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U2 => General U2 Discussion => Topic started by: Achtung Bubba on February 24, 2017, 02:18:29 PM

Title: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Achtung Bubba on February 24, 2017, 02:18:29 PM
In a different thread The Exile makes an excellent point:

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Yeh U2 "where did it all go wrong"...

As much as I hate the album, I don't begrudge U2 making ATYCLB. After a decade of avante garde indulgence it was a move that made sense. But then from 2000 onward they have become obsessed with riding that wave of cultural approval with results that have been sometimes questionable and sometimes disastrous.

Their legacy would be much better if they had simply stepped down from their pedestal rather than being told to, or being knocked off it.

Though I quite like ATYCLB, I agree with the basic point, and it leads to an interesting thought experiment:

How would you change U2's history, at a single moment in the band's career?

The question might be particularly interesting if you're not entirely happy with how things have unfolded for the band, and the answer would produce something that would be recognizable to readers of the genre called Alternate History (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_history), where, for example "The Man in the High Castle" is set in a world where the Allies lost World War II.  In that TV series, the United States was subsequently conquered and divided by the Axis Powers.

An alternate timeline would emerge from changing the band's history at one key point, and that imagined timeline would be as interesting to me as the change in history itself.

I have my own alt-timeline, which I'll cover briefly describe below.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: WookieeWarrior10 on February 24, 2017, 02:26:35 PM
How about after ATYCLB, U2 go ahead and "dream it all up again", releasing a mature-sounding album with songs a la Stateless or Never Let Me Go? HTDAAB never happens, yet they have still saved their asses from falling apart as a band by making ATYCLB.

Following this, we get a more avant-garde version of NLOTH with far less polish. U2 continue to sporadically release albums and EPs every few years until they feel like it is time to call it quits.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Thunder Peel on February 24, 2017, 02:35:12 PM
I wouldn't really change what they released but rather the amount of output. If they could release an album every two or three years I'd be thrilled, with intermittent tours in-between. They've wasted so much time over the last 15 years.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: coolz481 on February 24, 2017, 03:05:43 PM
I LOVED the Vertigo Tour shows - especially the early ones that brought back Electric Co and An Cat Dubh / Into the Heart - and wish they had channeled that energy into a quick follow-up album instead of settling into that interminable wait until No Line on the Horizon.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Achtung Bubba on February 24, 2017, 03:32:09 PM
As with The Exile, I think All That You Can't Leave Behind did make sense for the band, but in hindsight the album raised the question, "now what?"  Or, if we're going to quote from a b-side, it's not "Where Did It All Go Wrong?" It's the single lyric from "Endless Deep."

Where do we go from here?

They had gone from thesis to antithesis and finally to synthesis; from post-punk and Americana to industrial and techno and finally to mature pop.  Their tracks ranged from abstract tone poems to very tightly crafted songs, from the heights of ecstasy to the depths of sorrow, and from stadium rockers to the most intimate bedroom music.

I'm not sure there was much more new ground to cover for a band that was always trying to innovate and look forward -- and what ground there was, even less was realistically within their reach if one accounts for the permanent strands within the band's personality, the musical abilities of each band member, the commercial ambitions of the band, and perhaps especially the changing scene in music.

In terms of globally televised, single-concert accomplishments, I'm not sure one could imagine any greater summit than the first post-9/11 Super Bowl halftime show, certainly not for a rock band of U2's age when Bono already recognized that he was "last of the rock stars."  Red Rocks and Live Aid and POPMart Sarajevo and then that Super Bowl show: where do we go from here?

--

In 1993, Billy Joel released his last rock album, but he had performed a few times since then.  No one would have known for certain that he would do this at the time, but he's been extensively touring on his back catalog since 2006.

With All That You Can't Leave Behind, U2 was in much the same position as Billy Joel when he released River of Dreams.

Billy Joel:  12 studio albums over 23 years, 1971-1993

U2: 10 studio albums over 21 years, 1980-2000

Maybe the Piano Man blazed a trail that U2 should have considered.

--

In my mind, here is where the alternate timeline would diverge from ours.

February 27th, 2002.

Consider the last three months for the band.


Whether they had any inkling before hand, the night of February 22nd was shaping up to be a stellar night, the second consecutive rousing success for U2 at the Grammys.  Between the two years, they would win double their number of Grammy wins, scoring 7 awards out of a then-total of 14 -- and not only would their album win a Grammy, but literally every single off that album would win.


Record of the Year is one of the "big four," and if I'm correct, it's the last award announced.  Having already won three for a night Grammys for a night that would otherwise belong to Alicia Keys, the band could have been prepared for that last award, and they might have had some "inside information."

Perhaps they discussed the idea at some length before, in the days between the Super Bowl and the Grammys, but regardless, the band decides to accept the award with an announcement that stops the presses.

Maybe Bono says something about dreaming it all again -- or maybe, "We dreamed out loud, and we've accomplished more than we could have ever dreamed."

Maybe he brings up the line about reapplying for the world's best band:  "We reapplied for the job, and we've done all that one band could do."

Maybe he simply says, "I'm someone who always seems to have something to say, but you've left me speechless -- and as a band, we've said all that we can say."

"You certainly haven't seen the last of Larry, Adam, Edge, and myself -- and you might not have seen the last of U2, but we should take a bow.  Good night, and God bless you."

--

After that, the band that is named U2 releases the occasional new music -- a song for a soundtrack, like "Ordinary Love;" or a reworked song for a rerelease, like "Blow Your House Down" -- but never more than a four-song EP.

In 2005, the band releases a book and accompanying compilation, U2 By U2, which takes a look at the band's entire history as an active, ongoing concern.

Between 2007 and 2011, the band also releases re-mastered, deluxe editions of most of their older albums.

The band members work on their own projects -- Broadway musicals for Bono and Edge, acting for Larry -- and the four work together in various projects under other names.  One such project is Passengers where the original Passengers (U2 & Eno) rope in Daniel Lanois to release a single album originally planned as two EP's:  titled Daylight & Darkness, the 2009 album doesn't make too many waves on the charts beyond its one single, the atmospheric "Fez - Being Born."

And the band emerges about once a decade for a massive, wildly popular stadium tour on the strength of their old work.  Between 2009 and 2011, they have the 360 Tour.  Along with an earlier Passengers track, "Your Blue Room," the occasional Daylight & Darkness track appears, but especially later legs of the tour focus on Achtung Baby to celebrate the album's 20th anniversary.

Then, in 2017, the band announces a stadium tour explicitly celebrating The Joshua Tree's 30th anniversary.

With the Passengers work and other side projects, U2 fans continue to follow the band members' forays into art, sometimes the esoteric and sometimes very accessible pop art. 

Inspired by doing the original theme for "The Batman" cartoon, Edge writes an album of instrumental music.  Bono writes poetry and records an album of pop standards (it's never acknowledged, but fans all recognize the inside joke, that he sings as Macphisto).  Larry gets a small but important role in an HBO noir series.  Adam joins Anthony Bourdain on one of his travelogue shows.

And there remains no doubt that U2 was the greatest rock band at least of its era, and perhaps for all time.

Boy. October. War. Unforgettable Fire. Joshua Tree. Rattle & Hum. Achtung Baby. Zooropa. Pop. All That You Can't Leave Behind.

The discography remains untouchable and untouched.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Achtung Bubba on February 24, 2017, 03:37:11 PM
I appreciate the feedback! (No pun intended.)

Looking at what I just posted, I do think that all the re-releases and the coffee table book and now the nostalgia stadium tour would have been much less divisive if the band had been effectively in retirement.  I think that the stature of the band has been diminished by their last three overcooked, underwhelming albums and especially their obvious ambition for continued relevance:  cut that out of the picture, and much of the last fifteen years is tolerable.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: an tha on February 24, 2017, 03:51:36 PM
Just go and delete everything post Pop and you have the greatest band ever in my book....sadly what happened from 2000 onwards is just for me sad...the reasons are complicated and deep but the end result is for me really sad...

I find u2's music post Pop mainly ordinary - very ordinary, could literally be any middling non descript pop rock band knocking it out....and that isn't the u2 I fell in love with - they made extraordinary music that had a unique feel, atmosphere and sound.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: ShankAsu on February 24, 2017, 03:53:13 PM
I'd go back to their recent history and see a release of SOE early in 2016 with a follow-up tour immediately following.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: giggmann on February 24, 2017, 04:05:05 PM
I would change the bit where they moved their business from Ireland to the Netherlands. It dented their good public image somewhat and I wasn't comfortable personally with the whole situation.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: eddyjedi on February 24, 2017, 04:16:50 PM
I would go and review no line with them before release and tell them how sh** some of the songs are. I'd also include EBW winter and Soon and it would be one of the great U2 albums. Redefining their career.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: WookieeWarrior10 on February 24, 2017, 04:48:45 PM
Actually, to revise my last post... I'd take ATYCLB off too. I don't think that album was particularly necessary in order to keep the band afloat. That album could have bombed and U2 would still be making music.

Everything else still stands, though. U2 need to act their age and make mature music, for themselves (like Radiohead does).
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: JaraSangASongAWeapon on February 24, 2017, 05:01:21 PM
Continue in the AB-Zooropa-Passengers-Pop vein of experimenting rather than the play it safe-ness of ATYCLB and HTDAAB.

Not make songs like Elevation, Vertigo, GOYB, Miracle of Joey Ramone/SFS.

Go back and listen to October/TUF/b side of TJT. That's when U2 was at their boldest in the early part of their career.

Stop f'ing around with Davos and Munich. Think Hanover Quay and Electric Lady Studios.

Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Kmama07 on February 24, 2017, 07:18:30 PM
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Continue in the AB-Zooropa-Passengers-Pop vein of experimenting rather than the play it safe-ness of ATYCLB and HTDAAB.

Not make songs like Elevation, Vertigo, GOYB, Miracle of Joey Ramone/SFS.

Go back and listen to October/TUF/b side of TJT. That's when U2 was at their boldest in the early part of their career.

Stop f'ing around with Davos and Munich. Think Hanover Quay and Electric Lady Studios.
👏👏👏💕
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: PopMart_1997 on February 24, 2017, 10:37:53 PM
I already said this on Twitter on atU2's post, but I'd start with after the PopMart tour (just to appease certain fans... I actually like the true timeline as is.)

From what I remember, All That You Can't Leave Behind was hailed as a great U2 album when it was released, and the Elevation tour sold out its tickets and was well received. I wonder what's changed people's minds about it almost 17 years later?
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: mrsamrocks2 on February 24, 2017, 11:00:31 PM
As much as I understand the argument that ATYCLB should have been their last album from a legacy point of view, I think it would be sad to not have songs like COBL, MOS or EBW. I know I'm probably in the minority here, but I really like their post 2000 albums and I think it's the case of much of their younger fans who are below 30 like myself. Most people my age who love U2 don't like them because of Bad or The Fly, but because of songs like COBL, SFS, BD and EBW.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Starman on February 24, 2017, 11:19:18 PM
I think they messed up when overdid both NLOTH and SOI. The long length between those two albums definitely hurt as well. Also, SOE should be out by now.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: soloyan on February 25, 2017, 01:00:03 AM
I have to say... I find this thread deeply unfair.
Imagine people arguing about your life and your career and what you did wrong ? Questioning the hard choices only you could make ?

