Midnight Is Where The Day Begins
September 2, 2018 6:14 PM   Subscribe

July 5, 2018 marked the 25th anniversary of the release of U2's often forgotten album Zooropa [Discogs]. Begun as an EP release to support the ZooTV tour, it remains the bridge [YT playlist] between the creative outburst that was Achtung Baby and the at-the-time self-combustion of POP (which has improved with passing time). It's an odd, bold , sonically adventurous artifact of mid-90s music which looks forward and backward and straight ahead, and deserves another listen. Side A: Zooropa [video], Babyface, Numb [video], Lemon, Stay (Faraway, So Close!) [video] (U2.com video link) posted by hippybear (80 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Billboard and Rolling Stone each observed the 25th anniversary a couple of months ago.

It's hard to describe how EXACTLY OF THE TIME this album felt when it was released, from its very first track. A blending of advertising and politics and international business. The era of The Fly and Mirrorball Man and MacPhisto. There was a hell of a lot going on both in the world and in U2 land. And the pure strangeness of this album, I bought it on release day, truly left me off balance for a while. Which I think was the band's intent. It certainly was their intent with the ZooTV show, which I saw in El Paso TX with The Sugarcubes and Public Enemy as opening acts. Talk about a brain melt. And that was early in their tour, long before Zooropa.

Look, what I'm trying to say is there was actually a time when being a U2 fan was exciting and cutting edge and confusing and wonderful.

And the video for Numb is way more affecting now to me than it was back then. Jeebus!

Bonus: Elevation tour, Live In Boston, Bono and Edge acoustic performance of Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
posted by hippybear at 6:14 PM on September 2, 2018 [26 favorites]


Obviously, I’m a fan of this album. :)

Hippybear, I underline everything you said in your post several times over. It truly did feel cutting edge and of the moment.

The title track is still my favorite. It has the lyric that formed my guiding philosophy for most of my 20’s: “Don’t worry, baby. It’s gonna be alright. Uncertainty can be a guiding light.”
posted by zooropa at 6:21 PM on September 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Between this and REM's Monster (which was recorded after Zooropa came out, but had allegedly been planned to be more rocking before that), the entire landscape of popular music shifted within a year and a half. My god, what a time it was to be alive.
posted by Etrigan at 6:23 PM on September 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


Zooropa's probably my favorite U2 album. Numb is what got me into U2 back when I was a teenager.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:23 PM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


I love the weirdness of this album but as a committed POP apologist I look forward to your 25th anniversary post for that.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:27 PM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


I already made my POP post, back in 2012. Perhaps someone else will do it in the next while.
posted by hippybear at 6:30 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


That was the band I loved and I miss it.
posted by davebush at 6:32 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


That Numb video. I think at the time I was like “Ugh. Huge pop stars getting licked and stripped and lap danced by beautiful women”
Watching it now, I see it says a lot about the lack of consent in celebrity lives. Thanks for posting.
posted by greermahoney at 6:35 PM on September 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


ZooTV tour--belly dancers and a Trabant rising and falling and a spectacle of overwhelm. I had seen them on The Joshua Tree tour years before...but ZooTV was where I parted ways with the band. Now it feels like it presaged the daily firehose of information, political news, and entertainment. I'm going to have to revisit this music; thanks, hippybear.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:48 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


I saw the ZooTV show at Camp Randall on the UW-Madison campus. It was with PE and Big Audio Dynamite opening up, the last show I saw in Madison before graduating later that summer and moving to NYC. It was a weird time, but yes, “uncertainty can be a guiding light” was certainly the message I needed to hear at that point! I haven’t listened to U2 in a long time. Maybe I’ll bust this one out tonight!
posted by droplet at 6:49 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Love this post!!! Zooropa was one of the defining albums for my final years of secondary school in NZ, and I just busted it on a long car drive last week.

Dirty Day repeating on a yellow Sony Waterproof Walkman until the tape literally broke. You can’t even remember what I’m trying to forget......
posted by inflatablekiwi at 6:57 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I loved this album. It was probably the peak of my U2 fandom which began when my brother started playing War around the house. I was one of the few U2 fans in my high school, when everyone else was into Bon Jovi and The Scorpions. I took a lot of shit for it at the time, but I knew they were on the way to greatness.

After Pop came out I went through a long period of not being very interested in them. I think I was angry at them for not being the band I came to love. I'm mostly indifferent about them now (though I actually liked that one album they pushed down to everyone's iPhone) but lately I've been revisiting a lot of their live stuff on YouTube. They really are an amazing band to see live. This performance of In a Little While and The Fly in Boston is probably one of my all time favorite live performances and really shows off both ends of the U2 spectrum.

