Column: off the record…, vol. 11-486

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off the record, from @U2

I’d like to begin this week by extending a huge THANK YOU to all of our readers for your kind words about our 30 Years of October coverage this month. We’d also like to thank everyone we interviewed for their generosity in speaking with us. We hope you learned something new about October – we sure did.

I’d like to give Edge the award for the best description of October, as written in Bill Flanagan’s U2 At The End Of The World, “There’s some real spontaneity, some real freshness, because we didn’t have time to have it any other way … October is a very European record because just prior to writing those songs and recording the album we spent all our time touring around Europe. We’d never been to Germany, Holland, Belgium, (or) France. We would drive through these bleak German landscapes in winter. Those tones and colors definitely came through in the songs that we wrote.”

Those German landscapes will return ten years later with Achtung Baby. Coming up on Tuesday on @U2, we’ll say “auf Wiedersehen” to October and “guten Tag” to our 20 Years of Achtung Baby coverage. Our front-page design will also change with the new celebration, so be on the lookout for that. We’re excited about our lineup of @U2 original articles … I’m ready for what’s next!

 


 

The big news this week was the U2.com subscriber renewal announcement and the fan involvement in the thank-you gift. The 2011-2012 U2.com subscription will come with an exclusive two-disc collection of live tracks from the U2 360 tour, called U22. Current subscribers can vote for their favorite 22 songs from the 46 tunes offered. All of the tracks are taken from 30 different cities worldwide during the U2 360 tour. While the cities are not listed, we reported on the @U2 blog that we have a good idea from the audio file names where most of the tracks are from.

I give U2.com much credit for listening to their paid subscribers after last year’s disappointment with Duals. It’s in the hands of the fans so there should be no one to blame but ourselves for the selection of the final 22 tracks. Many fans fear that the final tracks will end up being nothing more than a greatest hits parade, which explains their passionate lobbying in Zootopia and elsewhere. It may be the only time die-hards will get a song like “Return Of The Stingray Guitar” on an official release. I voted with that in mind.

Many fans have pointed out that “North Star,” “Mercy,” “Every Breaking Wave” and “Glastonbury” are noticeably missing from the track selection. I have to believe that those songs will see the light of day on a future U2 record, thus the reason for the exclusion. I know I would have voted for those for sure.

I hope that the fan involvement with U2.com continues – this is certainly a step in a positive direction. Now if only we could arrange a subscriber chat with the band like the good ol’ days of U2popmart.msn.com.

 


 

Within the next 72 hours, many of us will have in our hands at least one of the five available formats of the Achtung Baby anniversary edition. I was on the fence about it, but thanks to my in-laws, it’s coming my way. (Thanks, Mum and Dad!) As you might recall, I felt the price point was prohibitive, especially when you have something like the Tony Bennett: The Complete Albums collection with over 70 discs and more for $$399 (or $$499 if you want it signed by Tony himself).

I’ll now officially go on record to say that Achtung Baby is my favorite U2 album. (I’ll save my reasons for next month’s OTR.) To miss out on the Kindergarten disc and the rarities would do my collection a disservice, and I believe that’s why my husband convinced my in-laws it was the must-have item for my birthday a few weeks ago. From what I’ve been able to gather, the Kindergarten disc connects the Salome outtakes and the final version of the album we’re all used to. Enthusiasts will find the evolution of the songs fascinating, and it will tie together some of the loose ends we’ve read about in U2 By U2 and elsewhere about the recording sessions.

While on the topic of Achtung Baby From The Sky Down was broadcast in the U.S. on Showtime on Saturday night and after re-watching it, I have to admit that I agree with the fans who felt it lacked new insights into the sessions. In re-reading U2 By U2, I realized one of the reasons why Edge was so into the machine age music was because of his and Bono’s work with the Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s A Clockwork Orange. That factoid was not in the documentary. If you want the full story, certainly see the documentary but also read the “Sliding Down The Surface Of Things” chapter in U2 By U2 if you want it in the band’s own words.


 

Note to Bono: Please quit with the “we don’t know what we want to do next” sound bite. The fans are already discussing that it’s your “dream it all up again speech” and you’re upsetting the masses. Instead, defer the question to Larry and let him talk about his budding film career and how U2 will need to be put on hold. Thank you.

 


And finally … It’s Larry’s 50th birthday tomorrow. A decade ago, I was privileged enough to be at his 40th birthday in Providence, R.I. I brought with me a birthday balloon, which Bono took from me and sang to during “Until The End Of The World.” He ripped the balloon weight from the balloon and let it fly up into the air. Unfortunately, the balloon got stuck in the rigging above and the screen did not come down for “New York.” Moral of the story – don’t give to Bono what is meant for Larry.

 

Happy Birthday, Hitman!

©@U2/Lawrence, 2011

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