Author Topic: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....  (Read 9089 times)

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Offline Carrick

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #30 on: May 06, 2009, 09:58:22 PM »
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I must congratulate The Exile for a topic that's dragged me into registering and commenting.

Full disclosure, I'm disappointed with the new album, which makes the first time a new U2 album didn't even grab me at the outset, but I'm not sure anyone but the most over-enthusaistic would disagree with this assessment:

No Line On the Horizon is not an obvious album to be supported by a stadium tour.

AudaciousU2 almosts asks the right question:

"Is it possible that the vestiges of the Pop Mart tour and the fear of failing to fill stadiums in this economy haunts Principle Managment and this current tour?"

I'm not sure it's the fear of failing to fill stadiums, but the decision to tour in stadiums in the first place, that's the issue.

That decision was undoubtedly in the works long before the album's release.  It's at least possible that a stadium tour informed what tracks were included, which would explain the more obvious (and, I would argue, sometimes heavy-handed and clumsy) arena rockers like Boots and Breathe.  I think it's almost certain that, even if it didn't change the album's contents, the stadium tour drove the excessive and awkward promotion of the album.

I don't think this is the best time for a stadium tour:  the economy has been faltering since August, and rock as a genre (and even music as an overall industry) is in bad shape.  Even the biggest younger bands wouldn't try a tour of this magnitude.  Bono was pretty much right almost ten years ago that he's the "last of the rock stars," and that really hasn't changed.

Even in ideal conditions, a stadium tour should probably be driven more by the response to the new music than the other way around.

This new tour might still do well -- and it looks like tickets are selling at a good pace -- but I think that has much more to do with the band than the most recent album, which is (unfortunately) something you see with the Rolling Stones more than, say, Coldplay.

I doubt it will ever be the case that U2 will repeat what it did with the Zoo TV tour, opening nearly every show with 6 or 7 consecutive songs from the new album.  I certainly can't imagine that happening this year.

The band, to their credit, avoided the problems of that glorious mistake of POP and POPMart by not rushing the album, but that still doesn't mean a tour going straight to stadiums makes more sense in 2009 with this album, than it did in 1997 with that album.


         1. Lets not forget that the majority of people who saw the last tour, the Vertigo Tour, saw that tour in a stadium. The fact that U2 are playing stadiums on this tour is not a surprise, they did on the last tour as well.

         2. While the band did not play stadiums in the United States and Canada on the Vertigo Tour, everyone knew by the rapid sellouts that playing stadiums would have been easy in the States on Vertigo.

         3. The band has always wanted to meet the all the demand that is in the market when they tour, but if you restrict yourself to just playing arena's in order to do that, they would be out on the road for years. Stadiums allow for the band to have a better balance between tour and family life.

         4. The band had been working on the new stage design for over a decade. The radical stage design allows for stadium shows to be played in the round which increases the capacity that can see the show by 50%. Conventional stadium shows are already enormous events without such an increase in the capacity.

        5. This tour is already on track to be the highest grossing, highest attended tour in history. Record breaking despite economic conditions.

        6. Guess what the 2nd biggest selling album of 2009 in the USA is to date? 4 months into 2009, the 2nd biggest selling album is No Line On The Horizon, right behind Taylor Swift's Fearless. Worldwide, No Line On The Horizon is the biggest selling album of the year by a substantial margin. It has sold nearly DOUBLE the album in the #2 position for 2009 at this point. By the end of December, its very likely that No Line On The Horizon will finish out the year as the biggest seller, just as Viva La Vida did for Coldplay back in 2008.

Offline ForeverDelayed

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2009, 10:02:12 PM »
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one thing though - i totally believe they have it in them for another masterpiece to better or equal AB and JT.
QFT.

Let's flash back and think about Achtung Baby. Rattle & Hum was released to really mixed reviews, the movie was a box office flop, and the album wasn't a huge hit either. Then they go and disappear for what seems like forever. How easy was it to write U2 off back then? To think that they shot their load with The Joshua Tree and it was all downhill from there? Then out of nowhere they re-emerge with a completely different sound that has no precedent in anything they've ever done before, a completely different image that tears apart and mocks everything they were before, and a wicked new sense of humor that catches everyone off guard. The Fly wasn't a huge hit, and people were wondering whether or not this gimmick would work. The album finally releases, and it's near perfect in every way.

