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Old 10-25-2002, 06:01 PM   #1
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U2's B-Sides: The Enigma Within

This afternoon while reading a review of 'Electrical Storm', the critic referred to U2 latest offering as a 'b-side' calibar song, good, but not great, and it got me to thinking.

The term b-side has always been an enigma to me, especially in reference to the songs in U2's cannon of compositions that have been relegated to a b-side song. Especially when in 1987 in the months following the release of The Joshua Tree, U2 released 3 singles that included the b-sides Luminous Times (Hold on to Love), Walk to the Water, Spanish Eyes, Deep In The Heart, Race Against Time, Silver and Gold, and The Sweetest Thing. It was reported that U2 where thinking of including these songs on the album and that The Joshua Tree would have been a double album. So in the mind of the band, these songs were at first considered A-side type songs.

At what point does U2 begin a song, work on it as strenerous as any other song that makes an album, and then when it is finished, it is seen as a b-side song?

Does anyone else find it interesting that some of U2's b-sides are as good as some songs that make it on an album, but are still viewed as b-side material? (Keep in mind for the sake of argument, that I love all of U2's material on their albums for the most part)

Do you think U2 sets out to make b-side or good material for their a-side songs, or do they see each song that they begin as being great enough to be included on a future album they are working on?


For me, what sets U2 apart is that they simply make great music, and their are many songs they make that just don't have the feel within a list of songs for the current album they are working on, but the band still wants to have their fans experience these songs produced by the band. I've just found myself moved with such songs as A Celebration, Boomerang II, The Three Sunrises, Love Comes Tumbling, Spanish Eyes, Salome, Lady with the Spinning Head, and Summer Rain just to name a few that have become personal favorites. It appears that many of U2's b-sides are songs that for other bands would be a-side songs, but not necesserily in the standards that U2 share in for each song.

So, in going back to the beginning, Electrical Storm is an awesome song that simply shows U2 doing what they do best, and that is always setting out to make the most passionate, alluring, complex music possible for the enjoyment of themselves and their fans, and heres to those many great songs, that even though appear to be on the back burner of many great U2 singles and a-sides, are just as worthy of praise for the power and poise they hold within them.

Chris
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Old 10-25-2002, 07:26 PM   #2
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One of the secrets of the band's success is their ability (usually) to judge which songs are worth putting on an an album, worth cleaning up for a b-side, and worth keeping to use later.

I love the Joshua Tree b-sides, but I'm glad they didn't try to cram them all into a double album. It shows taste and good judgement on the bands part. As a plus we got a bunch of great songs on the side without screwin' up the flow of a masterpiece.

And what if Hold Me Kiss Me...had been just stuck on Stay or Lemon as a B-side after it was cut from Zooropa? I doubt the non-U2-uber-fan world would have noticed; it sure wouldn't be on the next Best Of.

And wasn't "Wake Up Dead Man" born from the Zooropa sessions? I can only imagine it was fairly different the frist time around.

What's curious to me is the lack of b-sides to ALL THAT YOU CAN"T....Only 2 really (Big Girls Are Best is from POP). The boys must feel like the songs from those sessions are worth more than a b-side, eh?

Anyway, b-sides, for me are giant plus to being a U2 fan. There's always something new kcking around out there. Even when they're not great cuts, it's still fun to scarf 'em all up and stick 'em on the occasional mix.

LONG LIVE THE B-SIDE!

ps - A Celebration's an A-side
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Old 10-25-2002, 07:51 PM   #3
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Originally posted by superape
And wasn't "Wake Up Dead Man" born from the Zooropa sessions? I can only imagine it was fairly different the frist time around.
You're wrong, then you're right. Wake Up Dead Man was actually from the Achtung Baby sessions, as far back as the Hansa Ton debacle. And you were right about it sounding very different. It's an upbeat, fast song. You can download it from Sicy's FTP.
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Old 10-26-2002, 12:08 AM   #4
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Re: U2's B-Sides: The Enigma Within

