Author Topic: No Line Close Faraway  (Read 743 times)

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Offline Alwaysforever

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No Line Close Faraway
« on: September 27, 2018, 05:43:47 AM »
Hello everyone, long-time fan and observer of this forum. Thought I'd bite the bullet and sign up. Huge fan of the band for many years and have seen them both on Joshua Tree and Pop tours. Anyhoo...Listening again to No Line and as always still feel the disappointment of yet another wasted opportunity by the band to reinvent and move on with their sound. Here's is my two pence worth of what I feel the album should have been like. Feel free to ignore or if you like add your suggestions. Here we go ahem...
1. "Soon" great opener and a real statement to say that we are on a different course this time round.
As the track fades, from the distance in comes
2. "No Line on the Horizon" and we are straight in to the new sound. If I was Mr Eno and Lanois I would have gently suggested that singing "no line" as a chorus was not a great idea. Instead be bold and just have edge's krautrock guitar with no vocals but what do I know?
3. "Magnificent" I could be wrong but wasn't this originally called "French Disco"? A title I much prefer but maybe having disco in a title again frightened the band! Not much I would change to be honest, maybe "dance" it up a bit more a la "Lemon".
4. "Moment of Surrender" Much prefer the live version which starts off with the hook and then strips it right down (maybe the end rap could be gently elbowed). Just sounds way overproduced on the album.
5. "Unknown Caller" Great track which if left alone could have been even better. Again if I was the producer I would have taken the "sunshine" vocals out of the intro and had a word with myself with foisting the dreadful lyrics about turning my computer on! Instead just have the wordless vocals and instrumentation. Again be a bit more bold and experimental.
If you are still reading then like me you share my trainspotting tendencies when it comes to this band. So letís move on to side 2...
6. "Winter (Linear Version)" Why was this song left off the album!!! Fantastic track which links in with "White as Snow" but instead from the perspective of a soldier. Eno went on to use a similar string motif with Coldplay gaining them a worldwide hit. Another example of U2 second guessing themselves and choosing the wrong option that is the horror of "Stand Up Comedy"
7."White As Snow" not a stand out but as mentioned before would work beside Winter (nice flugelhorn solo though).
8. "Being Born" Letís take away Eno's lunchtime dabblings and just go straight in to this great sounding track. Magic.
9. "Breathe" bar some questionable lyrics a great track nicely placed near the end of the album.
10. "Cedars of Lebanon" Beautiful sounding song with nice sample of Harold Budd and Brian Eno at the beginning. Great way to end the album and a new beginning for the band but what do I know?



Offline shineinthesummernight

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Re: No Line Close Faraway
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2018, 11:40:03 AM »
I agree that "Soon" and "Winter" should have been included.  I don't find the middle three as jarring as some, and I actually like "Stand Up Comedy"!  Not a huge fan of the albums closers, but overall this is in my top three albums by the band any day.

Offline Vox

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Re: No Line Close Faraway
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2018, 02:01:49 PM »
My favorite latter-day U2 album.  Itís always been fascinating to me how divisive it is among U2 fans.  The band themselves have seemingly disavowed the work. But in my mindís eye, I seem to notice more pockets of intense love for it as time progresses.  I maintain when the band is finished, itíll be singled out as a misunderstood classic.

Iíve never been one to look at any U2 album and say they should have done this, or they should have done that, because Iíve lived with the music so long I canít see it any other way.  But it would have been interesting to see the original vision of the album with just the band/Eno/Lanois.  I also wonder why it effectively ended their collaborative efforts.  Was it U2 making the decision to 100% move away from the partnership, or was there some strife about U2 tinkering on the album with other producers after Morocco?  I also find it interesting that up to this album, U2 seemed to be very transparent on the recording process for each record, but for the last three albumsó virtually nothing. 

Offline Chip

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Re: No Line Close Faraway
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2018, 06:26:55 PM »
Welcome to the forum, Alwaysforever! If I remember right, "French Disco" was the label on the recording of "Magnificent" that got leaked ahead of the album. I've always thought that label was either a personal joke or something designed to keep anyone who shouldn't lay hands on it uninterested in it rather than the actual original title. It might keep me from thinking it was a new U2 tune, at any rate!

Your track listing is interesting and might have made a better album, but better yet in my book would be the May 2008 "finished" NLOTH (or whatever it would have been titled back then) that formed the basis for Linear. I'm still convinced that's probably an unreleased masterpiece and is the band's "lost album" that I'd most be interested in hearing/owning (ahead of both the Chris Thomas HTDAAB and the Danger Mouse SOI).
« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 06:28:57 PM by Chip »

Offline Clarky

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Re: No Line Close Faraway
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2018, 07:34:46 AM »
God damnit this album was so close to being a masterpiece.