Sure it's tempting to say that U2 are too old, their best material is behind them, they'll never reach the same heights, etc. But how many people said those same things in 1991 and then had to eat crow? I'll write them off when they release two or three absolutely horrible albums in a row. They haven't even come close to doing that yet, so no worry here.

Offline ForeverDelayed

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2009, 10:05:03 PM »
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Prince had to do it too and released a couple of garbage records just to fullfill his contract. He's been in artistic limbo  ever since the truly great SIgn of the times album.
Not quite.

Go do yourself a favor and pick up the "love symbol" album, The Gold Experience, and Musicology. Those three at least are arguably better than most of his 80's stuff. The rest of what he's done since then isn't bad either. Don't let the lack of hit singles and media hype fool you. He might be a weirdo and he might be inconsistent, but in no way has he been in artistic limbo, he's been solidly creating amazing music that has gone under the radar way too often.

Offline whitewave

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #33 on: May 06, 2009, 10:12:52 PM »
I don't understand the disconnect between the music and the promotions/video's that is occurring this time.  Loved the video for Boots and it is a fun song. Expected more from the video for Magnificent just because it deserves grandness.  Radio play?  What radio play??  There really isn't any.  There is mention of U2 and then old songs play.  Where is this album on the stations?  If they are paying for promotions to be occurring it certainly doesn't feel like anything is going on. It is rather frustrating.
The music is fabulous but everything else that is surrounding it at this point feels half baked for some reason.  I really do not want to criticize because I do not know what it takes to pull all of this together.   I simply know they can do better than this.  If this is apparrent to the 'fan' base, what is the feeling elsewhere?
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 10:15:22 PM by whitewave »

Offline The Exile

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #34 on: May 07, 2009, 01:26:27 AM »
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I must congratulate The Exile for a topic that's dragged me into registering and commenting.

Full disclosure, I'm disappointed with the new album, which makes the first time a new U2 album didn't even grab me at the outset, but I'm not sure anyone but the most over-enthusaistic would disagree with this assessment:

No Line On the Horizon is not an obvious album to be supported by a stadium tour.

AudaciousU2 almosts asks the right question:

"Is it possible that the vestiges of the Pop Mart tour and the fear of failing to fill stadiums in this economy haunts Principle Managment and this current tour?"

I'm not sure it's the fear of failing to fill stadiums, but the decision to tour in stadiums in the first place, that's the issue.

That decision was undoubtedly in the works long before the album's release.  It's at least possible that a stadium tour informed what tracks were included, which would explain the more obvious (and, I would argue, sometimes heavy-handed and clumsy) arena rockers like Boots and Breathe.  I think it's almost certain that, even if it didn't change the album's contents, the stadium tour drove the excessive and awkward promotion of the album.

I don't think this is the best time for a stadium tour:  the economy has been faltering since August, and rock as a genre (and even music as an overall industry) is in bad shape.  Even the biggest younger bands wouldn't try a tour of this magnitude.  Bono was pretty much right almost ten years ago that he's the "last of the rock stars," and that really hasn't changed.

Even in ideal conditions, a stadium tour should probably be driven more by the response to the new music than the other way around.

This new tour might still do well -- and it looks like tickets are selling at a good pace -- but I think that has much more to do with the band than the most recent album, which is (unfortunately) something you see with the Rolling Stones more than, say, Coldplay.

I doubt it will ever be the case that U2 will repeat what it did with the Zoo TV tour, opening nearly every show with 6 or 7 consecutive songs from the new album.  I certainly can't imagine that happening this year.

The band, to their credit, avoided the problems of that glorious mistake of POP and POPMart by not rushing the album, but that still doesn't mean a tour going straight to stadiums makes more sense in 2009 with this album, than it did in 1997 with that album.

You're welcome. And the moderators give me a $5.00 kick-back for every person I have a hand in signing up, so thank you.

I think you make a very interesting point about the ideas for the tour fueling the decision about which tracks would make it onto the album. It's the classic argument about the relationship of form to content (think Neil postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death). When you begin with the style question, you inevitably will allow the content of your art to be determined by stylistic concerns, rather than the other way around. I see this in my own field (theology/ecclesiology) all the time. For example, a church will decide which style of worship they want to have, what their "feel" will be, and so on. Inevitably they will end up choosing their actual beliefs after the fact, avoiding any uncomfortable doctrines that may disrupt the stylistic choices they've made (which, I would argue, is getting it backwards).

