Author Topic: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?  (Read 2011 times)

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WookieeWarrior10

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What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« on: June 24, 2016, 11:33:03 PM »
     I've always wondered what exactly U2 meant when they were talking about finishing Pop. Like Larry saying, "If we had two or three more months to work, we would have had a very different record. I would like someday to rework those songs and give them the attention and time that they deserve." How different would Pop have sounded if the band had been given another couple of months to "finish" things? I don't see why U2 looks down on this fantastic record so much, it's easily one of their very best albums and it certainly is one of the greatest I've ever listened to. Perhaps it's because of poor sales and the mixed reception, so the band claims that the finished product is... Not finished.

     If you read up on it, that claim could be justified as being true. The album was being worked on until the very last moment. According to Wikipedia, the chorus to Last Night On Earth wasn't even written until the night before the album's release. Edge was also still recording back-up vocals, Howie B. was still adding effects to Discotheque, and there was no definitive version of Mofo. Additionally, Larry's back was injured for months, forcing the band to work on the songs without his assistance. Maybe U2 did work on a tight schedule, but Paul McGuiness still believes that there was plenty of time to finish Pop. First it was scheduled for a late-1996 release before being pushed back until March 1997, giving plenty of extra time to finalize things. From mid-1995 (when the band first began working on Pop) until March 1997, U2 had around 20 months to create the album. It seems like time was not the issue.

     It seems as if U2 had plenty of time to record, produce, mix, master, and release Pop. I do believe claims that the album was unfinished are just excuses to answer why it was so heavily criticized. But maybe they really do believe the record isn't finished. Read what Bono said about If God Will Send His Angels: "Bono originally thought the song was too soft and asked to 'f*** it up,' saying, I thought, this is, like, pure. Now drop acid onto that.'"

     That doesn't sound at all like the Bono we know now, does it? Interesting that of all people, Bono would be the one to call out a song as being "too soft." Keep in mind, this man wrote songs like Beautiful Day like a couple of years later... Anyway, do I agree? Absolutely. Although the track does give off this, mysterious, eery feeling when featured on an LP with numbers like Discotheque and Mofo on it, If You Wear That Velvet Dress serves the same purpose (and does it better). I'm Not Your Baby or Holy Joe could have easily taken its place on the record and made a great album even better... But now I'm getting sidetracked. Bono obviously pushed for a darker album, which explains the second side of it. I remember him once saying something like, "the album begins at a party and ends at a funeral." Very insightful comment.

     Had U2 been given just three more months to work on Pop, how different would the record have sounded? Maybe the album would feel even darker, delving even deeper into their experimentation. What does everyone else think?

« Last Edit: June 24, 2016, 11:33:25 PM by WookieeWarrior10 »



Offline Cam501

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2016, 12:11:03 AM »
IMO, making it "finished" would be a disaster.  It's a very good album as it is and it makes me sick to think the band sees it as unfinished.  Every song they reworked for the Best Of is inferior to the original.  In particular, Discotheque for the ATYCLB treatment it received , and the vocals on Gone are much worse (almost embarrassingly bad).  Although it was rushed, the original far surpasses any modifications they have made to it since and was a solid album.

Offline Marvinho

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2016, 01:13:36 AM »
If experience has told us anything it's that three months would become three years and half a dozen more producers ...

Offline an tha

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2016, 02:37:59 AM »
I wish they would have had less time to work on it....

Look at even Mofo for example - great song, a bit of a beast - but not a patch sonically as an end product on the beast in this video...


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I am 100% certain in my belief that the minute and half or so of mofo on that video is the greatest bit of recorded u2 available anywhere ever!

If u2 had gone with this sound then a great song becomes greater in my view and it isn't hard to imagine that the same could be said for the record as a whole...my guess is that if they would have had more time the record would have got watered down further and it would have been a disaster...miami probably would get jibbed for a safer sounding, WUDM probably has the 'profanity' removed (that word really makes me laugh) 'bah gawd u2 used profanity!! and the whole thing would be polished too much and be less exciting and a lesser album imo probably losing its harder and more unusual (for u2) elements.

I really wish the record had landed closer to what we hear in that video above - there is an awesome album potentially there....even greater than what we got.

The question for me should be how great could Pop have been if they wouldn't have worked on it so long and for me the answer is potentially very very great!
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 02:51:38 AM by an tha »

Offline Blueyedboy

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2016, 02:43:47 AM »
POP is not unique when it comes to working until the 11th hour on an album. War had the same issues and the story around how 40 was created was a badge of honour by the band and even Achtung Baby had its issues (WGRYWH wasn't completed).

Had POP been a runaway success, or more specifically, had it made a sh** load of money in the States, we would have never heard of the album being unfinished. As a listener it sounds pretty much a done deal.


