U2: 11 O’Clock Tick Tock

A few months ago, I realized that the very early U2 track “11 O’Clock Tick Tock” was, to put it simply, bad-ass. Just watch this version from Red Rock way back in the day. That riff…laws yes…

“Saaaaad song, sad song…”

Quick Review (LP): No Line On The Horizon by U2

U2
No Line On The Horizon
Interscope; 2009

My Rating: B (66/100)

Best Tracks: "Magnificent", "Unknown Caller", "I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight", "Cedars of Lebanon”

The sound of a band staying the course.

TRACK NOTES

"No Line On The Horizon"

  • Cool track, and a decent opener.
  • I always cringe at the line "You can hear the universe in her sea shells." I guess because it brings this to mind. Is it supposed to do that?
  • I mean, I know what he’s talking about with the whole sound in the sea shells thing, so, anyways…
  • It’s no "Where The Streets Have No Name" or "A Sort of Homecoming", but its trajectory is at least in that direction. Solid enough, if a bit underwhelming.

"Magnificent"

  • Word is the lyrics are loosely based upon the "Magnificat." Genius.
  • Love the intro. Nice touch, letting it sort of build from something a bit muffled. Gives it that epic feel.
  • Great U2-ish tune, BTW. One of The Edge’s best riffs in a while.
  • The lyrics "Only love can leave such a mark/Only love can leave such a scar" remind me of this and this.
  • "Only love can leave such a mark/Only love unites our hearts." Nice change up in the parallelism there. 

"Moment of Surrender"

  • This one reminds me of something from ATYCLB. Has a soul-pop feel.
  • I think they closed most of the U2 360 shows with this one. It is pretty climactic.
  • The pacing of the song is brilliant. It allows it to unfold like a story.
  • The lyrics are pretty great.
  • "My body’s now a begging bowl
    That’s begging to get back, begging to get back
    To my heart
    To the rhythm of my soul
    To the rhythm of my unconsciousness
    To the rhythm that yearns
    To be released from control"

"Unknown Caller"

  • LOVE this tune. A new U2 classic.
  • I detect some inspiration from Sufjan in the use of a choral style vocal. Compare this to "Chicago."
  • Bono loves to make reference to Jeremiah 33:3. Wonder what it is about that verse?
  • Or is it a Trinity thing? 3 x 3?

"I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight"

  • Say what you will, I like this tune, corny (and, er, picturesque – "Squeeze out sparks of light"???)  lyrics notwithstanding.
  • Sure, it’s the most obvious play for pop culture acceptance here, but it largely succeeds, and I’d rather hear this than 99.9% of the tripe that gets played today.
  • Another great Edge riff here.

"Get On Your Boots"

  • This isn’t as bad as I once thought it was. The initial bass and drums things is a little deceptive.
  • Still, I’m not quite sure how it fits into the rest of the album.
  • I don’t hate it anymore, but it’s still a bit of a skipper.

"Stand Up Comedy"

  • Hey, there’s the "Love, Love, Love" thing! You know, from "Until the End of the World."
  • U2 doesn’t wear cock rock riffage well.
  • Bono’s lyrics are interesting and self-deprecating. Not bad in that department.
  • I particularly like the one about helping God cross the street like an old lady.

"FEZ-Being Born"

  • Not sure what to make of this one. It’s really an instrumental in essence, eh?
  • That being said, I kinda wish U2 would do more stuff like this. Some instrumentals might make their records a little more diverse and ultimately a little more interesting.

"White As Snow"

  • Nice use of "Veni, Veni Emmanuel".
  • Flutters by in a sort of dream.
  • Nice tune, nothing particulary special.

"Breathe"

  • Part of me likes this one, part of me doesn’t.
  • What I like: Bono’s vocal and the general thrust of the song.
  • What I don’t like: the instrumentation, especially the strings and such.
  • I think it actually works as a stripped down rocker, but the dramatic swells are too pompous.

"Cedars of Lebanon"

  • There’s a haze that hangs over this one that I really love.
  • Reminds me of "Mothers of the Disappeared."
  • In fact, it reminds me of combo of "Mothers…" and "Love Is Blindness."
  • One of the band’s most interesting experiments in a while. That backing vocal on the chorus is haunting.
  • Love how it sort of drifts away into nothingness all of the sudden. Totally mortal.

