fact that I just wasn’t wild about the album, and it’s just not stuck with me.

Whereas by the time of SOI and SOE I had grown into my life, had a couple kids and am pretty happy with life in general. I really believe that your frame of mind is important when an album/book/movie/etc is leaving its imprint upon you.
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Old 01-15-2019, 05:22 PM   #12
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Consider Unknown Caller didactic spam and then reconsider the lyrics. (full disclosure: I stole "didactic spam" from a reviewer)

No love for Breathe? My own personal favorite on this album.
Big fan of Breathe

NLOTH
MOS
Breathe

In top 10 for the 00's of U2.
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Old 01-18-2019, 05:08 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by tommycharles View Post



It will probably go down as the most forgettable U2 record, and deservedly so. A fresh listen was interesting, but I can't think of a reason to listen to it through again.
I never thought about it like this, but put bluntly, YES. I agree.

Hard to argue here.

October had the title track and Gloria. Zooropa was tied so closely to AB. POP was the big misstep in a lot of the public's eye, SOI had the Apple controversy and SOE had some tunes that made a little splash.

It's telling that one of U2's most talked about tours- the highest grossing tour of all time- was largely to support this album that no one ever speaks of in the same breath.



Quote:
Originally Posted by The_acrobat View Post
We’re coming up on 10 years since the leak/release of NLOTH. I need to hop on the nostalgia wagon and see if I can reignite some love for this album. I can’t believe it’s been a decade!!

When NLOTH was released, I was going through a rather unhappy, transitional time in my life. I was 27, freshly married, in the middle of a massive home renovation (never renovate an old family house), and poor as fuck. Life was stressful. During ATYCLB and HTDAAB I was college aged and having a wild, crazy time partying with my friends and immersing myself in music 24/7. I always associate those with good memories. By 2009 adulthood had started to set in, and I hadn’t quite adjusted yet. Add that to the fact that I just wasn’t wild about the album, and it’s just not stuck with me.

Whereas by the time of SOI and SOE I had grown into my life, had a couple kids and am pretty happy with life in general. I really believe that your frame of mind is important when an album/book/movie/etc is leaving its imprint upon you.
This is very, very true!!

ATYCLB and the 2002 super bowl halftime made me a casual fan and HTDAAB made me a super fan. When HTDAAB came out, I was a very popular high school senior with a 3.9 GPA and a lot of friends.

By the time 2009 rolled around and I was eagerly anticipating my first U2 album release as a die hard, I was a college senior who had, despite continued academic success, not come into my own in other aspects of my life at college. I had a crush on a friend since late 2007 who I never worked up the courage to ask out. Fall 2008, she was still in a few of my classes, only with her new boyfriend. A daily reminder. I felt lonely and isolated. To top things off, my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in late January 2009. He passed in April of that year.

I lived, eat, slept and breathed the daily happenings here and elsewhere in the U2 world, and I think I rated the album higher than I ever should've just because having it broke all the negativity in my life for a few minutes. As time has gone on, I still rate the first 3 tracks and Breathe very highly, though I don't come back to them often. I rate UC, Boots and SUC poorly. Crazy, Cedars and WAS just ok. Fez-Being born was a nice atmospheric piece but definitely doesn't measure up with what they were going for- TUF meets Zooropa.

So either way, there's some very strong songs here, some ok songs and some crap. At least to my ears. Not so different than a lot of U2 albums.......

So viewed like that, and to your point, I often wonder how much of my resistance to revisiting this album comes from the low point in life I associate it with.
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Old 01-18-2019, 05:32 AM   #14
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I'd argue SOE is their most likely to be forgotten, considering it didn't have its own unique tour and all of the singles were pretty low impact. At least 360 was huge and Boots was a disaster, so the NLOTH era was memorable for good and bad things. SOE? Shit, who cares. The name even makes it sound like the sequel to an album that the general public reviled.

SOI was memorable for all the wrong reasons, which is unfortunate because the album wasn't that bad. It deserved better.
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Old 01-18-2019, 06:03 PM   #15
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SOE will be forgotten, it’s true. Same reason nobody remember A Bigger Bang with The Rolling Stones, or Tom Petty’s Hypnotic Eye, or Metallica’s Hardwired to self destruct. Because nobody outside of their respective fan bases even give a rats ass. I actually like all 3 of those albums to a degree, though I must admit I’d rather see Metallica play Master of Puppets instead of something off the new album. Most casual U2 fans feel the same way.
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