Poll

What are your three favorite songs off the album Achtung Baby, and how do you feel about the album in 2018?

Zoo Station
8 (8.8%)
Even Better Than The Real Thing
4 (4.4%)
One
7 (7.7%)
Until The End Of The World
16 (17.6%)
Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
6 (6.6%)
So Cruel
4 (4.4%)
The Fly
9 (9.9%)
Mysterious Ways
4 (4.4%)
Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World
3 (3.3%)
Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
17 (18.7%)
Acrobat
10 (11%)
Love Is Blindness
3 (3.3%)

Total Members Voted: 31

Author Topic: Achtung Baby: Retrospective  (Read 185 times)

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Offline Vox

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Achtung Baby: Retrospective
« on: August 01, 2018, 09:47:39 PM »
This is the seventh part of the U2: Retrospective.  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login 
 
After listening to the album now, in the present day, the main part of each post will be to vote for your three favorite songs from each album.  The next parts can be optional (well, the whole thing is “optional”), but I’ll structure my posts like this:
•   When did I first listen to that album?  What is my history with the album?   
•   How do I feel about the album when I listen to it today, versus how I’ve felt about the album in the past?
 
Top three songs (studio):  “Until the End of the World,” “The Fly,” “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)”
 
I’ve been trying to keep these retrospective things to around 500 words per album.  But I can’t do that with Achtung Baby…  It’s my favorite album by anyone of all time. 

What I have written below in italics I’d written last year for something else for @U2 in early 2017, but I think it sums up where I was at back in November of 1991… 
 
By the late 1980s, U2 became my favorite band.  I made my way through their back catalogue and must have watched Rattle and Hum on my VHS player at least twice a month.  I remember taping “Night and Day” onto a cassette from the radio when it first came out.  I was a little bit perplexed at the sound…  but I wasn’t too concerned – it was just a one-off for a charity compilation, after all.  A charity compilation I eventually bought and which opened my world to writers like Cole Porter and singers like Frank Sinatra.
 
During this timeframe, it wasn’t easy to find U2 on the radio.  Top 40 stations weren’t playing them, because they didn’t have anything new.  U2 weren’t yet considered classic rock, so those stations weren’t playing them either.  However, my local “modern rock” station was playing them.  So I tuned in to that station, and it was because of this that I discovered a whole mess of bands who I might not have been exposed to otherwise.  My love for U2 had continued to open doors for me to discover new music.
 
Back then, I would call the local radio station every few months to ask the DJ if there was a new U2 album on the upcoming release schedule.  I remember one day in 1991, the DJ on the phone told me that the new U2 album was called something like “Ack-Tongue Baby” and that it was coming out in November.  It was then that I began to have some concerns (I also wondered if the DJ was pulling my leg).  Were U2 trying too hard to be too hip?  The supposed album title alone was in sharp contrast to the U2 I knew at that time.  I remember thinking the title sounded a bit too similar to OU812, for my taste.

In the early fall of that year, I was driving in my car, listening to the radio tuned in to that modern rock station, and the DJ said he was about to play the new single by U2 called “The Fly.”  I pulled over to the side of the road to give it a proper listen.  When it was over, I was in shock.  I felt I’d been assaulted.  What was this?  Bono didn’t sound or lyrically talk like Bono.  The Edge was playing something that sounded like cascading psychedelia.  Adam and Larry were pounding out some sort of industrial/dance beat.  I sat there in my car on the side of the road in confused disbelief.

A week or two later, I was up late to try and catch the video for the song on “Friday Night Videos.”  I hovered close to the VCR, waiting to push the play and record buttons at the same time (you know, so I could tape it).  Eventually, the video for “The Fly” appeared.  I watched it.  And then I re-watched it.  What was this?  What had happened to my favorite band?  What were they trying to do?  I remember feeling a low-grade sense of betrayal.

Everyone I knew understood how big of a U2 fan I was – they knew the degree in which I’d been anticipating the new album.  I bought Achtung Baby the day it was released (as I eventually discovered it was called) and listened to it from front to back twice.  I didn’t care for it at all.  The next day a friend of mine asked me what I thought about the album, and I remember telling him that U2 should have retired.  I said there were some interesting things about it, but overall, I thought it was trash.

I’d never been so wrong about a piece of music.  Now, I plan to be buried with a copy of it.  Is that normal?  Is that creepy?  Don’t care – I’m probably going to do it.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  When everyone else’s favorite band quit or faded away, my favorite band didn’t.  I’m assuming that’s what led to my bordering-on-Elvis-fandom sense of band loyalty.  But whatever.  We all have our quirks, I suppose
.”

And I've been listening to this album ever since, all so very much.  In particular, of late, I've been listening to this album in order for a few weeks, to prepare for this retrospective.  I took some notes from that, but I threw them out for the below thoughts on each song from tonight, 01/08/18.