Pretty sure it would break your heart. Especially if it's from someone who's supposed to love you.

I think sometimes we should write posts keeping in mind the band members might read them. It won't happen but I'm sure we would have more decency.


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Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: an tha on February 25, 2017, 04:08:23 AM
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I have to say... I find this thread deeply unfair.
Imagine people arguing about your life and your career and what you did wrong ? Questioning the hard choices only you could make ?

Pretty sure it would break your heart. Especially if it's from someone who's supposed to love you.

I think sometimes we should write posts keeping in mind the band members might read them. It won't happen but I'm sure we would have more decency.


Envoyé de mon iPhone en utilisant Tapatalk

Where is the a lack of decency in this thread?

All I can see myself is people articulating their views in pretty thoughtful and interesting ways and certainly not indecently...
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: aviastar on February 25, 2017, 06:12:36 AM
During the recording or mixing of NLOTH, somebody stands up and says "This Boots song is utter dreck".  The band sleeps on it for a day or two and decides to leave it off the album.  They release the album with Winter in the place of Boots.  The album sells modestly well, and is more appreciated by the diehard U2 fans.  The "The Future Needs a Big Kiss" tour marketing is lost to history, and the 360 tour sees more NLOTH songs worked in...because the band doesn't feel the need to completely disown the album, as there is no massive disappointment about a song that was junked and maybe quietly released as an experimental b-side at a later date.

The modest sucess of the NLOTH but the overwhelming success of the 360 tour leaves the band with quite a bit of confidence...and they complete SOI in late 2013.  Apple pays them for the rights to release it on the iTunes platform, but they opt not to make a big deal out of it at a press conference.  It is a suprise release, and again is a big hit with U2 diehards and attracts some new fans as well.  The companion SOE album is completed during touring the SOI album and the SOI+E tour continues through late 2015.  The band takes a well-deserved break in 2016 and decides to do a limited run of Joshua Tree in Europe & North America in 2017.

After that, they decide to retire from recording full-length albums, and tours on and off as a legacy band.  This is a phase most successful bands should seek to evolve into - and in U2's case it's well deserved.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: LToy on February 25, 2017, 06:40:23 AM
If i could change the band's timeline I would go back to 1995 at the start of the recording sessions for POP. I would have directed the band to be more focused & disciplined going into the studio instead of their usual "let's throw stuff at the wall & see what sticks" approach. I think they wasted a lot of time in the studio trying to figure out what sound & arrangements for POP they wanted on the album that caused its delayed release date; that delay also had consequences for the start of the Popmart tour.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: soloyan on February 25, 2017, 06:43:39 AM
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I have to say... I find this thread deeply unfair.
Imagine people arguing about your life and your career and what you did wrong ? Questioning the hard choices only you could make ?

Pretty sure it would break your heart. Especially if it's from someone who's supposed to love you.

I think sometimes we should write posts keeping in mind the band members might read them. It won't happen but I'm sure we would have more decency.


Envoyé de mon iPhone en utilisant Tapatalk

Where is the a lack of decency in this thread?

All I can see myself is people articulating their views in pretty thoughtful and interesting ways and certainly not indecently...

Pretending you know better is indecent.

What this thread is doing is not different from what the people who made alternative cuts of Star Wars did.

It came to a point where George Lucas said : if you guys know better, just do, I quit.

Now, you can do Star Wars without Lucas. You cannot do U2 without U2.

You can as well switch "decency" for "humility", for lack of a better word.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: an tha on February 25, 2017, 07:08:19 AM
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I have to say... I find this thread deeply unfair.
Imagine people arguing about your life and your career and what you did wrong ? Questioning the hard choices only you could make ?

Pretty sure it would break your heart. Especially if it's from someone who's supposed to love you.

I think sometimes we should write posts keeping in mind the band members might read them. It won't happen but I'm sure we would have more decency.


Envoyé de mon iPhone en utilisant Tapatalk

Where is the a lack of decency in this thread?

All I can see myself is people articulating their views in pretty thoughtful and interesting ways and certainly not indecently...

Pretending you know better is indecent.

What this thread is doing is not different from what the people who made alternative cuts of Star Wars did.

It came to a point where George Lucas said : if you guys know better, just do, I quit.

Now, you can do Star Wars without Lucas. You cannot do U2 without U2.

You can as well switch "decency" for "humility", for lack of a better word.


So what do you make of the alternative tracklist/playlist threads people often make here?

Using your logic they are 'indecent' too as u2 made those albums, chose those songs in the order they were put out in....didn't include other songs etc....

I see numerous examples of those threads on the forum and there are a number of posters who are particularly active at that and in those threads re-arranging the order of those albums/cutting tracks/adding tracks etc....

Are they acting 'indecently' or 'without humility'....I ask as i have never noticed you criticising people on those threads....
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: podiumboy on February 25, 2017, 07:08:57 AM
ATYCLB, HTDAAB and their respective tours, grammy awards, super bowl performances, etc... cemented U2's legacy forever.  After the Vertigo tour, I think they should have "retired" from the game of trying to make HITS, and just focused on making good,  uncompromised music.  Just put out new music whenever, and tour whenever.  Release new music with Danger Mouse, Ryan Tedder, RedOne, Rick Rubin, etc.  Go to Fez with Danny and Brian, and make the truly interesting album NLOTH almost was, before it was compromised. Hell, it could've been a Passengers vol. 2.  Open the vaults.  Collaborate with other artists.  Make soundtrack songs.  Be in a state of regularly releasing new material just because, instead of releasing a new album every 5 years after numerous delays and rewrites.

Another idea... go back to September 2014, and think "hey, instead of pushing this album onto all of Apple's devices, let's just offer everyone a free download if they choose to want it".  Turns an extremely negative thing into an extremely positive thing.  Public perception of U2 and SOI does a complete 180.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: soloyan on February 25, 2017, 08:36:07 AM
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I have to say... I find this thread deeply unfair.
Imagine people arguing about your life and your career and what you did wrong ? Questioning the hard choices only you could make ?

Pretty sure it would break your heart. Especially if it's from someone who's supposed to love you.

I think sometimes we should write posts keeping in mind the band members might read them. It won't happen but I'm sure we would have more decency.


Envoyé de mon iPhone en utilisant Tapatalk

Where is the a lack of decency in this thread?

All I can see myself is people articulating their views in pretty thoughtful and interesting ways and certainly not indecently...

Pretending you know better is indecent.

What this thread is doing is not different from what the people who made alternative cuts of Star Wars did.

It came to a point where George Lucas said : if you guys know better, just do, I quit.

Now, you can do Star Wars without Lucas. You cannot do U2 without U2.

You can as well switch "decency" for "humility", for lack of a better word.


So what do you make of the alternative tracklist/playlist threads people often make here?

Using your logic they are 'indecent' too as u2 made those albums, chose those songs in the order they were put out in....didn't include other songs etc....

I see numerous examples of those threads on the forum and there are a number of posters who are particularly active at that and in those threads re-arranging the order of those albums/cutting tracks/adding tracks etc....

Are they acting 'indecently' or 'without humility'....I ask as i have never noticed you criticising people on those threads....

That's a good question since I'm using playlists myself.

Ok, first I'll give you that I must have overreacted a bit. Apologies for this. I think Thunder Peel's comment about "wasting time" got on my nerves. I mean, U2 deserve to live their private lives too, you know ? Anyway...

I think listening to the songs in another order or whatever is fine : songs have always been a entity of their own. The band themselves acknowledge that when they release singles, agree for their songs to appear on soundtracks and compilations...

I see where you're going with the George Lucas analogy but I think it would be more like tribute bands actually claiming their covers are better than the original tune.

Would you care to answer this please ? Imagine people arguing about your life and your career and what you did wrong ? Questioning the hard choices only you could make ? How would you feel like ?
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: LightMyWay92 on February 25, 2017, 08:46:51 AM
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I LOVED the Vertigo Tour shows - especially the early ones that brought back Electric Co and An Cat Dubh / Into the Heart - and wish they had channeled that energy into a quick follow-up album instead of settling into that interminable wait until No Line on the Horizon.
They really did seem to lose some energy and inspiration following the Vertigo Tour.  It's sad to say it, but it's natural:  they just started to get older.  It happens to everyone eventually.  With U2 we got to see it, but with so many other legendary bands, we never got to since they didn't stay together or stay popular as long.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: an tha on February 25, 2017, 09:10:22 AM
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I have to say... I find this thread deeply unfair.
Imagine people arguing about your life and your career and what you did wrong ? Questioning the hard choices only you could make ?

Pretty sure it would break your heart. Especially if it's from someone who's supposed to love you.

I think sometimes we should write posts keeping in mind the band members might read them. It won't happen but I'm sure we would have more decency.


Envoyé de mon iPhone en utilisant Tapatalk

Where is the a lack of decency in this thread?

All I can see myself is people articulating their views in pretty thoughtful and interesting ways and certainly not indecently...

Pretending you know better is indecent.

What this thread is doing is not different from what the people who made alternative cuts of Star Wars did.

It came to a point where George Lucas said : if you guys know better, just do, I quit.

Now, you can do Star Wars without Lucas. You cannot do U2 without U2.

You can as well switch "decency" for "humility", for lack of a better word.


So what do you make of the alternative tracklist/playlist threads people often make here?

Using your logic they are 'indecent' too as u2 made those albums, chose those songs in the order they were put out in....didn't include other songs etc....

I see numerous examples of those threads on the forum and there are a number of posters who are particularly active at that and in those threads re-arranging the order of those albums/cutting tracks/adding tracks etc....

Are they acting 'indecently' or 'without humility'....I ask as i have never noticed you criticising people on those threads....

That's a good question since I'm using playlists myself.

Ok, first I'll give you that I must have overreacted a bit. Apologies for this. I think Thunder Peel's comment about "wasting time" got on my nerves. I mean, U2 deserve to live their private lives too, you know ? Anyway...

I think listening to the songs in another order or whatever is fine : songs have always been a entity of their own. The band themselves acknowledge that when they release singles, agree for their songs to appear on soundtracks and compilations...

I see where you're going with the George Lucas analogy but I think it would be more like tribute bands actually claiming their covers are better than the original tune.

Would you care to answer this please ? Imagine people arguing about your life and your career and what you did wrong ? Questioning the hard choices only you could make ? How would you feel like ?

Fair do's on your reply....I appreciate the effort you have made to consider it.

As for your question....If i was an artist in the public eye then personally i would accept that it comes with the territory.....the adulation, hero worship, the criticism, the commentary etc.etc. it is all part of it in my eyes.

There is if course obviously a line though when it ventures into their private lives - but I don't see any of that here.

Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: imaginary friend on February 25, 2017, 10:02:11 AM
Where I'd change the U2 timeline, and how I'd change it:

1994: every member of the band dives full-force into learning at least one instrument they don't already play, along with instruction/coaching on how to expand their skills on the ones they do.

Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: tigerfan41 on February 25, 2017, 01:35:10 PM
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I wouldn't really change what they released but rather the amount of output. If they could release an album every two or three years I'd be thrilled, with intermittent tours in-between. They've wasted so much time over the last 15 years.

This. One of the things I respect so much about Springsteen is that he releases albums pretty frequently and tours a good amount in between. He doesn't seem to care about getting another radio hit, he just puts stuff out there.

If rumors are to be believed, U2 have probably 3-4 albums that are 90% completed since the 00s but were never released due to their own self doubt/quest for pop relevance. I'm not going to assume all of those songs were good, but I am going to assume a lot of them had the potential to be good or even great. They could have easily put out another album a year or two after NLOTH; they could have easily put out SoI earlier than 2014 and SoE should have been out in 2015. But they didn't and instead overcooked both NLOTH and SoI....and are probably overcooking SoE.

I would much rather they release music frequently (without a care about "relevance") and tour frequently than spend ages between albums tweaking and retweaking them. They all seem to be in good health (or have been over the past 15 years), so it's disappointing to see a lot of time wasted not making music or touring. Obviously, they deserve time off, but it seems like it's less an issue of wanting to rest/spend time with family than it is of second guessing the music they make.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Zoomerang77 on February 25, 2017, 03:00:13 PM
In the moment that Bono and Edge sat at a table discussing whether it'd be a good idea for them to launch a foray into Broadway with the Spiderman musical, I wish Larry had burst in and shaken sense into them to return their focus to U2 and the next album.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Blueyedboy on February 25, 2017, 09:21:28 PM
I did write an even longer  reply to this great question than this one, but in reading it back realised that, as a U2 fan it boils down to just a couple of things that I would change about the timeline of the band who were the focus of my fandom for so long.

1. U2 changed from being a band and became a brand following the release of the Best Of albums and ATYCLB. It seemed that each release since needs to meet a predictable sounding template.
The songs that stray away from the template are beaten back into shape in the studio until we're left with a formulaic and predictable "U2" track.

2. Again since ATYCLB, I feel more like a customer than a fan. High ticket prices, multi platforms of albums, multi-option tracklists of albums, are aimed at exploiting the U2 fan who needs to own everything in the U2 catalogue. It's seems that this is a million miles away from what was appealing and attracted me to the band in the first place.

So, in answer to the original question, I guess anytime after ATYCLB would be the answer but, although I'm not a fan of their post 2000 output (I don't think I would be a fan of U2 if they began in 2000), it's not entirely musically based. Things just don't feel like they used to, the band no longer speak to me, or for me, in the way that they once did, possibly to do with my progressing years and the different priorities and perspectives on life that fatherhood brings as much as my percieved change in the band.

But in truth, why should U2 be any different to any other band who are fortunate enough to reach this stage of their career. They've put in the hard yards in the first decade and a half of their career, maybe it's time for them to reap the rewards of having a large static fanbase who will buy anything with their name on it.



Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: dwaltman on February 25, 2017, 09:22:05 PM
A 5-piece with Edge's brother staying in the band. 
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Ultrafly on February 26, 2017, 03:06:51 AM
Lots of consensus here that up to 1998 the band didn't really put a foot wrong.

1998 & 2002 were the first obvious and visible signs of a "Crisis In Confidence". (The Cure hit a similar commercial plateau at the same time). All big bands have a golden first run - an 'imperial phase' - that lasts the first few years. In U2's case, this lasted 20 years.

I would change their way of thinking. They're richer than God, completely self-sufficient and masters of their own destiny. Around 2000 they should have changed : they started thinking "We need to write some classic U2 songs." They put themselves in a box called "U2". They should have kept thinking "Lets write the best songs we can", and stopped looking at chart positions and commercial validation. Until 1998 they were *that* band, and then they should have simply said, "Ok, we're probably not going to be as big anymore, lets just follow our muse."

The 1998 and 2002 Best of's were simple ego boost/cash grab/profile boosters designed to keep a relevancy - by the time of the third "Best Of" in 8 years in 2006, it was boring and pointless.

ATYCLB is the first album I've heard of theirs where you can take out a few songs and wouldn't even notice they were missing. Songs like Grace, and so on, are U2-by-numbers. Attempts at writing U2-type songs, not good songs. Every album since then has suffered from the same thing : navel-gazing, overthinking, hesitation. U2 need to think less, feel more, and just do it. If they did that, SOE would be out now, instead of them going in to re-record 5 year old songs to make them sound as fresh as they did the day they were written in 2012. If they did that, we would have more albums, and "Songs Of Ascent" with the several songs they played live would've been out in 2011 with a huge tour behind it. There are probably a few later period finished albums that will only come out when the band have split or died, that we wish they'd just had the smarts to issue at the time.

The world U2 used to live in is dead : they're not a band that will ever have several number 1's in a row, or be on the front of every magazine anymore. Get used to it, guys. They now have an opportunity to be a band that makes records and tours with a built in fanbase, commercially self-sufficient, with no need for hits after 40 years near the top of the world. And yet they still chase the golden fleece of hit singles they won't get anymore.

What would I change? Less overthinking, more shows, more songs.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Smee on February 26, 2017, 10:04:11 AM
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Just go and delete everything post Pop and you have the greatest band ever in my book....sadly what happened from 2000 onwards is just for me sad...the reasons are complicated and deep but the end result is for me really sad...

I find u2's music post Pop mainly ordinary - very ordinary, could literally be any middling non descript pop rock band knocking it out....and that isn't the u2 I fell in love with - they made extraordinary music that had a unique feel, atmosphere and sound.

I have often said that Edges guitar work, after Pop, could EASILY be replecated by most decent gutarists. Gone is the experimentalism that made his work stand out
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: 30yearjt on February 26, 2017, 11:46:04 AM
At the point after Pop when someone in the organization thinks "we need to appeal to the mainstream", send back a terminator to eliminate that person before he/she says a word.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: WookieeWarrior10 on February 26, 2017, 12:38:59 PM
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At the point after Pop when someone in the organization thinks "we need to appeal to the mainstream", send back a terminator to eliminate that person before he/she says a word.
But then we'd never get to hear Bono chant "L-EH-VAY-SHUN".  :(
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: NOLA Fly on February 26, 2017, 12:55:03 PM
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At the point after Pop when someone in the organization thinks "we need to appeal to the mainstream", send back a terminator to eliminate that person before he/she says a word.

They were trying to appeal to the mainstream with Pop. And every U2 album before that one. From an interview of Bono in the Chicago Tribune:

Quote
KOT: It sounds like "Pop" didn't work for you because it didn't sell. To my mind, it worked because it was a good, daring album. There's no shame in not selling.

BONO: It didn't communicate the way it was intended to. It was supposed to change the mood of that summer [1997]. An album changes the mood of a summer when you walk out of a pub and you have those songs in your head. And you hear them coming from a car, an open window. It changes the mood of the season. Instead it became a niche record. And I know you're a man who appreciates the niche. And I'm glad you appreciate that one, but that's not what it was intended to be. It's not about sales; we don't need the cash. It's about your ambition for the song. With "Pop," I always think if we'd just had another month, we could have finished it. But we did a really bad thing. We let the manager book the tour, known in this camp as the worst decision U2 ever made, and we had to wrap up the album sooner than we wanted. You don't need an album to communicate for you to enjoy it, you don't need it to be trimmed of fat to enjoy it, because you're enjoying the ideas, the textures. But for me to enjoy it, I need it to do that [communicate on a wider level].


As for their motivation to change directions for ATYCLB....[From the LA Times around the time of ATYCLB]:

Quote
"We spent most of the '90s experimenting and I think we finally realized on the PopMart tour that it was time for us to start stripping back again," says Bono, who recalls a telling moment during the PopMart U.S. tour. We got into Washington, D.C., before all our equipment arrived and rehearsed with just guitar, bass and drums--none of the loops or samples that we had been attaching to the songs. Howie B. came in during the middle of the rehearsal and he said, 'Wow, what a sound. What is this?' We told him it was us, it was what U2 sounds like. I think that's when we realized that it was time for us to get back to the essence of what we do."

Rather than take a lengthy break after the PopMart tour, the band pretty much went straight into the studio in Dublin and began working on the new album.

One of the key steps in the reconnection with the classic U2 sound came the day Edge played the guitar riff that propels "Beautiful Day."

Bono's first instinct was that it was "too U2," but Edge thought it felt right.

"It sounded fresh again," says Edge. "We had been exploring the fringe of what we could be and what rock 'n' roll was all about, and that was essential. I think the group would have died creatively if we hadn't moved into uncharted territory. But eventually we needed to return to the center. I don't know if we've made a great record or not, but it is our record. It's us standing there naked, if you will."
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: cocamojoe on February 27, 2017, 01:19:42 AM
I think that this is a rather tough question to answer. One could argue that they went wrong with Rattle & Hum, though they quickly rebounded with Achtung Baby. The next logical dot on their timeline to consider as their going wrong would be Pop: the tour was booked before the album was finished, resulting, in the band's estimation, in the album being undercooked (I agree to a point, in particular regards to bad production on songs like If God Will Send His Angels and If You Wear That Velvet Dress), which resulted in their not having ample time to rehearse for the tour, which we all know resulted in some rather bumpy early shows. On that same tour, though, they booked some rather odd locations, and then wondered why the stadiums were half empty. Take Clemson, South Carolina as an example. Clemson is emphatically a quintessential college town. Booking a stadium show during non-school season, and then wondering why a 50,000+ stadium barely sells half of the available tickets in a city that has less than 50,000 people in the city proper when students are subtracted, is a rather daft move.

Put yourself in their shoes: for a decade, damn near every show was at capacity; and, those that weren't were easily at 80% or more (i.e., Pittsburgh isn't yet sold out for this show, but, after doing some math on Ticketmaster, I have determined that about 90% of tickets have been sold, sans whatever is available on sites like Stubhub). So imagine walking on stage in a city like Clemson, or Tampa, or the different cities in Germany that sold embarrassingly low, too. Not just for a band of U2's stature, but any band would feel an emphatic need to take a step back after that.

And, that's precisely what All That You Can't Leave Behind seems to be. Rather than feeling the need to constantly be "different", "edgy" and what not, they just wrote an overall collection of damn fine pop songs. To top it off, 9/11 happened in America shortly after the end of the European leg on that tour, with songs like Beautiful Day and Stuck In A Moment and Wakk On taking on new meaning.

The mojo that they felt they lost on PopMart, that had every reason to believe that they had more than reacquired it, as Bono famously quipped at the Grammys about "reapplying for the job" of being the biggest band in the world.

Fast forward a few years, and How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was another soaring success. If I'm not mistaken, it was also released close enough to the Christmas season for that to undoubtedly boost sales. The ensuing tour saw nightly capacity crowds, the same as with the Elevation Tour. This tour ended in Hawaii, the 50th US State, in a stadium. That sold out show gave them the confidence to again try and tour US stadiums, as we saw with their next tour.

