Saturday, December 13, 2008

10 Classic Irish Albums (6)

U2 - The Unforgettable Fire (1984)

This writer will always have a soft spot for U2’s fourth studio album, as it was arguably the last record they released before they became the bombastic entity they are now, for better or worse. Not that it’s necessarily an understated record: the opening two tracks, ‘A Sort Of Homecoming’ and ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’, see Bono at his chest-beating best and their music at its most yearning. The former, in particular, remains one of the most underrated songs in their repertoire.

Elsewhere, though, there’s some of the most experimental, ambient music the band have released, obviously informed by collaborator Brian Eno: on ‘Elvis Presley and America’, Bono turns in a restrained, hypnotic vocal performance over a backdrop of warm, chiming atmospherics; in a similar vein, closing track ‘MLK’ is essentially a lullaby, a gentle drone framing the singer’s exhortation to ‘Sleep / Sleep tonight / And may your dreams be realised’. Then there’s the windswept, almost mystical soundscape of the title track; while live favourite ‘Bad’ takes its cue from Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’ and creates something similarly transcendental but completely unique. Then there’s tracks like ‘Wire’ and ‘Indian Summer Sky’, which showed that The Edge was still taking plenty of guitar lessons from post-punk acts like Gang Of Four.

You can keep your Joshua Tree, this is the one I’m taking to the metaphorical desert island.

Standout Tracks: Elvis Presley and America, A Sort of Homecoming, Bad

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