"Zoo Station":  Does this song sound outdated, or is it still ahead of its time?  So good.  Adam, in particular.  One of the great U2 greats.
"Even Better Than the Real Thing":  I probably overrank this song, I so really dig it.  Really grooves.  A  nice little pop/rock ditty that does some interesting things.
"One":  Yeah, it's a pretty alright tune...  As it goes on, the whole band sort of locks in...  And the whole Bono catharsis...
"Until The End of The World" -- Cascading wash of guitar and Gospel.  One of my top few U2 songs.  Wow, unto today...
"Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" --  lots of great things, in spots.  Many others more easily see the beauty in this torch song.
"You're So Cruel" -- Now here's a complicated torch song.  But I don't know if any of us, U2 included, recognize the full force which this song can still yet become.
"The Fly" --  Read above from when I first heard this song.  And today, it's so awesome in yet another way.  A big favorite, for me.  Even my 19-year-old son who mocks U2 has this on his Spotify.  So good.
"Mysterious Ways" -- great slinky groove.  Non-U2 fans groove to this.
"Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" -- one of the great U2 songs to be unlocked...  such a slow burner...  so much love from me.
"Acrobat" --  this is how U2 should approach optimism within the darkness -- what a great song.
"Love Is Blindness"  -- another great.  How are there so many great songs on this album?  The guitar, the lyric...  Holy #$*&!



Offline Vox

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Re: Achtung Baby: Retrospective
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2018, 09:53:23 PM »
*forgot "Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around the World" -- U2 doing a breezy thing is never bad, in my opinion, especially U2 post-art early '90s U2.

Offline Chip

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Re: Achtung Baby: Retrospective
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2018, 12:52:46 AM »
Yes to what Vox said. And it's "So Cruel," not "You're So Cruel."

In terms of the album, my first two choices were easy -- UTEOTW and "The Fly." The third choice was a tossup between "One" and "Ultraviolet," and I chose "One." I might like "Ultraviolet" better, but it's easy to forget how powerful "One" was when the album first came out.

Offline laoghaire

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Re: Achtung Baby: Retrospective
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2018, 03:44:21 PM »
Ultraviolet
Trying to Throw
Acrobat

I also described elsewhere the first time I heard The Fly. What a day in music history. I was shocked! I didn't like it! I didn't know what to think!

Listening to this album again just now, I can't believe this is 1991. Your average person knows The Beatles drove music forward but your average person doesn't know U2 did that for the next generation. Oh, I know I'm biased, but the evidence is clear.

Name me ONE DAMN THING that sounded ANYTHING like this in 1991.

Zoo Station
A favorite then and a favorite now. 14 year old self didn't get the Baby aspect of the lyrics, but the song rocked. So many things going on sonically. Perfect album opener.

EBTTRT
I was a sheltered, naive 14 year old when this song came out. I liked that U2 were "clean." This one stretched those boundaries. (And later came DYFL, lol).

One
Sadly, One went the way of WOWY and AIWIY for me. Quality songs all, but I think I overplayed them. Loooooved this when I was younger.

UTEOTW
Incredible song, much better live. Genius guitar and lyrics.

Wild Horses
I know everyone says this song sucks but I honestly don't hear it. I hear a different song than many, somehow. To me, a great song, though nothing deep and meaningful.

So Cruel
Same thing but the opposite. I see many gush over this song, it's just ok for me. The similies in the lyrics are a little cheesy. Liked this better when I was younger.

The Fly
Awesommmmme!! It rocks!!! (I got over my initial kmpression, obvs).

Mysterious Ways
Whooooo! FUNKAYYY. Liked it then but like it even better now. Might play this one for my 12 year old. She likes The Blackout for its beat, trying to find another she would like.

TTTYAATW
This starts my TRILOGY, the part of the album that SOARS for me. The thing is, I might actually like other individual songs better, but this trilogy is where liftoff is achieved for me. What this particular song means for me has nothing to do with the lyrics. This is just such a soothing song. If I feel hurt, this is a balm for me. Love Edge's simple melody. Don't tell me the best guitar has to be mad hard, this one is easy and it feels so good. The very simplicity of it. Love the swaying bass. Might be for drunks but for me, just soothing.

Ultraviolet
Again, I might like other individual songs better, but this feels like the apex of the album experience for me. This and Acrobat are MacPhisto songs, but while both are dark, they also seem to turn into redemption at some point. I could be wrong, but it's what I hear and feel.

Acrobat
See above.

LIB
Great way to end this, chilling. Like Please Part 1 in some ways.

I love this album but hardly ever listen to it, because if I have a hankerin for some Achtung, I'll listen to Zoo TV Live from Dublin. That one wins the Desert Island question for me.

Offline rlabs19

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Re: Achtung Baby: Retrospective
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2018, 08:15:48 AM »
Zoo Station
So Cruel
The Fly

Can't say enough about how amazing this album is. To listen to a masterpiece like TJT, you would assume that the band would have found their sound and continued to reproduce it to much success. Achtung Baby literally chops down TJT, as Bono once said, and gives us a new sound unlike any other. I say it all the time, but I have never heard of a band so successfully reinventing themselves the way U2 did. Achtung Baby is one of those albums that will never sound outdated.