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Old 08-28-2004, 11:16 AM   #46
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Quote:
Originally posted by martha


Indeed it isn't.

I can name all kinds of slower songs from the past that challenge and stimulate with a slower tempo.


As for not rocking, a few here need to go back and relisten to much of AB, JT, and the first three records.
It may not be the issue, but U2 as a whole really does not have that many rocking moments.

On first two albums, they sound closer to punk than rock, on War only rock on some songs - 3 or 4, JT only has Bullet the blue sky and Exit, while AB has Zoo station/Until the end of the world/The fly. There's Gone and Last night on earth, possibly Dirty day, and - to an extent - Elevation and Beautiful day, along with New York. 2 to 3 rock songs on their albums is the average.
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Old 08-28-2004, 11:23 AM   #47
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Originally posted by JOFO
I agree with everything Michael has to say, especially the part about POP.
I'll add my 2 cents though:
I think the failure of POP bit them in the ass in such a way as that they STILL haven't forgotten what that was like; and here's the kicker: if the album was a total critical and commercial success, they would NEVER be saying that it "wasn't finished".
Here's the top rock band in the world in 1997, not having released a new album in 4 years, trying to "predict" the electronica craze and getting there first. In the past, they'd changed styles several times, mostly to critcal and commercial success. Now they're faced with the most expensive tour ever undertaken supporting an album that is largely dismissed by the general population, and even u2 fans as well, as being crap.
They were given a second chance though: ATYCLB's ass was kissed the world over because it didn't jump on any "latest craze" and basically presented the band in a "pop" format while still retaining their character. And don't think they didn't capitalize on the "only band still relevant after 20 years" angle.

Look, all the new album has to do is be great and all these arguments about pop and ATYCLB will vanish in a heartbeat.
If it's only pretty good, the arguments will intensify, and I think that the time for them to call it quits will be near, because if they can't get the magic in 4 years since the last release, they'll surely not get it again in 10.
Agreed on Pop comments. ATYCLB would be called back to basics even if it would have been rocking, as long as it would step back from the effects and experimenting. What...they're not the only band still relevent after 20 years?

The trouble is, ATYCLB arguments will never go away, no matter what happens.
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Old 08-28-2004, 05:01 PM   #48
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Describing an album?
Bono has always been doing that, for example for War, JT, AB, and ATYCLB that I remember off the top of my head, all of which describe the albums very good. What's so wrong with that? Not like he's the only one or the only U2 member to do that, too.

As for agenda, like someone else said: I don't mind agenda if it means a really good album. Achtung Baby had possibly the biggest agenda of their career.
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Old 08-28-2004, 05:45 PM   #49
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... I don't mind agenda if it means a really good album. Achtung Baby had possibly the biggest agenda of their career.
The intention of Achtung Baby was to make a great record which modifies the sound of the band to incorporate dance rhythms and more indirect lyrics... while at the same time maintaining and expanding an audience.

From what Bono has mind-numbingly repeated, the intention of All That You Can't Leave Behind was to create an album of soulful pop songs that resembled a Beatles record... where all the tracks could by themselves be a single. In that respect, the album was somewhat successful with regards to intention (or "agenda").

My opinion (this isn't directed to personally violate anyone's musical chops, but take it for face value if you want):

Emphasis on single-oriented pop songs and on production polishing removed a lot of the rawness and passion (as some have alluded to) from the last album. As a fan I want to hear the process and the conviction behind the songs, and not a diluted pop formula. I don't care what this or the next album actually sound like, in terms of tempo, guitar, or rhythm... as long as the music is being made through an explorative process, with the intent of making an album and not just a collection of "stuff we did over the last four years". Of course there will be a mix of serendipity and pretention in the drive to make an album, but as long as what results is something cohesive... or something cohesive in its uncohesiveness... it will be a good record. I think one of the major misgivings I've had is that U2 have become an editing body, rather than a writing and composing group. Countless remixes and extended studio time seem to be the biggest disparity between the quality of work done in the past, and the material released of recent... overproduction was successful for them too, but maybe they need to consider other avenues to refresh the sound. The number of producers involved with this album is very concerning for me, as a fan... it just may turn into a degraded musical piece that appeases too many special interest groups, losing the musical cohesiveness that an album in isolation might achieve. Based on that, it seems the next U2 album will be the safest, most pop-enforced ballad opera we've ever seen. Now I'm a Who fan too, so I won't mind this. But I'd much rather hear a U2 album... seeing as they're... not the Who.

