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U2 Unforgettable Fire (Island)

Unforgettable Fire (Island)

Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., March 30, 2001

Record Reviews

U2

Unforgettable Fire (Island)

Released in September 1984, U2's fourth album was named after an exhibit of artwork made by survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic holocausts. In stark contrast to the mindless cock rock, New Wave synth, and big-hair metal vogue at the time, Unforgettable Fire was a breath of fresh air, dealing with such weighty issues as heroin overdoses ("Wire," "Bad") and war atrocities ("A Sort of Homecoming," "Unforgettable Fire"). While the quartet's prior catalog holds memorable songs, Unforgettable Fire is U2's first real cohesive album, both sonically, as its rich hues and deep tones are painted on a warm analog tableau, and thematically, as the songs often deal with loss due to unnecessary death. Nearly everyone knows "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "Bad," but this milestone album also contains the mercurial "Wire" and the impressionistic "Elvis Presley and America." While the band would go on to create wonderful albums, at this point, U2 was still drawing inspiration primarily from their native Emerald Isle -- before the pretensions of success clouded their judgment, before they felt a need to reinvent themselves. These 10 songs find U2 hungry for honest expression and sonic experimentation, producing/ engineering accolades going to Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. Like any true classic, Unforgettable Fire stands the test of time. It is now like it was in 1984: bittersweet, deep, and magical.

****.5

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