to dismantle an atomic bomb………
firstly what a strange title, I wonder if it’s an obvious
reference to recent world events, something terribly subtle
or just a joke? Rock n Roll has a habit of being a mixture
of these things. Whatever, its only rock n roll…….
by U2 are always worth paying attention to, and that’s not
just because I am an appreciator, but more because you know
that these four men have put a lot of time and effort into
the product, including its comprehensive marketing. At this
stage in their careers, when middle age is setting in, they
can still put out fine rock music that stands up and gets
noticed in amongst the newer offerings, and perhaps even eclipses
them? Well, who knows? Ask a 21 year old.
this CD has been a commercial success already. Released to
the world on 22 November 2004, by 23 December it had sold
one million copies in the UK alone and had reached number
one in 25 countries. So it seems to have got through to a
few more people than the middle aged purchasers like myself
who have happily stayed loyal to the brand for years.
what about the music? Well, to briefly summarise, it’s a very
good follow up to the last one. The song strength of the previous
album was exceptional and very hard to follow up in my view,
so we have an edgier riff driven 11 songs laying a foundation
for the Bonofication. In other words the formula is just like
all the others, the only difference it seems is on what basis
Edge starts the ball rolling each time. If Edge sets the scene,
Adam and Larry create the scenery and then Bono provides the
special effects. Like all the best bands, it’s the chemistry
that holds them together.
Baby was a deep dark curious piece of melancholy heartache;
Zooropa was a funkier, sort of party album (if that’s possible)
recorded swiftly between private jetting to and from stadiums
all around Europe. Then after the monster Zoo tours, and a
bit of a rest came POP, with its deep rhythms and dance inspired
songs, when many a critic started to titter and wonder what
sort of excess these chaps had over indulged in. I nearly
got to see them on the Pop tour had it not been for a car
accident, but it was a superb piece of theatre by all accounts.
They had made big money but they happily spent it again on
unbelievable extravagances for their live performances, the
like of which may never be seen again. How do you follow up
Zoo TV with its Gulf War inspired multi-televisual bombardment?
Why not do another even bigger one capturing the obscenity
of commercialism and corporate greed in our world? Hey, they
even had a single golden arch over the stage, marvellous.
how to dismantle an atom bomb, let’s dismantle it a little….
start with an incredible riff. Where did he get that from?
It sounds like it must be copied from something else, but
its not, it’s a bit of punk, a lot of rock, a whiff of Stones,
and has a Plant-like scream. Just my cup of tea! Then we go
through a series of impressive songs, each are stories, told
in the emotive manner we all know well. We are reminded about
world poverty, dreams of world peace, the loss of a father
by a son who really wants to tell him more, and as always
the personal messages from Bono to his wife, biblical references,
and ending with the prayer, this time personally addressed
to the creator. This is the formula of nearly all their albums.
seems that they had an uneasy time making this one. Perhaps
they have all been like that who knows, but they got through
producers and seem to have recorded many a discarded track
in their river front warehouse in Dublin before asking Steve
Lillywhite to help them sort everything out. The result is
almost a modern re make of their first album, also produced
by Lillywhite in the early 80’s. I recall hearing the trademark
Edge riff for the first time in the sixth form lounge back
in 1981 and thinking that this really is different, one of
my school friends had been given a copy of Boy, (the first
record) by ‘the bassist’ who worked on his Dad’s farm. We
never knew then how big this group would become, but since
then they have almost provided a soundtrack to life and the
various phases of their evolution have been ringing in the
ears of the world for two and a half decades.
more impressive still is the fact that they are the same four
individuals, each one complimenting the other three it seems.
The royalties have always been shared equitably, and with
130 million album sales worldwide, that’s a lot of royalties.
They all still live in Dublin and appear to go to the same
pubs they always did. We have never had a ‘solo’ album or
muck raking in the papers, no musical differences or public
sniping at each other, no jealousy of the ‘very’ famous lead
singer, or resentment that the bassist lives in the biggest
house. They just do not take it too seriously yet paradoxically,
they are the most serious of them all.
in conclusion, this new album for me is not their ‘best’,
whatever that means, but it’s a lot better than anything else
I have heard recently from the guitar based rock genre. But,
hey maybe I am too old and somewhat biased!