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From The Sky Down
November 7, 2012 11:28 PM   Subscribe

For some, it's a document examining a pivotal point in rock history with one of the biggest bands. For others, it is a eulogy marking the transformation of a vibrant force in music into ironic self-importance. Either way, David Guggenheim's 2011 film From The Sky Down [in two parts, ~90m total, trailer] is an interesting, somewhat historical, definitely hagiographic documentary about the struggles U2 faced between the end of the Joshua Tree tour and during the recording and release of Achtung Baby.

Bonus Links [more of-the-era than the above-linked documentary]:
Achtung Baby documentary (1 2 3) [~30m]

A Story Of One (1 2) [~15m]
posted by hippybear (70 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I stopped being a U2 fan right around the end of high school in 1989 - I had listened to them since Unforgettable Fire, and saw them for the "Tree concert" in 1988 at BC Place, but Rattle and Hum really left me shaking my head.

Achtung Baby didn't really seem like a U2 record, but it was definitely part of the soundtrack of my first couple of years at university. It captured the feel of the era so perfectly, with the Berlin Wall coming down, reunification, and the gradual integration of electronica into all aspects of popular music. It's the only U2 album I still listen to.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:05 AM on November 8, 2012


I cannot think of a more over hyped band in the last 25 years.
posted by Isadorady at 12:09 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Achtung Baby alone merits all the hype U2 gets.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 12:14 AM on November 8, 2012 [24 favorites]


I love Achtung Baby.
posted by fshgrl at 12:15 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, the movie Until the End of the World hasn't held up nearly was well as Achtung Baby. There's supposed to be a "director's cut" floating around out there (or is there?)...
posted by KokuRyu at 12:20 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a FIVE HOUR director's cut, KokuRyu. It's been sitting there on the shelf for a year or more, daring me to watch it.
posted by Prince Lazy I at 12:24 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I cannot think of a more over hyped band in the last 25 years.

The fucking Strokes
posted by mannequito at 12:42 AM on November 8, 2012 [17 favorites]


More seriously, I'm actually interested to watch this. I've never been much of a U2 fan, with the exceptions being Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. And really I never knew they were so close together in their catalogue. If you'd asked me a few minutes ago, I would have guessed JT was released around 84 and AB was 94, so I'm a little surprised there was only 3 years between. Thanks for the post.
posted by mannequito at 12:49 AM on November 8, 2012


I just began watching this last night!

I discovered U2 with Achtung Baby, followed them through the 90s (including catching up on their earlier albums), then lost interest after All That You Can't Leave Behind. I like ATYCLB, but was so disappointed that the band appeared to second-guess themselves after Pop (which I love, along with Zooropa and the Passengers album).

Watching the band in this documentary re-examining AB, I caught myself hoping that it inspires them to take some risks again after a decade or so in the wilderness. (Paul McCartney, after the Beatles' Anthology series reminded him of his peak, released the wonderfully Beatle-esque Flaming Pie.)

Anyway, I feel sorry for U2. In the 80s they just did what they wanted without worrying about what anyone thought - and produced some pretty unique music that's still enjoyable now. Then everyone gave them a hard time for Rattle and Hum (a fantastic album and film, in my opinion), and they've been sensitive about that ever since. They got mauled again for Pop and PopMart, and that was the end of their experimentalism, pretty much.

Still, all the big groups tend to have a hard time when their members are in their 40s - no longer young, but not yet comfortable with being old - but the U2 fellas are in their 50s now, so I reckon it's time for their renaissance.

Enough with the chiming guitars, Edge! Remember 'Lemon' and 'MoFo'!

I wish they'd go back to just doing what they like, rather than worrying about what people will think. They're usually out-of-step with the critics and hipsters, anyway - witness them coming so late not only to the blues but also to dance music. But when their hearts are in it, they produce good stuff.

Incidentally, hippybear, I'm still working my way through your Restart and Reboot collection, months later!
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 12:50 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


No one can be awesome forever. I'm still a U2 fan.

Thanks for posting this.
posted by wuwei at 1:00 AM on November 8, 2012


That's a FIVE HOUR director's cut, KokuRyu. It's been sitting there on the shelf for a year or more, daring me to watch it.

"Until the End of the Movie"?