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Old 08-28-2004, 06:01 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally posted by cujo


The intention of Achtung Baby was to make a great record which modifies the sound of the band to incorporate dance rhythms and more indirect lyrics... while at the same time maintaining and expanding an audience.

From what Bono has mind-numbingly repeated, the intention of All That You Can't Leave Behind was to create an album of soulful pop songs that resembled a Beatles record... where all the tracks could by themselves be a single. In that respect, the album was somewhat successful with regards to intention (or "agenda").

My opinion (this isn't directed to personally violate anyone's musical chops, but take it for face value if you want):

Emphasis on single-oriented pop songs and on production polishing removed a lot of the rawness and passion (as some have alluded to) from the last album. As a fan I want to hear the process and the conviction behind the songs, and not a diluted pop formula. I don't care what this or the next album actually sound like, in terms of tempo, guitar, or rhythm... as long as the music is being made through an explorative process, with the intent of making an album and not just a collection of "stuff we did over the last four years". Of course there will be a mix of serendipity and pretention in the drive to make an album, but as long as what results is something cohesive... or something cohesive in its uncohesiveness... it will be a good record. I think one of the major misgivings I've had is that U2 have become an editing body, rather than a writing and composing group. Countless remixes and extended studio time seem to be the biggest disparity between the quality of work done in the past, and the material released of recent... overproduction was successful for them too, but maybe they need to consider other avenues to refresh the sound. The number of producers involved with this album is very concerning for me, as a fan... it just may turn into a degraded musical piece that appeases too many special interest groups, losing the musical cohesiveness that an album in isolation might achieve. Based on that, it seems the next U2 album will be the safest, most pop-enforced ballad opera we've ever seen. Now I'm a Who fan too, so I won't mind this. But I'd much rather hear a U2 album... seeing as they're... not the Who.

Nice synopsis, Cuj. I think as long as the production is a part of the creative process and progression of the music, we should be fine. It's when they use the production to mask the shortcomings of a song that they get into trouble.
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Old 08-28-2004, 08:30 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally posted by cujo

From what Bono has mind-numbingly repeated, the intention of All That You Can't Leave Behind was to create an album of soulful pop songs that resembled a Beatles record... where all the tracks could by themselves be a single. In that respect, the album was somewhat successful with regards to intention (or "agenda").
...
Emphasis on single-oriented pop songs and on production polishing removed a lot of the rawness and passion (as some have alluded to) from the last album. As a fan I want to hear the process and the conviction behind the songs, and not a diluted pop formula.
This is what I was trying to say when I was talking about the songs on ATYCLB soothing and pacifying. Except you said it better. The songs were too crafted, they didn't have that danger and challenge of prior years.


Quote:
Originally posted by cujo

I think one of the major misgivings I've had is that U2 have become an editing body, rather than a writing and composing group. Countless remixes and extended studio time seem to be the biggest disparity between the quality of work done in the past, and the material released of recent...
This is so painfully evident when comparing B-side outputs. The first Best Of had original songs for the B-sides album, yet the second Best Of had almost exclusively remixes. I cringe every time I listen to it. It so clearly shows a band that has had some serious trouble maintaining a creative and prolific edge.


I too am a little worried about too many cooks in the kitchen here. I especially worried about Lanois coming on board. He said something in an interview about ATYCLB that was very telling about that album. He was talking about Elevation and saying how the album needed one big song to reach back into the back of the arena. The way he said it made it seem like Elevation was throwing the audience a bone, that what he considered the real songs on the album were the pop songs, the slower, safer songs. Which is what he puts on his albums. Which is why his presence here worries me just a bit.
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Old 08-29-2004, 05:21 AM   #52
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Quote:
Originally posted by cujo


The intention of Achtung Baby was to make a great record which modifies the sound of the band to incorporate dance rhythms and more indirect lyrics... while at the same time maintaining and expanding an audience.