ALBUM NOTES

  • What to make of this one? Went it hit the streets, I was put off by the silly single "Get On Your Boots." I assumed that if that was the best they could muster, the rest of the album must be tripe. (see my old review)
  • Recently, I’ve had a change of heart. The first 5 tracks are all strong, and "Magnificent" and "Unknown Caller" both rank up their with their greatest.
  • Problem is, the last half of the album is somewhat uninspired. Don’t get me wrong, none of it’s BAD, but it’s a bit mediocre on whole, although their are some decent ideas (touched on above).
  • All in all, this is the most "U2-ish" they’ve been since the late 80’s. There are glimmers of what they were able to do in the mid-80’s here, but there’s also a good bit of corniness and over-production.
  • Bottom line though is that the boys still got it. They may not be making classics equal to The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby, but they are still making inspired music that has the ability to transport you to another time and place. And really, that’s all I ask for from Bono & co.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4.5/5)
Concept (4.5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (3.5/5)
Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb by U2

U2
How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Interscope; 2004

My Rating: B- (60/100)

Best Tracks: "Vertigo", "Miracle Drug", "Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own", "Crumbs From Your Table", "Original of the Species"

U2 falls in line with The Current State of Rock And Roll™.

NOTES

  • "Vertigo", while overplayed, is one helluva rock and roll track.
  • "Unos, dos, tres, catorce…" Goofy/catchy.
  • Brilliant guitar work by The Edge. Between his guitar and the backing vocals on the bridge, “Vertigo” sounds like something from their post-punk days.
  • I think "Miracle Drug" is pretty great. Again, something very reminiscent about their 80’s heyday in this.
  • "Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own" has one of the band’s best melodies. When Edge’s echoed guitar comes in, that track just rises above.
  • "And it’s you when I look in the mirror/And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone/Sometimes you can’t make it on your own."
  • Bono wrote that one as a tribute to his late father, and sang it at his funeral. Moving.
  • Never been crazy about "Love and Peace or Else." Sub-standard.
  • I gotta say, I love "City of Blinding Lights", but it has been tainted for me by Obama’s messianic entrance at the DNC back in 2008. I hate it when politicians co-opt tracks. Always cheapens them. (That’s a bi-partisan sentiment, BTW).
  • "All Because of You" is a big ol’ rock song. It’s a bit generic, but definitely rocks out.
  • Never been crazy about "A Man and a Woman." Sort of sounds like something Bryan Adams would’ve done.
  • "Crumbs From Your Table" finds Bono at his preachiest, but it’s a decent cut nonetheless. Nice reference too.
  • "One Step Closer" recalls their work on ATYCLB. A little more soulful than the rest of the album. Again, apparently a tribute of sorts to Bono’s late father.
  • "Original of the Species" contains another classic Edge guitar riff at the chorus.
  • "Some things you shouldn’t get too good at it/Like smiling, crying, and celebrity/Some people got way too much confidence baby…"
  • Unfortunately, "Yahweh" closes things out with a thud. The song is frustratingly formulaic and stands in the bottom tier of U2 tracks.
  • Lillywhite produced this one, which probably has to do with it being so reminiscent of the band’s early work. (He produced the band’s first 3 albums).
  • HTDAAB contains some of U2’s choicest work, and there is a humdinger of a potential concept therein. Unfortunately there’s a good bit of mediocrity throughout as well, 3 or 4 tracks that are really nothing more than filler and come off as U2 aping themselves. Brilliant at moments, but disappointing as a whole.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (3/5)
Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): All That You Can’t Leave Behind by U2

U2
All That You Can’t Leave Behind
Interscope; 2000

My Rating: B (72/100)

Best Tracks: "Beautiful Day", "Stuck In A Moment That You Can’t Out Of", "Walk On", "In A Little While"

After Pop, U2 makes a pop record.