I'm not sure how well Soon blends into the title track, but it's a decent suggestion. If anything I think Soon works better as a outro song, which might sound weird considering they did use it as a concert opener.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 07:37:27 AM by Clarky »

Offline davis

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Re: No Line Close Faraway
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2018, 06:08:05 PM »
I like your tracklist.  And I agree on many of your critiques.  I do love the Fez part of Fez/Being Born, though.  And I liked the idea of collaboration--that this was almost a passengers part 2 album.  My hunch has always been that they mucked this one up bringing in Steve L. for the post-production production.  The put some clunkers on there and sheened things up too much.  They clearly threw Anton a curveball after he thought Linear was a done deal.  I wish they'd trusted Eno more on this and went with the original Morocco vibe.  Ultimately, though, I don't think the vision/inspiration was fully there for this one.  Lots of intriguing gestures that don't end up cohering into a whole the way the great ones (UF, JT, AB) do. 

Offline World71R

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Re: No Line Close Faraway
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2018, 11:17:46 PM »
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I like your tracklist.  And I agree on many of your critiques.  I do love the Fez part of Fez/Being Born, though.  And I liked the idea of collaboration--that this was almost a passengers part 2 album.  My hunch has always been that they mucked this one up bringing in Steve L. for the post-production production.  The put some clunkers on there and sheened things up too much.  They clearly threw Anton a curveball after he thought Linear was a done deal.  I wish they'd trusted Eno more on this and went with the original Morocco vibe.  Ultimately, though, I don't think the vision/inspiration was fully there for this one.  Lots of intriguing gestures that don't end up cohering into a whole the way the great ones (UF, JT, AB) do.

I agree. I think that all of the songs that originated from the Fez sessions (NLOTH, Breathe, Magnificent, Unknown Caller, and MOS specifically being brought up here) all had a certain Moroccan flair to it, which you can hear in some of the clips that were posted of the band rehearsing in Morocco, but they ended up being glistened with the more-Western production. Fez/Being Born actually sounds cool with it since they do just the right amount, but the others just feel too polished.

The little guitar bits in the verses of Unknown Caller come to mind when I think of this. The song would've been better off just more sparse in the verses to let the little flourishes shine more, with the explosion happening in the chorus (with some better lyrics too, oof). I do love the guitar solo in that though.

Breathe is sort of like that, too, but the guitar is very energetic so it works, and I think MOS is like that too where everything works really well as it turned out to be. I just wish there was more of that strings section you hear before the solo in Breathe.

Magnificent sounds good, too, but it seems to have troubles deciding on what it's going to be (a dance-y song? a more pop rocker-geared tune? a Moroccan-tinged dance groove song?). I wish that it had gone more of the route of being a Moroccan-tinged, electronic dance groove-inspired rock-ish song but I can't complain about the final product too much since it's one of my favorite '00s tunes and one of the first U2 songs I really loved (along with IWF, Pride, and Streets). I just think it could've been cooler and more of a crazy interesting track than it is, and been more daring.

NLOTH has too much going on with the vocals. There is no need for all of the "Oh oh oh"s and the "No line on the horizon" bit in the chorus. I really like NLOTH II. I wish they could've combined that with the outro to NLOTH since that outro is really freaking cool and a genius use of The Edge's classic guitar sound (Fez/Being Born, MOS, Magnificent also do such things).

White as Snow, Fez/Being Born, and Cedars of Lebanon sound just right to me, tbh.

I love Fez/Being Born and think that's one of U2's most underrated songs. It's what a U2 rock song should sound like at this point in their career, and GOYB is absolutely not. The fact that GOYB was put on NLOTH with the other fantastic material that is on there is just shameful, really.

I'll Go Crazy is one I can excuse since it has some good lines and has a fun vibe to it, but it was better suited for a Sweetest Thing-like standalone single release, and SUC has its moments and kind of a sarcastic vibe to it with a good-sounding riff, but those three just don't fit in with what the album was supposed to be going for, sonically and thematically. I would've loved for NLOTH to have been an Moroccan-inspired, electronically tinged album that still highlights each member of the band and shows maturity without showing age, but those middle three let that down (as do some of the lyrics in Unknown Caller). It's no wonder why Eno and Lanois haven't worked with them since (with all due respect to Bono & the boys).

Offline davis

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Re: No Line Close Faraway
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2018, 12:11:04 PM »
Well put World71R.  Your post, along with the original post, make me feel the pain of realizing how great this album might have been...

Offline laoghaire

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Re: No Line Close Faraway
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2018, 06:27:06 PM »
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I like your tracklist.  And I agree on many of your critiques.  I do love the Fez part of Fez/Being Born, though.  And I liked the idea of collaboration--that this was almost a passengers part 2 album.  My hunch has always been that they mucked this one up bringing in Steve L. for the post-production production.  The put some clunkers on there and sheened things up too much.  They clearly threw Anton a curveball after he thought Linear was a done deal.  I wish they'd trusted Eno more on this and went with the original Morocco vibe.  Ultimately, though, I don't think the vision/inspiration was fully there for this one.  Lots of intriguing gestures that don't end up cohering into a whole the way the great ones (UF, JT, AB) do.

I actually don't think TUF cohered all that perfectly. There are parts that sag.

Even Exit kind of sagged on TJT, not because it wasn't a great song but because it was mixed weirdly and you can't hear it.