Poll

Is the band a different entity today? Read on and comment please.

Yes
12 (46.2%)
No
5 (19.2%)
Not entirely
9 (34.6%)

Total Members Voted: 21

Author Topic: The band I love has changed  (Read 6187 times)

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Offline macphisto

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The band I love has changed
« on: December 05, 2008, 09:11:20 AM »
Hello everybody.
This is my first post on this forum.

I've been a U2 fan since 2004. So yes, that's a relatively short amount of time. However, in the past 4 yrs I've gone back and examined nearly every song that the Dublin quartet have put out. And I've more or less assumed the mantle of zealotry typical of most zootopians. Let me state that I've generally found every album to be refreshing (even the panned October; it's an acquired taste much like caviar, shellfish, olives. The band are so eclectic and have successfully transformed and redefined their music many times over. Kudos to them for that.

However, I can't help but acknowledge that U2 today is fundamentally different than the U2 of the Eighties. And I'm not talking about their musical style as much as I'm talking about their approach. For me, the Unforgettable Fire, Boy, Achtung Baby, War, Joshua Tree, and even Pop were U2 at their creative bests. There was something about each song, something grandiose that gave each song identity so that one could instantly identify it on the radio.

I'm trying to put the finger on what's missing in modern U2. Stephen Thomas Erlewine put his finger on what I found wanting in U2’s latter albums, quoted from his review of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb in All Music Guide:

Quote
   (…) a strange fact about the album: it was a conservative affair. After grandly taking risks for the better part of a decade, U2 curbed their sense of adventure, consciously stripping away the irony that marked every one of their albums since 1991’s Achtung Baby, and returning to the big, earnest sound and sensibility of their classic ’80s work. (…)

    (…) but U2 are so concerned with recreating their past that they don’t know where to stop peeling away the layers. They’ve overcorrected for their perceived sins, scaling back their sound so far that they have shed the murky sense of mystery that gave The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree an otherworldly allure. That atmospheric cloud has been replaced with a clean, sharp production, gilded in guitars and anchored with straight-ahead, unhurried rhythms that never quite push the songs forward. This crisp production lacks the small sonic shadings that gave ATYCLB some depth, and leaves How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb showcasing U2 at their simplest, playing direct, straight-ahead rock with little subtlety and shading in the production, performance, or lyrics.(…)

Call me oldfashioned
...but I really do miss those sonic shadings
« Last Edit: December 05, 2008, 10:10:40 AM by Joe90usa »



Offline TraKianLite/Zooropa

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2008, 10:10:27 AM »
Hiyaz.

First of all, 2002. Hahaha...</gloat>. Also, fair enough about October.

Secondly, the band were always going to be fundamentally different anyway, it's whether it's in a good way or bad that's the real issue - after all, becoming a multi-millionaire, gaining a partner, having children and other such events all inflict fundamental change that no-one can stop anyway.

Thirdly, I don't think ATYCLB was as conservative as was often claimed - nearly every song overtly has a drum machine or a set of loops bouncing around it; it's more that it was done with subtlety. The whole "return to Joshua Tree" narrative was a critic creation, and not a helpful one either, because JT would never have had songs like "Elevation" or "In A Little While" - indeed, You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login. The real issue is with HTDAAB, which, as you rightly point out with the AMG review, was very deliberately trying to be early 80s in sentiment.

If the latest claims are true, the band has recognised this though, so this issue's a wait-until-09 thing.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2008, 10:11:49 AM by Joe90usa »

Offline Joe90usa

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2008, 10:13:01 AM »
How about you both post here with a little more responsibility towards who might be reading what you write?

Thanks.

Offline u2yooper

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2008, 10:52:20 AM »
How much do you think the subject matter (love and loss in their personal lives) informs the way it was produced?  The band seems to be saying "I've been through some rough stuff lately, I'm a little weary,and I need to tell you about it".  Does the subject matter demand a simpler approach?  Do you think, in general, that the themes of the albums demand certain sound or production styles?  I don't know much about record-producing, so I'm just taking a stab in the dark here.  I'm thinking of "War", with its straight-ahead, military-drum sound expressing the anger in the lyrics.  And "Pop", with its themes of jadedness and decadence and soullessness being expressed in a very experimental, modern way.  Tell me if I'm way off base here. 

Offline macphisto

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2008, 11:05:40 AM »
Well, like I've mentioned before, this is a tricky subject.

As much as I liked HTDAAB, I can't help but wonder about some of the tracks. Vertigo is alright when considered with Discotheque; they're both guilty pleasures that rock. The stuff on the album lyrically is somewhat strong and still potent. But I guess my issue would be with the sonic shadings aka the production. The songs sound perhaps too clean and slick; there's a lot of polish on the songs.