Srsly, are there English subtitles?
posted by KokuRyu at 1:15 AM on November 8, 2012


hippybear, you are even better than the real thing - thank you for this.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:19 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I cannot think of a more over hyped band in the last 25 years.

Coldplay. Definitely Coldplay.
posted by Wordshore at 1:33 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Libertines.

Any post-95 "four white dudes with guitars and drums" band.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:45 AM on November 8, 2012


I've never been much of a U2 fan, with the exceptions being Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. And really I never knew they were so close together in their catalogue. If you'd asked me a few minutes ago, I would have guessed JT was released around 84 and AB was 94, so I'm a little surprised there was only 3 years between.

But what a three years. 1988 in Dublin and people (who don't like the cure) are listening to Rattle and Hum and Hothouse Flowers' People. Acid House was a thing for sure but Americana was cool. Gospel music, Bruce Springsteen, cowboy hats and dust. Then in 1989 the Stone Roses happen. The Berlin Wall falls. Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches hits in 90. Spike Island happens the same year. England is suddenly kind of cool, Berlin is cooler for a while though. U2 starts recording Achtung Baby in late 90. Loveless comes out before it does.
posted by fshgrl at 1:45 AM on November 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, the early 90's was an amazing time for music. Just amazing.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:47 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Coldplay is interesting though, as a case can be made for U2 being a late eighties/early to mid nineties version of Coldplay: loved and hated in equal measure for being one of the more inescapable bands of the time.

The eighties version of U2 I grew up with, through their various hit singles and later on buying the albums they appeared on. Never my favourite pop group, slightly naff even at the time, I thought they got incredibly up themselves around the time of Achtung Baby, which wasn't very good either.

Bono has especially irritated these past twentyfive years, more for his smug, easy faux-liberal pose as saviour of the world and palling around with Bush 'N Blair and other douche nuggets than for the quality of his music.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:58 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that people who stop by to comment in a thread specifically about a band, just to say the band sucks should provide a list of the bands and music they like, all in the name of equal-opportunity hatred.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:14 AM on November 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


"We used to wake up in the morning and the mist would be lifting we'd see thousands and thousands of people who'd been walking all night to our food station were we were working. One man — I was standing outside talking to the translator — had this beautiful boy and he was saying to me in Amharic, I think it was, I said I can't understand what he's saying, and this nurse who spoke English and Amharic said to me, he's saying will you take his son. He's saying please take his son, he would be a great son for you. I was looking puzzled and he said, "You must take my son because if you don't take my son, my son will surely die. If you take him he will go back to Ireland and get an education." Probably like the ones we're talking about today. I had to say no, that was the rules there and I walked away from that man, I've never really walked away from it. But I think about that boy and that man and that's when I started this journey that's brought me here into this stadium.
Because at that moment I became the worst scourge on God's green earth, a rock star with a cause. Christ! Except it isn't the cause. Seven thousand Africans dying every day of preventable, treatable disease like AIDS? That's not a cause, that's an emergency...

20 years on I'm not that interested in charity. I'm interested in justice. There's a difference. Africa needs justice as much as it needs charity... ."- Bono, 2004 Penn .


yeah, MartinWisse, he's clearly a dick that's just "palling around" with politicians for personal gain with no real understanding of what he's talking about.

I grew up in the same place they did, a few years later but not many, and he came by his beliefs honestly. Social justice was hammered into anyone who grew up in Dublin the 70s and 80s. U2 are Irish remember, not English or American. Social justice is kind of a big deal there and popular artists aren't assumed to be intellectually incapable of commenting on politics or current events. There's a bit of the opposite tradition in fact.
posted by fshgrl at 2:39 AM on November 8, 2012 [15 favorites]


The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby are both perfect capsules of their time.The Joshua Tree came out when I was still finding my way as an adult (note: never did find that way) and Achtung Baby came out when I was finally on my way to something. I love both.

(My parents lived in Las Vegas when The Joshua Tree was current and somehow, standing on the north rim of the Grand Canyon in January, I swear that album perfectly captured the atmosphere out there.)

A buddy despised Achtung Baby because of its sound; the distortion and such really messed with his idea of what an album should sound like on his big-money (for early 20s dudes, anyway) stereo system. Zooropa was a relative disappointment, except for the eminently sing-along-able Wanderer (with JC).