As for the Zooropa, it was such a neat album from a band that was at the peak of their creativity. The novelty of The Edge singing a song (something he rarely did, I think Seconds and Van Diemen's Land were about it) was pretty cool. I love the title track, though now that I revisit the track list I'm surprised at just how many of the songs I've completely forgotten about. Time to re-listen!
posted by bondcliff at 7:00 PM on September 2, 2018


underrated, and the last U2 album that interested me
posted by entropicamericana at 7:03 PM on September 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


Is it just me or does the author of the Billboard article seem to have completely misunderstood Zooropa? He seems to think that the album is celebrating advertising culture, consumerism and the loss of faith and meaning that comes with both. But the album has always, for me, been very much a prophetic warning - even back then, when the Clinton administration was touting "the information superhighway" and globalism, the album seemed to warn of what was to come - underneath all the songs there is a deep sorrow and almost-paranoia, an awareness of potential violence and triablism. The sloganeering in "Zooropa" the song reminds me so much of the cult-of-self industries the internet has helped create.

It's always been a sad album, perhaps their saddest, and now it seems to have predicted so much - the failures of both the Internet and globalism, the fracturing of Europe and democracy, the aimlessness of late capitalist life, the obsession with the self that leads to despair - it's all there, and it seems weird the Billboard retrospective totally missed it.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:08 PM on September 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


It's certainly the most polarizing album.

For me, the only thing redeeming about it was Mysterious Ways. Rattle and Hum was better.

Then again, I'm a huge fan of ATYCLB and HTDAAB, and I've been loving Songs of Experience so what do I know.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 7:09 PM on September 2, 2018


To me, a fan of the (at the time) older material, this album felt mostly like the band trying to digest things it was not built to digest. Or, at least, that Bono wasn't. Maybe I should give it another chance.
posted by praemunire at 7:10 PM on September 2, 2018


He seems to think that the album is celebrating advertising culture, consumerism and the loss of faith and meaning that comes with both. But the album has always, for me, been very much a prophetic warning - even back then, when the Clinton administration was touting "the information superhighway" and globalism, the album seemed to warn of what was to come - underneath all the songs there is a deep sorrow and almost-paranoia, an awareness of potential violence and triablism. The sloganeering in "Zooropa" the song reminds me so much of the cult-of-self industries the internet has helped create.

But it absolutely was this. The early 90s were a weird time. The cold war was over! War was over! The whole "who's going to be first to cause nuclear Armageddon?" that permeated culture in the '80s was washed away. Civil rights were on the rise. People cared about each other again. Mass media was in its first stages of dissolving our culture with the rise of cable TV and the last step in the imagined journey was the prospect of every person being able to be real and honest with every other human being on the planet via communication. In this utopia we could all tell our stories. We could all be validated. We could put our vulnerabilities on display to receive empathy! We had so much promise and hope in front of us for where humanity would go with all the new things it was creating.

Hell, you can hear Bono calling back to that entire era during Kite:
Did I waste it?
Not so much I couldn't taste it
Life should be fragrant
Roof top to the basement
The last of the rockstars
When hip-hop drove the big cars
In the time when new media
Was the big idea
That was the big idea
Now? Humanity has turned into cynical fucks. The Internet has turned from humanity's greatest hope and achievement into small refuges among the firehose of diarrhea composed of humanity's worst impulses. We found out that the people aren't all nice people who worry about being racist for saying the word "black" and using "African-American" like the mass media sanitized society of the '90s taught us suburban kids.

If Zooropa wasn't a prophetic warning I sure as hell don't know how he could have made it any clearer.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 7:26 PM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Like I don't miss the '90s because I miss slow dialup modems and shitty cell phones but because I miss having the hope that I had during that time. That humanity might finally get over its petty struggles and work to come together for the benefit of us all.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 7:29 PM on September 2, 2018 [10 favorites]


For me, the only thing redeeming about it was Mysterious Ways

Say what now?
posted by hippybear at 7:48 PM on September 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


Hell, you can hear Bono calling back to that entire era during Kite:

Say what now?
posted by hippybear at 7:49 PM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


Ok, well I guess I was ahead of the curve in 1993 because I have always heard it as sad, and as warning, a bunch of songs about the loss of faith. The slogans in each section of "Zooropa" are all connected and equally hollow for me - that's always what I thought the point was - in part 1 they're distant, overlapping, confusing - Neil Postman's information action ratio to an unbearable degree - then they're sung by Bono in part 2 but don't cohere into a meaningful whole, and in part 3 transformed into vapid consumerist self-help theology - that is, they come from the network, are repeated, and then absorbed, transforming the self into another product.
"Babyface" is the sad love song of a man in love with a virtual woman who he can only interact with vicariously - she's as unreal as the manufactured techno-optimism of "Zooropa." "Numb" is confounding, contradictory set of instructions that can't possible followed, reflective of the already-dizzying amount of information, much of it untrue, that we were being bombarded with then - mostly via cable TV (and now it just seems like reading someone's mentions on Twitter.)
But it's this bit from "Lemon" that keys in on the deep sorrow and purposelessness I've always felt is in the songs:

And I feel
Like I'm slowly, slowly
Slowly slipping under
And I feel
Like I'm holding onto nothing


and

a man dreams of leaving
but he always stays behind
and these are the days
when our world is torn asunder
and these are the days
when we look for something other


More than anything, all the characters in Zooropa seem alone - most of the songs depict scenes of solitude and the ones that don't ("Stay", "Lemon", "The First Time") have the other characters distant and unreachable - like the character desperately wants to, but cannot, connect.