Let's compare past U2 songs, shall we? The beauty of such anthems such as Gloria, Out of Control, New Years Days, and the Fly especially is that there's so much going on. There's the Edge machine-gunning away on his Telecaster, there's Bono achieving such a dynamic range of vocals, there's Larry laying out distinctive drum beats, and there's Adam laying out a scaffolding of terrific bass until kingdom come. Those songs and others sound immersive. You are pulled in beneath a wall of sound. I'm not saying that always worked for U2; but a lot of songs that have become timeless classics have adhered to that approach of 'everything in'. To this day, I still can't get over the beautiful subtlety of the electric violin in Sunday Bloody Sunday.

The last album was everything essentially stripped away, I believe.

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2008, 03:26:06 PM »
Of course they've changed, that's what happens when you get older!

I was a pimply faced teenager when I first discovered October, in love and in the early stages of marriage when AB was released and a middle aged father with teenagers for HTDAAB. I can relate to the lyrics and emotions on every album because I was having similar experiences as the band. They write about and reflect upon the world as they see it at that time.

In terms of sound and production, be thankful that they've changed. The alternative is to be a Status Quo (now there's irony) or an AC-DC where every release sounds just like the last one and the one before than and....

Offline God, Part II

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2008, 04:17:50 PM »
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or an AC-DC where every release sounds just like the last one and the one before than and....

About that--how is that AC/DC is uniquely qualified to pull off the status quo and make it a virtue?  Did they make a deal with the devil?  You're right; every album for 30 damn years has sounded the same, but for AC/DC, that's all right...that's how it should be.  I'll never understand how they pull that off...  :-\

Offline macphisto

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2008, 04:27:28 PM »
Well, alright.
I'm grateful for the replies.
But what about the production of HTDAAB compared to previous releases? Soundwise.

Does crisper guitar equal a better sound for U2?
Call me antiquated, but I really miss the fuzz and harmonic interplay found in the earlier classic tracks, a la 'Streets', "Bad', 'All I want is You'.


Offline u2yooper

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2008, 06:03:50 PM »
The world only spins forward.

Offline God, Part II

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2008, 07:04:54 AM »
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The world only spins forward.

Unless Superman's girlfriend gets knocked off...

Offline JuniorEmblem

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2008, 08:40:15 AM »
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How about you both post here with a little more responsibility towards who might be reading what you write?

Thanks.

Easy there mod-in-training........really......was there anything wrong with what they wrote ?


Offline JuniorEmblem

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2008, 08:47:27 AM »
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Well, alright.
I'm grateful for the replies.
But what about the production of HTDAAB compared to previous releases? Soundwise.




The production was crisp, clear, and well balanced. Soulless and cold

The mastering was a 4-letter word for feces / excrement we're not allowed to say here.

Oh for the days when Mastering Engineers knew how to use volume properly, and not for everything.

The new Police CD, Death Magnetic, Icky Thump, Accelerate, and to a lesser degree htdaab. All victims of the loudness wars.

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See, this is why i download before I buy now. If the band / record company can't give me the respect fo rbeing able to turn up my OWN volume knob, I can't bring myself to reward their "efforts".

Offline Joe90usa

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2008, 10:53:06 AM »
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You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
How about you both post here with a little more responsibility towards who might be reading what you write?

Thanks.

Easy there mod-in-training........really......was there anything wrong with what they wrote ?



Yeah, there was.  Both of them used language that was not even close to appropriate for this forum which required me to edit their posts and had me considering further action.  If there was nothing wrong, I wouldn't have made the comment and altered those posts.

I've been a mod here for several years now.  If your comment was supposed to come off as funny, I guess I missed it.   ???

Offline JuniorEmblem

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2008, 11:10:29 AM »
Well, your post really made no sense to everyone else reading it as none of us saw what they wrote, so if you're looking to make a public show of "how not to post' it kinda failed as we didn't get to see it. I'm sure you also handled it privately....




Offline m2

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Re: The band I love has changed
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2008, 11:31:12 AM »
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Well, your post really made no sense to everyone else reading it as none of us saw what they wrote, so if you're looking to make a public show of "how not to post' it kinda failed as we didn't get to see it. I'm sure you also handled it privately....


Exactly. And that's why we specifically say in the forum rules that how we moderate the forum is not a topic for public discussion. Because you don't see what we see, you don't see what we occasionally have to delete/edit, you don't get the emails we get, and so forth.

If you ever have questions, comments, or complaints about how the forum is moderated, send an email.

Thx. Now let's get back on topic. :)

I think Sydney Mike said it best ... of course they've changed. I'd hate to follow a band that hasn't changed, which is why I have little interest in anything AC/DC does (and many other bands, too).