Hence the perceived disconnect between the actual album NLOTH and everything else. Don't get me wrong, this is a great album, I can't stop listening to it. But like you said, it's not what they hyped it to be, and I fear that its songs will end up slowly disappearing as the tour progresses.

Heck, I'll even go so far as to say that if U2 had released a "perfect" version of NLOTH, one more consistent with the experimental vibe they hyped it to have, it would have been an album that perhaps they shouldn't have supported with a tour at all. I suspect I'll be near-alone on this, but the soulful and mature U2 of the future may very well be a U2 that releases thoughful and challenging music but only tours sporadically, if at all.

And I would be perfectly comfortable with that, especially if the alternative is to hear them sing Pride, I Will Follow, New Year's Day, and 15 other oldies in concert, with only 5 new tracks thrown in.

OK, fire away....
« Last Edit: May 07, 2009, 01:33:14 AM by The Exile »

Offline Achtung Bubba

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #35 on: May 07, 2009, 08:27:21 AM »
Thanks for the welcome u2bonoman.  It's the first time I've used this screenname in, well, a while.

To be honest, when I write that POP and its tour were a "glorious mistake," in my mind the emphasis is more on the "glorious."  It was a mistake to schedule the tour before the album was finished, and I do wonder what a more polished album would have sounded like, but that album has a whole lot of VERVE, and quite a few songs that I wish weren't currently ignored by radio and by the band on tour:  especially Gone, Do You Feel Loved, and the quite perfect, dark and dense Discotheque.

(I think ATYCLB is a second attempt at what POP tried to accomplish in a pure "pop" record, but the band tried for timelessness rather than using a more disposable sound, and I think the second try was more successful, but I wish that all artistic misteps were as bold as POP.  I also think that, in the same way, Boots was a second attempt at Discotheque, but Boots has sounds mashed together rather than layered in a more cohesive fashion, the tempo seems ramped up in lieu of a great hook, and the song doesn't fit as well in its album.)


Carrick, I should be clear that my concern is not with a tour that has stadium dates, but one that's exclusively in stadiums, one that begins in stadiums.  ZooTV, Elevation, and Vertigo all began in arenas and grew to the size that the tour demanded, with stadiums and even the Slane castle shows.

That's what I mean when I write, "Even in ideal conditions, a stadium tour should probably be driven more by the response to the new music than the other way around."

When the pressure is on to sell out stadium shows right out of the gate, that's probably gonna change the promotion, at the very least.


I'm glad to help you buy a cup of coffee, Exile.  :)

On the subject of theology, I see what you're saying.  In addition to making the message fit the music, I suspect that there are churches that try to make the message fit the intended congregation size, which is probably worse.  There are obviously churches that deliberately strive to be "mega-churches," and many -- certainly not all, maybe not even most -- probably water down the more difficult doctrines to do so.  It's a heck of a contrast to Peter's sermon in Acts 2, which was incredibly effective, not because it was trying to be easy to accept, but because it was spoken with truth and with the power of the Spirit.

Exploring a particular sound or style isn't always bad, as it seems like U2 deliberately explored American blues in the mid-80's and European industrial music in the early 90's.  The problem is when that exploration moves from being a starting point to a north star guiding all the decisions.  Trip Through Your Wires and Zoo Station clearly fit those two molds, but Where The Streets Have No Name and So Cruel don't -- at least no so obviously -- and the band was wise [edit:] not to make the former blues-ier and the latter grungier.  There are a few too many songs on No Line that are introduced by long digressions that have no relation to the meat of the material, and I wonder if that's not part of an attempt to sound experimental for its own sake, a move that wasn't necessary for Zooropa (as a song or an album).

The more dangerous trap is to be guided by tour expectations.  For a tour that sticks exclusively to stadiums, it's real easy for even moderate sales numbers to be spun as catastrophic (see, the media's reaction to POPMart) and so I have to think the band tried to get ahead of that, at minimum, by driving those numbers with an aggressive push for the new album.  I wouldn't be surprised if the tour didn't influence the tracklisting, either:  I'm rather looking forward to Songs of Ascents, but a quick follow-up with more moody music is precisely the sort of thing one would do to front-load the earlier album with stadium-ready (or hopefully stadium-ready) anthems.