But, we have the problem of No Line On The Horizon. It is a fact that the band had a slew of songs recorded with Rick Rubin, which they shelved to again had Eno and Lanois, holing themselves up in a riad in Morocco, in Fez, hoping to channel some of that Achtung Baby era inspiration. Sadly, the band seemingly became addicted to the Beautiful Day/Vertigo template of releasing a bombastic first single, which resulted in the misfire of Get On Your Boots. Also, it is a known fact that the band ditched the bulk of their actual experimental work from Fez to instead try and focus on writing radio hits.

But, the times were changing, as the digital music era, which U2 helped usher in with the Vertigo iPod commercial, meant that people don't consume music in the same fashion. YouTube was already established, as was Pandora; but, Spotify was just beginning to become the cult that it is today. The fact that Spotify can now be used as a verb today should tell you plenty about the status of that app.

So the elusive single was made elusive still more by this new climate. To top it off, NLOTH grossly undersold their previous releases to such a degree that many seem to be shocked by the runaway success of the 360° tour. In truth, NLOTH very likely sold MANY more copies than the 1 or 2 million worldwide figure that is generally touted. As digital sales by way of iTunes and Amazon was still a new thing (remember, both Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails had both done their digital releases just one year before, too), digital sales, at that time, were not counted in sales figures. Today they are, but in 2009 when NLOTH was released, they weren't.

So, in reality, that album like sold quite a bit more than the band realizes. The "sting" from its purported underwhelming sales is what ultimately resulted in the disastrous release of Songs Of Innocence such as they did.

I could keep going on, but I'm confident that I've more than made my point that I believe that U2 "gets it wrong" far more consistently than many may think, or may like to think. All the same, the 360° tour is both the highest attended and grossing tour; also, the Innocence & Experience tour was a rousing success, though obviously on a much smaller scale. These summer shows will likely gross more than that entire tour, despite its being roughly half the amount of shows. Also, I saw the I&E tour in Toronto, NYC, Belfast, and Dublin, and the audience, by and large, knew the new songs, even cheering them on when Bono would announce the song title.

In closing, if I could change the U2 timeline, it would either be with the music of NLOTH (I love some of the songs, but Get On Your Boots and Crazy Tonight are painfully obvious in their being radio ready, as well as Unknown Caller and Stand Up Comedy quite possibly having their worst lyrics ever, UK in particular, which is sad, as it has one of Edge's best ever guitar solos), or with their taking the official album sale count too seriously, or the release methodology of SoI.

But, what do I know? The tours still sold out! It's f****** U2 we're talking about, and people will buy their tickets almost no matter what!
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: zedg on February 27, 2017, 03:09:21 AM
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Just go and delete everything post Pop and you have the greatest band ever in my book....sadly what happened from 2000 onwards is just for me sad...the reasons are complicated and deep but the end result is for me really sad...

I find u2's music post Pop mainly ordinary - very ordinary, could literally be any middling non descript pop rock band knocking it out....and that isn't the u2 I fell in love with - they made extraordinary music that had a unique feel, atmosphere and sound.

This post is perfect, an tha.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: mrsamrocks2 on February 27, 2017, 07:48:18 AM
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Just go and delete everything post Pop and you have the greatest band ever in my book....sadly what happened from 2000 onwards is just for me sad...the reasons are complicated and deep but the end result is for me really sad...

I find u2's music post Pop mainly ordinary - very ordinary, could literally be any middling non descript pop rock band knocking it out....and that isn't the u2 I fell in love with - they made extraordinary music that had a unique feel, atmosphere and sound.

This post is perfect, an tha.
Sorry but I think there is no way they would have the legacy they have if they did not at least release ATYCLB and even HTDAAB. This period of the band cemented their legacy and proved they could appeal to more than one generation and be relevant over a long period of time.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: LightMyWay92 on February 27, 2017, 08:01:42 AM
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Just go and delete everything post Pop and you have the greatest band ever in my book....sadly what happened from 2000 onwards is just for me sad...the reasons are complicated and deep but the end result is for me really sad...

I find u2's music post Pop mainly ordinary - very ordinary, could literally be any middling non descript pop rock band knocking it out....and that isn't the u2 I fell in love with - they made extraordinary music that had a unique feel, atmosphere and sound.

This post is perfect, an tha.
Sorry but I think there is no way they would have the legacy they have if they did not at least release ATYCLB and even HTDAAB. This period of the band cemented their legacy and proved they could appeal to more than one generation and be relevant over a long period of time.
This is absolutely correct.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: DoYouFeelLoved on February 27, 2017, 08:02:17 AM
There are many things I would change, starting from the period of NLOTH, but if I have to choose only one thing it would be the SOI release method.

If the image of the band was already shaking, the Apple thing shattered it and hit the nail on the coffin.

Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: NOLA Fly on February 27, 2017, 08:59:07 AM
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Just go and delete everything post Pop and you have the greatest band ever in my book....sadly what happened from 2000 onwards is just for me sad...the reasons are complicated and deep but the end result is for me really sad...

I find u2's music post Pop mainly ordinary - very ordinary, could literally be any middling non descript pop rock band knocking it out....and that isn't the u2 I fell in love with - they made extraordinary music that had a unique feel, atmosphere and sound.

This post is perfect, an tha.
Sorry but I think there is no way they would have the legacy they have if they did not at least release ATYCLB and even HTDAAB. This period of the band cemented their legacy and proved they could appeal to more than one generation and be relevant over a long period of time.
This is absolutely correct.

Yes. Yes, it is.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Kmama07 on February 27, 2017, 10:40:59 AM
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Just go and delete everything post Pop and you have the greatest band ever in my book....sadly what happened from 2000 onwards is just for me sad...the reasons are complicated and deep but the end result is for me really sad...

I find u2's music post Pop mainly ordinary - very ordinary, could literally be any middling non descript pop rock band knocking it out....and that isn't the u2 I fell in love with - they made extraordinary music that had a unique feel, atmosphere and sound.

This post is perfect, an tha.
Once again, I agree with An Tha
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Blueyedboy on February 27, 2017, 05:17:55 PM
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Just go and delete everything post Pop and you have the greatest band ever in my book....sadly what happened from 2000 onwards is just for me sad...the reasons are complicated and deep but the end result is for me really sad...

I find u2's music post Pop mainly ordinary - very ordinary, could literally be any middling non descript pop rock band knocking it out....and that isn't the u2 I fell in love with - they made extraordinary music that had a unique feel, atmosphere and sound.

This post is perfect, an tha.
Once again, I agree with An Tha

Got to disagree, there  is more than enough evidence on the MDH soundtrack to suggest that the band were still capable of producing great music after POP. The fact that they chose not to is criminal!
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: ZEROpartII on February 27, 2017, 06:09:44 PM
The producers of Batman Forever never approach U2 for a song.

Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me is the lead single from POP

Makes a great bridge from the Zoo-TV era to the new album.  Popmart doesn't struggle to fill stadiums in the US.  The tour is hailed as a success.  U2 continues a more aggressive-experimental path forward

Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Chip on March 03, 2017, 03:02:17 AM
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I already said this on Twitter on atU2's post, but I'd start with after the PopMart tour (just to appease certain fans... I actually like the true timeline as is.)

From what I remember, All That You Can't Leave Behind was hailed as a great U2 album when it was released, and the Elevation tour sold out its tickets and was well received. I wonder what's changed people's minds about it almost 17 years later?

It received very mixed reviews (re: few very enthusiastic ones) from those of us who were hanging out here way back then. But we were not the general public; we liked what U2 was doing in the '90s and generally didn't want to see their experimentalism reversed. What ATYCLB did was to some extent bring back (briefly, lasting only through HTDAAB at longest) American '80s U2 fans who didn't like what the band did during the '90s (i.e., the majority of the American general public). It also to some extent got them a new, younger audience for a fairly brief period as well. By the end of 2001/beginning of 2002, it seemed that U2 really was the biggest band in the world again.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Johnny Feathers on March 03, 2017, 06:38:16 AM
I probably wouldn't have changed anything up until after HTDAAB.  Granted, ATYCLB wasn't my favorite album of theirs, but I understand they probably HAD to "return to their roots", at least musically.  I got a lot of enjoyment out of those tours, too.

If anything, maybe HTDAAB would have been more of what SOI was.  I could almost see a double album in there somewhere, using the theme of looking back at their history and early days.

But in my timeline, Bono and Edge had nothing to do with Spider-Man, and NLOTH didn't happen, at least not as it currently is.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Spaderholic on March 03, 2017, 05:40:52 PM
Everything up to, and including, Pop and the PopMart tour, is perfect. After that I would rather have had U2 take their inspiration from the likes of Pantera and Cannibal Corpse and become a Death Metal band than release the next couple of dull albums they did! NLOTH I do like (mostly) so I'd have still have had them make that album but then, instead of the Spiderman musical I'd have had Bono and Edge record a beautiful melodic album with possibly one of the greatest singer/songwriter/pianists around today - Sara Bareilles, on a special project together and then I'd have had U2 back together to record and release an album produced by Mark Ronson, mixing together a collection of songs with a perfect blend of rock and 'funky' edgy dance elements. Then I'd want Bono to take time out to play the role of a really freaky character from the Black Lodge in David Lynch's new series of Twin Peaks, before the band get back in the studio again to make the GREATEST album of their career to date! :-)
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: very good on March 05, 2017, 09:41:39 AM
Biggest mistake by a million miles was what happened afyer ATYCLB/Elevation Tour. If they had followed this up with the kind of experimentation that they are clearly capable of, 2000-2001 would he viewed as a continuation of a band at the peak of it's powers. The blandness that has consistently followed means it is viewed as the beginning of the end.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: PopMart_1997 on March 05, 2017, 08:36:49 PM
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I already said this on Twitter on atU2's post, but I'd start with after the PopMart tour (just to appease certain fans... I actually like the true timeline as is.)

From what I remember, All That You Can't Leave Behind was hailed as a great U2 album when it was released, and the Elevation tour sold out its tickets and was well received. I wonder what's changed people's minds about it almost 17 years later?

It received very mixed reviews (re: few very enthusiastic ones) from those of us who were hanging out here way back then. But we were not the general public; we liked what U2 was doing in the '90s and generally didn't want to see their experimentalism reversed. What ATYCLB did was to some extent bring back (briefly, lasting only through HTDAAB at longest) American '80s U2 fans who didn't like what the band did during the '90s (i.e., the majority of the American general public). It also to some extent got them a new, younger audience for a fairly brief period as well. By the end of 2001/beginning of 2002, it seemed that U2 really was the biggest band in the world again.
But then again, after 1987, U2 has ALWAYS been the biggest band in the world, never let up on that. Although Nirvana came close.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: WookieeWarrior10 on March 05, 2017, 09:17:01 PM
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I already said this on Twitter on atU2's post, but I'd start with after the PopMart tour (just to appease certain fans... I actually like the true timeline as is.)

From what I remember, All That You Can't Leave Behind was hailed as a great U2 album when it was released, and the Elevation tour sold out its tickets and was well received. I wonder what's changed people's minds about it almost 17 years later?

