Poll

What are your three favorite songs of the album All That You Can't Leave Behind, and how do you feel about the album in 2018?

Beautiful Day
19 (20.4%)
Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of
7 (7.5%)
Elevation
6 (6.5%)
Walk On
11 (11.8%)
Kite
22 (23.7%)
In a Little While
11 (11.8%)
Wild Honey
3 (3.2%)
Peace on Earth
1 (1.1%)
When I Look at the World
6 (6.5%)
New York
6 (6.5%)
Grace
1 (1.1%)

Total Members Voted: 31

Author Topic: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective  (Read 353 times)

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Offline Vox

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All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« on: September 14, 2018, 08:52:03 AM »
This is the tenth 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:  “Kite,” “Walk On,” “Beautiful Day”

The day of its release I took off work, and that morning I drove to a Target store.  They didn’t even have it out on the rack yet, so I had to ask for it.  My first son had been born the year prior, and I’d finally started to grow up a bit, and the more adult themes of the album resonated well… but this was the first new U2 album I bought that predominantly sounded like other U2 albums.   

Here’s what I’m hearing as I’ve been listening to it again these past few weeks – the big (surprising) take-away for me being how several songs on this album sound like younger step-kin to Rattle and Hum:
“Beautiful Day” – Not a personal top-10 U2 favorite or anything, but a pretty tight pop/rock song as far as that goes, when I try to listen to it with fresh ears.
“Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” – Never really liked this one; but when listening to it again these past few weeks, I can hear shadows of a decent Rattle and Hum b-side.
“Elevation” – A good song.  Kind of a U2-90’s-lite sound.  Love the crunchy guitar riff. 
“Walk On” – One of my favorites from the album, though I like the “Hallelujah” version better.
“Kite” – Still quite powerful to me.  The “I’m a man, I’m not a child” part is amazing.
“In a Little While” – I like it when U2 do little ditties like this – I don’t care what anyone says.
“Wild Honey” – See song description immediately above.
“Peace on Earth” – Sorry, but even I want to punch Bono in the face when I hear this song.
“When I Look at the World” – Lots of interesting things going on, and I like it. 
“New York” – I enjoy it on a lot of different levels, and I love the city.  But to me, it seems like an ode written by someone who’s never actually been to NYC (and yes, I know they’ve all owned apartments there and know the city better than myself, etc., etc., etc.).
“Grace” – I rarely spin this song on my own willingly, but it’s a nice little stately tune.

So we’re sitting here in 2018, 18 years after its release, roughly the same amount of time between Boy and Pop!!!?!  It seems to me that the template U2 used on this album has remained relatively unchanged on every release since, with the possible exception of No Line on the Horizon.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a very un-pre-2000-U2 thing.  And at the time, I didn’t begrudge U2 for making a U2-sounding album.  It would rank higher on my U2antehon had it been a one-album aberration that way.  Still, this album is filled with some tight, good, pop/rock songs, and standing on its own, it’s quite solid.  Retrospectively, I’ve probably unfairly maligned it, just because it seemed to permanently change U2’s MO as a band.



Offline Vox

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2018, 10:26:34 AM »
I also want to add that I started listening to this album in preparation for this post in early August, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.  When I sit down lately and "listen to music" it's been the U2 album I keep going back to.  It's surprised me more than any of the other albums I've been working over with this Retrospective, along with Rattle and Hum. 

I think the lesson I'm supposed to have learned is that even though these aren't my favorite U2 albums or U2 sounds, they're still pretty freaking good.  This album, in particular...  If another band had created it, it would probably be their apex masterwork.  I believe had it been a deviation rather than a future template, it would be a top-4 U2 album, for me.     

Offline A_Fly_On_The_Wall

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2018, 04:55:01 PM »
1. Kite
2. Beautiful Day (The Ground Beneath Her Feet would be in this spot if included on the list)
3. New York

I first started listening to U2’s music in detail shortly after NLOTH was released in 2009 so had purchased the album “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” as part of wanting to get to know the band from their early beginnings.

I had, obviously, already heard of their major hit songs from this album (BD & Elevation) before listening to it in full so had some scope of the album’s contents; however, I had read reviews saying the album was divided into two clear sections, with the first half being strong and the second half being weak, so I headed into the album with restrained optimism!