Then again, the 1990s were PJ Harvey time, too. Well, it's always PJ Harvey time.
posted by maxwelton at 2:44 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bad singer, great guitarist, two other berks, tax avoidance.
posted by colie at 2:48 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


A mate of mine stopping being a U2 fan because they 'sold out' by appearing on Top of the Pops. In 1982.

Beat that.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 2:49 AM on November 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


Over my lifetime, there haven't been too many albums that hit like a brick to the side of the head, in terms of changing popular music for me. Achtung Baby was one of those albums.

I've never been a huge U2 fan, really. I liked the hits and some other tracks, and, in my mental pecking order of bands, they sat in the upper percentiles. But I lived with Achtung Baby for weeks after it came out, impressed not only with how damned good and fresh it was, but how skillfully U2 had evolved itself for a new era.

...the distortion and such really messed with his idea of what an album should sound like on his big-money (for early 20s dudes, anyway) stereo system.

That's funny. AB sounded fucking amazing on my big-money system.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:31 AM on November 8, 2012


I cannot think of a more over hyped band in the last 25 years.

Radiohead.
posted by item at 4:42 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I cannot think of a more over hyped band in the last 25 years.

Perhaps, but being at one of their concerts in the early days came very close to a religious experience.
posted by fairmettle at 4:55 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I cannot think of a more over hyped band in the last 25 years.

This is so way off the mark. Even if you don't like them, U2 are an excellent example of 'paying your dues' and working your way up to megastardom by working your arse off (and making a real connection with fans).

Although U2 have now been mainstream as hell for 20 years and also tax avoiders - so they're fair game - it's far more the 'critics' choice' type of bands that annoy me by being overhyped by the media. PJ Harvey etc.
posted by colie at 4:58 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was fairly dismissive of Achtung Baby when it came out - this band that I was used to being (or used to thinking of as being) Serious and Introspective and Political put out this garishly colored, overtly styled intentionally POP record. But of course I ended up hearing it all the time. It was everywhere. And for good reason: every song is terrific. That record comes out swinging - Zoo Station is good, and then it is 10 or 11 monsters in a row.

This is the only U2 record I listen to anymore, too.

I cannot think of a more over hyped band in the last 25 years.

Is your issue that they were well-received commercially and critically, and that that bothers you, or that you perceive a chasm between the artistic value of their musical output and their fame, and that that bothers you? I can understand being upset that some worthy thing does not get the credit that you think it deserves, but being upset because something that is widely respected and beloved isn't as good as you think it should be is dopey. It isn't like U2 is One Direction or some shit.
posted by dirtdirt at 4:58 AM on November 8, 2012


I can think of only a few bands that have successfully evolved (altered their musical style) over the course of their career. I think U2 has done this multiple times, most notably in the transition between these two albums.

I can understand not loving U2's catalog or their mass market ways. But I personally feel that people who have knee jerk reactions to U2 either don't know the band's oeuvre (there's something for everyone in there) or don't know rock music.

Oh, and The Edge was the most interesting part of "it's gonna get loud." Suck it fanboys.
posted by nowhere man at 5:04 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


No one can be awesome forever.

And then there's They Might Be Giants.
posted by jscott at 5:12 AM on November 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


1983: Having just started to listen to "album-oriented rock" radio, heard "New Year's Day" for the first time. Still haven't forgotten it.

1987: Counting the days until The Joshua Tree was released, heard "With Or Without You" on the radio for the first time. Still haven't forgotten it.

1991: Owning every recording released by the band to that point, saw "The Fly" on MTV for the first time. Felt meh. Didn't buy the record. Later on, after listening to a friend's copy, I would discover that it made more sense in context. And that there were some other OK songs. But the lyrics were starting to annoy me. Never want to hear "One" again.

Since: They mount huge tours I don't attend. They release records I don't even bother to pirate. Bono looks increasingly like Robin Williams in "Popeye". I respect that it's still the four of them. But I must have pledged my allegiance to that white flag because I only listen to the first three albums.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:37 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


My first actual date was to see Rattle and Hum in the theater. I was nervous as shit.
I bought a big bucket of popcorn and promptly dropped it in the middle of the lobby.
She thought it was cute, but I was mortified.
I never even gave Achtung Baby a chance, haven't liked them since.

this is more to do with hipsterism than anything else- Joshua Tree was the last real album for me. :)
posted by hypersloth at 5:57 AM on November 8, 2012


I gave up on U2 when Bono called out "OK, Edge. Play the blues!" in "Silver and Gold" on Rattle and Hum because The Edge could not.
posted by tommasz at 6:05 AM on November 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


I put U2 in the same category as REM, good bands with a couple of great (early) records whose success somewhat eroded their originality and verve.