(Quick observation about the tour:  it sounded like it was originally going to be called the "Kiss the Future" tour, after that line in Boots.  The official name, U2 360, is -- I think -- the first time the band has had a tour without an album-related name.  The tour is more explicitly about the band itself rather than the latest album, and my more cynical side would suspect that the band knows the album isn't a good fit for a stadium-only tour, either in its muscle or in the response in sales, or both.)

Exile, I agree that I wish U2 didn't feel the need to tour to support every album, but that's tied to my bigger concern about releasing new material so rarely.  I know it's not the 1960's, where CCR released their six biggest albums in the span of three years, but for the band to release three compilation albums and only two studio albums in a ten-year span (1998-2007) is ridiculous, and it solidifies the idea that they've now entered the same stratus as the current Rolling Stones rather than continue to make truly relevant music.

Suppose U2 had spent the last decade releasing more music:  even if they weren't releasing more full studio albums, suppose they were doing more side projects like the Million Dollar Hotel soundtrack, and releasing singles for movies, charity projects, and stand-alone singles rather than as new material for the latest compilation.  If they had done that, they could have explored new sounds with a little more abandon AND release anthems that would sound great live, without mashing the two together.  Their total output between tours could do more to drive ticket sales, putting less pressure on the actual studio albums to drive the tour.

That gets me to my other big recent complaint, when U2 tries too hard to sound like a band of 20-year-old's, where Boots is the most obvious offender.  I've been lurking long enough to know that some of these songs aren't loved by everybody, but I think lately U2 sounds best when their songs sound like the near-effortless output of a band that has seen everything and done everything:  Wild Honey, Grace, and Window In the Skies all sound like that they have nothing to prove -- and they're certainly not competing for the same sonic space as Pride or Streets -- and they sound better for it.  Obviously, songs like those aren't well suited for crowds of 100K or more, and this particular gripe is really for another topic entirely.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2009, 12:31:30 PM by Achtung Bubba »

Offline Carrick

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #36 on: May 07, 2009, 03:36:05 PM »
Quote
Exile, I agree that I wish U2 didn't feel the need to tour to support every album, but that's tied to my bigger concern about releasing new material so rarely.  I know it's not the 1960's, where CCR released their six biggest albums in the span of three years, but for the band to release three compilation albums and only two studio albums in a ten-year span (1998-2007) is ridiculous, and it solidifies the idea that they've now entered the same stratus as the current Rolling Stones rather than continue to make truly relevant music.

             Hold on a second, this is the 00s, certainly not the 60s or the 70s. U2 has always liked to tour, often for at least a full year. Most artist in the 60s and 70s did not tour nearly that long for a single album.

       U2 released 3 albums in the 90s and did two tours. In the 00s once again they have released 3 new albums and have actually will have done 3 major tours, with U2 360 having its first portion in the 00s while the rest will be in the teens starting in 2010. In fact it may be 4 albums in the 00s if they release "Songs Of Ascent" at the end of this year.

       So U2's pace of recording and releasing new material has not really changed at all over the past 20 years.

          So really, I don't see any comparison at all to the Rolling Stones. U2 are much more in line with relatively new artist like Coldplay and Nickelback in terms of the rate of releasing new material than they are with the Stones. The Stones have only released 1 new album in the 00s. They had 2 in the 90s.

Offline AudaciousU2

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #37 on: May 07, 2009, 07:12:46 PM »
Awesome thread; This topic is the way a discussion forum should always be!  Bravo to everyone participating.

Here is two of the things that has bothered me about U2 and NLOTH;

We really want to like this album and "believe" that it is right up there with JT & AB.  It doesnot get there and not for a lack of desire or trying by everyone involved.  The problem is that there are to many knobs being turned.  I almost wished The Edge and LMJ took over the controls from L & L and put a stop to all the ambient production and forced "new" sounds.

Interestingly, even "Magnificent" sounds better on the radio because the weird intro is cut out. 

The other problem is that almost every song has so many "Bono finger prints" that it becomes a smudge.

Imagine you trying to leave a neat fingerprint and you press way to hard- it becomes a smudge.  This is what I hear in many of the songs- even the finest material on the album.  The band is trying to hard with an overproduced album and lyrics that are awkward in phrasing and almost cringe worthy ("Every beauty needs to go out with an idiot" -Bono ;(.