From what Bono has mind-numbingly repeated, the intention of All That You Can't Leave Behind was to create an album of soulful pop songs that resembled a Beatles record... where all the tracks could by themselves be a single. In that respect, the album was somewhat successful with regards to intention (or "agenda").

My opinion (this isn't directed to personally violate anyone's musical chops, but take it for face value if you want):

Emphasis on single-oriented pop songs and on production polishing removed a lot of the rawness and passion (as some have alluded to) from the last album. As a fan I want to hear the process and the conviction behind the songs, and not a diluted pop formula. I don't care what this or the next album actually sound like, in terms of tempo, guitar, or rhythm... as long as the music is being made through an explorative process, with the intent of making an album and not just a collection of "stuff we did over the last four years". Of course there will be a mix of serendipity and pretention in the drive to make an album, but as long as what results is something cohesive... or something cohesive in its uncohesiveness... it will be a good record. I think one of the major misgivings I've had is that U2 have become an editing body, rather than a writing and composing group. Countless remixes and extended studio time seem to be the biggest disparity between the quality of work done in the past, and the material released of recent... overproduction was successful for them too, but maybe they need to consider other avenues to refresh the sound. The number of producers involved with this album is very concerning for me, as a fan... it just may turn into a degraded musical piece that appeases too many special interest groups, losing the musical cohesiveness that an album in isolation might achieve. Based on that, it seems the next U2 album will be the safest, most pop-enforced ballad opera we've ever seen. Now I'm a Who fan too, so I won't mind this. But I'd much rather hear a U2 album... seeing as they're... not the Who.

So you're saying Achtung Baby was not all about re-invention of U2's sound, image and Bono's writing? It wasn't about "chopping down the Joshua tree" and "dreaming it all up again"? Pretty big agenda if you ask me.

Yes, Bono said several times ATYCLB was a pop (and by pop he meant the old school of pop, not the bubble gum pop of boybands and Britneys) and soul album. With editing, even New York or Grace could have been singles.
Of course, it is clear they wanted it to work well in US and so they did the promotion shows.

U2 always had big single songs - why is it such a crime all of a sudden? Every U2 album has lots of passion, and the latest one was no exception - using the standard writing formula - which is kind of needed to appeal to the masses, which U2 always has - not like we're talking Radiohead here - or not. (which again, U2 are no strangers to) They balanced the art and the craft virtually perfectly over the years.

We will see, U2 has been using more producers starting with Achtung Baby. Several producers can also mean more fresh ideas and views on the product.
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Old 08-29-2004, 06:27 AM   #53
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Setting parameters and making concessions doesn't really sound like much of an artistic process... granted to work in the pop idiom you have to maintain a certain level of accessibility to the audience. But beyond the mainstream, does compromising expression for coherence really offer anything interesting? Does the process itself offer anything redeeming above the run-of-the mill pop record (and by pop, I mean popular music)?

Maybe for some people it does. But apparently satisfaction can't be had by all, and you'll have to excuse the collection of fans (including myself) who are finding the band's progression to be retroactive and repetitious to a degree. If I'm not mistaken, early in their career Bono said they would dissolve the band if such a situation presented itself...

As far as producers go, you're right it could be beneficial to the project. But the background and experience of many of these producers lends credibility to the argument that U2 are becoming a little too concerned with the sentiments of current commercial music production.
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Old 08-29-2004, 07:30 AM   #54
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Is it not possible to have expression within the standard songwriting formula? U2 started focusing more on the craft with Joshua tree than the earlier albums, and I don't think that took away anything from their music.

I guess for U2 the only way after Pop was going back to the more organic "classic" U2 sound. Unless you thought they would keep up the experimenting for the rest of their career.

If I'm not mistaken, a lot more people enjoyed and bought ATYCLB over Pop or Zooropa - and I don't mean just the new fans, but those who "left" the band in the 90's. Critics approved of it in majority also. Why is that so bad?