It received very mixed reviews (re: few very enthusiastic ones) from those of us who were hanging out here way back then. But we were not the general public; we liked what U2 was doing in the '90s and generally didn't want to see their experimentalism reversed. What ATYCLB did was to some extent bring back (briefly, lasting only through HTDAAB at longest) American '80s U2 fans who didn't like what the band did during the '90s (i.e., the majority of the American general public). It also to some extent got them a new, younger audience for a fairly brief period as well. By the end of 2001/beginning of 2002, it seemed that U2 really was the biggest band in the world again.
But then again, after 1987, U2 has ALWAYS been the biggest band in the world, never let up on that. Although Nirvana came close.
Nirvana came close? I mean, I get that they were wildly popular... but Nirvana only released three albums, right? And they were only a big deal for like five years. Compare that U2's 40, or over 20 at the time of Pop.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: tigerfan41 on March 05, 2017, 10:36:33 PM
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I already said this on Twitter on atU2's post, but I'd start with after the PopMart tour (just to appease certain fans... I actually like the true timeline as is.)

From what I remember, All That You Can't Leave Behind was hailed as a great U2 album when it was released, and the Elevation tour sold out its tickets and was well received. I wonder what's changed people's minds about it almost 17 years later?

It received very mixed reviews (re: few very enthusiastic ones) from those of us who were hanging out here way back then. But we were not the general public; we liked what U2 was doing in the '90s and generally didn't want to see their experimentalism reversed. What ATYCLB did was to some extent bring back (briefly, lasting only through HTDAAB at longest) American '80s U2 fans who didn't like what the band did during the '90s (i.e., the majority of the American general public). It also to some extent got them a new, younger audience for a fairly brief period as well. By the end of 2001/beginning of 2002, it seemed that U2 really was the biggest band in the world again.
But then again, after 1987, U2 has ALWAYS been the biggest band in the world, never let up on that. Although Nirvana came close.
Nirvana came close? I mean, I get that they were wildly popular... but Nirvana only released three albums, right? And they were only a big deal for like five years. Compare that U2's 40, or over 20 at the time of Pop.

The thing about Nirvana is even though they were only around a very short time, they left a lasting impact on an entire genre of music. Personally, I'm not a fan of their music (I think it's too simplistic, not terribly creative, boring lyrically, vocally it's nothing special) but a lot of people seem to love them. As far as critics go, they've got a better reputation than U2 does. They're still critically adored whereas U2 have taken a LOT of flak over the years.

It would be interesting to see how Nirvana's reputation would have held up had Cobain not committed suicide. I feel like the band still would have stuck around, at least for a few more years before Grohl inevitably started a side project. I don't think they would have stuck together as consistently as Pearl Jam have, though. I think the band's reputation would have gone down a bit (in the eyes of critics) and they perhaps wouldn't be viewed as favorably as they are today.

Some could argue that, at various points, U2 have had serious competition for the "best band" award. There have been some bands who have been absolutely massive for a stretch of time before (usually) fading. It seems like U2 have been the most consistently popular/commercially successful since '87, though.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: PopMart_1997 on March 05, 2017, 11:57:38 PM
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I already said this on Twitter on atU2's post, but I'd start with after the PopMart tour (just to appease certain fans... I actually like the true timeline as is.)

From what I remember, All That You Can't Leave Behind was hailed as a great U2 album when it was released, and the Elevation tour sold out its tickets and was well received. I wonder what's changed people's minds about it almost 17 years later?

It received very mixed reviews (re: few very enthusiastic ones) from those of us who were hanging out here way back then. But we were not the general public; we liked what U2 was doing in the '90s and generally didn't want to see their experimentalism reversed. What ATYCLB did was to some extent bring back (briefly, lasting only through HTDAAB at longest) American '80s U2 fans who didn't like what the band did during the '90s (i.e., the majority of the American general public). It also to some extent got them a new, younger audience for a fairly brief period as well. By the end of 2001/beginning of 2002, it seemed that U2 really was the biggest band in the world again.
But then again, after 1987, U2 has ALWAYS been the biggest band in the world, never let up on that. Although Nirvana came close.
Nirvana came close? I mean, I get that they were wildly popular... but Nirvana only released three albums, right? And they were only a big deal for like five years. Compare that U2's 40, or over 20 at the time of Pop.
Yes, 5 years out of the 7 they existed as a band. They did come pretty close... the impact of Nevermind supports that. You don't have to be a band or artist for 20-40 years to obtain that status. U2 achieved that in 11 years and 5 studio albums... Nirvana formed in '87 when The Joshua Tree was the new record at the time and changed music forever with their 2nd album 4 years later... in the meantime, knocking Michael Jackson off the top of the charts forever. That's a pretty impressive feat. Even U2 invited Nirvana on tour with them during ZOO TV (Kurt declined, staying true to his punk ethics -- didn't want to be associated w/ a big "corporate rock band"). If Nirvana had chosen to repeat themselves and make Nevermind II instead of alienating & weeding out the fake fans by staying true to themselves and making In Utero, they probably would have been the biggest band in the world instead of the USA.

But back to U2....
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: an tha on March 06, 2017, 01:53:20 AM
This 'biggest band in the world' tag is in my view

1. a load of B.S. that actually means nothing really

2. a big reason why u2 have become what they have in terms of how they work etc.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: xy on March 06, 2017, 02:16:01 AM
If I had to change anything it'd be to hear more stuff like Stateless and Ground beneath her feet that they worked on ATYCLB.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: an tha on March 06, 2017, 03:22:36 AM
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If I had to change anything it'd be to hear more stuff like Stateless and Ground beneath her feet that they worked on ATYCLB.

Stateless is easily my favourite u2 song from the 00's
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: The Exile on March 06, 2017, 12:15:26 PM
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If I had to change anything it'd be to hear more stuff like Stateless and Ground beneath her feet that they worked on ATYCLB.

Whoever manages U2 should tell the four of them to go into the studio to do a side project under a different moniker. Then when it's done, say "Thanks lads, you just recorded the next U2 album."
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: PopMart_1997 on March 06, 2017, 08:25:36 PM
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If I had to change anything it'd be to hear more stuff like Stateless and Ground beneath her feet that they worked on ATYCLB.

Whoever manages U2 should tell the four of them to go into the studio to do a side project under a different moniker. Then when it's done, say "Thanks lads, you just recorded the next U2 album."
That would be Guy Oseary, Madonna's manager. Paul McGuinness retired from the U2 business a few years ago.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: pdk on March 06, 2017, 09:39:05 PM
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If I had to change anything it'd be to hear more stuff like Stateless and Ground beneath her feet that they worked on ATYCLB.

Whoever manages U2 should tell the four of them to go into the studio to do a side project under a different moniker. Then when it's done, say "Thanks lads, you just recorded the next U2 album."

DUDE - that's exactly the approach I would love to see and I BELIEVE they need.


Could it be.... that it was all.... so simple them?
Or has Edge....rewritten every line.....?
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Ultrafly on March 07, 2017, 02:03:56 PM
Listening to the 1990 Salome demos, I honestly think you should just let the band jam for weeks, give the tapes to a perfect editor, and then you'll have a great U2 album. Get Bono to fly in vocals over the top, with a max of one day per lyric, and you can do a record that will - at least - be as good as any of the 2000-2009 ones.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: soloyan on March 09, 2017, 05:48:17 AM
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Listening to the 1990 Salome demos, I honestly think you should just let the band jam for weeks, give the tapes to a perfect editor, and then you'll have a great U2 album. Get Bono to fly in vocals over the top, with a max of one day per lyric, and you can do a record that will - at least - be as good as any of the 2000-2009 ones.

It's funny, I feel the exact opposite about the Salomé tapes. To me, it sounds as if the band struggled big time to find the right direction, until the very last moments of the recording process (see the "baby" demos on the AB reissue). There's very little to save from the Salomé tapes and/or the outtakes that appeared on the AB reissue. Maybe "Blow your house down" but it didn't quite fit on the album. I think the band were very close to making an average album and it's only when they decided to make some radical, bold choices in terms of sounds and production that the album started to make sense.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Ultrafly on March 09, 2017, 05:57:45 AM
The Salome Tapes are all unformed work in progress : it's all there, really - just needs the fat trimming off. Once the band established the direction they were going on (which they hadn't quite got yet on those tapes) there's plenty of gold there.  Stuff we know of they've worked on - especially played 2010-11 - is all very strong, overall. They spend too long navel gazing.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: soloyan on March 09, 2017, 06:08:20 AM
I'm still unable to point to something U2 did wrong (and don't want to, as I said in an earlier rant for which I apologized). I'm not saying they were perfect and always made perfect choices. They didn't. But, taking into account who they are and what were their options at the time, U2's history makes sense. And it all contributed to what they are now, and I'm a fan of the 2017 U2.

That being said, with all the recent talk about Joshua Tree Vs Pop, I came to rethink about what happened with the latter, from a European point of view.

Achtung baby and Zooropa were acclaimed as a brilliant re-invention of the band. The Zoo TV tour was highly successful and set the bar for all the other shows at the time. Every stadium act started using screens and tried to re-invent the B-stage and the acoustic set.

Then Passengers came out, and it was very well received by the elite, while the masses enjoyed Miss Sarajevo. When Pop came out, it was the first time in France U2 made the covers of both Telerama and Les Inrockuptibles, which are the most kind of élite" magazines for music. They absolutely loved the album.

What changed the perception of the band is the PopMart Tour. Not because it was bad, because by the time it reached Europe, the show was ok, but the artistic choice of 100% all around irony. Edge's hat, Adam's outfit, Bono's muscles shirt... It made sense as a show, but I really think it did not go well with the album. There are some very personal, very dark places on "Pop", and I love that. But that side of the album didn't appear at all on stage. Maybe just during "Please". But then again, you can't have Edge as a 70's italian cowboy and take the song seriously. It really didn't serve the album well.

I don't know if U2 made that choice because they were not confident about the album or because they got carried away with the whole "supermarket roadshow" concept, but I think it didn't work. In fact, in Les Inrockuptibles they went to see PopMart with Oasis in the US and said "between the humble, broken and fragile Bono that made us listen to "Pop" earlier this year in Dublin and the shiny showman entertaining the crowds of PopMart, there is a lie". I think they were right.

I think this and the fact that PopMart could not possibly top Zoo TV (rightly or wrongly) made things look bad.

One other thing that occured is that, while in 1991 U2 were breaking new ground with Achtung Baby, by 1997 it sounded as if they were trying to keep up with the new scene : Radiohead, Björk, RATM, Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, Massive Attack... When you look at the "Tibetan Freedom" concert that occured in june, U2 seem terribly out of place and unable to lift the crowds.

See, An Tha ? That's my contribution to the conversation ;-)
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: WookieeWarrior10 on March 09, 2017, 11:59:49 AM
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Listening to the 1990 Salome demos, I honestly think you should just let the band jam for weeks, give the tapes to a perfect editor, and then you'll have a great U2 album. Get Bono to fly in vocals over the top, with a max of one day per lyric, and you can do a record that will - at least - be as good as any of the 2000-2009 ones.