“Kite” is my favourite song from this album and has been, mostly, since the first few listens. I just love how much passion and personal emotion went into this record from Bono. Larry and Adam bounce off each other very nicely here too and Edge’s masterful slide solo adds to the emotional aura of the song brilliantly well. I’ve always loved Bono’s “I’m a man, I’m not a child” lyric as well and it is sung with such heart which is typical from a great like Bono.

“The Ground Beneath Her Feet” would be my second choice if included on the above selection as I feel that this song is one of U2’s most underrated tracks ever put on record. Edge’s explosive solo at the end is such a masterful trait of U2’s slow-building anthems but the tone sounds so unlike U2 that it could be passable as another rock band without many raised eyebrows - which I actually love about this record!

“Beautiful Day” would then take the second place from choosing songs from the above list. Not much to say on this song that hasn’t probably already been said before - it’s a classic “U2 by numbers” record and always sounds so fresh when listening to it. It has aged well and still has a relevant sound of musicality about it which I think is great also.

“New York” is my next song choice as I feel it to be an absolute gem from the second side of this album. Initially, I never really warmed to the track and felt the final few songs of the album were a bit bland and lacked direction. However, I have changed my mind a lot on this song and it is now one of my absolute favourites! Edge’s minimalist riff sounds so inviting and Larry’s robotic intro drum beat is cool as well!

After years of listening to this album, it is still a very good collection of songs with a combination of hits and deep cuts for the hardcore U2 fanatic. Also very personal lyrics carry the album well and it proved a good reminder to the world, upon release, that U2 were certainly still the biggest band in the world - a tagline they still hold to this very date  8)

Offline MrsZoo

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2018, 07:30:54 PM »
Been completely hypnotised by SoE for ages now but these four songs completely continue to hold their own for me:
Kite
In a Little While
When I Look at the World
The Ground Beneath Her Feet

Offline laoghaire

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2018, 08:30:44 PM »
I don't hate (the first two thirds of) this album like many do. BD and Elevation have broad appeal for good reason, imho, and I play the first five or seven songs frequently. On the other hand, this is the first album I did NOT become fully immersed in the whole album. Every album up until now, even if I liked some songs more than others, I knew it front to back cold. To this day, I don't really know the back end of ATYCLB.

One difference between now and 2001 is that I didn't really give Elevation or Walk On a chance. By that I mean I kept hitting skip before those songs got going. I didn't like the shouts at the beginning of Elevation, they sounded too loud, and the context of the song is not yet revealed so I heard it as just noise and not energy/joy. I have no beef with the lyrics, they are fun and unique and once I got the spirit of the song they just fit! A mole! Digging in a hole! Yesssss!

Walk On, I didn't care for the spoken vocals at the beginning, and hit skip before the song got going. I like the song now. Too bad it's sullied by ASSK. I won't hold her against the song though. I will just hear it as support for anyone needing it. Larry is amazing.

I liked Stuck right from the beginning but didn't understand it - dunno why not, the lyrics are pretty clear. I think the tone threw me. I didn't spend any thought on the meaning, just liked the cheerful ditty, until I saw the Letterman performance, which is jaw-dropping. Bono sounds unbelievable in that. And it suddenly put it all together for me. I've had a few moments/days/weeks/etc. when I thought I would honestly break in the last couple of years, and this song has popped up in my mind as a source of strength. Some might find it too tough-love in parts, but I take it as a lending of strength, a vote of confidence. I CAN carry my own weight. So I rate Stuck as a very significant song in the antheon, it has high value for me. I listen to the pop version when I'm happy and the Letterman one when I really need strength.

Kite grabbed me right off, obviously a classic U2 sound, which isn't a bad thing imho. I think we will all cite the "I'm a man" line as the apex. I find the depth of the song very satisfying and can relate to many of the messages, parent to child, in it both as parent and (adult) child.

We're doubtless a little tired of Beautiful Day but if I set that aside I think it's worth every bit of its popularity. I know Vertigo was popular too but BD was the last time it seemed everybody loved U2. It was huge. People played it everywhere. Still do, sometimes. Some young kids born after 2001 know it nevertheless. It just strikes some perfect sweet spot where virtually anybody could get something out of it.

