The Unforgettable Fire


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


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.


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