Author Topic: Some thoughts about the sequence of NLOTH  (Read 1300 times)

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Vonobox

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Some thoughts about the sequence of NLOTH
« on: May 19, 2009, 06:02:20 PM »
File me in the drawer with those who think NLOTH is among U2's best work.  After having a few months to digest, the only fault I can find is with the tracklisting and the choice of Boots as the leadoff single. 

In a more perfecter world where we're all grammatically correct, the tracklisting would be as follows:

1) Magnificent (perfect way to start NLOTH, and the ideal leadoff single)
2) Being Born (renamed because FEZ-Being Born is just silly)
3) Crazy Tonight (the original title is a mouthful, this would be the second single)
4) Stand Up Comedy (possible fourth single, but I doubt it would make it that far)
5) Moment of Surrender (one of their best ever ballads, but too long and no way to edit for single release without ruining it)
6) White As Snow
7) No Line on the Horizon
8) Unknown Caller
9) Sexy Boots (Bono should have gone with his original title)
10) Breathe (third single if the record has enough legs)
11) Cedars of Lebanon (best record closer since 40)



Offline Shug

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Re: Some thoughts about the sequence of NLOTH
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2009, 08:27:08 PM »
I posted this in another thread, but it seems appropriate here, too.

I really wasn't taken with No Line On The Horizon as it was released until I started to get into certain songs in the middle of the CD.  I don't think it was sequenced in a way that is the most inviting and accessible to new listeners.  And for awhile, I didn't even think a resequencing would do much for my appreciation of this record, but I gradually changed my mind. As I like to do, I decided to do my own version and here it is. I like to think of CDs like an album with two sides and make each side have a start middle and end, just the old school part of me, I guess.  I can understand the people who have stated that this is like two different records cut and pasted into one which has resulted in a not very satisfying jumble.  The folks who want it to be arty and "experimental" all the way through are disappointed with the pop songs and the people who prefer the accessible soaring anthems of mid 80s U2 are disappointed in what might be called the lack of focused, structured traditional songwriting.  Well it may be a disjointed record, so my take was to more or less group the accessible songs onto one "side" and the artier songs onto another "side" of the record.  I don't really like Winter, so its not included in my sequence and I have not heard any other outtakes or earlier demos of these songs, so again, I did not include them.  I limited my sequence to the songs officially released as the album.

Side A
Get On Your Boots
Magnificent
Unknown Caller
Moment Of Surrender
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
 
Side B
Stand Up Comedy
No Line On The Horizon
Fez-Being Born
Breathe
White As Snow
Cedars of Lebanon
 
I've opened the record with three in a row of the more positive and energetic or joyful songs on the record, I think it gets things off to a good start.  Boots is not my favorite, but its got energy, it gets things off to a rocking start and there are some interesting ideas in the lyrics, too. This song doesn't seem to fit well in the middle of the rest of the songs, so its good to get it out of the way at the start. Magnificent is maybe a bit too obvious of a praise God song, but its got a classic U2 kind of emotional trajectory and its hard for me to not open up to its charms, even if its not as good as the classic U2 songs that its similar to. Unknown Caller is where things start to really take off for me. The bird sounds, the delicate guitar arrpegio and the "sunshine" lyric that opens Unknown Caller remind me of morning, like the feeling that even in a big and bustling dirty city (in Africa or the Mideast), things can seem clean and fresh in the early morning hours before things get really going. Its got a redemptive and celebratory joy, like of coming out of a dark and tragic place, maybe emerging from the dark night of the soul, perhaps.  I like this one a lot.  Edge's guitar licks are subtly awesome and should be really powerful live, I'm guessing. After these three songs, I think the fourth track is a good place to put a song a bit heavier in mood and topic, that bit of introspection is a good change of pace following the three openers, I think.  And then how about finishing off with something celebratory again, "...baby, baby, baby, I know I'm not aloooonnne!...".  So Side A is the accessible pop side of the record, easy to get into, inviting and pleasurable.
 
Side B is the artier side of the record, heavier and deeper in mood and lyrics.  But lets still get it going with an upbeat, uplifting pop song, Stand Up Comedy.  I LOVE the bridge "soul rocking people moving on"!  Its a funky good time song with a serious message of love and peace and joy (reminds me of a Lenny Kravitz song Is There Any Love In Your Heart). No Line has energy but it hammers away on a chord for a long time before it switches and then its back and forth between major and minor chords and their corresponding moods.  It has a relentless quality to it, it forces itself on me.  That's why I feel that it just doesn't work as an album opener, its not inviting, its harsh.  Fez is more the ambient soundscape, a modern take on the kind of songs from Unforgettable Fire, to my ears.  I love Bono's wails as his first sung parts in this song, they are somewhat of a Western take on the call of the muezzin from the mosque like you would certainly hear in Morocco. This could be awesome live if they decide to play it.  Breathe is a rocker and its a bit relentless as well with great Dylanesque lyrics "...I'm running down the road like loose electricity while the band in my head plays a strip tease...".  It does have its celebration of freedom, though, "..I've found grace inside a sound..."  "...walk out into the street with your arms out to people you meet, I'm neither down nor out, there's nothing you have that I need, I can breathe...".  Coming towards the end of the record, its as close to a big finish as we can get from these songs. There's nothing on No Line that works like Miracle Drug or City of Blinding Lights or Walk On. The last two songs are the reflective comedown, not my faves on the record, so they go at the end.  Not a real strong triumphant ending, it doesn't sum up all that came before and coalesce it into a polished gem of truth and wisdom, but not every U2 record can be brilliant, some are merely quite good.

Offline webby

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Re: Some thoughts about the sequence of NLOTH
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2009, 12:52:18 PM »
I've thought about the sequencing on this album as I've said in another thread.

If I was to sequence it now, I'd go with this:

Boots - First single. Get it on, now let's move on.
Unknown Caller
Breathe
Crazy Tonight
NLOTH 2
Moment Of Surrender
Magnificent
White As Snow
FEZ-Being Born
Stand Up
Cedars Of Lebanon

I'm gonna playlist that and see how it goes ;)


Offline tufisbest

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Re: Some thoughts about the sequence of NLOTH
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2009, 01:07:29 PM »
I agree with a couple of the points made so far.  I too, think that a different sequence would help the flow of the songs.  I feel like the songs on Bomb do not gel with each other and the same can be said with NLOTH.

Vonobox, I agree that the first two singles should have been Mag followed by Crazy.  Then I would have gone with Breathe at the end of the summer during the tour.

Also, I think MoS should be paired with UC because those songs are supposedly about the same character.

I also agree with kicking off the album with the first two singles and keep it rocking for the most part up front.

Here's my preference:

1.  Mag (great kickoff to the album and would be first single)
2.  Crazy (great pop song - surely a hit on the radio as 2nd single)
3.  WAS (yes it is slow but its a personal favorite and there is a precedent for U2 putting slow songs at 3).
4.  Breathe (best song on the album and deserves the coveted 4 hole).
5.  Stand Up (great rocker)
6.  Boots (continuing to rock in the middle of the album)
7.  Moment of Surrender (not one of my favorites but very popular song)
8.  Unknown Caller (keeping with the back to back formula with MOS)
9.  NLOTH
10. Fez- Being Born (love this song - nice side 2 sleeper)
11. Cedars

Offline U2-obsessed and proud

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Re: Some thoughts about the sequence of NLOTH
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2009, 01:34:12 PM »
1. Magnificent
2. Crazy Tonight
3. Boots
4. Breathe
5. Fez-Being Born
6. Moment of Surrender
7. No Line on the Horizon
8. Unknown Caller
9. Stand Up Comedy
10. Cedars of Lebanon
11. White as Snow

Offline Evil Bono

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Re: Some thoughts about the sequence of NLOTH
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2009, 02:19:49 PM »
Cedars seems to always be the last song. So is it safe to say it's the weakest song on the album?

Offline DGordon1

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Re: Some thoughts about the sequence of NLOTH
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2009, 02:50:43 PM »
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Cedars seems to always be the last song. So is it safe to say it's the weakest song on the album?

No, it's just works best as an album closer. I wouldn't have Mothers of the Disappeared anywhere but last on the Joshua Tree, and it's by no means my least favourite on that album.

Offline joe73

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Re: Some thoughts about the sequence of NLOTH
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2009, 03:26:57 AM »
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Cedars seems to always be the last song. So is it safe to say it's the weakest song on the album?

I agree, Cedars doesn't do anything for me. In fact I would drop it altogether. I think White As Snow would work much better.


Offline dangerous and honest

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Re: Some thoughts about the sequence of NLOTH
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2009, 10:12:05 AM »
I'd largely keep things as they are except including Winter on the album - probably at the expense of Boots or Stand Up Comedy.

The weakest section is the middle section.

The track order works fine at the beginnnig and end, but the album loses some of its intensity during the middle.

Cedars is a great song though, and a perfect closer.

Shadows, 40, Mothers, Love Is Blindness, Wanderer, Yahweh. U2 have had some brilliant closers and Cedars is no slouch either.

Offline DGordon1

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Re: Some thoughts about the sequence of NLOTH
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2009, 10:15:43 AM »
Yeah, U2's closers are nearly always great. Grace is one of my least favourites, but in my version of ATYCLB it's not the closer - The Ground Beneath Her Feet is. I love Cedars, it reminds me of Wake Up Dead Man, although it doesn't quite reach those lofty heights for me.