There can be no credibility to any side of producers' argument until we hear the new album. From the quotes of several people who heard the album (not the band or fans alone), the reactions are very positive and it doesn't seem like this will be similar to ATYCLB. It might, of course, be similar to any other U2 album in that it will have rocking songs, mid-tempo songs, and bittersweet ballads.
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Old 08-29-2004, 07:31 AM   #55
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First, about the comments that U2 didn't mean to prove themselves on ATYCLB...so NOT TRUE.
ATYCLB was a safe pop album who had one main goal... to get U2 back into the mainstream, after the alleged POP "fiasco". It succeeded. But it also disappointed an incredible amount of fans. You see, I love the 90's U2. Zooropa and Pop are fantastic records for me. When I heard Stuck in a Moment and Elevation, it was the moment when I started to get really worried.
What was so good about Pop? U2 offered countless songs, like Mofo, Do You Feel Loved, Velvet Dress and Please, even Wake Up Dead Man, which they never had done before. It was something totally different. New and experimental. Commercial to an extent, but just because U2 made it commercial. Pop could've been a small, invisible album without any singles, but the band HAD to do that silly campaign with K-Mart and too ambitious tour.
ATYCLB is an album where every song is structured the same. There are no inovations in guitar playing, drum playing. The vocals are tired. There is no improvisation. No courage. Everything sounds bland and tired. Elevation is a silly pop song that is a mockery in my school, for example. U2 lost a lot of their reputation after ATYCLB, even more so than gaining it. That's what I like about Vertigo - the band is ready to improvise (did you notice Bono's singing at the end of that horrendous clip? Now that's improvisation and freedom), Edge is ready to set loose, and by God if this album won't be better than ATYCLB, I'm ready to quit. U2 should quit. We've waited too much to be disappointed. So, I always rely on this: every second U2 album was great: Boy-War-The Joshua Tree-Achtung Baby-Pop. The new album should join this. These are incredible albums. Let's pray the new album will be like these five and nothing like ATYCLB. At least I hope.
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Old 08-29-2004, 07:51 AM   #56
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Like I said, any tipe of U2 album that would drop the effects of the 90's would be labeled safe. I will admit it was very US aimed, but still nothing terrible like some make it out to be.

Alleged? It sold less than U2's previous 4 albums, not to mention touring attendance trouble for the first time in U2's history as far as I know.

Apart from the first three songs, If you wear that velvet dress and Playboy mansion, Pop is basically a straightforward rock album - and should be marketed as such. The Best of remixes nicely show how it could be. Just as ATYCLB was taking from mainstream's pop rise in the late 90's, so Pop took from techno's rise in the mid 90's - nothing wrong with that.

As far as I know, U2 didn't do the music styles that show on Stuck, In a little while, Wild honey and Grace - and they definitely did not sound like Beautiful day before. Vocals are tired - because after decades of singing like that, anyone's voice would be damaged. That said, ATYCLB is one of my favorite voices while Pop's tired vocals don't do much for me. U2 lost lots of reputation in Zooropa and Pop years, but got it back with ATYCLB.
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Old 08-29-2004, 07:52 AM   #57
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I find it immensely interesting that people are able to state the differences in the creative process between the previous albums

I take it you were in the studio with the band back then
so my question is: do U2 have a Beavis & Butthead poster anywhere in the studio?

thanks for your answer in advance

sincerely
not Beavis
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Old 08-29-2004, 08:10 AM   #58
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hehe hehehehe you said immense
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Old 08-29-2004, 06:56 PM   #59
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"U2 lost lots of reputation in Zooropa and Pop years, but got it back with ATYCLB."

WRONG! You can look at the sales and the critics, but when you look at casual fans(some of them are on this board), majority of fans that I know personally(and I know them a lot) lost their faith in U2 after ATYCLB. In some circles, Pop has a much better reputation than ATYCLB.
And, Pop could be called a fiasco only in America. In Europe and the rest of the world, it was a success. Same for the tour.
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Old 08-29-2004, 10:57 PM   #60
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Quote:
Originally posted by U2girl


I guess for U2 the only way after Pop was going back to the more organic "classic" U2 sound.
ATYCLB is not "classic" U2. They've never repeated themselves, so I've never been able to figure out what this really was supposed to mean.

If you listen to the "classic" U2 lps (Boy, War, JT AB), you hear Edge's guitars, passionate vocals, and songs that, I'll say it again, challenge the listener. I do agree that ATYCLB is more "organic" that Pop in the it sounds somewhat simpler, more like the band simply playing together, but that's it.
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