Quote:
Originally posted by spanisheyes
For me, what sets U2 apart is that they simply make great music, and their are many songs they make that just don't have the feel within a list of songs for the current album they are working on, but the band still wants to have their fans experience these songs produced by the band. I've just found myself moved with such songs as A Celebration, Boomerang II, The Three Sunrises, Love Comes Tumbling, Spanish Eyes, Salome, Lady with the Spinning Head, and Summer Rain just to name a few that have become personal favorites. It appears that many of U2's b-sides are songs that for other bands would be a-side songs, but not necesserily in the standards that U2 share in for each song. Chris
Good point, Chris. I've been listening to the b-sides disc from the '80s Best Of a lot lately, and marveling at how good the songs are. Even U2's b-side songs are better than a-side songs by 99.9 percent of other bands! I do think the band made the right decision though in not making The Joshua Tree a double album, because as much as I love Spanish Eyes, Luminous Times, etc., they just don't quite stack up to WOWY, Streets, ISHFWILF, One Tree Hill or Running to Stand Still. I don't think JT would be considered the masterpiece it is today had it been a double album.
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Old 10-26-2002, 01:11 AM   #5
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i know most of the time, b-sides are recorded in a short amount of time as compared to an album track. usually, the band has like a day or so to record a b-side for their upcoming single. soooo, that could be why most are considered sub-par, i suppose. but i think they have a lot of masterpieces that are b-sides, and i'n glad U2 doesn't just let them fade away, but includes them as bonus discs for their greatest hits cds.
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Old 10-26-2002, 01:24 AM   #6
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Smashing Pumpkins were the same way with their b-sides. Like U2, they had so many b-sides that were just as good as album songs. SP went and put out a nice big b-side collection, hopefully U2 will do the same.
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Old 10-26-2002, 09:26 AM   #7
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THE BEST OF U2’S B-SIDES (& BAND SIDE PROJECTS)

I’m impressed with Electrical Storm and The Hands That Built America and I was thinking back on how impressive U2’s output has been when it comes to their B-Sides. So – I thought of a compilation that gathers together their best. How many other bands have produced such quality B-Sides songs throughout their career ?

Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me
Holy Joe
Salome
Lady With A Spinning Head (Extended Version)
Night And Day
Love Comes Tumbling
Walk To The Water
The Hands That Built America
Miss Sarajevo
North And South Of The River
Electrical Storm (Orbit Mix)
The Ground Beneath Her Feet
Spanish Eyes
Dancing Barefoot
Luminous Times
Unchained Melody
Always

APPROX. TIME : 78

OTHER CONTENDERS
Silver And Gold
Your Blue Room
I’m Not Your Baby – U2 with Sinead O’Connor
Actually – there are many other contenders
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Old 10-26-2002, 12:25 PM   #8
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i, too, love many of u2's bsides. for me, a bside often is just a song that didn't fit in quite right with the rest of the album. i mean, can you imagine if they put big girls are best on pop? it just doesn't fit quite right. the flow of the albums wouldn't be there if they shoved all the good songs on. some of my favorite songs are bsides, and i think that they aren't too often "subpar"...it's just another song to me.
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Old 10-26-2002, 04:52 PM   #9
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Talking about great b-sides bands, Oasis are the best! They've got over 20 amazing songs as good as (or often better than) album tracks.
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Old 10-26-2002, 05:15 PM   #10
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U2's b-sides are definitely above average compared to many other bands b-sides. Holy Joe, Summer Rain, Big Girls are Best, Salome, Lady With the Spinning Head, One Shot of Happy, A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel, Spanish Eyes, Luminous Times, and so on are top quality songs. There are a few factors that I believe causes U2 to eventually use certain songs as b-sides. One reason, and this is emphasized in Bill Flanagan's bible, but it seems like U2 come up with tons of ideas for songs. Literally dozens of songs come out of their recording sessions for an album. Eventually they whittle these songs down to about 20-24 songs. From there they decide which will eventually make the album and which will either be b-sides or be saved for a later release. Many songs that came out of the Achtung Baby sessions were held over and later released in the 90's. If God Will Send His Angels and Wake Up Dead Man were two such cases. HMTMKMKM was held from Zooropa as well. The reason as Flangan points out is that these songs didn't fit the vibe U2 was going for on a particular album. HMTMKMKM didn't work in the context of Zooropa, so it was held back. I think a lot of their b-sides were held back because of this reason. U2 are experts at being able to control themselves and not release too much, or unfocus work as is evidenced by The Joshua Tree which could have been a double album. The fact that we didn't recieve many new b-sides for ATYCLB, as someone already pointed out, is that U2 may feel that the material they came up with was too good to be released as single filler. Or they had so much material with a similar vibe that they felt they could make another album with a little more work. Either way, I think we are in for a real treat when the next album comes out. U2 seems very confident at the moment in the work they are doing and I think that is a very good sign of things to come.
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Old 10-26-2002, 06:43 PM   #11
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Am I the only one that prefers the non-album songs from the 80's (A Celebration, 11 O Clock Tick Tock, Boy-Girl and the rest of the B-Sides that didn't make the album) to the actual album? Tracks like "Treasure" and "Another Day" are much better than "The Three Sunrises" and "Spanish Eyes in my opinion.