I'm with hippybear regarding "Kite" - the song reads to me like a father plying with his kid, realizing he's getting old, and assessing the whole rock star thing and deciding to hold on to it lightly.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:52 PM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


It's interesting how strongly my interest in U2 swerved with Pop after hitting its peak with Zooropa. I regularly listen to Zooropa while I haven't listened to Pop in many years (despite a copy of Pop being literally the very first set of mp3s I ever downloaded, from Hotline no less)

This was about the time I got into weirder stuff that remains pretty much what I listen to today, like Coil and Psychic TV.

If anything this makes me want to revisit Pop, since I know Zooropa back to front. I wonder if I'll feel differently about it.
posted by Typhoon Jim at 7:57 PM on September 2, 2018


Kite is literally a song from years and albums aways from Zooropa.

Perhaps I should be clear on what tracks are on Zooropa, despite them being listed in the post above:

Zooropa
Babyface
Numb
Lemon
Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
Daddy's Gonna pay For Your Crashed Car
Some Day Are Better Than Others
The First Time
Dirty Day
The Wanderer
posted by hippybear at 7:57 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


FWIW I read Definitely Not Sean Spicer as saying "Kite" is Bono reflecting back on the early 90s; I didn't read the comment as suggesting "Kite" was on Zooropa, but rather a song written later about the experience of Zooropa. And then I (mis)read hippybear as saying that interpretation wasn't resonating,

I feel numb.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:03 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Too much is not enough.
posted by hippybear at 8:05 PM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


Typhoon Jim- if you dig the experimental nature of Zooropa I highly recommend the Passengers album - a collaboration between U2 and Eno that was so experimental U2 management was worried it'd damage their brand and thus it was not released under the U2 name- it was intended to be the follow-up to Zooropa.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:06 PM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


Wow, this brings me back to my college days.

I so loved "Stay (Faraway, So Close)" back then.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:28 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


This was the first CD I ever bought, from a record store in the Eaton Centre during a family trip to Toronto. I'd bought cassettes before then, but I'd just gotten a little portable CD player with some birthday money, so this was the first aluminum-coated laser-etched plastic disc I'd ever had. I gave it to my first, unrequited college crush, and refused to buy another copy. Later, an ex-roommate left his copy behind, so now it's mine again. There are a lot of memories of the future in that album for me.
posted by skoosh at 9:20 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is a timely post for me: just last week I finally got around to getting the 2011 10-disc Achtung Baby super deluxe box set (which includes Zooropa in its entirety as well as some of the key remixes from its associated singles). So I've been down an 'early 90s U2' rabbit hole for the past week.

Not that I needed much encouragement. I was the right age for Achtung Baby, Zoo TV, Zooropa, Passengers and Pop (15 in 1991, 21 in 1997), and they've never left my regular listening habits.

Back in July I read the following very thoughtful and insightful Vox article commemorating Zooropa's 25 anniversary: The unexpected resonance of Zooropa, U2’s least-remembered album, 25 years later.

Fansite @U2 has a good archive of 1993 Zooropa reviews if you want to know how it was critically reviewed at the time.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 10:54 PM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


"Dirty Day" is low key the best song U2 ever made.
posted by jscalzi at 11:03 PM on September 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


I remember this as the album which killed my interest in U2. Part it may have been my youth and a desire to get an experience similar to what I had gotten from the band previously but I recall finding their sonic experimentation to be so unpleasant to listen to I couldn't listen to a whole song. I will try to give them another chance but frankly I think of this as their, 'to big to question,' album. No one was able to tell them, in way that they would hear, that this was maybe a not good experience. Given the partisans for it though, I am probably wrong. Gods I was sad when I tried to listen to it that first time though.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 11:22 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's not for everyone. My older brother had been an 80s U2 fan, and via his enthusiasm I had enjoyed them at arm's length. But one of the most vivid memories of my 'musical journey' was seeing the video for 'The Fly' when it premiered. It hit me like a ton of bricks. This was a new U2, a U2 for 90s teenagers - a U2 for me. My brother didn't connect with it, which only made it even more special to me.

By the time Zooropa was released, I was thoroughly obsessed, and remained infatuated with everything they did for the remainder of the decade.

Then, years later, when 'Vertigo' and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb were released, the shoe was suddenly on the other foot. I was the old fan looking back wistfully at the band's 90s trajectory and mourning my loss.

