Sunday, 8 March 2009

U2's most creative record yet! No idea about their new stuff though

Have U2 released a new album or something? It seems like they must have because they are literally everywhere you look. I'm not one for going along with hype, much, as regular readers know. I waited until their second album before I gave the Artic Monkeys a go (a good decision well worth the wait).

So I will give U2's new album a listen, eventually, but we might well enter the second decade of the century before I get around to it. I haven't streamed it on Spotify. The single has washed over me once or twice, no big deal. I haven't read about it, apart from snippets in Observer Music Monthly and Alexi Petredis's review in The Guardian (and that's because I read both OMM and Film & Music cover to cover every time no matter what's in them).

But on Sunday night, with TV options closed down as Mrs J. watched Brothers & Sisters (just what the hell is Brothers & Sisters about anyway?), I had a quality music-time window of a good hour. And for some reason, can't think why, I felt compelled to listen to U2. Maybe it's because Bono at least has been in my thoughts recently. His claim to be bored of himself has somewhat resonated with me. We all get bored of ourselves from time to time and for one, I'm taking a break from the usual routine, starting with a different approach for The Brew. Lucky you!

So what did I listen to? It couldn't be Achtung Baby because that record is too much of an upheaval for me. I have to make an appointment to listen to that album, because it is very special to me. It's the U2 record that won me over to them, in spectacular fashion. It represents an era. It takes me back to 1992, Chicago, and a huge cold lake I spent a lot of time running around and a lot of mental energy fighting off a desire to swim into the middle of. But of a Sunday evening in 2009, I needed a lighter listen, so it had to be Zooropa.

What a cracker of a record it is as well. U2 surprised everybody when they released Zooropa, probably including themselves. It was an overflow of creativity from the Achtung Baby sessions but it is not an overspill record, it's one of their best. In fact its the one U2 album I can get anybody to like, especially people who generally have no time for U2. It still sounds fresh, which is testament to what a breath of fresh air it was way back in 1993.
Was this album the model for Radiohead's Kid A? Could have been. And should be for any band who've become to big for their boots and want to take a break from the pressure or the monotony of being themselves. I don't know if that includes U2 these days, who are too much like royalty to really let go. But it must be time for Coldplay to release their Zooropa/Kid A in 2009? The opportunity's here boys.

Zooropa is often thought of as U2's 'experimental' record but in fact it isn't really at all. It's far too accessible to be experimental. The opening title track sounds lovely and of course has a thrilling transformation halfway through into something as anthemic and inspiring as U2 has ever done. The way it converts from one thing into another like that is a great opening statement as to how the rest of the album might go. The confidence comes through on that opener and every track that follows. The album has one of Bono's best ballads in Stay and one of U2's greatest songs in Dirty Day. Only Numb and Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car are experimental, but not (too) boring. But it was the refreshing pop that surprised, and warmed everybody to Zooropa when it was released. Babyface is just great, simple, off-hand, catchy pop. As is Lemon and the fun, if trivial, Some Days Are Better Than Others.
The whole thing is also an economical ten tracks and just fifty minutes long. It's impossible to get bored of Zooropa and it's the inspiration behind the change of pace this week on Juggernaut. Yep, something a bit different on The Brew this week. I'll be posting every day. Shorter than the usual stuff though. I'll share a few more thoughts on music and maybe a few less on the business. I might even explain the whole Juggernaut Brew thing to close the week out. I'll be twittering before you know it.
Five great 'departure' from the usual albums, with great creative results:
1. Zooropa.
2. Kid A.
3. Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
4. Blondie: Autoamerican.
5. Julian Cope: Peggy Suicide.


Sheryl said...

Save the brew!!! surely artistes have to sync self-boredom with the concentration span or interest of the fans. As a newcomer to the Brew, I would miss my periodic "fill"

Keith Jopling said...

No worries, change is as good as a rest. Besides, still plenty of the usual insights along with this weeks lighter touch approach, I hope.