But listening to their classics still brings enjoyment and likely always will....
posted by incandissonance at 6:12 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am one of those few people who absolutely loved Rattle and Hum, although I agree it was very different than Joshua Tree. Achtung Baby took me a long while to get used to, but that was because I was in a very heavy metal phase at the time.

Everything after that never really stuck for me.
posted by Vindaloo at 6:27 AM on November 8, 2012


The Joshua Tree defined my memories of middle school, since all the bigger kids listened to it so seriously. How U2 related to well-off kids in a nice London suburb, I'll never quite know. I'd never been a big U2 fan, but then I saw them play in London twice... both times I didn't buy the ticket (one person got sick, the other simply gave his ticket away for reasons unknown) and I thought the Zoo TV spectacle was fantastic.

Achtung Baby was pretty much on solid rotation at university, so it was either love or hate there. Their posters were excellent for being large, colourful and cheap, helping to pave the grotty paintwork in the student digs.

Bono just mumbling incoherent crap and worrying about the words later is hysterical to watch. But, hey, if it works....
posted by fishboy at 6:38 AM on November 8, 2012


Am I bugging you? I don't mean to bug ya.
posted by sourwookie at 6:45 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


U2's catalog and longevity say much more about Brian Eno than anyone in U2. Credit where due.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:50 AM on November 8, 2012


There's been a lot of talk about this band. Maybe... maybe too much talk.
posted by Egg Shen at 6:55 AM on November 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Uh, Sunday Bloody Sunday, people. Telling Ireland (and the world) to "wipe the the tears" from their eyes and fight the fucking injustice?

That song is the best battle cry of the past 30 years in my book.
posted by roboton666 at 6:56 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


(The US had what, "danger zone?")
posted by roboton666 at 6:58 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thank you for the opportunity to say that I hate U2 more than Mittens hates the 47%.
posted by univac at 7:10 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Somehow I got Rattle and Hum on CD before I had The Joshua Tree as a highschooler. It is one of my biggest "take me to another place and time" albums. I'm in the middle room of our too small house, farting around on my C-64. My jeans are acid washed and my brother's likely in the basement playing his Motley Crue and RATT cassettes as loud as he can to try and drown me out. My mom's going to be home in an hour or two, and she'll commandeer the stereo for some Etta James, Man Hatin' blues.

Whatever Bono's done since, I'll never forget following him to a shanty town outside of Johannesburg.
posted by DigDoug at 7:12 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Achtung Baby is as good as any record put out by any band in my lifetime, and other than resentment over its divergence from early U2, I can't imagine what its critics are mewling about. (It's not 'punk as fuck,' but neither are you nor were you ever.)

Bono's best lyrics, their strongest batch of tunes, their most interesting sonics. It's like '7' by Prince: sex and God and death and America and Europe and culture and love and history and everyfuckingthing else, everything ever, all somehow metaphorize one another. 'Until the End of the World' is a sexy song about Jesus and Judas, or vice versa; 'Acrobat' is a political song about love, or vice versa; 'One' is a devotional about a band breaking up, and/or a divorce ballad about Europe '89, and/or Bono scolding himself for being Bono, and/or something to do with Ireland I dunno, or...

I mean for Christ's sake the climactic lyric of their most 'saccharine' tune is 'You say love is a temple / love a higher law / You ask me to enter / But then you make me crawl' and it feels like burning cold. It's unusual for a piece of art, in any medium, to express ambivalence of that depth and soaring anthemic desperate longing of that intensity all at once, to be richly sensual and honestly spiritual and bitterly smart and just not give a fuck what anyone thinks of it. And it's got some decent jokes as well!

It's a better album than The Joshua Tree, yes it is, not least because it doesn't have the abysmal 'Bullet the Blue Sky' weighing down the first few perfect tunes.

Hell with this. I'm just gonna listen.
posted by waxbanks at 7:29 AM on November 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


No one can be awesome forever.

And then there's They Might Be Giants.


