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)

Tracknotes: “Lemon” by U2

Big Lemon Of U2’s albums, the record that has grown on me most over time is undoubtedly Zooropa. The record that nipped at the heels of the classic Achtung Baby!, Zooropa was heavily steeped in a European irony that made it, in terms of U2 albums, almost inaccessible to American audiences. After all, the debut single from this album was “Numb.” But there are some great tracks on Zooropa (“Stay (Faraway So Close!)”, “Somedays Are Better Than Others”, “The First Time”), and chief among those is the epic kraut-pop of “Lemon.”

  • This song has a great back story. At one point in the early 1990s, a relative sent Bono an old home movie of his mother wearing a lemon-yellow dress as the maid-of-honor at a wedding. Bono was extremely moved by the footage of his deceased mother as a young woman, and the song is about the power of images to stir our memories and our emotions.
  • The video is intended to mimic the first motion picture ever created, a “moving picture” of a rider and horse by a man named Eadweard Muybridge.
  • The lyrics are deeply stirring: “She is the dreamer/She’s imagination/Through the light projected/He can see himself up close.” In my opinion, with this track U2 nailed the paradox that they were trying to capture in the 90’s, that of the extreme humanizing and de-humanizing effects of technology.
  • The guitar sound is amazing. The Edge apparently stumbled upon a gated guitar effect that went perfectly with a drum and bass pattern that he’d put together in the middle of a tour. Still, I think the piano interlude makes the song. It adds the “sehnsucht” to the track that is the key to any great U2 song.
  • All in all, this is one of my favorite U2 tracks. The unique sound of the song, the watery guitar effects, the gorgeous melody, the backstory – it all combines to make classic U2, and one of the most innovative pop songs I’ve ever heard.