Less is more.  U2's album production is their own worst enemy.

Consider something as simple as this:

I would love this album so much more if the Band kept the titles in check: 

"No Line On The Horizon"

Track 4:  "Crazy Tonight"

Track 5:  "On Your Boots"

Track 6:  "Stand Up"  (Where is comedy in this song other than referential?)

Track 7:  "Fez"

Even these details change the whole dynamic of the album. 

I am still waiting for Bono to return to his laconic self... strumming his red guitar.


 




Offline Achtung Bubba

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #38 on: May 07, 2009, 09:28:13 PM »
Carrick, it can be argued that U2 released four albums in the 90's, if you count Passengers.  Considering one Passengers track was on U2's The Best Of 90-00, and a second track was on the accompanying B-sides disc, there's good reason to believe that the band now sees it as part of their body of work.  Even the idea that the disc was U2 + Eno is no longer a great reason to set the album aside, since No Line's songwriting credits are officially U2 + Eno + Lanois.

But let's set aside Passengers, because when I think of U2's studio albums, I don't tend to include it either.  Let's also set aside the live EPs of Blood Red Sky and Wide Awake, but keep Rattle & Hum, because the double album includes enough new studio tracks to count as one full-length studio album.

It's still the case that the amount of time between studio albums has continued to grow, not only (obviously) since the 80's, but since the 90's as well.

How many months passed between albums?

12 months, from Boy to October
17 months, October to War

19 months, War to Unforgettable Fire
29 months, Fire to Joshua Tree
19 months, Joshua to Rattle & Hum

37 months, Rattle to Achtung Baby
20 months, Baby to Zooropa
44 months, Zooropa to POP (28 to Passengers, 16 to POP)

43 months, POP to Leave Behind
49 months, Leave Behind to Atomic Bomb
51 months, Bomb to No Line

Up to POP, the longest wait between studio albums -- again, ONLY if you exclude Passengers -- was 44 months.  Since then, the shortest wait has been 43 months.  The upper limit has now become an apparent minimum wait. 

The average "gestation" period for a U2 album released in the 90's was 34 months, less than three years -- or 25 months, just over two years, if you count Passengers.  For albums in this decade, the average has been 47 months, almost four years.

Granted, if Songs of Ascents comes out as quickly as Bono suggests, that'll be a significant departure from recent history -- a welcome departure, if that means that U2 can be a little more relaxed about their output, not to diminish the quality of their work but perhaps to avoid over-calculation and over-deliberation.  But we shouldn't count our chickens before they hatch.

Let me be absolutely clear, I don't think U2 is firmly in the ranks of the Rolling Stones and no longer competing for relevance against newer bands like Coldplay.

It's just, that impression does become more plausible the longer they wait between albums, and the more compilation albums they release in the meantime.

The compilation albums, which I think decreased in focus and quality as they went along, is what really gets me. 

Look at the decade leading up to when U218 Singles came out, in Nov 2006.  At best the band released only three studio albums in that time, 1997-2006:  if you want to be picky, they only released two between Nov 1997 and Nov 2006.

Over the same period, they released three compilations, (at least) as many compilations as actual studio albums.

The compilations were often redundant.  In that decade, they released the major singles of the 80's and 90's twice -- once on on one of the two Best Of's, and once on U218 Singles.  Sweetest Thing was the new song for Best of 80-90, and it was included in U218.  Vertigo and Sometimes You Can't Make It were released twice in the span of two years.

And, Beautiful Day and Stuck in a Moment were released on three different albums in the span of seven years.

(Fast forward twelve months, and the big three Joshua Tree singles were released on three different albums from 1998-2007, with the remastered album.)

All these compilations could have been ignored by hard-core fans, except the band gave them one or two reasons to buy largely redundant works:  a new single (or two) and a second disc of rarities or a DVD of a live show.

Again, I want to be clear that I really like the remastered albums and some of the compilations' new singles -- Sweetest Thing and Window in the Skies -- have been brilliant gems of pop music.  But U2 has been looking back an awful lot lately.  They're not in full-blown dinosaur mode like the Stones, and one can certainly argue that they're as forward-looking as the few rock bands that continue to make waves in the Top 40 charts, but that point has to be argued.

It's no longer obvious, and it hasn't been for a long time.