And PJ Harvey. Let England Shake is a masterpiece.
posted by jokeefe at 7:32 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


All that said, Rattle and Hum is a slow trainwreck and I'm unbothered by having mislaid my copy several times, for several years each time. I never quite miss it. (Though 'All I Want Is You' has murdered me a few nights.)
posted by waxbanks at 7:32 AM on November 8, 2012


(The US had what, "danger zone?")

I know the guy who wrote that! (For reals)
posted by sourwookie at 7:35 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kenny Loggins?
posted by grog at 7:37 AM on November 8, 2012


Tom Whitlock. Also wrote. "Take my breath away".
posted by sourwookie at 7:41 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nice. That song was so good it broke up the band that recorded it!
posted by grog at 7:45 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's hard to believe that was the same group that recorded metro.../derail
posted by roboton666 at 8:06 AM on November 8, 2012


Yeah, I'm listening to Achtung Baby now, thanks hippybear!
posted by grog at 8:11 AM on November 8, 2012


incandissonance: "I put U2 in the same category as REM, good bands with a couple of great (early) records whose success somewhat eroded their originality and verve. "

This is a great analogy. First several albums fascinating, mega-stardom, still interesting change of course, decline into sporadically interesting irrelevancy.

Actually, I guess that's about 75% of all successful bands ever.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:20 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I cannot think of a more over hyped band in the last 25 years.

How about, for once, not coming into a thread about X just to let everyone know you don't like X? There's a whole internet out there.

ALSO: U2's original name was The Hype.

The documentary mentioned in the post is really good, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed/enjoys Achtung Baby
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:38 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I bought this DVD pretty much the moment it came out.

There aren't words for my admiration for someone like Bono - except there isn't anyone like Bono - making a conscious decision to use his fame and associated wealth for good. I can't say I always enjoy how the flow of the concerts kind of ebb during the "preaching moments," but I'll feel entitled to complain when I have literally saved and improved MILLIONS of lives the way Bono has, at the cost of always being scorned as preachy and a poser.
posted by Occula at 9:06 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would just like to barge into this thread to tell everyone how irrationally certain I am that the character LIZ LEMON is named after U2 LEMON.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:09 AM on November 8, 2012


So, there was this aging rock 'n roller who died and went to rock 'n roll heaven. St. Peter is at the Gates of Heaven to greet him, then takes him on a tour. Rock 'n roll heaven is magnificent, glorious, everything you'd expect rock 'n roll heaven to be. There are stacks of Marshall amps everywhere you can see, next to which stand Les Pauls, Stratocasters, Tama drums, Moog synths and every other legendary piece of equipment you can imagine, all ready to play whenever you want.

St. Peter and our dead rock 'n roller start strolling through the residential section of rock 'n roll heaven. They turn the corner and there is Jimmy Hendrix, rocking out an amazing solo, that segues into the most jamming version of Purple Haze you'd ever heard. Layered behind that are some banging drums, played by none other than John Bonham. "Pretty cool, eh?" St. Peter says, clearly proud of rock 'n roll heaven. The dead rock 'n roller is in awe. They continue on when they come across Janice Joplin, singing in her sweet, honey-soaked rasp a tear wrenching ballad. It's truly the most amazing performance he'd ever witnessed.

They continue on a little further when they come across Bono, who is delivering the most stirring version of 40 ever performed. The again rock 'n roller gets lost in it for a moment before he perks up and says to St. Peter: "Wait, what's this? Bono's in heaven? When did he die?!?"

And St. Peter replies, "oh that's not Bono, that's God. He just thinks he's Bono."
posted by slogger at 9:14 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fortunately, U2 have a sense of humor.
posted by chavenet at 9:15 AM on November 8, 2012


How about, for once, not coming into a thread about X just to let everyone know you don't like X?

I first saw X at the Whisky in 1979 and loved them. Still do. So there!
posted by le_vert_galant at 10:59 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


And St. Peter replies, "oh that's not Bono, that's God. He just thinks he's Bono."

I love that joke even though U2 are not my cuppa.
posted by ersatz at 11:25 AM on November 8, 2012


Srsly, are there English subtitles?
posted by KokuRyu


German only. This may be a contributory factor in my Wenders-watching tardiness.
posted by Prince Lazy I at 12:05 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the way, the director's name is Davis Guggenheim, not David.
posted by Awkward Philip at 1:22 PM on November 8, 2012


How about, for once, not coming into a thread about X just to let everyone know you don't like X?
Didn't say I didn't like some of what they did- just said they were over hyped. No better or worse than a lot of bands who didn't get the worshipful treatment. The world is full of good musicians who just didn't get the chance to make the money connection. They were in the right place at the right time,I guess.

