The Unforgettable Fire

Reissues

Bottom: Dr. Strangelove: Eno (r) and the Edge
Bottom: Dr. Strangelove: Eno (r) and the Edge (Photo from The Unforgettable Five deluxe box)

U2

The Unforgettable Fire (Universal-Island)

Careful reupholstering of U2's catalog has supplemented discs onto Boy, October, War, and Under a Blood Red Sky, but until now, only The Joshua Tree has been stuffed and crowned with the deluxe box treatment. The Unforgettable Fire, its predecessor, now comes sized as a 2-CD/1-DVD prayer book as well. The Dublin quartet's first reinvention began by forgoing rock guru Steve Lillywhite for Apollo veteran Brian Eno, who, in the first of a series of essays from key Fire starters in a hardbound minibook, writes that he and co-producer "Danny" Lanois had: "These ideas, which had to do with extending the sonic palette and creating a more scenographic form of music." Echoes of War's battle march open "A Sort of Homecoming," but the song's syncopated hymnal, Bono's "O come away, o come away, o come away, say I," rings transformative. ("Larry Mullen had developed an amazing powerhouse hi-hat technique," writes Lanois. "We saw this as a window of rhythmic opportunity.") That's when "Pride (In the Name of Love)" makes civil rights a secular rite of passage. Before catching a breath, the Euro funk of razor "Wire" finds Bono's satin desperation opening a holy host of veins on Edge's stigmata six-string. Mullen's tick into the luminous title track and its junk trunk beat thrusts ecstatic against Bono's equally pleading lyric, strings welling with blood as synthesized exclamations burst the aneurysm. All this time, your stereo gets louder and louder. "Promenade" pops a hatch to Eno's Ambient Airlines on "4th of July," which returns as closing a cappella Bono benediction "MLK." Between them, "Bad" takes Marvin Gaye indie rock, Edge performs more Benihana on "Indian Summer Sky," and "Elvis Presley and America" dons Jim Morrison's shaman fringe. For an encore, a nearly 70-minute CD of B-sides and outtakes joins its reissue mates, particularly The Joshua Tree bonus disc, as more or less essential, from newly completed opener "Disappearing Act" and out-of-print Wide Awake in America EP to demo "Yoshino Blossom," employing "New Year's Day" electric piano and the EBow from "Disappearing Act," plus banger "Boomerang II" and two "Wire" remixes. An exclusive DVD converts the original VHS of MTV videos and album documentary, now pushing past the hour mark with Bono mullet messiah-era concert footage from Live Aid etc. Achtung Baby.

****.5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More U2
PHASES & STAGES
U2
Songs of Innocence (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 26, 2014

33 Revolutions Per Page
33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, From Billie Holiday to Green Day
Time to get political, yo

Jim Caligiuri, June 15, 2012

More Music Reviews
Review: Holy Wave, <i>Five of Cups</i>
Review: Holy Wave, Five of Cups
Five of Cups (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2023

Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, <i>Emergency Leisure</i>
Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, Emergency Leisure
Emergency Leisure (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Aug. 4, 2023

More by Raoul Hernandez
Queens, Kings, and More Events to Help You Celebrate This Weekend
Queens, Kings, and More Events to Help You Celebrate This Weekend
Movies, theatre, classes, dancing, and more reasons to get out

June 14, 2024

Spiders, Slams, and Other Shows Worth Seeing This Week
Spiders, Slams, and Other Shows Worth Seeing This Week
Dare to go out on a school night!

June 14, 2024

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

U2

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle