Quick Review (LP): Achtung Baby by U2

U2
Achtung Baby
Island; 1991

My Rating: A+ (100/100)

Best Tracks: "Even Better Than The Real Thing", "One", "Until the End of the World", "Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses", "Mysterious Ways", "Ultraviolet"

“Let us go then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky…”

NOTES

  • Even today, "Zoo Station" is such a bizarre song. It certainly sent the message at the time that U2 were re-defining themselves as a band. The "Everything In It’s Right Place" of the 90’s.
  • "Time is a train/The future, the past/We’re standing in the station/Our face pressed up against the glass"
  • "Even Better Than The Real Thing" = prophecy. Brilliant guitar work from The Edge.
  • You don’t need me to tell you that "One" is great, but I really love the way the song avoids the traditional verse-chorus-verse. The guitar tones are wonderful too.
  • "Have you come here for forgiveness/Have you come to raise the dead/Have you come here to play Jesus/To the lepers in your head?"
  • "Until the End of the World" is worth the price of admission alone. Judas sings the lead. Jesus sings the "Love love love!"
  • "In the garden, I was playing the tart/I kissed your lips and broke your heart/You, you were acting like it was the end of the world…"
  • "Waves of regret and waves of joy/I reached out for the one I tried to destroy/You, you said you’d wait til the end of the world…"
  • That ending. Haunting, beautiful, amazing.
  • “Who’s gonna ride…?" has always been a personal favorite. Love the wall of sound, the glam coupled with the gorgeous and romantic melody. Amazing lyrics.
  • "Oh the deeper I spin/The hunter will sin/For your ivory skin/Took a drive in the dirty rain/To the place where the wind calls your name…"
  • "So Cruel" is another great from this record. Brilliant songwriting. Sort of sounds like Elvis, doesn’t it? I could see him covering this, a medley with "Suspicious Minds."
  • "The Fly" is a really cool tune. I’ve always loved Bono’s falsetto on that tune, and the way he duels with his own voice on the lower end is brilliant.
  • "Love/We shine like a burning star/Falling from the sky/Tonight"
  • "A man will rise/A man will fall/From the sheer face of love/Like a fly on a wall/It’s no secret at all…"
  • "Mysterious Ways" is the big poppy hit here, but it’s no less a brilliant tune. No one can make meaningful and rich radio rock like U2.
  • "Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World" is another personal fave. It’s another example of the band sounding completely re-vitalized and fresh, brimming with ideas. Love that ethereal synth part in the background. That makes the song in my book.
  • I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but "Ultraviolet" is such a wonderful song. Amazing atmosphere, amazing tune.
  • Achtung Baby contains the band’s best ending sequence. "Acrobat" sets things swirling, setting the mood for what comes next.
  • "Love Is Blindness" – the opening organ is a nice touch. A waltz – what a way to end the record!
  • By the way, what is that lyrical style called (on "Love Is Blindness")? Bono uses it quite a bit, but he really nails it here. Is it a litany?
  • Big awards go to all players here. Bono’s vocals and lyrics are rich and compelling, The Edge’s guitar work is other-worldly, and Clayton and Mullen changed their style to lay the groundwork for greatness. Also, Eno and Lanois work their magic again. Can’t forget Lillywhite or Flood either.
  • Nevermind and Out of Time may have helped spur the music revolution in 1991, but it’s Achtung Baby that stands alone as a truly revolutionary experience. Even today, there’s a magical "high art" quality to the record that is an extremely rare achievement in the world of pop music. Only U2 could pull off a tongue-in-cheek pop record concerned with such weighty themes. A marvel of biblical proportions, and perhaps the record U2 was pre-destined to create.
  • A previous write-up.
  • Really looking forward to the deluxe edition (6CDs!!!) in November.
  • One last thought – AB as a whole sort of reminds me of the T.S. Eliot’s “J. Alfred Prufrock.” I mean the feel of the record. I just realized that.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Songs (5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Push Barman to Open Old Wounds by Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian
Push Barman to Open Old Wounds
Jeepster; 2005

My Rating: A (88/100)

Best Tracks: "Dog On Wheels", "Belle & Sebastian", "Lazy Line Painter Jane", "This Is Just A Modern Rock Song", "I Know Where The Summer Goes"

"When I was a boy I was confounded by you/Now I’m still a boy I am indebted to you…"

NOTES

  • Love "Dog On Wheels." It has the quality of a lost Sinister track.
  • Jeez, these guys recorded "The State I Am In" a lot. BBC session, debut LP, and now this!
  • "String Bean Jean" seems like Belle & Sebastian’s ode to their archetypal fan.
  • I do love it when bands write songs after their own band name. And this band’s eponymous song is pretty great.
  • Apparently that’s Monica Queen on "Lazy Line Painter Jane." Love her voice. She sounds like a British Maria McKee. It’s a brilliant tune, one of their best.
  • I’m not usually a fan of spoken word, but between the lovely background music and the barely audible Scottish brogue of the narrator, "A Century of Elvis" is pretty enjoyable.
  • And I’ve never noticed until now that "A Century of Fakers" and "A Century of Elvis" are the same music.
  • "This Is Just A Modern Rock Song" & "I Know Where The Summer Goes" are both gloriously gorgeous. Slow, considered, and beautiful, it’s B&S at their most epic.
  • Even the more understated tunes have a brilliant magic to them. "The Gate" is one of Isobel’s best performances.
  • Apparently, the "Legal Man" single was one of their biggest hits UK side, but I don’t get it. Those 3 tracks are probably the worst here. Too sleek or something.
  • Love those strings on "Take Your Carriage Clock and Shove It." That’s some old school B&S.
  • "The Loneliness of a Middle-Distance Runner" is also a winner.
  • Here’s the deal: the early EPs are great. The later stuff runs the gamut from good to forgettable. Even so, this is an essential collection. Although If You’re Feeling Sinister is their best album (a true classic), this might be the best starting point. You’ll be hard pressed to find a collection of more unbearably lovely tunes.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)