It's funny, I feel the exact opposite about the Salomé tapes. To me, it sounds as if the band struggled big time to find the right direction, until the very last moments of the recording process (see the "baby" demos on the AB reissue). There's very little to save from the Salomé tapes and/or the outtakes that appeared on the AB reissue. Maybe "Blow your house down" but it didn't quite fit on the album. I think the band were very close to making an average album and it's only when they decided to make some radical, bold choices in terms of sounds and production that the album started to make sense.
Very well put. Achtung Baby is kind of a miracle in a way, I guess. I love Salome (the song), Blow Your House Down, Heaven And Hell, etc., but there is no way that those songs could replace anything on Achtung.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Ultrafly on March 09, 2017, 12:14:58 PM
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Listening to the 1990 Salome demos, I honestly think you should just let the band jam for weeks, give the tapes to a perfect editor, and then you'll have a great U2 album. Get Bono to fly in vocals over the top, with a max of one day per lyric, and you can do a record that will - at least - be as good as any of the 2000-2009 ones.

It's funny, I feel the exact opposite about the Salomé tapes. To me, it sounds as if the band struggled big time to find the right direction, until the very last moments of the recording process (see the "baby" demos on the AB reissue). There's very little to save from the Salomé tapes and/or the outtakes that appeared on the AB reissue. Maybe "Blow your house down" but it didn't quite fit on the album. I think the band were very close to making an average album and it's only when they decided to make some radical, bold choices in terms of sounds and production that the album started to make sense.
Very well put. Achtung Baby is kind of a miracle in a way, I guess. I love Salome (the song), Blow Your House Down, Heaven And Hell, etc., but there is no way that those songs could replace anything on Achtung.

Yeah, but those songs would, with some work, be as good as anything on Passengers.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Johnny Feathers on March 09, 2017, 02:03:03 PM
Yeah, everything I've heard from the Salome tapes sounds like the band was really struggling.  Even the unreleased tracks that were finally put out on the AB deluxe set (Heaven and Hell, Blow Your House Down, etc.) sound nowhere near what AB would become.  It made me realize how stuck U2 was after R&H.  I think there were also some engineering miracles that happened to make AB not sound derivative of R&H's sound.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Vox on March 09, 2017, 02:29:20 PM
I’ve been refraining from doing this, but before this forum was updated (was that in 2008?) I remember a similar thread.  Even though this is an impossible task, because it would have changed the course of everything that came after, I’ll say today what I said in the late 00’s:  I wish they would have went in a different direction with what became How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.   

I remember when All That You Can’t Leave Behind came out.  I thought it was the first time that U2 didn’t push forward with something different creatively.  Instead, they looked back and incorporated their old sounds (mostly pre-1990s sounds) to craft some good new songs.  In 2000, I had no problems with this.  They’d deserved it.  It was an unusual move for this band at the time.  But why be allergic to “sounding what U2 sounds like,” especially when it sounds so damn good?  And I think that All That You Can’t Leave Behind is a pretty good album.

But then in 2004, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb came out and did pretty much the same thing.  Again, this is a difficult exercise, because without that album we wouldn’t have songs such as “Vertigo,” or “City of Blinding Lights.” 

And after that, there’ve only been two U2 albums.  Songs of Innocence, which again, you could argue, is the sound of U2 looking back.  And No Line on the Horizon, which is a bit more interesting and forward looking.  I know I’m in the minority, but I still adore No Line on the Horizon – it’s a top 4-5 U2 album, and very special for me.   

Anyway, it seems that once U2 began looking back with All That You Can’t Leave Behind, that’s what they’ve continued to do for the past 17+ years.  Once they started to look back, it’s been difficult for them to look forward again.  Maybe that’s just the natural order of things as a band ages .

However, if U2 decided to do another album where they looked back, I’d be interested to see what they would find if they focused somewhere between 1990 and 1999.  But the odd song aside (i.e. “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight,” or “The Crystal Ballroom”), they’ve been reluctant or unable to do so.

But again, all that being said, U2 have earned the right to do whatever they damn well please.  It would just be nice to have more than JUST TWO ALBUMS in a 13-year span, and that started with How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.  Whether it was because of that album or whether it was an inevitability, we will never know.

Just my humble, hand-in-hat, opinion.     
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Ultrafly on March 09, 2017, 04:02:50 PM
2 albums in 13 years is a very, very poor delivery rate. They should aspire to something every 3 years. Especially now they don't have to bother with b-sides.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: mc on March 09, 2017, 04:35:09 PM
the bleep, bleep, bleep at the end of Zooropa should have continued at the start of POP and POP should have been a bit more experimental to take us to an 'outerspace' full U2 album with Passenger influence. Unfortunately they lost the momentum and bottled it and turned out dirge dad folk songs like Wild Honey........and went all the way down the snake
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: WookieeWarrior10 on March 09, 2017, 04:39:43 PM
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Listening to the 1990 Salome demos, I honestly think you should just let the band jam for weeks, give the tapes to a perfect editor, and then you'll have a great U2 album. Get Bono to fly in vocals over the top, with a max of one day per lyric, and you can do a record that will - at least - be as good as any of the 2000-2009 ones.

It's funny, I feel the exact opposite about the Salomé tapes. To me, it sounds as if the band struggled big time to find the right direction, until the very last moments of the recording process (see the "baby" demos on the AB reissue). There's very little to save from the Salomé tapes and/or the outtakes that appeared on the AB reissue. Maybe "Blow your house down" but it didn't quite fit on the album. I think the band were very close to making an average album and it's only when they decided to make some radical, bold choices in terms of sounds and production that the album started to make sense.
Very well put. Achtung Baby is kind of a miracle in a way, I guess. I love Salome (the song), Blow Your House Down, Heaven And Hell, etc., but there is no way that those songs could replace anything on Achtung.

Yeah, but those songs would, with some work, be as good as anything on Passengers.
I disagree, with OS1 being my fourth favorite U2 album! But yes, those songs could have definitely been something...
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: PopMart_1997 on March 09, 2017, 04:53:00 PM
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2 albums in 13 years is a very, very poor delivery rate. They should aspire to something every 3 years. Especially now they don't have to bother with b-sides.
Nobody bothers to take into account that for 1.5-2 years after the album release, U2 are busy touring. How can they possibly bother writing or recording during a tour when their mindset during tour time is 100% devoted to each show??? What they did for Zooropa in 1993 was just a fluke.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: mofospacejunk on March 09, 2017, 05:59:18 PM
Easy ... I wish they quit after the Popmart tour. Gone out on a high.

Personally, every single song they've written and recorded ever since would not have been missed if it wasn't.

For that to work, Bono need to have kept the f^&k out of politics too; thus making this site a lot easier for m2 to manage.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Vox on March 09, 2017, 06:20:58 PM
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2 albums in 13 years is a very, very poor delivery rate. They should aspire to something every 3 years. Especially now they don't have to bother with b-sides.
Nobody bothers to take into account that for 1.5-2 years after the album release, U2 are busy touring. How can they possibly bother writing or recording during a tour when their mindset during tour time is 100% devoted to each show??? What they did for Zooropa in 1993 was just a fluke.

Except for October, War, Unforgettable Fire, Rattle and Hum, yes Zooropa, some could say Passengers.  After that, here we are.  I love them, but if you do something part time, you're going to get part-time results.  If you're going to retire from whatever it is your job is, and pick up some work here and there, you're going to miss out on the edge that shapes your craft. 
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: PopMart_1997 on March 09, 2017, 06:33:14 PM
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Easy ... I wish they quit after the Popmart tour. Gone out on a high.

Personally, every single song they've written and recorded ever since would not have been missed if it wasn't.

For that to work, Bono need to have kept the f^&k out of politics too; thus making this site a lot easier for m2 to manage.
Now that's a laugh, considering U2 have ALWAYS had a political side to them and only now are people getting all bent out of shape over it 😂
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: PopMart_1997 on March 09, 2017, 06:40:42 PM
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2 albums in 13 years is a very, very poor delivery rate. They should aspire to something every 3 years. Especially now they don't have to bother with b-sides.
Nobody bothers to take into account that for 1.5-2 years after the album release, U2 are busy touring. How can they possibly bother writing or recording during a tour when their mindset during tour time is 100% devoted to each show??? What they did for Zooropa in 1993 was just a fluke.

Except for October, War, Unforgettable Fire, Rattle and Hum, yes Zooropa, some could say Passengers.  After that, here we are.  I love them, but if you do something part time, you're going to get part-time results.  If you're going to retire from whatever it is your job is, and pick up some work here and there, you're going to miss out on the edge that shapes your craft.
At least with October, there is a legitimate reason for why that album is the way it is. War? Not sure what happened with that one. The Unforgettable Fire? That one was done that way on purpose. And it's still a fine record indeed. Rattle and Hum is just a soundtrack. The Passengers project took place after the ZOO TV tour ended and before the POP recording sessions began. I used Zooropa as an example because it's the one most notorious for what we are discussing. And I believe it ended up the way it is by design as well.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: mofospacejunk on March 09, 2017, 08:12:13 PM
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Easy ... I wish they quit after the Popmart tour. Gone out on a high.

Personally, every single song they've written and recorded ever since would not have been missed if it wasn't.

For that to work, Bono need to have kept the f^&k out of politics too; thus making this site a lot easier for m2 to manage.
Now that's a laugh, considering U2 have ALWAYS had a political side to them and only now are people getting all bent out of shape over it 😂

Yes they have.

But go show me some photos of Bono getting all cuddly with Bush.

But you show me pre Popmart where Bono would basically become a Hawker between songs, whilst his band was doing everything they could to ensure they kept money in their coffers.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Ultrafly on March 10, 2017, 06:04:44 AM
I don't see a three year workrate as difficult.

Year #1 : Write, record, (12 months)
Year #2 : promo and work up tour (6 months) + 6 months of shows (3 months US + 1 month off + 2 months Euro)
Year #3 : Tour then holiday (1 month Euro + 1 month off + 2 months US + 1 month Aus/South Africa. 7 months to sit on your yacht, count money, and write songs.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: PopMart_1997 on March 10, 2017, 02:43:21 PM
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I don't see a three year workrate as difficult.

Year #1 : Write, record, (12 months)
Year #2 : promo and work up tour (6 months) + 6 months of shows (3 months US + 1 month off + 2 months Euro)
Year #3 : Tour then holiday (1 month Euro + 1 month off + 2 months US + 1 month Aus/South Africa. 7 months to sit on your yacht, count money, and write songs.
Thats something U2 or lots of other artists would do in their first decade. U2 have had families and other interests that deserve attention as well. The members do have a life outside the band.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: TheDude1999 on March 10, 2018, 05:16:02 AM
Here’s a simple way to “fix” No Line On The Horizon.

Replace Stand Up Comedy and Get On Your Boots with Winter and Every Breaking Wave. Add “Soon” as the opening track. Add “Mercy” too while they’re at it.

Release Magnficent as the lead single in September 2008 with the album to follow in November 2008.

BOOM CHA. I fixed most of the big mistakes that didn’t need to happen with that album. (They sometimes make weird choices for lead singles).