"I left by the back door, and I threw away the key."
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 11:39 PM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


I loved POP too. U2 has always been creative and able to ping a zeitgeist on the forward edge; I've long thought it was because the band saw fame for what it is, namely fleeting and not something to be held to.

ZooTV didn't come to Oregon, but PopMart did, a few months before I took off to France. And as Wikipedia reminds me, we had Rage Against The Machine for an opening act :) It was a fabulous concert and the band held to their image as kind guys enjoying the ride of their lives on international fame. Bono got thunderous applause when he compared Eugene to Ireland, something along the lines of "shitty weather and really nice, laid-back people."

In 1997 I had all their albums up to PopMart on CD, and along with my hard-to-find jazz and classical CDs, they're the only rock group I hauled across the world.
With a notable exception for In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which also came along. The single turned 50 this year.
posted by fraula at 11:51 PM on September 2, 2018


Zooropa was the only U2 album I didn't buy until Songs of Innnocence (and not because that was dropped into my iTunes account - I couldn't listen to it because it was just dull.) Although Numb is brilliant, the rest didn't grab me, but then again I've perhaps never listened to it properly. To me it seemed like a warm-up for POP, an album I adore, but I'll give it another try someday.
posted by blue shadows at 11:57 PM on September 2, 2018


For the 'Numb' lovers, see if you can find 'Down All The Days' floating around online - it's one of the tracks featured on the B-Sides and Bonus Tracks disc of the Achtung Baby box set. It's basically 'Numb' as it was at the time of the Achtung Baby sessions. I was expecting something raw and unfinished, but its backing track is fairly close (if not identical) to 'Numb', and it has a very interesting and advanced (i.e. not his first pass at it) Bono lead vocal, but with different lyrics and a different melody. It's quite striking, and I'm looking forward to getting to know it.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 12:27 AM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Always liked Lemon, very atmospheric
posted by memebake at 1:54 AM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Another rarity worth digging up is the 'Sloth remix' of 'Lemon' (which I was turned on to by our own hippybear). I think it's not, strictly speaking, a remix - rather, it appears to be an instrumental cover. But a really interesting take on the song, a kind of positive, major key spin (where the album version was more melancholy), far more engaging and fascinating than some of the remixes that were included on the Lemon single. Kinda sounds like it belongs soundtracking a 90s video game like Sonic the Hedgehog.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:24 AM on September 3, 2018


U2 is mostly a pompous, ponderous, self-righteous joke, and a bad one at that, but I bow to no one in my admiration for Zooropa and Achtung Baby — not merely as absolutely spot-on documents of a time, but as similarly accurate depictions of a certain way of being-in-the-world.

I don't know any music that more precisely captures the ambivalent airport-lounge tristesse that overtakes you when you find yourself too recently hungover, too long adrift on the tides of late capitalism and much too far from home. (jscalzi has it: "Dirty Day" sounds at the exact frequency of the self-contempt one feels in stumbling out of a dinner party for rich art collectors into the favela or squat they've mounted it in for the frisson it gives them. Ask me how I know.)

These are glorious records, not despite Bono but because he is who he is, and I am prepared to fite you IRL if you claim otherwise.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:57 AM on September 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Zooropa is U2’s best album, but it’s not the best U2 album. Certainly not the most U2 album, anyway.

It’s painfully obvious in retrospect that 1993 was perhaps not the greatest moment for U2 to reinvent themselves in the image of Jesus Jones. When that sound died (and this very album may well be what killed it), U2 were stuck with a dilemma: They could either beat the new horse corpse or go back to the old one. They took one stab at the former — a flashier, dumber version of Zooropa called POP — before resigning themselves to flashier, dumber versions of their earlier albums.

.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:02 AM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've been a fan of two bands, since day one, track one: U2 and R.E.M.
All I have for the latter is nostalgia and a long shot hope that they will reunite sometime soon.
All I have for the former are a long shot hope that they will somehow return to form, showing the brilliance of albums such as this one. They actually owned me up until "Songs of Innocence", which I have only listened to once or twice.
"Songs of Experience"? Haven't even listened to it yet. I'm a-skeered to.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 4:18 AM on September 3, 2018


Great album, perhaps their best.

I became a fan in the 80s and watched the VHS of them live at red rocks on an almost-daily basis for a while. I loved Rattle and Hum, though much of it makes me cringe now.

Zooropa was fantastic, inventive, unique. It came out at a time in my life when lots of things were changing. Thanks for posting this hippybear - it's bringing back some memories...
posted by 1head2arms2legs at 4:19 AM on September 3, 2018


U2 was always in my orbit but never my musical home. Their music was, naturally, pervasive: any radio station I listened to in the 80s and 90s played them. I bought Achtung when it came out, because everyone did, and I liked it enough but it wasn't heavy rotation.