It may be tinged by some personal feelings-I met them in the late 80s when they played New Orleans and I was supposed to be kind of a tour guide. They were totally precious and full of themselves. Insisted on finding Guiness instead of the local beer and were afraid to mess up their fancy boots on a walk along the Mississippi River. Dissed the local music- and trust me- there is always local music in New Orleans that is worth listening to.
posted by Isadorady at 2:09 PM on November 8, 2012


yeah, MartinWisse, he's clearly a dick that's just "palling around" with politicians for personal gain with no real understanding of what he's talking about.

Glad you agree. Because if you think that him going to Bush and Blair and pronouncing them good men did anything for Africa, you're a bigger sucker than he is.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:45 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always try to say the word "Lemon" like the way Bono sings it.

"What flavor shaved ice would you like, sir?"

"LEH-MONNN?"

"That'll be a dollar fifty, wierdo."
posted by not_on_display at 3:41 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because if you think that him going to Bush and Blair and pronouncing them good men did anything for Africa, you're a bigger sucker than he is.

I think you're entirely wrong about this. If memory serves correctly, it was Bono's insistent campaigning on behalf of Africa starting in 2001 which led GWB and the EU to mount serious aid efforts on the continent in 2002. By 2003, Bush had launched PEPFAR, which revolutionized the availability and distribution of anti-retroviral drugs to fight AIDS in Africa.

GWB continues to work to help fight diseases in Africa, continuing not only work against AIDS but also opening cancer screening clinics.

I don't know the man personally, so have never talked to him about it, but I suspect that without Bono's insistent prodding on various venues across the world stage, the problem of disease in Africa would never have come on Bush's radar. As it stands, he's widely credited there with having been instrumental in turning the tide against AIDS there. It's a role Bono has praised Bush for quite publicly for a decade now. I think that's a worthwhile reason for anyone to call Bush a good man.
posted by hippybear at 5:49 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah the struggles U2 faced finding a tax dodge. I crashed the U2/Principle Management christmas party in the Clarence Hotel one year. That was interesting.
posted by meehawl at 9:14 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you really want to dive down into this period of U2, I can't recommend enough Bill Flanagan's book U2: At The End of the World. He embedded himself with them from the time they arrived in Berlin to start recording Achtung Baby to the last ZOO TV show in December 1993 in Tokyo.

He paints a terrific picture of the dynamic between the four band members, and how the moment in music and politics and history shaped the music. You see some great snapshots of pop music at the time outside the band, such as the disintegration of The Pixies while opening for U2 and the rise of Pearl Jam while doing the same. The big message I took away from the book: U2 have been so successful because they have worked their asses off.

Choosing between Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby isn't easy, but for me what makes Acthung Baby superior (and that's saying A LOT) is the depth of the songs. It's about hurt and betrayal and love and forgiveness and so accurately summons all the shades of those emotions, both with the lyrics and the music, that it still leaves me a bit dumbstruck.
posted by dry white toast at 9:26 PM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


After re-listening to Achtung Baby a few times now (and reflecting on why I loved the movie Until the End of the World way back then) I think I know the attraction of the album, at least to my 20-year-old self - it was an exciting album about an exciting time. The Berlin Wall had come down, the Soviet Union was no more, war was over, and there was an exciting, exotic new world, theoretically waiting for me. Anything was possible.

Compare it to their earlier albums, which were good in their own way, but also rebellious, soulfull, and even conservative in their own way. Achtung Baby was the start of a new era.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:43 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I second dry white toast 's recommendation of the Bill Flanagan book.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:46 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


And for those who have read and loved Flanagan's U2 at the End of the World, check out the @U2 follow-up interview with Flanagan, 10 years later.

A fine companion to Flanagan's book (and to Achtung Baby and Zooropa) is BP Fallon's U2 Faraway So Close, which provides another refraction of the Zoo TV experience. Fallon toured with U2 throughout 1992 as their 'Guru, Viber and DJ', from the beginning of the Zoo TV arena shows until the end of the Outside Broadcast stadium shows.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 2:16 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


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