Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Oh Baby, Baby!

U2 first burst big into the Manila music scene back in 1983 with “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Year’s Day.” Their huge hit “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” cemented their status as a critically-lauded rough-and-jangle rock band that wears its heart out on its sleeve. The latter quality was most evident when they honored the American legends of rock n’ roll, blues, folk and gospel in their album Rattle And Hum. But their sixth studio album received mixed reviews and harsh criticisms.

Thus Achtung Baby was born.

Whenever I talk to U2 fans about their favorite U2 album, most are divided into two camps: the pre-Achtung and the post-Achtung. Most rockers favor the pre-Achtung sound (and to some extent, are happy with the band flexing their rock and roll muscles again with their post-2000 albums).

For me, though, U2 was at their most creative best when they released their seventh studio album, Achtung Baby (1991), and its audial sibling, Zooropa (1993).

From the opening guitar salvo of “Zoo Station,” you immediately hear the band stretching their sound into new territories. This is a band coming out with an album on their own terms. They tap into alternative sounds like electronica and dance to pump new energy into their rock songs. But more than just their music, the band also seemed to have relaxed with their “heart-on-sleeve” attitude. They still had earnest songs, but at times they also sound more flippant and fun.

For me the first ten songs segue effortlessly from one track to the next. From “Zoo Station” to “Ultraviolet (Light My Way),” no track sounds like a filler or a throwaway. Only in the last two track do the band sound like they’ve run out of steam; despite that, “Acrobat” and “Love Is Blindness” still impress on their own.

U2 pushed the envelope even further with their follow-up album Zooropa. More electronically-sounding than its predecessor, the eighth studio album is a more uneven mix. But it still boasts of “Numb” and “Stay (Faraway, So Close!).” Another personal favorite of mine is the last track, “The Wanderer,” which features the sonorous voice of the legendary Johnny Cash. Like in “Numb,” Bono hands the lead vocal chores to someone else and contents himself with supplying falsetto back-up vocals.

Sadly their foray into electronica and dance reached its most experimental (and least appreciated) with Pop. With this album, it’s like the band stretched itself too far, and the strain is apparent.

For me, Achtung Baby remains the zenith of the band’s creative achievements.

So imagine my excitement when I found out that, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of Achtung Baby, they are coming out with this:

It’s the Uber Deluxe Edition, a limited edition “magnetic puzzle tiled box” which will contain:
• Gatefold wallet containing 6 CD audio discs (the album, follow-up Zooropa, remixes and reworkings from Achtung Baby sessions)
• Gatefold wallet containing 4 DVD discs (including “From the Sky Down” documentary, “Zoo TV: Live From Sydney” videos and bonus material).
• Album vinyl on 180gsm black vinyl in wide spine sleeve with 2 x inner bags
• 5×7” clear vinyl in original sleeves housed in a slipcase
• 84 page hardback book
• 16 page 12×12 oversized booklet
• Bono’s trademark “The Fly” sunglasses
• 4 x enamel badges
• Propaganda magazine
• 16 art prints in wallet
• Sticker sheet
• Exclusive numbered lithograth

It’s enough to make a rabid fan curl up and go into a coma.

Of course, when I tweeted the damn thing, I got a reply from Paul: “@mcvie nakakaloka tong deluxe ed na ‘to. tinalo ang deluxe ed ng westlife. hehe. choz.”

So I replied back: “@paulopocket 20 years from now tatalunin ang U2 ni Justin Bieber’s ‘My World 2.0/20 Biebelicious Edition.’”

Meanwhile, I wonder which bank I can rob easily?

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