But I remember distinctly wandering through a Rose Records one day in the early 90s, after Zooropa had been released (although I wasn't aware), and heard this weird-ass electronic music. And then... was... was that Johnny Cash? That was Johnny Cash. I was stunned; I didn't know if I liked it or not, but it stopped me in my tracks in this little brightly-lit, white walls and pink neon local chain store. I browsed some more mostly to hear the rest of the song, bought something of no consequence, and walked out into Montgomery Ward, hearing the closing strains of the song over the aisles of washers and dryers and TVs.

I figured out that song was "The Wanderer", of course, and bought Zooropa – but totally didn't like it much. Years later I'd find a bit more substance in the album than I remembered. It ushered in a mini-U2 fandom within me. Whereas I could put on Achtung and fall right into a mood (definitely when "Even Better Than the Real Thing" hits, for me, there's a distinct feeling), Zooropa remains amorphous, beguiling, challenging.

I miss the hope and optimism and confusion of this time. As said upthread this album is very of the moment and also anticipatory.
posted by hijinx at 5:45 AM on September 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wow, the opening noise of Zooropa just took me back to 1993 in such a whoosh. I definitely will be listening to a couple of U2 albums today now.

I turned 21 that year. I was living at my mom's. I had lost my nearly full-ride scholarship the year before (thanks Jim Beam!). I spent $2700 on a credit card to buy a mail order PC in late '92. In early '93 I bought Microsoft Access and that started my career.

This is a magnificent post.
posted by DigDoug at 6:34 AM on September 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Achtung Baby was the last U2 album I ever bought. It grew on me but I just kind of felt that any further down that path I wasn't interested in following. Also 1993 was my first year in college, and I went to school in the actual middle of nowhere with not even a college town. Nothing. Cornfields. Pop culture took a long time to make it there in the pre-www era and by the time it did, I'd moved on from my high school tastes.

I think now I could give Zooropa the listen it probably deserves, but nothing I've heard from the ensuing albums has interested me much. I guess I preferred them as a super earnest Christian rock band. (Also, Unforgettable Fire is the best U2 album, fight me.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:04 AM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


....most of the songs depict scenes of solitude and the ones that don't ("Stay", "Lemon", "The First Time") have the other characters distant and unreachable - like the character desperately wants to, but cannot, connect.

Emphasis mine, because I couldn't disagree more with the "cannot connect" for "The First Time". I always took that as someone who finally did connect with someone after a lifetime of superficiality because that's all they knew was possible - and now that they had finally gotten a real connection with someone, now that they'd finally learned what a genuine connection to another human being was like, they were going to devote themselves to pursuing that, because their eyes had been opened and everything they'd been doing before just plain wasn't enough any more.
My father is a rich man
He wears a rich man's cloak
Gave me the keys to his kingdom coming
Gave me a cup of gold
He said I have many mansions
And there are many rooms to see
But I left by the back door
And I threw away the key
That's what the singer was raised with, and he's chucking it all for the connection of real friendship and real love.

The Christian reference of "many mansions and many rooms" really caught my attention back when this came out, because this song is about giving that up for a real connection to people - for a while I was wondering "dang, is Bono saying he's done with Christianity?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:56 AM on September 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


The video for “Lemon” is goddamn prophetic. There were no practical popular handheld video monitors when the video was released, so it died an interesting death on MTV where screens stayed still. I just watched it on my phone and found myself turning the phone slowly as the image rotated—something impossible in 1993 but predicted and anticipated for future audiences. That’s pretty damn cool.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:41 AM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


That's a pretty insightful read of "The First Time" EmpressCallipygos.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:52 AM on September 3, 2018


I can't remember if I read it somewhere, or if I made it up myself, but there is an argument to be made that U2 is perhaps one of the biggest and most successful Christian Rock bands ever.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 10:30 AM on September 3, 2018


As much shit as MetaFilter gives Bono for being pretentious or whatever, the fact remains that it was Bono who convinced George W Bush to found PEPFAR which has done more to fight HIV/AIDS than nearly any other organization on the planet.
posted by hippybear at 12:07 PM on September 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


...After getting profound I'm gonna get frivolous -

Watching the videos reminds me that "oh yeah, this was Bono pre-sunglasses. Yum."

I mean, I get why he wears them and that there's a reason for them, but dang no-glasses Bono was my flavor eye candy
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


The video for “Lemon” yt is goddamn prophetic.

That video rotating floating thing isn't part of the original video as it ran on MTV. That was done by whoever posted the video to keep recognition algorithms from flagging it for deletion. Here's the original at U2.com.
posted by hippybear at 2:32 PM on September 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


....oh. Well, I sure do feel silly.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:37 PM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


"dang, is Bono saying he's done with Christianity?"

I always read The First Time as Bono's perception of the concepts of the Trinity, the struggles of faith, and grace.

In this reading, the first verse ("I have a lover") is about the Holy Spirit , the second ("I have a brother") about the Son and the third ("My father is a rich man") about the Father.