NOTES

  • I can remember listening to "Beautiful Day" back in 2000 and thinking "They’re back!!!"
  • "Beautiful Day" is such a great song. It’s a bit overplayed radio-wise, but it’s deserving of that status.
  • I really love the transition from the second bridge to the song’s conclusion. The Edge’s guitar work there is brilliant.
  • Sure, the video is overwrought, but, c’mon, it just makes sense to have huge jets taking off over the head of U2.
  • "Stuck In A Moment" was one of my initial favorites. It’s sort of an R&B tune isn’t it?
  • Also, I saw Bono totally butcher the words to "Stuck In A Moment" in Indianapolis in 2001. Ironic.
  • Yes, "Elevation" does contain some ridiculous lyrics, but sue me, I like it.
  • My wife once had "Elevation" as her ring tone. So, yeah, someone would call and we’d hear Bono yell "A mole! Diggin’ in a hole!"
  • While I do love "Walk On", gotta say, the promos for the Friends finale almost ruined it for me. Man, they wouldn’t stop playing that song!!!
  • Seriously though, "Walk On" is prime U2. Beautiful melody, great guitar line, an all around feel good track.
  • "Kite" is a pretty gorgeous song, but something has always seemed a bit off about it to me. I like Bono’s inspiration for the tune though. Touching.
  • The last few lyrics of "Kite" have always seemed a little awkward to me.
  • "In A Little While" is a personal favorite. It’s another cut I could see being performed by an old school soul singer.
  • "Wild Honey" is the cutest thing they’ve done since "Sweetest Thing." It’s a sleeper.
  • Given the subject matter and the lyrical content, "Peace On Earth" strikes me as a hybrid of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and John Lennon’s "Imagine."
  • Very moving when he lists the names of the victims of the Omagh bombing.
  • While unusual, I dig the tones The Edge got out of his guitar on ATYCLB. See "When I Look At The World."
  • While I do like "New York", it does seem like it could have gone a little farther.
  • "Grace" feels like an afterthought, but it’s actually underrated.
  • It’s a return to form in certain ways, but U2 never really sounded this poppy and urban before. This is soul-pop the way only U2 could do it.
  • I think the concept here is leaving the past behind. Appropriate for U2 after Pop almost relegated them to the realm of has-beens. It may not be a critical favorite, but this is a solid, forward-looking album. Bono was fond of saying that they were reapplying for the job of world’s best band with this record. In terms of popularity, I think they got the job.
  • ATTRIBUTES
    Cohesion (5/5)
    Concept (5/5)
    Consequence (5/5)
    Consistency (3/5)
    Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): Pop by U2

U2
Pop
Island; 1997

My Rating: C (56/100)

Best Tracks: "If God Will Send His Angels", "Gone", "Wake Up Dead Man", "Last Night On Earth"

U2’s anti-U2 album.

NOTES

  • I can remember hating "Discotheque" when it came out. I thought it was U2 going off the deep end. It’s not so bad though. Strange/hilarious video.
  • "Do You Feel Loved" has a little bit of gracefulness to it. However, it’s nothing special.
  • On "Mofo", the band does their best Prodigy/NIN imitation and pretty much fails.
  • "If God Will Send His Angels" is one of the band’s best melodies. It’s almost like an old school soul song. In fact, I’d love to hear a soul singer cover it.
  • I always though "Staring at the Sun" sounded like U2 were a bit short on inspiration, but they were trying really hard to write their next big cultural milestone.
  • "Last Night On Earth" is a cool tune. Nice big chorus as you would expect from U2.
  • "Gone" is great. The Edge’s guitar work is impressive without sounding like The Edge.
  • "Miami" is just plain ugly.
  • You know, there might be something to "The Playboy Mansion." A twisted vision of heaven for sure, but isn’t that the point?
  • "If You Wear That Velvet Dress" and "Please" don’t really do anything for me. Both are pretty dull.
  • "Wake Up Dead Man" may be one of the band’s best closing tracks. Surprised to learn that it was originally conceived as an upbeat track during the Achtung Baby sessions.
  • Pop has a great concept. I’ve read something somewhere about the genius of the title. In the grand sense, Pop might be U2’s most spiritually significant record, in that it stands as the band’s ironic embrace of the hedonistic mentality of the late 90’s. Pop is a clash, full of noise and confusion, with the grace so common in U2’s work barely perceptible. Me? I love the heart on sleeve U2. I gave Pop a pretty harsh grade, but I can appreciate that this album might be one of their most rewarding for those willing to go as deep as U2 apparently wanted. I suppose that one of these days I might just come back to it and find an album I love.
  • A “C” does seem unfair. Not trying to be a hater.
  • Erlewine’s review at AMG is spot on: "Achtung Baby also was a comment on the numbing isolation of modern culture, but it made sweeping statements through personal observations; Pop makes sweeping statements through sweeping observations. The difference is what makes Pop an easy record to admire, but a hard one to love."

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (3/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (2/5)
Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): Zooropa by U2

U2
Zooropa
Island; 1993

My Rating: A- (81/100)

Best Tracks: “Babyface”, “Lemon”, “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)”, “Some Days Are Better Than Others”

Post-U2 (and everything else).