Otherwise if you wanted a dramtically different “timeline”, you would have to change a lot about U2’s mindset. They seem to gravitate towards extremes (because some people made fun of them for Rattle and Hum they went full on ironic in the 1990s and then went full on pop in the 2000s when people made fun of them for being ironic).

If they picked more commercial singles and didn’t go overboard with their image sometimes, they would be even more popular and might be more “experimental” as they don’t have to prove themselves as much.

But yeah, U2 can be quite quirky and that’s why we get such unique albums from them.

Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: McSwilly on March 10, 2018, 11:15:03 AM
They should have stopped making albums after Pop. And really Achtung was the last really good one. However, I would want them to keep touring as much as possible.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: wons on March 10, 2018, 12:40:23 PM
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In a different thread The Exile makes an excellent point:

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Yeh U2 "where did it all go wrong"...

As much as I hate the album, I don't begrudge U2 making ATYCLB. After a decade of avante garde indulgence it was a move that made sense. But then from 2000 onward they have become obsessed with riding that wave of cultural approval with results that have been sometimes questionable and sometimes disastrous.

Their legacy would be much better if they had simply stepped down from their pedestal rather than being told to, or being knocked off it.

Though I quite like ATYCLB, I agree with the basic point, and it leads to an interesting thought experiment:

How would you change U2's history, at a single moment in the band's career?

The question might be particularly interesting if you're not entirely happy with how things have unfolded for the band, and the answer would produce something that would be recognizable to readers of the genre called Alternate History (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_history), where, for example "The Man in the High Castle" is set in a world where the Allies lost World War II.  In that TV series, the United States was subsequently conquered and divided by the Axis Powers.

An alternate timeline would emerge from changing the band's history at one key point, and that imagined timeline would be as interesting to me as the change in history itself.

I have my own alt-timeline, which I'll cover briefly describe below.

Although it was a great tour and the album was ok, I think it would have been better for them career wise to have skipped POP and the POPMART Tour. Move up All That You Can't Leave Behind to 1997 and then go from there. It would not have to be exactly the same and could still flirt a little with the 90s alternative stuff, but would be more focused on the style of ATYCLB circa 2000. I think it would have been a huge success and the band would have done really well. Hot album and tour on the heels of Achtung Baby/Zooropa/ZOO TV, loved by both fans and critics.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: TheDude1999 on March 11, 2018, 07:57:52 AM
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In a different thread The Exile makes an excellent point:

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Yeh U2 "where did it all go wrong"...

As much as I hate the album, I don't begrudge U2 making ATYCLB. After a decade of avante garde indulgence it was a move that made sense. But then from 2000 onward they have become obsessed with riding that wave of cultural approval with results that have been sometimes questionable and sometimes disastrous.

Their legacy would be much better if they had simply stepped down from their pedestal rather than being told to, or being knocked off it.

Though I quite like ATYCLB, I agree with the basic point, and it leads to an interesting thought experiment:

How would you change U2's history, at a single moment in the band's career?

The question might be particularly interesting if you're not entirely happy with how things have unfolded for the band, and the answer would produce something that would be recognizable to readers of the genre called Alternate History (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_history), where, for example "The Man in the High Castle" is set in a world where the Allies lost World War II.  In that TV series, the United States was subsequently conquered and divided by the Axis Powers.

An alternate timeline would emerge from changing the band's history at one key point, and that imagined timeline would be as interesting to me as the change in history itself.

I have my own alt-timeline, which I'll cover briefly describe below.

Although it was a great tour and the album was ok, I think it would have been better for them career wise to have skipped POP and the POPMART Tour. Move up All That You Can't Leave Behind to 1997 and then go from there. It would not have to be exactly the same and could still flirt a little with the 90s alternative stuff, but would be more focused on the style of ATYCLB circa 2000. I think it would have been a huge success and the band would have done really well. Hot album and tour on the heels of Achtung Baby/Zooropa/ZOO TV, loved by both fans and critics.

Interesting idea. Music in the late 90s had kinda moved on to more of that ATYCLB style rather than what U2 had done with Pop.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: dirtdrybonesandstone on March 11, 2018, 05:15:59 PM
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Here’s a simple way to “fix” No Line On The Horizon.

Replace Stand Up Comedy and Get On Your Boots with Winter and Every Breaking Wave. Add “Soon” as the opening track. Add “Mercy” too while they’re at it.

Release Magnficent as the lead single in September 2008 with the album to follow in November 2008.

BOOM CHA. I fixed most of the big mistakes that didn’t need to happen with that album. (They sometimes make weird choices for lead singles).



Otherwise if you wanted a dramtically different “timeline”, you would have to change a lot about U2’s mindset. They seem to gravitate towards extremes (because some people made fun of them for Rattle and Hum they went full on ironic in the 1990s and then went full on pop in the 2000s when people made fun of them for being ironic).

If they picked more commercial singles and didn’t go overboard with their image sometimes, they would be even more popular and might be more “experimental” as they don’t have to prove themselves as much.

But yeah, U2 can be quite quirky and that’s why we get such unique albums from them.


I have some pretty strong feelings about the blunders made on NLOTH, which deserve to go down as some of their biggest.

1.  Should have opened with Fez/BB, and the shows should have as well.     
2.  Magnificent was just that and should have been the first single.

Otherwise, they shouldn’t have included Boots or Crazy Tonight.   They don’t fit an otherwise industrial feel which could have been perfect with the canons of Fez/BB, NLOTH, MOS, and Mags filling out Side A.

I am not a fan of Mercy, at all.   Sounds like I may be the only one that isn’t, but it would have been a turn off for me.

EBW would have been good to have been included if in its original version.     Perhaps way too polished for NLOTH otherwise?
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: radiofreenewport on March 11, 2018, 05:23:06 PM
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Here’s a simple way to “fix” No Line On The Horizon.

Replace Stand Up Comedy and Get On Your Boots with Winter and Every Breaking Wave. Add “Soon” as the opening track. Add “Mercy” too while they’re at it.

Release Magnficent as the lead single in September 2008 with the album to follow in November 2008.

BOOM CHA. I fixed most of the big mistakes that didn’t need to happen with that album. (They sometimes make weird choices for lead singles).

This is where I'd change their timeline as well. Leave NLOTH as more experimental and tour arenas instead of stadia. This puts them on a path of being supported by hardcore fans for being artistically interesting rather than continuing to chase mainstream success. SOI and SOE end up being more interesting and challenging, less Ryan Tedder.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: wons on March 11, 2018, 06:29:06 PM
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Here’s a simple way to “fix” No Line On The Horizon.

Replace Stand Up Comedy and Get On Your Boots with Winter and Every Breaking Wave. Add “Soon” as the opening track. Add “Mercy” too while they’re at it.

Release Magnficent as the lead single in September 2008 with the album to follow in November 2008.

BOOM CHA. I fixed most of the big mistakes that didn’t need to happen with that album. (They sometimes make weird choices for lead singles).

This is where I'd change their timeline as well. Leave NLOTH as more experimental and tour arenas instead of stadia. This puts them on a path of being supported by hardcore fans for being artistically interesting rather than continuing to chase mainstream success. SOI and SOE end up being more interesting and challenging, less Ryan Tedder.

From day one, U2 have always wanted to top the charts with their music. No way in hell they would do an arena tour when there were 7.3 million people willing to buy tickets. An arena tour of 110 shows would only reach 2 million people locking out 5 million people. No artist would want to do something that would prevent 70% of the people willing to pay to see them live from being able to do just that.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Edgematic on March 12, 2018, 09:56:04 AM
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In a different thread The Exile makes an excellent point:

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Yeh U2 "where did it all go wrong"...

As much as I hate the album, I don't begrudge U2 making ATYCLB. After a decade of avante garde indulgence it was a move that made sense. But then from 2000 onward they have become obsessed with riding that wave of cultural approval with results that have been sometimes questionable and sometimes disastrous.

Their legacy would be much better if they had simply stepped down from their pedestal rather than being told to, or being knocked off it.

Though I quite like ATYCLB, I agree with the basic point, and it leads to an interesting thought experiment:

How would you change U2's history, at a single moment in the band's career?

The question might be particularly interesting if you're not entirely happy with how things have unfolded for the band, and the answer would produce something that would be recognizable to readers of the genre called Alternate History (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_history), where, for example "The Man in the High Castle" is set in a world where the Allies lost World War II.  In that TV series, the United States was subsequently conquered and divided by the Axis Powers.

An alternate timeline would emerge from changing the band's history at one key point, and that imagined timeline would be as interesting to me as the change in history itself.

I have my own alt-timeline, which I'll cover briefly describe below.

Although it was a great tour and the album was ok, I think it would have been better for them career wise to have skipped POP and the POPMART Tour. Move up All That You Can't Leave Behind to 1997 and then go from there. It would not have to be exactly the same and could still flirt a little with the 90s alternative stuff, but would be more focused on the style of ATYCLB circa 2000. I think it would have been a huge success and the band would have done really well. Hot album and tour on the heels of Achtung Baby/Zooropa/ZOO TV, loved by both fans and critics.

Interesting idea. Music in the late 90s had kinda moved on to more of that ATYCLB style rather than what U2 had done with Pop.

Not yet, it hadn't.  1997 was the year of the Spice Girls and Radiohead.  The stripped-down quasi-retro "garage rock" that dominated the early 2000s was a reaction to the music of the mid-late 90s.  Bands like the Strokes and the White Stripes weren't around yet.

U2 in 1997 were in a very difficult spot.  People point to 1991 and AB as a make-or-break moment for the band, and it was, but they were basically right back there in 1997, except they were 6 years older and not as familiar to a new generation of fans that were in high school/college.  They were due for a backlash, and despite POP being a wonderful album, it slipped through the cracks between older fans who didn't *get* it, and younger music listeners who weren't interested. 

Personally, I remember being led to believe that ATYCLB was meant as a side-step; a moment to point out to the world that, if they so chose, U2 could crank out an album of radio-friendly songs.  The biggest feeling I got from ATYCLB upon its release was the overall effortlessness it projected, in a good way.  It sounded like they could have written it in a few weeks.  "Hey, we can do this if we want to, but this stuff isn't all we do." they seemed to be saying.

And then it was a big hit, and they've worked oh so hard to sound so effortless ever since.  And it hasn't worked.  The side-step ended up being their preferred path, and one that, IMO, they should never have taken.

On a separate note, I recall rumors that they were going to release a half-live, half-studio album in 1998 or 1999 called "Rather Go Blind", but it never panned out.  I wish they had released that.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: wons on March 12, 2018, 01:33:41 PM
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In a different thread The Exile makes an excellent point:

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Yeh U2 "where did it all go wrong"...

As much as I hate the album, I don't begrudge U2 making ATYCLB. After a decade of avante garde indulgence it was a move that made sense. But then from 2000 onward they have become obsessed with riding that wave of cultural approval with results that have been sometimes questionable and sometimes disastrous.

Their legacy would be much better if they had simply stepped down from their pedestal rather than being told to, or being knocked off it.