The verses climax with moments of doubt ("I can't believe"), depression ("I feel myself goin' down") and rejection ("I threw away the key"), each followed by "For the first time, I feel love" - as if, in each case, the narrator is received back with wholehearted love as if it was the first time.

In the case of the third verse, this comes after the narrator leaves his father's house and throws away the key (echoing Zooropa's "I have no reasons to get back - and I have no religion") - but eventually, after an interlude in which he goes 'wandering' (foreshadowing The Wanderer's "To taste and to touch and to feel as much as a man can before he repents"), he finds that the door is still open, and he is received with as much love as if it was the first time.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 2:58 PM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Songs of Experience"? Haven't even listened to it yet. I'm a-skeered to.

I've been enjoying Experience a lot more than I did Innocence. The E+i tour is one of the most astonishing live rock performances I have seen and did a lot to cement the newer albums for me. Also, Acrobat!
posted by hippybear at 4:02 PM on September 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


@Ignorantsavage "I remember this as the album which killed my interest in U2."

Pretty much the same. I liked some of the tracks OK, but I just didn't connect with it at all. Likewise R.E.M.'s Monster, those are albums that threw me off the fandom track - R.E.M. lured me back with New Adventures in Hi-Fi but lost me again after that.
posted by jzb at 4:17 PM on September 3, 2018


Thank you for the post and the reminder, hippybear. I feel much the same about this album. After a year and a half of having Achtung Baby played to death, Zooropa was refreshing.

Every U2 album is the best U2 album to someone. It's fascinating.
posted by monopas at 4:25 PM on September 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Every U2 album is the best U2 album to someone.

Mine is POP.
posted by hippybear at 4:28 PM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


In early '93 I bought Microsoft Access and that started my career.

Jesus Christ, dude. Access 2.0?
posted by thelonius at 4:47 PM on September 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


(I think the Zooropa video link is fan art, jfyi.)

It was a big surprise to me reading the Vox piece a few months back and discovering this was one of U2's least successful albums, and that they won't even play it. It looms so large in my teen memory; it seemed to be everywhere. Hell, I remember Everything You Know Is Wrong being graffitied around school. It definitely captured a narrow but deep band of zeitgeist for me; that window while the Cold War and grunge were both imploding as information was exploding.

It has left quite long-lasting impressions on me, which still surprise me. I didn't visit Berlin for the first time until quite recently, and even though my C90 wore out a decade ago, my trip was somehow coloured by it. (I didn't expect to find a, y'know, zoo at Zoo Station, I'll say. Berghain was more like it.)
posted by bonaldi at 6:13 PM on September 3, 2018


Fun fact: The First Time has the same chord progression as All I Want Is You (although in a different key). Try singing one along to the other.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:25 PM on September 3, 2018


Jesus Christ, dude. Access 2.0?
Access 1.1

And my first paying programming job was converting a 1.1 app to 2.0, and using Passthrough SQL to an Oracle backend for some spiffy drill down capabilities... via 28.8 modems. Times, they changed, yo'
posted by DigDoug at 5:13 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


I was super into U2 when Zooropa came out. Our family bought a CD player in the summer of 1991 and my first CD was a copy of Rattle and Hum. My second was Achtung Baby and I was able to see them play the following summer at the CNE on the Outside Broadcast tour (the first concert I ever went to). I bought Zooropa when it came out and played the album to death. I was all on board for Pop and was able to see U2 on the Popmart tour as well. I remember buying the Best of 1980-1990 album at midnight when it came out. But somehow when All That You Can't Leave Behind came out I had no desire to get it and I haven't bought a U2 album since. I think I've given all of the albums since at least a listen or two and there were some undeniably good songs on them but their sound post-Pop just doesn't do anything for me.

Wilco feels a lot like that to me as well. There was a progression from their first albums to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to A Ghost is Born where they were going somewhere and I was along for that ride but then for whatever reason they turned around and I didn't feel like going back. I'm in no position to criticize either band's musical choices but man would I like to have lived in the timeline where they kept going, or at least spectacularly failed on their next album.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:01 PM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


Loved Zooropa. My favorite U2 album, definitely. After Zooropa my interest waned.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:36 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


(Honestly, I hadn't realized the 25th anniversary thing until I started making the post. I only started the post because I just to a reissue vinyl of Zooropa and it was ridiculously amazing to listen to.)
posted by hippybear at 4:19 AM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


(I know own Achtung Baby through All That You Can't Leave Behind on reissue vinyl. ATYCLB is the only one that isn't a double vinyl, and it sounds like shit. POP is so mindblowingly amazing. For all the double vinyls, the breaks Make Sense. Like, I know this makes me The Pretentious Asshole, but there are some artifacts that I value owning, and quality vinyl of U2 albums I deeply love (AB - POP), is A Thing For Me.