Most people don't know anything more than the "It's a beautiful day, don't let it get away" refrain, and that alone makes for a good feeling and a good song. They caught the mood of that musically. You dig a little deeper and find the healing in it, so there's an audience beyond the most surface layer. You dig a little deeper and realize it's not a happy-go-lucky song, it doesn't stick its head in the sand, but it acknowledges the despair and gives you something to hold on to. "What you don't have, you don't need it now," for example, is very thought-provoking. I sometimes muse on whether I think it's true or not. Most of what we think we need we sure don't. But I know some people suffer a great deal, and have very big unmet needs - survival needs and freedom from abuse. Yet there is still some power in that line.

So I think the first five songs are monster songs. IALW is a good, solid song. Wild Honey is fine. But then the album drops off a friggin' cliff for me. I don't even know Wld Honey that well, and I couldn't even hum the rest to you. People mention New York as being decent, and I've given it a shot a couple of times, but nope. Grace, nope. I can't even name the rest from memory, that's how little I regard the back end of this album.

Offline shineinthesummernight

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2018, 09:03:44 PM »
"Walk On", "Kite" and "In a Little While" are good tunes.  The rest of the album hasn't stood up over time as well.

Offline World71R

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2018, 12:46:48 AM »
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Most people don't know anything more than the "It's a beautiful day, don't let it get away" refrain, and that alone makes for a good feeling and a good song. They caught the mood of that musically. You dig a little deeper and find the healing in it, so there's an audience beyond the most surface layer. You dig a little deeper and realize it's not a happy-go-lucky song, it doesn't stick its head in the sand, but it acknowledges the despair and gives you something to hold on to. "What you don't have, you don't need it now," for example, is very thought-provoking. I sometimes muse on whether I think it's true or not. Most of what we think we need we sure don't. But I know some people suffer a great deal, and have very big unmet needs - survival needs and freedom from abuse. Yet there is still some power in that line.

So I think the first five songs are monster songs. IALW is a good, solid song. Wild Honey is fine. But then the album drops off a friggin' cliff for me. I don't even know Wld Honey that well, and I couldn't even hum the rest to you. People mention New York as being decent, and I've given it a shot a couple of times, but nope. Grace, nope. I can't even name the rest from memory, that's how little I regard the back end of this album.

I totally agree about Beautiful Day. It's a positive song on the surface but when you really listen to it, it's about appreciating the best of what you have in life and letting go of what's not coming back. The song makes sense in the context of U2, as well, especially when you play the last few tracks of Pop and then Beautiful Day. Pop slowly slides into this dirge (in a good way) for the world that is being explored and a cry for help to get out, and Beautiful Day (and the first half of ATYCLB for that matter) is like an answer to that cry for help and an escape from that world.

Also, no love for When I Look at the World? The 747 effect sounds good on that track, even if the lyrics get a bit clunky towards the end.

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"Walk On", "Kite" and "In a Little While" are good tunes.  The rest of the album hasn't stood up over time as well.

Beautiful Day, though. That song has stood up over time, probably the best of any song on the album imo.

----

OT of the two replies above, I think it's interesting how this album captures the mood of the 2000s and the turn of the 21st century with the attitude that the 1990s were over and that the new decade/millennium/century was starting with new expectations, excitement, and an eye to the future, of course until 9/11 which really shook the world.

Offline zoo adam

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2018, 03:33:21 AM »
'The ground beneath her feet' was on my CD. Which gave the album a strong finish, which Grace' doesn't.

'Beautiful Day' was a Bullet proof lead single & no risks were taken with follow up lead singles.

As Bono said in a 'not so secret' album launch gig, U2 were 're applying for the job as biggest band in the world'. The album was just about good enough to achieve this. Oasis were on the slide & Radiohead were going through their own 'Passengers' period.



Offline Dali

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2018, 12:25:54 AM »
It's really hard to pick just 3 songs from the ATYCLB album because I feel they peaked as songwriters on this record: There are so many great songs, on pure songcraft alone even!

Offline World71R

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2018, 01:44:34 PM »
Walk On
Kite
Beautiful Day

...in that order, as well. Stuck in a Moment, In a Little While, and New York would be the next three.

Offline shineinthesummernight

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2018, 01:50:12 PM »
I recognize lots of people adore "Beautiful Day".  It's a good tune, just a bit poppy for my taste.  Put U2 back in the game though, so all's good.

Offline Rasmus

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2018, 01:28:38 PM »
Kite, In a Little While, When I Look at the World... My list would be a little different if we were talking live versions of the songs.