Online zoo adam

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2016, 03:09:16 AM »
There were certainly some very good songs on Pop. But also some very weak ones.

Unless in those extra two of three months they came up with a couple of new great songs, to replace the poor ones, I don't see how it would have made much difference.

There is nothing to suggest they were working on new great songs just prior to having to release the album.  ATYCLB was three years away.

The reworked songs for the best off complilation sound a bit better in my opinion. Clearer production. But that wouldn't have saved the poor songs.

Offline Zoomerang77

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2016, 04:40:38 AM »
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According to Wikipedia, the chorus to Last Night On Earth wasn't even written until the night before the album's release.

Thats right, Island Records went around the world and overwrote a bunch of bits on each of the already shipped and packaged Pop CDs waiting to go on sale that morning in retailers across the globe!

Offline 40four

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2016, 08:58:20 AM »
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There were certainly some very good songs on Pop. But also some very weak ones.

Unless in those extra two of three months they came up with a couple of new great songs, to replace the poor ones, I don't see how it would have made much difference.

There is nothing to suggest they were working on new great songs just prior to having to release the album.  ATYCLB was three years away.

The reworked songs for the best off complilation sound a bit better in my opinion. Clearer production. But that wouldn't have saved the poor songs.

+1

Online zoo adam

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2016, 10:37:11 AM »
Pop was fine considering they didn't spend that long on it.

After Zooropa they toured, made and promoted Passengers, made and promoted HMKMTMKM and separated for Goldeneye and Mission Impossible. Before finally starting on Pop.

Yet there was still less of a gap than recent albums.

Offline KenpoMatt

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2016, 10:59:06 AM »
I guess we will never know. I suspect that if they had time to "finish it" in 1997 the songs would still sound different than the "finished versions" they released on best of 90-2000.

In the end, if the original songs had more success in the North American market ( and only a little more success I think ) the band wouldn't have shut down on the whole pop era and we would still have some of those songs played on the tours today. It's too bad really.

Offline an tha

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2016, 11:08:36 AM »
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Pop was fine considering they didn't spend that long on it.

After Zooropa they toured, made and promoted Passengers, made and promoted HMKMTMKM and separated for Goldeneye and Mission Impossible. Before finally starting on Pop.

Yet there was still less of a gap than recent albums.

To be fair to u2 (whilst they have never been exactly prolific) they were in their peak at the time and also only about 30 odd years old each.....it is to be expected that men in the peak of their careers and a typically peak age for bands would be more prolific than men in their mid 50's who are in decline.

Offline il_capo

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2016, 11:21:57 AM »
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I wish they would have had less time to work on it....

Look at even Mofo for example - great song, a bit of a beast - but not a patch sonically as an end product on the beast in this video...

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I really wish the record had landed closer to what we hear in that video above - there is an awesome album potentially there....even greater than what we got.


For once I completely agree with an tha  :)

Offline an tha

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2016, 11:55:36 AM »
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I wish they would have had less time to work on it....

Look at even Mofo for example - great song, a bit of a beast - but not a patch sonically as an end product on the beast in this video...

You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

I really wish the record had landed closer to what we hear in that video above - there is an awesome album potentially there....even greater than what we got.


For once I completely agree with an tha  :)

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day!  :)

WookieeWarrior10

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2016, 02:17:30 PM »
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According to Wikipedia, the chorus to Last Night On Earth wasn't even written until the night before the album's release.

Thats right, Island Records went around the world and overwrote a bunch of bits on each of the already shipped and packaged Pop CDs waiting to go on sale that morning in retailers across the globe!
Hey, I did say it was Wikipedia!

Offline LToy

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Re: What if Pop was "finished" before its release?
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2016, 04:28:52 PM »
Even if the band had their extra 2-3 months to finish the album, I'm not sure POP would be that much different from what they did release as the finished product. Given the band's reflections on this time period, and the direction the band has proceeded since then, I'm inclined to think they would've played it safe.  What I think we would've gotten was more polished vocal overdubs, the re-worked arrangement of Please which was released on the single version, and maybe the Michael Hedges remix of Gone (although I doubt it).

I think what it comes down to is that U2 just does not have the discipline to stick to time tables nor the willingness to stick to an idea when they are presented with distractions (ie- other musical arrangements, new lyrical ideas, etc).  This is both a blessing & a curse: on the one hand it gives them the flexibility to experiment & try new ideas but if they are not completely satisfied with something, then they have a tendency to go off in a new direction; the proverbial "lets keep throwing things at the wall until something sticks".  Sometimes this approach does work, Achtung Baby is a good example, other times you get No Line On The Horizon.