(Also the blue vinyl for Songs Of Experience is, in my opinion, worth having. It's a genuinely great album with a central theme which is basically from the Beatles: All You Need Is Love.
posted by hippybear at 4:24 AM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


[re: Wilco] for whatever reason they turned around and I didn't feel like going back

real talk: jeff tweedy is terrible unless he is in a band with a guy named jay
posted by entropicamericana at 9:43 AM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


[re: Wilco] for whatever reason they turned around and I didn't feel like going back

real talk: jeff tweedy is terrible unless he is in a band with a guy named jay
posted by entropicamericana at 9:43 AM


The *only* exception to this being that you can sub Brian Henneman into the jay slot and still get a pretty good album.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 9:52 AM on September 5, 2018


tru, but it also requires the presence of a ken coomer

(falling bottles in "casino queen" is an all-time rock and roll moment)
posted by entropicamericana at 11:24 AM on September 5, 2018


I just to a reissue vinyl of Zooropa and it was ridiculously amazing to listen to

hippybear, can you tell us more about this? Details, examples, etc? How is it a different listening experience to the CD? Are there variations in the mixes? Or is it just a case of (for example) 'vinyl sounds warmer/fuller than CD'.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:05 PM on September 5, 2018


hippybear, as a fellow pretentious asshole who just got her vinyl copy of Zooropa in the mail today and is expecting Achtung Baby and The Best of 1980-1990, and a non-special Rattle and Hum, soon, I salute you!

I just started Side 3. Fork me, but it sounds incredible!!11!1!11! Even on my speakers!

Later:

paleyellowwithorange, the remaster for Zooropa is more than just the vinyl sounds warmer thing. My impression even on my sad aging computer gamer speakers (logitech Z-2300 with the damn amp hum) from a decent mid-entry-level direct drive turntable is that it has been dynamically opened up. Where I noticed it the most was on "Lemon" and "Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car," but it all sounds different.

Comparing a CD of the original against the WAV download of the remaster on the same setup (laptop into the above speakers same volumes for each track, played with VLC media player): Overall the old version feels like it is pressed up against a double pane window, while the new mix is curvy, clear, open, and signifigantly less hissy on the sibilants. There's more subtlety and more room for the sound to grow.

For example, I'd say that the title track sounds fresher, and Bono's vocals are more resonant in the second part.

Lemon sounds almost like a different song. The vocals have been mixed to blend a bit differently, you can hear the individual voices more and some of background wall of noise has been dropped back a little. It is cleaner, but not in a way that gets rid of the electronica feel of it.

Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car is deeper and darker with more boom. Rather, um, naughtier and in your face.

It is like the difference between listening to music played by some young dumbass who has pushed all of the equalizer sliders all the way to the top, and the DJ who knows where the sweet spot is for the speakers in the space.

Cool story that I didn't post with my previous comment, but now feel is appropriate:
Last Saturday an Amazon box with a turntable appeared next to my front door! I didn't order it. An audiophile and music collecting relative asked a few weeks ago if we'd like some of his duplicate albums. I said yes. I thought he meant CDs. Apparently not.

And while perusing Amazon for something to put on it, aside from the handful of thrifted 45s and Kim Carnes album that I happened to have tucked up in a closet, I had looked at these new vinyl reissues on Saturday, but had talked myself out of them. I bought the Record Store Day single of The Blackout, but I was not going to buy Zooropa and Achtung Baby. Then the next day I saw this post.

Damn it.

I hope that your proud of what you've done, hippybear, because I may have blamed you when explaining in conversation why I had to order this album, and Achtung Baby, and The Best of 80-90, and pre-ordered The Best of 1990-2000.

Also, the thrifted 45 I have of George Michael's Faith sounds mindblowingly good. It was like being 12 all over again.
posted by monopas at 4:57 PM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


hippybear: POP is so mindblowingly amazing

Hecking heck. Really? I'm listening to the whole album all at once right now. Probably for the first time that I know of. I think that I'm liking it. Maybe I was finally ready for it.

Damn it.

the blue vinyl for Songs Of Experience is, in my opinion, worth having

Nope. I have to draw the line somewhere. Because I'd have to get Songs of Innocence as well. I'm not made of money.

My favorite U2 album is Rattle and Hum. I doubt that they're going to do a 2 LP remaster of that though.
posted by monopas at 6:31 PM on September 5, 2018


If you have to pick, SOE > SOI.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:35 PM on September 5, 2018


hippybear: POP is so mindblowingly amazing

I didn't want to go too off-topic, but I think that Pop is the U2 album with the most interesting/dynamic/colourful/three-dimensional production.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:47 PM on September 5, 2018


If you have to pick, SOE > SOI.

I like SOI better though, so it would be a Sophie's Choice kind of feeling. Nope. I'm going to be very happy with my CDs of those albums.
posted by monopas at 6:52 PM on September 5, 2018


My favorite U2 album is Rattle and Hum. I doubt that they're going to do a 2 LP remaster of that though.