ATYCLB was the first U2 album I got on the release day. I became a fan during the Pop-era and was a huge fan of the 90's stuff so ATYCLB sounded much more mainstream to my ears. I still really enjoyed it though and thought that the songs were strong. My favorite from the get-go was In a Little While and it still is. I was in high-school when it came out and a hardcore U2 fan at the time. It was probably the height of my u2-fandom and I remember following them on the internet through some very basic websites :). While I think ATYCLB is a fine album I dont rank it among their very best - however the Elevation Tour was simply incredible and the ATYCLB songs are the ones that benefits most from a live setting compared to the album in my opinion. To me this was U2 at their live peak, just so emotional. The timing of the album and tour was also very good with 9/11 and all that going on. I remember the Tribute to Heroes version of Walk On gave me chills. I went to see them twice on that tour and it was some of the best nights of my life. Me and a friend waited more than 12 hours in line for a concert to get into the heart and we got there. That album and tour came at a special time in my life and I associate them both with that.

Offline hollywoodswag

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2018, 08:06:27 PM »
Another great album with another tough choice: which three to pick?

All That You Can't Leave Behind sits in the higher echelons of my U2 album rankings. Like most, if not all, of their albums, I never really listened to it in its entirety until the last couple of years, but it stands out to me as an album that feels so...optimistic. I know it has its darker, sadder moments, and several songs discuss joy in the face of adversity, but overall, I feel like its ushered in the new millennium with a belief in a brighter future. The songs recalled some of the ambient nature of The Unforgettable Fire and the Joshua Tree, but in a way that sounded more mature, focused, and directed. There's something so grand about the way the album sounds, with the instrumentation blending so perfectly with the message of the vocals.

The album is not without its flaws, though. It's very much a front-heavy album with the singles stacked together as the first four songs in the album's running order. That fact also adds to my feeling that the album seems written for commercial success. There's something about it that made it seem like an effort to chase the hits, which I suppose was publicly admitted when Bono said that they were re-applying for the job of the best band in the world.

Also, and I know they weren't on the album, but I feel like this was the last album to really have some great remixes. The Influx and Tomb Raider remixes of Elevation were exceptional, as was the Nice Mix of New York.

I suspect that had an effect on Bono's lyrics, because I felt like they started a bit of decline that began with this album. Great lyrics prevailed, don't get me wrong, but I felt that a degree of commercialism jumped in and moments that could have been poetic just...weren't. Take Peace on Earth, for example. I like the song, actually, and consider it a strong point on the album, but I view it as a one-song sequel to Pop that lacks the poetic subtlety of that album. I think there are times where corny/goofy lyrics worked, but they hurt just as easily.

As for my top three, there were seven songs I liked, four of which I loved. I settled on Beautiful Day, Elevation, and New York, with Kite being the one I nixed. Check back in five minutes and I'd probably boot Beautiful Day or New York and replace it with Kite, but those were the three that got my votes. Elevation remains one of my absolute favorite U2 songs (dodges the tomatoes thrown my way), with incredible energy that feels like a concert experience with every listen. Also, as I mentioned earlier, those remixes!

Beautiful Day would also probably be pretty high in my rankings if it hadn't become so overplayed, but it really started the album off on the right foot, sonically and lyrically. It's the perfect mood-setter, and it's a great pick-me-up song.

New York was a dark horse pick, but I found it to be the high point of a bit of a side that really couldn't match the power of the album's first side. It's a song I'm not sure I totally get, but it's very captivating and it has a great sound. Having only recently visited the city for the first time, the song took on a whole new life and made me appreciate the Big Apple in a way I never thought I would. I felt like it portrayed the city as a cool place while being honest about its flaws.

And yes, I want to mention Kite. What a powerful song, and what a great sound! I'm sorry I overlooked it for so long. I wish I could have had a fourth vote to show support for it, because it's absolutely wonderful. Bono comes off so vulnerable in it, and wow, does it tug at the heartstrings.

Offline suitoflights

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2018, 02:29:06 PM »
I hate it now as much as I did then. The worst and most bland U2 album. Even HTDAAB is better.

Offline ShankAsu

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Re: All That You Can't Leave Behind: Retrospective
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2018, 10:04:40 PM »
Still not a huge fan of this album- I prefer HTDAAB to it.  The second half is very weak, but i actually like the simple songs on it juxtaposed to Elevation and Walk On.