As for the latest B-Sides disc, I'm actually glad they decided to put a lot of remixes on there. "Satelite of Love" and "Where Did It All Go Wrong"......these songs aren't too amazing. Then there's the rest of the stuff that range from unexciting covers like "Paint It Black" and "Fortunate Son" to some rather dull material. Don't get me wrong, "Slow Dancing" is great and "Alex Descends..." is very fun to listen to, but a lot of the B-Side songs from the past decade weren't all that great.

Finally, I have to say that Achtung Zooropa hit the mark with the statement about B-Sides being not worthy of being on the album because the sound doesn't fit in. It's usually not a quality concern for the band, but rather a concern about the album's songs fitting together as a whole.
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Old 10-26-2002, 07:53 PM   #12
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How did it get in people's heads that anything from the Passengers project is a B-side?
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Old 10-27-2002, 03:00 AM   #13
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Many of the B sides from JT weren't relegated as B sides because they were sub par or didn't fit the mix, but simply because they were not finished in time. Edge has said that he thinks a few of them are some of the best they'd done (to date), and that's why they were put as B sides, so they could get at least some exposure.
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Old 10-27-2002, 12:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaveC


You're wrong, then you're right. Wake Up Dead Man was actually from the Achtung Baby sessions, as far back as the Hansa Ton debacle. And you were right about it sounding very different. It's an upbeat, fast song. You can download it from Sicy's FTP.
Oops! I (shamefully) have yet to listen to all of the Achtung sessions. I was thinking Wake Dead Man was from the Zooropa sessions since its one of the songs you can make out on the album cover. At least now I can find it and listen!
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Old 10-28-2002, 05:27 PM   #15
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Originally posted by U2Soar
THE BEST OF U2’S B-SIDES (& BAND SIDE PROJECTS)

I’m impressed with Electrical Storm and The Hands That Built America and I was thinking back on how impressive U2’s output has been when it comes to their B-Sides. So – I thought of a compilation that gathers together their best. How many other bands have produced such quality B-Sides songs throughout their career ?

Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me
Holy Joe
Salome
Lady With A Spinning Head (Extended Version)
Night And Day
Love Comes Tumbling
Walk To The Water
The Hands That Built America
Miss Sarajevo
North And South Of The River
Electrical Storm (Orbit Mix)
The Ground Beneath Her Feet
Spanish Eyes
Dancing Barefoot
Luminous Times
Unchained Melody
Always

APPROX. TIME : 78

OTHER CONTENDERS
Silver And Gold
Your Blue Room
I’m Not Your Baby – U2 with Sinead O’Connor
Actually – there are many other contenders
Hey U2Soar, this is a nice tracklisting you came up with. I'll have to keep this in mind when putting together my best of 'b sides', or should I say 'songs that are great, but just wouldn't fit on the album that they were currently working on when these songs were completed'.