The original vinyl was a double vinyl to begin with. I have one purchased the week it was released, still never opened except for a tiny slit in the plastic where i inserted my ticket stub from the first U2 show I ever saw, Tarrant County Convention Center, Nov 24, 1987. Which was a ridiculous first show ever to see because B.B. King opened for them and they premiered When Love Comes To Town as part of their encores.

hippybear, can you tell us more about this? Details, examples, etc? How is it a different listening experience to the CD? Are there variations in the mixes?

monopas is pretty on-target with this. The remasters feel like they have more depth. (An analogy I'm wanting to use is the difference between seeing a movie in a regular movie box and seeing one in a Dolby Cinema box, but that's kind of obscure.) The mixes have definitely been tweaked from the original releases. Of the big three that I'm looking at here (Achtung Baby, Zooropa, POP), I think POP has had more tweaks than any of the rest, but even those are pretty subtle changes (not like the "new versions" of songs they released on The Best Of 1990-2000, which I'm not really a fan of). I'd have to go back and listen, but there are some real differences on all three albums which most people would notice if they heard them back to back.

I'd have to say I'm really not a vinyl snob as in "oh, this is SO SUPERIOR". I do like the sound of vinyl, but I grew up with the ritual of vinyl. The sides, the needle drop, the special care required... It's something I'm glad to have in my life with newer music, not just albums I've had for 30-40 years.

hippybear: POP is so mindblowingly amazing

Hecking heck. Really? I'm listening to the whole album all at once right now. Probably for the first time that I know of. I think that I'm liking it. Maybe I was finally ready for it.


I certainly wasn't ready for it when it was originally released. This band I loved had put out something that went a LOT further than I was expecting. But I also trusted this band. They'd successfully taken me from With Or Without You to The Fly with me being totally on board and fascinated. Then Zooropa, which, well, here's the post.

But the opening salvo of POP, which is now the first side of the new vinyl release, is Discotheque, Do You Feel Loved, and Mofo. I mean, can you even GET more opposite from The Joshua Tree? Although maybe it's not so opposite after all. I listened to POP and listened HARD, and it was Gone that finally broke me, or broke me through. That guitar, that machine-sounding buzz that was musical soaring up and down.. I spent so long with that track on repeat that Mr. hippybear demanded I give it a fucking rest for a week. But then, one day, something in my mind opened up and it all just crystalized for me. Like, everything. The entire Musical Journey that U2 was taking me on was expanding my sonic notions about music and suddenly I was hearing melody all over the place.

U2's retreat from real exploration has never truly gelled. SOE could nearly be taken as an anthology across their entire career. There are songs that are the classic U2 sound, but also songs like The Lights Of Home, American Soul, Red Flag Day, and The Blackout could all easily find a sonic home on any of these three adventurous albums. They're still playing with these sonic palletes, but they're not pushing them hard and certainly not pushing beyond them. I think that's a shame.
posted by hippybear at 1:57 AM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


not like the "new versions" of songs they released on The Best Of 1990-2000, which I'm not really a fan of

Gah. My teeth are grinding remembering that nonsense. Presenting new, untried versions as part of a 'best of' compilation! There was nothing wrong with the originals.

U2 are sometimes the worst assessors of their legacy. I've long been tired of them downplaying and apologising for Rattle and Hum (album and film), Zooropa, Passengers and Pop.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 2:10 AM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh dear god, I saw Rattle And Hum 4 times the week it was released. Even in the 80s movie theater sounds was AMAZING for this movie. I went back the next week and it wasn't there anymore.

Also, if you ever get a chance to see U23D, do it. It has sublime moments that have given me goosebumps just typing this post.
posted by hippybear at 2:18 AM on September 6, 2018


POP was my defining U2 album. I started listening to it again recently. This post spurred me to purchase a used copy of the ZooTV dvd, which i had as a vhs and played constantly. I was OBSESSED with U2 in high school and college. They and their music gave me something to care about and focus on instead of my depression and being bullied. I had dozens of posters that i paid to have laminated. I had a lot of books about the band. I scoured used cd stores for the limited edition remix cds that came with propaganda (their subscription/members zine). within the last year i donated all the posters and other stuff to a local thrift store. i hope a fan found the stash and it filled them with happiness (for a little while...). thank you for this post and trip down memory lane.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:04 PM on September 6, 2018


I've long been tired of them downplaying and apologising for Rattle and Hum (album and film), Zooropa, Passengers and Pop.

ummmmm....those are some of their best albums! rattle and hum (film) is one of the first things i bought on dvd when i made the switch. pieces of it are annoying, but some pieces of it are truly great.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:15 PM on September 6, 2018


A good friend of mine worked behind the counter of a Polk Street porn shop a few years before Zooropa came out, back in the glory days of VHS. So even if the subject matter of "Babyface" hadn't been (if you'll excuse the expression) prima facie obvious from the text, I probably would have been able to guess what it was about.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:14 AM on September 7, 2018


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