Did Steve Lillywhite help or hinder The Joshua Tree? - U2 Feedback

Go Back   U2 Feedback > Your Blue Room > Everything You Know Is Wrong
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 08-01-2018, 09:47 AM   #1
War Child
 
The Panther's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Posts: 949
Local Time: 07:52 PM
Did Steve Lillywhite help or hinder The Joshua Tree?

I was wondering what people thought about this.

In U2 by U2, Paul McGuinness says that as they got near the end of The Joshua Tree sessions, it seemed they "couldn't quite get it over the line", so he suggested they bring in Steve Lillywhite to help out. Not surprisingly, McGuinness says, "I don't think Eno and Lanois were very happy about that."

McGuinness: "Steve came over and basically picked out the singles and mixed them all and became a royalty participant in the record."

To this topic, Larry then says that between Eno and Lanois, "neither of them really understood rock'n'roll or, more importantly, how to get rock'n'roll on the radio.... Steve has 'pop ears' and understands what's necessary to get your songs on the radio."


We all know that Lillywhite helped out near the end and also that he generally has a straight-ahead kind of production style. But I hadn't remembered the comment about Lillywhite's "pick(ing) out the singles". Does McGuinness mean that Lillywhite decided what the singles would be, and then took them and mixed them?

I believe, according to the credits, that Lillywhite mixed 'Where The Streets Have No Name', 'With or Without You', 'Bullet the Blue Sky', and 'Red Hill Mining Town'. (So he didn't mix 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For', even though it was the second single.)

So, I was wondering: Do you think Lillywhite really helped these particular tracks, or is it possible that he made them worse?

I get that they were running out of time, but it seems kind of insulting to Lanois & Eno to not let them mix three of the tracks that were expected to be singles (though 'Red Hill Mining Town' never was).

(As if that weren't enough, they then asked Lillywhite's wife to choose the track-order for the album, which she did.)

Anyway, does anyone think those tracks have a different audio-character to the others? Do you detect the more radio-friendly presence of Lillywhite on them? Is there, in fact, any existing audio/bootleg evidence of these recordings prior to Lillywhite mixing them (i..e., maybe an alternate mix)?

I also seem to recall that some of the singles -- esp. 'Streets' -- had a different mix in its single form from its album form. Did Lillywhite do both?
__________________

The Panther is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2018, 10:08 AM   #2
BVS
Blue Crack Supplier
 
BVS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: between my head and heart
Posts: 41,054
Local Time: 05:52 AM
Being that the album was a complete bomb that made U2 absolutely forgettable to the general public, I would say hinder.
__________________

BVS is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2018, 04:05 PM   #3
ONE
love, blood, life
 
dan_smee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 13,020
Local Time: 08:52 PM
Did Steve Lillywhite help or hinder The Joshua Tree?

Lillywhites mix of SHF showed up on the 30th anniversary set. It is far more radio friendly, and far worse.

The single mix of Streets only differs from the album by being shorter and having edge backing vocals. The length sucks, but the vocals are great.

Honestly, I’m sure he did some good and some bad. I don’t love what he does for the band. I think he makes them appeal more to non fans, and less to die hards. He sacrifices atmosphere and whackadoodle creativity for straight up accessibility. He makes things less challenging, and more consumable.

On the whole, I really wish they would stop working with him.
dan_smee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2018, 06:56 PM   #4
War Child
 
The Panther's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Posts: 949
Local Time: 07:52 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan_smee View Post
Lillywhites mix of SHF showed up on the 30th anniversary set. It is far more radio friendly, and far worse.

The single mix of Streets only differs from the album by being shorter and having edge backing vocals. The length sucks, but the vocals are great.

Honestly, I’m sure he did some good and some bad. I don’t love what he does for the band. I think he makes them appeal more to non fans, and less to die hards. He sacrifices atmosphere and whackadoodle creativity for straight up accessibility. He makes things less challenging, and more consumable.

On the whole, I really wish they would stop working with him.
Wow, great info there, thanks! I will check out that Lillywhite 'Still Haven't Found' mix. (Had no idea it existed.) If it's as bad as you say, it's good to know the band at the time had the critical perspective to know when one version -- though more 'pop'-friendly -- wasn't a better or more preferable version.
The Panther is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2018, 09:23 AM   #5
War Child
 
The Panther's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Posts: 949
Local Time: 07:52 PM
Okay, I listened to Lillywhite's original 'Still Haven't Found'...

After suffering through the horrendous new mixes of 'Running to Stand Still' and 'With or Without You' (Lanois), and the equally bad 'Streets' (Flood), I must say the Lillywhite '87 mix of 'Still Haven't Found' didn't sound that bad.

But don't get me wrong -- it was pretty bad. Why in the world did he almost eliminate Edge's electric guitar part (the catchy guitar riff)? I can imagine Edge giving this one listen in early '87 and being, like, "No way!".

I suspect they made all the right choices with those singles, but I do wish we could hear what the Eno/Lanois mixes of 'Streets' and 'Without or Without You' sounded like, just for comparison's sake.
The Panther is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2018, 07:00 PM   #6
Refugee
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: California
Posts: 1,418
Local Time: 05:52 AM
The tracks he mixed don't jump out to me as "different" from the rest of the album - in fact, it all sounds sonically quite consistent. While I can't say for sure what good he did, I don't think it detracted at all.
superchuk5 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2018, 07:42 PM   #7
The Fly
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 58
Local Time: 10:52 AM
A few things:

1. To me, the JT singles never sounded sonically too different from the rest of the album to me that I thought it was a creative intrusion, though I'm sure the atmosphere in Danesmoate or Windmill or wherever circa Jan. '87 was somewhat tense over it.

2. I wish to god they'd have put Edge's Streets backup vox on the actual album version, so much better with them. And what's stupidly ironic is that radio stations never play the single version anyway. (Supposedly Steve put his foot down in order to comply with whatever time restraints they had and said Edge could do backup vox for the single version AFTER the album as a whole was mixed, mastered, and sent off, so, on that, I disagree with this particular decision of his, as we've gone on to see that Edge's backup singing is so awesome that since at least ZooTV, they've inserted a whole other part just to showcase him being able to harmonize for a while.)

3. Re: Flood's remix of Streets, I thought this was cooler (even though they all were kind of indulgent and unnecessary) but when it all kicks in and Bono has that "ohh stay, OHHH *STAYYYY*..." it is AWESOME to the point that I kind of wish they had found a way to incorporate it into the final product.

4. Whatever Steve did for JT, and whatever he's done in the 21st c. for them, he did an excellent job on Boy/October/War, so he'll always have that distinction. (I can't believe the same man did the first DMB albums.)
ferball415 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-09-2018, 04:29 PM   #8
The Fly
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Scotland
Posts: 148
Local Time: 05:52 AM
Given how much I and millions other adore the album, I don't think he did hinder it.


No Line On The Horizon however...
__________________

ChurchBay is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:52 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Design, images and all things inclusive copyright © Interference.com