NOTES

  • Man, “Zooropa” (the title track) is like the anti-“Where the Streets Have No Name.” Very Eno-esque, reminiscent of something off Another Green World, but a little groovy too. I dig it.
  • “Babyface” is one of the strangest things they’ve ever recorded. It’s also really good. Kind of like a collision of Radiohead’s “Kid A” and “The Fly” off Achtung Baby. Love the twinkly piano thing.
  • Ah, “Numb!” The one where The Edge sings in the monotone and gets his face abused. Bizarre, but strangely enjoyable. I think it’s Bono’s falsetto that makes this track, and the organ breakdown is so silly that it’s fantastic.
  • “Lemon” is wonderful. Beautiful inspiration, transcendent melody. This is one of the U2’s underrated greats. I adore the bridge. See my review of the track here.
  • Man, “Stay”…the goodness on this one just astounds me. That chorus rises to heaven.
  • “Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car” isn’t great, but it’s decent and pretty interesting. Bono calls it “industrial blues.”
  • The rhythm on “Some Days…” is some of the best work of Clayton and Mullen. Love Clayton’s bass line.
  • The atmosphere on “The First Time” is great. Another underrated gem. Kind of like a hybrid of “Mothers of the Disappeared” and “All I Want Is You.”
  • “Dirty Day” is a bit of a drag, but the overall tide of the album lifts it a few notches.
  • As much as I gotta respect Johnny Cash, I’m looking forward to hearing Bono on “The Wanderer” at some point in the not too distant future (AB deluxe perhaps?).
  • It’s amazing to think about how much this album has grown on me since its release. At the time, I though U2 had gone off the deep end, but as I listen to it now, I realize this is one of U2’s crowning achievements. It’s not quite a masterpiece, but this, like Achtung Baby, is a work of art.
  • There were apparently 20 tracks recorded during the Zooropa sessions, 10 of which are here, and 4 saw release (in re-recorded form) on Pop. I wonder what the other handful were, and if we’ll ever get to hear them? (I think “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” was one as well).

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

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): Rattle and Hum by U2

U2
Rattle and Hum
Island; 1988

My Rating: C (53/100)

Best Tracks: "Desire", "Angel of Harlem", "All I Want Is You", "Van Diemen’s Land", "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (live)"

The sound of a band losing the plot.

NOTES

  • U2 is often accused of trying to inherit The Beatles’ mantle with their cover of "Helter Skelter" opening this record. However, the biggest problem with their cover is that it sort of sucks.
  • "Van Diemen’s Land" is a harrowing little sleeper, isn’t it? Really nice stuff from The Edge.
  • "Desire" is the punchiest tune they’ve written since "I Will Follow."
  • "Hawkmoon 269" is okay. Nothing particularly special in my book. The gospel singers are a little cheesy.
  • Their cover of "All Along The Watchtower" is without vision and forgettable.
  • The live version of "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For" is really nice. The gospel choir takes it in a different direction, but really captures the essence of the song.
  • "Silver and Gold" wasn’t even good in the studio. It doesn’t stand a chance here.
  • The live version of "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" is decent. Nice singalong. "THE EDGE!!!" Love that part.
  • "Angel of Harlem" is such a great tune. It’s one of the few stellar moments here, a song that really transports you into the hustle and bustle of NYC.
  • "Love Rescue Me" was co-written with Bob Dylan. He can be heard on the track. It’s a decent sort of big city blues number with a horn section to boot.
  • "When Love Comes to Town" is one of the band’s firiest moments. It actually sort of reminds me of REM’s "Orange Crush" in a weird way.
  • "Heartland" is a cool tune. Though not among their greater tracks, it’s a definite highlight here.
  • "God Part II" is supposed to mark the jumping off point into techno for the band. It’s a dud.
  • Don’t really dig "Bullet the Blue Sky" anyway, so why would I like it live?
  • As simple as it is, "All I Want Is You" is prime U2.
  • The thing is, if they had cut all the filler, U2 might have had a decent (though still inferior) companion to The Joshua Tree on their hands. See below for my thoughts on a tracklisting.
  • Though it contains a handful of great tunes, Rattle and Hum is the work of band on the verge of nuking the fridge. As a film, it’s actually pretty enjoyable, but the record itself is confusing. It’s not an enjoyable listen from start to finish, and many of the tracks are questionable as anything other than interesting outtakes or incidental music. Towards the end of the Lovetown tour, Bono would famously tell the crowds that U2 needed to go away and "dream it all up again." Couldn’t have put it better myself.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (2/5)
Songs (3.5/5)

My Rattle and Hum tracklist
1. Hawkmoon 269
2. Desire
3. Van Diemen’s Land
4. Silver and Gold (The Joshua Tree version)
5. Angel of Harlem
6. When Love Comes to Town
7. Love Rescue Me
8. Heartland
9. God part II
10. All I Want Is You

Quick Review (LP): The Joshua Tree by U2

U2
The Joshua Tree
Island; 1987

My Rating: A (86/100)

Best Tracks: "Where The Streets Have No Name", "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For", "With or Without You", "Running to Stand Still", "One Tree Hill"

Monumental in every conceivable way.

NOTES

  • The Edge says that when they wrote "Where the Streets Have No Name", they were trying to write the ultimate live song. Mission accomplished.
  • For a band that had heretofore been basically post-punk, they nailed the gospel thing with "I Still Haven’t Found…" Transcendent. One of the most beautiful songs ever.
  • "I believe in the kingdom come/That all the colors will bleed into one…" Chills.
  • The fact that "With or Without You" has reached cultural saturation takes nothing away from the fact that it is both an amazing song and a brilliant performance.
  • "Bullet the Blue Sky" – amazing and incendiary guitar work by The Edge. Really brilliant. Never been crazy about Bono’s performance though. It is Bono at his most laughably Bono-esque.
  • After the fireworks of the first four tracks, "Running to Stand Still" rounds out side one on a hushed and meditative note. One of the band’s most underrated tracks. Cinematic.
  • "Red Hill Mining Town" – amazing chorus, and the rise to the chorus is great as well. "And you keep me holdin’ on/In Red Hill town/See the lights go down…"
  • "In God’s Country" has always been one of my favorites, a defining track for this album. Apparently, the band is not as crazy about it. I guess it does feel a little unfinished.
  • "Tripped through Your Wires" is great. Love the sound of The Edge’s guitar there. Rousing.
  • I love the way "One Tree Hill" begins with the synthetic beat and builds to a swell. Bono’s vocals are amazing here. Another personal favorite, and another underrated track.
  • I’ve never been sure about "Exit", but it’s growing on me. I think the mood just feels a little off (?).
  • "Mothers of the Disappeared" certainly ends the album on an unexpected note. The rest of the album soars, so “Mothers” almost feels out of place. It certainly requires an attentiveness that the rest of the album doesn’t. That being said, after many listens, I think it’s a decent tune, though not one of the band’s best, and questionable as a closer here.
  • Perhaps The Joshua Tree is the Mt. Rushmore of rock and roll? Grand in concept, glorious to behold, but unfinished and rough around the edges when viewed close up.
  • I tend to go back and forth on The Joshua Tree as a whole. It is absolutely a classic album, but I am not so sure that it is a perfect record. The highs, of which there are many, are so high that they make the lesser moments seem entirely dull. Specifically, I think they could’ve closed out the record in a far stronger way. (U2 needs to spend some time with Radiohead to figure out how to end a record.) It’s as if their ambition was beyond the reach of mere mortals, and by the end they simply ran out of energy and had to finished the record in a hurried way. That being said, U2 would not be U2 without that ambition, and this is the album where they assumed the mantle of international rock heroes.
  • DELUXE EDITION: Most of the tracks on the second CD come off like experimental drivel. There are only a few notable exceptions: "Spanish Eyes" and "Sweetest Thing" (not as good as the updated version released a few years back). Overall, however, I think the deluxe edition more than anything shows that this was a somewhat confusing period for U2. The Joshua Tree may be their most popular effort, but it was a transitional record, a continuation of the upheaval the band was going through as they tried to move beyond their post-punk roots into something fittingly transcendent.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Build A Rocket Boys! by Elbow

Elbow
Build A Rocket Boys!
Fiction; 2011

My Rating: A- (81/100)

Best Tracks: "The Birds", "Lippy Kids", "Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl", "Neat Little Rows", "Open Arms", "Dear Friends"

A big HUG of a record.

NOTES
– Elbow are a Brit-rock band that I meant to get into a few years back, after hearing "Forget Myself", a fantastic single. Alas, distractions…
– Great vocals – sounds like Peter Gabriel fronting U2. Similarities to Doves as well.
– "Lippy Kids" is gorgeous.
– "Love will find you out." Nice.
– Surprisingly big when it’s really quiet and intimate. See "The Night Will Always Win." Just Guy and an omnichord at first.
– The nostalgic twinges really define this record. It’s like a big goodbye to childhood. At the same time, it’s a strong affirmation of youth.
– I really like this record (and this band), but as a whole it doesn’t quite knock it out of the park like I was hoping it would. There are several fantastic tracks, and the production is gorgeous, but there isn’t that defining moment that one would hope for from a band of this caliber. Still, I’m sure I’ll be playing this regularly throughout 2011.
Ian Cohen of Pitchfork: "[W]hile Garvey is a phenomenal vocalist and wordsmith, the dots don’t always connect to form memorable songs. That’s particularly glaring during Build a Rocket‘s pokey midsection, which abates melodically and hangs on to Garvey’s redolent lyrics for dear life." Word.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4.5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)