Though I quite like ATYCLB, I agree with the basic point, and it leads to an interesting thought experiment:

How would you change U2's history, at a single moment in the band's career?

The question might be particularly interesting if you're not entirely happy with how things have unfolded for the band, and the answer would produce something that would be recognizable to readers of the genre called Alternate History (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_history), where, for example "The Man in the High Castle" is set in a world where the Allies lost World War II.  In that TV series, the United States was subsequently conquered and divided by the Axis Powers.

An alternate timeline would emerge from changing the band's history at one key point, and that imagined timeline would be as interesting to me as the change in history itself.

I have my own alt-timeline, which I'll cover briefly describe below.

Although it was a great tour and the album was ok, I think it would have been better for them career wise to have skipped POP and the POPMART Tour. Move up All That You Can't Leave Behind to 1997 and then go from there. It would not have to be exactly the same and could still flirt a little with the 90s alternative stuff, but would be more focused on the style of ATYCLB circa 2000. I think it would have been a huge success and the band would have done really well. Hot album and tour on the heels of Achtung Baby/Zooropa/ZOO TV, loved by both fans and critics.

Interesting idea. Music in the late 90s had kinda moved on to more of that ATYCLB style rather than what U2 had done with Pop.

Not yet, it hadn't.  1997 was the year of the Spice Girls and Radiohead.  The stripped-down quasi-retro "garage rock" that dominated the early 2000s was a reaction to the music of the mid-late 90s.  Bands like the Strokes and the White Stripes weren't around yet.

U2 in 1997 were in a very difficult spot.  People point to 1991 and AB as a make-or-break moment for the band, and it was, but they were basically right back there in 1997, except they were 6 years older and not as familiar to a new generation of fans that were in high school/college.  They were due for a backlash, and despite POP being a wonderful album, it slipped through the cracks between older fans who didn't *get* it, and younger music listeners who weren't interested. 

Personally, I remember being led to believe that ATYCLB was meant as a side-step; a moment to point out to the world that, if they so chose, U2 could crank out an album of radio-friendly songs.  The biggest feeling I got from ATYCLB upon its release was the overall effortlessness it projected, in a good way.  It sounded like they could have written it in a few weeks.  "Hey, we can do this if we want to, but this stuff isn't all we do." they seemed to be saying.

And then it was a big hit, and they've worked oh so hard to sound so effortless ever since.  And it hasn't worked.  The side-step ended up being their preferred path, and one that, IMO, they should never have taken.

On a separate note, I recall rumors that they were going to release a half-live, half-studio album in 1998 or 1999 called "Rather Go Blind", but it never panned out.  I wish they had released that.

I disagree. All That You Can't Leave Behind is one of U2's best albums. The songs are great, many are classics! Unlike Pop, this album was finished and completed, but more importantly, the songs worked and none of them had problems with them like half the songs on Pop. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was even better! No Line On The Horizon was a bit of a mis-step, but still worked well. The Current albums, Songs Of Innocence And Songs Of Experience, although not as good as ATYCLB and HTDAAB are right where they should be.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: popromancer on March 12, 2018, 03:55:47 PM
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In a different thread The Exile makes an excellent point:

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Yeh U2 "where did it all go wrong"...

As much as I hate the album, I don't begrudge U2 making ATYCLB. After a decade of avante garde indulgence it was a move that made sense. But then from 2000 onward they have become obsessed with riding that wave of cultural approval with results that have been sometimes questionable and sometimes disastrous.

Their legacy would be much better if they had simply stepped down from their pedestal rather than being told to, or being knocked off it.

Though I quite like ATYCLB, I agree with the basic point, and it leads to an interesting thought experiment:

How would you change U2's history, at a single moment in the band's career?

The question might be particularly interesting if you're not entirely happy with how things have unfolded for the band, and the answer would produce something that would be recognizable to readers of the genre called Alternate History (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_history), where, for example "The Man in the High Castle" is set in a world where the Allies lost World War II.  In that TV series, the United States was subsequently conquered and divided by the Axis Powers.

An alternate timeline would emerge from changing the band's history at one key point, and that imagined timeline would be as interesting to me as the change in history itself.

I have my own alt-timeline, which I'll cover briefly describe below.

Although it was a great tour and the album was ok, I think it would have been better for them career wise to have skipped POP and the POPMART Tour. Move up All That You Can't Leave Behind to 1997 and then go from there. It would not have to be exactly the same and could still flirt a little with the 90s alternative stuff, but would be more focused on the style of ATYCLB circa 2000. I think it would have been a huge success and the band would have done really well. Hot album and tour on the heels of Achtung Baby/Zooropa/ZOO TV, loved by both fans and critics.

Interesting idea. Music in the late 90s had kinda moved on to more of that ATYCLB style rather than what U2 had done with Pop.

Not yet, it hadn't.  1997 was the year of the Spice Girls and Radiohead.  The stripped-down quasi-retro "garage rock" that dominated the early 2000s was a reaction to the music of the mid-late 90s.  Bands like the Strokes and the White Stripes weren't around yet.

U2 in 1997 were in a very difficult spot.  People point to 1991 and AB as a make-or-break moment for the band, and it was, but they were basically right back there in 1997, except they were 6 years older and not as familiar to a new generation of fans that were in high school/college.  They were due for a backlash, and despite POP being a wonderful album, it slipped through the cracks between older fans who didn't *get* it, and younger music listeners who weren't interested. 

Personally, I remember being led to believe that ATYCLB was meant as a side-step; a moment to point out to the world that, if they so chose, U2 could crank out an album of radio-friendly songs.  The biggest feeling I got from ATYCLB upon its release was the overall effortlessness it projected, in a good way.  It sounded like they could have written it in a few weeks.  "Hey, we can do this if we want to, but this stuff isn't all we do." they seemed to be saying.

And then it was a big hit, and they've worked oh so hard to sound so effortless ever since.  And it hasn't worked.  The side-step ended up being their preferred path, and one that, IMO, they should never have taken.

On a separate note, I recall rumors that they were going to release a half-live, half-studio album in 1998 or 1999 called "Rather Go Blind", but it never panned out.  I wish they had released that.
I never have heard any of that 'Rather go blind' album. Do you have any more information on that? Can you recall where you heard that rumor? I am wondering what new songs were planned to go on there. Also, it seems a bit double on the ' live part' as they already released the popheart e.p. But interesting it is..
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: radiofreenewport on March 12, 2018, 07:16:43 PM
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From day one, U2 have always wanted to top the charts with their music. No way in hell they would do an arena tour when there were 7.3 million people willing to buy tickets. An arena tour of 110 shows would only reach 2 million people locking out 5 million people. No artist would want to do something that would prevent 70% of the people willing to pay to see them live from being able to do just that.


The thread is about what we wish they would have done, not what is rational or expected given their history.

And yes, there are artists who don't care about reaching every single possible fan live the way that U2 do. Pearl Jam and Radiohead, just off the top of my head, don't tour for as long or in as big of rooms as they could play.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: wons on March 13, 2018, 12:05:29 AM
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From day one, U2 have always wanted to top the charts with their music. No way in hell they would do an arena tour when there were 7.3 million people willing to buy tickets. An arena tour of 110 shows would only reach 2 million people locking out 5 million people. No artist would want to do something that would prevent 70% of the people willing to pay to see them live from being able to do just that.


The thread is about what we wish they would have done, not what is rational or expected given their history.

And yes, there are artists who don't care about reaching every single possible fan live the way that U2 do. Pearl Jam and Radiohead, just off the top of my head, don't tour for as long or in as big of rooms as they could play.

Actually when it comes to Pearl Jam and Radiohead, that is a popular myth. Both bands tour like any other artist and charge ticket prices at their market value. Radiohead is not as popular as many of their fans believe and I have seen the boxoffice data that shows that.
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Vox on March 13, 2018, 09:21:00 AM
This is an interesting exercise. 

My first, instinctual reaction on what to change in U2’s history would be that How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb would have been a more experimental album.  Before All That You Can’t Leave Behind, every U2 album had sounded different.  I was fine with All That You Can’t Leave Behind.  There are good tunes on it.  At the time I thought U2 deserved the right to make a “U2 sounding” album, at that point in their careers.  However, to me, How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb was a bit of a rehash of All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and everything else that came before.  Still, that album sold well and won a bunch of awards, which fed U2 a basketful of carrots.  I don’t consider it to be a bad album, by the way – I don’t think I’d rate any U2 album as bad

But I’ve seen a Star Trek episode or two and know that if you change something in the past, there’s a trickledown effect.  If U2 hadn’t done How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, then No Line on the Horizon wouldn’t exist.  Or it would exist in a very different form.  I know I’m in the minority, but I love that album just as it is.  A top 4-5 U2 album in my U2antheon.  So…  maybe I’d keep the timeline “intact” through 2009…   

With that being said, what I would change about U2’s history would be that Bono and The Edge wouldn’t work on the Spider-Man musical.  It obviously took a lot of time, and it took the focus off the band itself.  Since that time it doesn’t seem that U2, as a creative and physical unit, have never quite been the same.  Maybe this is just a byproduct of the band’s age, which is unprecedented in the history of rock and roll (same members, 30+ years) and would have happened regardless of history.  Who knows.  But from 2004 to 2014, U2 released only one album.  If you’re going to do anything in a part-time manner, you’re going to get part-time results.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an office worker, a top-tier athlete, or an artist.

But again, I don’t rate any U2 album as bad.  In fact, I’m still quite enjoying Songs of Experience, myself.  And since 2014, I’d say that U2 are once again a “full time” band, with two albums, coming up on three tours, and that’s on top of Bono’s bicycle accident and “brush with death.”  I just think that the Spider-Man musical took away at least one proper U2 album, possibly sowed some seeds of creative doubt and second-guessing (which has always been a part of U2's creative process and is good for them, in moderate doses), and potentially messed with some of the band’s cohesiveness, in my humble opinion, as someone who's not in the studio or on the road with them.   
Title: Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
Post by: Argo on March 15, 2018, 03:41:00 AM
I am probably a bit like Vox on this topic. And the problem is if you change one thing you don't like, you cant assume other things you do like that followed, would still follow. I think ATYCLB is their weakest album of the post 2000 era. It did give us Beautiful Day which I still adore. Bomb is a very safe album but I loved the tour and there are still some really decent songs there. If only they included the original Mercy on it and scrapped Crumbs and A Man and a Woman. And NLOTH gave us an amazing tour with a really inconsistent album that had glimpses of brilliance with Fez, MOS, Winter (how could it be left off). And then comes SOI which is the best of all the post 2000 stuff for me.

But there aren't really any major faults there to re-set. Yes the material isn't as good as AB and Pop etc, but that is a very high bar. I still get something out of every album and every tour. So, I think I want to look at it all slightly differently and change Bono spending time cozying up with politicians. The angry Bono of the 80s seemed to get more emotion into the music. Whilst that is too much to expect from someone in their 50s to be like when they were in their early 20s, I still think if Bono was angry with the politicians rather than befriending them it would have driven stronger material in the music and hopefully take away some of the weaker parts that I went through above.