A quick release for Songs of Ascents would help on that count a great deal, especially if it really doesn't sound like anything we've heard before from the band, which can't always be said for the last couple or three albums.

Offline Achtung Bubba

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #39 on: May 07, 2009, 10:11:38 PM »
AudaciousU2, I could probably agree that brevity in song titles is usually a good thing.  I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For is an exception that proves the rule, and every time the band releases a song with an equally wordy title -- like the full, redundant title for Stuck In a Moment -- it seems like they're trying to copy that song's success, and it kinda takes away from the special qualities of a singular song that, in a lot of ways, should have never worked as a smash single in 1987.

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We really want to like this album and "believe" that it is right up there with JT & AB.  It doesnot get there and not for a lack of desire or trying by everyone involved.  The problem is that there are to many knobs being turned.  I almost wished The Edge and LMJ took over the controls from L & L and put a stop to all the ambient production and forced "new" sounds.

Interestingly, even "Magnificent" sounds better on the radio because the weird intro is cut out. 

The other problem is that almost every song has so many "Bono finger prints" that it becomes a smudge.

Imagine you trying to leave a neat fingerprint and you press way to hard- it becomes a smudge.  This is what I hear in many of the songs- even the finest material on the album.  The band is trying to hard with an overproduced album and lyrics that are awkward in phrasing and almost cringe worthy ("Every beauty needs to go out with an idiot" -Bono ;(.

Less is more.  U2's album production is their own worst enemy.

I'm not sure that a particular amount of production is a problem, per se:  it's superfluous production.  Achtung Baby -- hands down, my favorite album of all time, by this band or anyone else -- has a lot of layers or distortion, at least in parts, but it's really necessary to create the urban, European atmosphere and the feelings of disorientation.  (Where it wasn't necessary, like So Cruel or Love is Blindness, the production is as spare, if not as spacious, as anything that Lanois and/or Eno have done with the band.)

Quite a bit of the production for No Line seems superfluous, particularly in the unrelated intros to the songs, where cutting off the first 30 or 60 seconds doesn't effect the meat of the song.  It's stuff like the presence of these intros that reassures me that the band wasn't trying to craft a stadium-ready album.  The promotional publicity almost certainly had the stadium tour in mind, but maybe not the production decisions -- or at least, not all of them:  the middle songs that I believe Bono has described as more radio-ready might have been inserted because of the tour.

It just makes me wonder, if the intros weren't to make the album "big", big enough to support a stadiums-only tour, what are they there for?  This is one of the reasons I haven't warmed to the album, but it seems like rote experimentation for its own sake, when they went further with experimentation in the 90's, and did so with more cohesive AND more interesting tracks.

The abrupt change in tempo and mood in Fez-Being Born isn't new:  we heard the same thing in the title track for Zooropa, but that time the changes (both of them) were handled more artfully, in my opinion.

Offline BalconyTV

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #40 on: May 08, 2009, 03:40:18 AM »
I have to admit, I think it has been the worst promotional push I have seen for a U2 album. Completely over the top. Especially in a time when the anti U2 brigade are bigger than ever.

I felt a bit similar about the way they pushed Atomic Bomb. That too has over hyped. But I excused that, as being just a mistake...which anybody is capable of...

But the promotion campaign has been awful.

Too much.

Offline jackofhearts

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #41 on: May 08, 2009, 04:51:23 AM »
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They did set expectations unreasonable high, as they've done with every album this decade.  They need to be more humble.  I haven't heard anyone talk up their work like these guys do.  Bob Dylan just put out a record, did anyone hear him say "Heh, it's my best since Blonde on Blonde, heh...".  Same with Neil Young.

It's also because Bob Dylan doesn't really do interviews anymore.  He just does what he does.  Which leads me to another point - he's so vague.  Not everything is spelled out.  I think U2 should take this approach...make things a little more mysterious.  I agree if U2 hadn't hyped NLOTH up as much I might appreciate it more. 

In other words, let the songs/album speak for themselves. 

Offline Johnny Amsterdam

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #42 on: May 08, 2009, 05:36:32 AM »
I liked U2 when they were more mysterious. n the 80's I hardly read an interview or anything else. this was pre MTV (yeah Mtv came here later) We just heard the music and saw some video's but mostly the music spoke for itself. Now before the record is out we hear BONO yelling how great it is and it;s the best thing they ever blah blah blah. They should stop doing that make a great record refrain from interviews and juts us be the judge.
The harder they scream the lesser I like the record.

Offline Carrick

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #43 on: May 08, 2009, 10:12:55 AM »
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Carrick, it can be argued that U2 released four albums in the 90's, if you count Passengers.  Considering one Passengers track was on U2's The Best Of 90-00, and a second track was on the accompanying B-sides disc, there's good reason to believe that the band now sees it as part of their body of work.  Even the idea that the disc was U2 + Eno is no longer a great reason to set the album aside, since No Line's songwriting credits are officially U2 + Eno + Lanois.

But let's set aside Passengers, because when I think of U2's studio albums, I don't tend to include it either.  Let's also set aside the live EPs of Blood Red Sky and Wide Awake, but keep Rattle & Hum, because the double album includes enough new studio tracks to count as one full-length studio album.

It's still the case that the amount of time between studio albums has continued to grow, not only (obviously) since the 80's, but since the 90's as well.

How many months passed between albums?

12 months, from Boy to October
17 months, October to War

19 months, War to Unforgettable Fire
29 months, Fire to Joshua Tree
19 months, Joshua to Rattle & Hum

37 months, Rattle to Achtung Baby
20 months, Baby to Zooropa
44 months, Zooropa to POP (28 to Passengers, 16 to POP)

43 months, POP to Leave Behind
49 months, Leave Behind to Atomic Bomb
51 months, Bomb to No Line

Up to POP, the longest wait between studio albums -- again, ONLY if you exclude Passengers -- was 44 months.  Since then, the shortest wait has been 43 months.  The upper limit has now become an apparent minimum wait. 

The average "gestation" period for a U2 album released in the 90's was 34 months, less than three years -- or 25 months, just over two years, if you count Passengers.  For albums in this decade, the average has been 47 months, almost four years.



             Since Rattle And Hum the average time between albums has been about 41 months. The fact that it was 51 months in between HTDAAB and NLOTH is not really a surprise given that 41 months is the average since Rattle And Hum. The band have grown big families since the release of Rattle And Hum. The length of the tours, the fact that they usually tour for each new album, larger families and the need for more personal time, plus the basic need to let the market for them on tour recover a bit before they go out again, means the average between studio album releases is never going to be less than 36 months even if they were marching in lock step to produce albums and tour as quickly as possible.

              Until October of 1998, U2 had never put out a Greatest Hits album before. How many artist go for two decades without puting out any type of a compilation like that? The fact that such compilation albums were a bit over due was the reason one was released in 1998 and the other in 2002. The 18 Singles came out in 2006 partly because of the collapsing music market for albums and the fact that there were obviously people in the general public who would be more likely to buy a single disc by U2 that had a little bit of every era. So the releases of the Greatest Hits albums were natural given that they had not released anything before and the collapsing album market since the year 2000.

            Coldplay has taken a minimum of 36 months to put out a new album since their 2nd album. Since 1989, the Stones have taken an average of 64 months to put out a new studio album. U2's average of 41 months since 1988 is much closer to Coldplay's average than the Stones.

Offline The Exile

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Re: Time for a Gut-Check, Lads....
« Reply #44 on: May 08, 2009, 11:16:58 AM »
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I have to admit, I think it has been the worst promotional push I have seen for a U2 album. Completely over the top. Especially in a time when the anti U2 brigade are bigger than ever.

I felt a bit similar about the way they pushed Atomic Bomb. That too has over hyped. But I excused that, as being just a mistake...which anybody is capable of...

But the promotion campaign has been awful.

Too much.

Echoing my original point, though I do think the pre-release hype was overdone, the main problem that I see with it is that they're hyping the wrong album (or turn it around, they released the wrong album but hyped the right one).

There's just enough experimental stuff on NLOTH to make the hype and coming tour seem odd. "You're doing a massive stadium tour so you can play 'White As Snow'?" But on the other hand, their pre-release rhetoric and current tour hype is so overblown that one could look at NLOTH and conclude that it needs more songs like "Crazy" and "Comedy" and less like "Fez" and "Cedars."

That's why I said what I said earlier. I almost wish U2 had released the NLOTH that they would have released if there were no external factors (like planning a stadium tour and trying to steal Hannah Montana's fans) involved.