Chris
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Old 10-29-2002, 09:38 AM   #16
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Thanks Spanish Eyes ! I haven’t burned this CD-R yet. I believe that as B-Sides Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me and Holy Joe meant to be together as a couple and the same goes for Salome and Lady With A Spinning Head (Extended Version). And these 4 songs open the CD with some “punch.” Night And Day and Love Comes Tumbling are both dark and brooding songs. And I believe there would be a wonderful “slow burn” emotional flow between Walk To The Water > The Hands That Built America > Miss Sarajevo > North And South Of The River > Electrical Storm (Orbit Mix) > The Ground Beneath Her Feet. And then the CD ends with some high energy love songs Spanish Eyes - Dancing Barefoot - Luminous Times - Unchained Melody – Always.
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Old 10-29-2002, 11:54 AM   #17
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Here is the tracklisting of a b-sides/non album tracks/rarities CD I made awhile ago with only 90's/2000 stuff:

1. Elevation (Influx Mix) - so I can relive the opening moments of the Elevation tour over and over!
2. Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me
3. Last With the Spinning Head (EDM)
4. Staring at the Sun (Monster Truck Mix) - Butch Vig did a nice job on this one I think.
5. Holy Joe
6. Fortunate Son - on of the better covers they did IMHO
7. Alex Decends Into Hell
8. The Ground Beneath Her Feet
9. Your Blue Room
10. Please (Single Mix)
11. Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad
12. North and South of the River (Omagh Live)
13. Stay (Faraway, So Close!) (Craig Armstrong remake)
14. Heaven and Hell - my favorite from the Axtung Beibi CDs
15. Slug
16. You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart - Bono, Gavin, and Sinead
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Old 10-29-2002, 07:44 PM   #18
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Re: U2's B-Sides: The Enigma Within

Quote:
Originally posted by spanisheyes

The term b-side has always been an enigma to me, especially in reference to the songs in U2's cannon of compositions that have been relegated to a b-side song. Especially when in 1987 in the months following the release of The Joshua Tree, U2 released 3 singles that included the b-sides Luminous Times (Hold on to Love), Walk to the Water, Spanish Eyes, Deep In The Heart, Race Against Time, Silver and Gold, and The Sweetest Thing. It was reported that U2 where thinking of including these songs on the album and that The Joshua Tree would have been a double album. So in the mind of the band, these songs were at first considered A-side type songs.

Chris
I actually prefer the JT B-sides over several of the tunes that ended up on the album (i.e. Bullet, Trip, Exit, Mothers). Not that I dislike the Joshua Tree, but the B-sides had an experimental element that seemed to be lacking at times on the JT album, especially coming after The Unforgettable Fire IMO. Luminous Times, WTTW & Deep In The Heart were not only sonically daring, but great songs as well. And I'd rather hear Sweetest Thing than Trip any day. It would have been nice to see some of those B-sides end up on Rattle & Hum in place of some of the live tracks (especially the covers). It may have lightened up the "hollier-than-thou" tone of the album and probably would have made it seem less retrogressive. Either way, I'm glad they put those tunes out. They definitely rank among my favorite U2 B-sides...and songs.
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Old 10-30-2002, 09:44 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Zooropa
Here is the tracklisting of a b-sides/non album tracks/rarities CD I made awhile ago with only 90's/2000 stuff:

12. North and South of the River (Omagh Live)
Hey Jason...is this the version with the crowd noise at the beginning and end, or have you found a cleaner version? Anyone out there no of one without the crowd noise?

Chris
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Old 10-30-2002, 12:48 PM   #20
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There is very minimal crowd noise at all on it. The almosr sounds like a studio version rather than a normal U2 live recording. Very clean and captured well.
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