Thursday, December 27, 2012

U2 2013 & Album Rankings

Rumor has it U2 will release a new album sometime in 2013, probably late summer or fall, with a tour following it. U2 always comes up with great ideas for a tour, so expect something unique again, much like "The Claw" from the record breaking "U2 360 Tour". Rumor has it most of the shows will be arena shows this time around. Julian Lennon (John Lennon's son) said they are interested in possibly using one of his photographs as the cover.

1. Achtung Baby (1991) - U2 didn't just "chop down the Joshua tree" (as they've said), they sent it through a wood chipper with songs like "Zoo Station," "The Fly" and "Acrobat." Achtung Baby was a much darker album than people were used to from them. They embraced alternative rock, as well as dance and electronic music. It's so hard to pick a top song, because each one can probably lay claim to it. Anyone who hasn't heard this album must do it now. The accompanying Zoo TV Tour is possibly the most original & creative concert tour of all time, so the "Zoo TV Live from Sydney" DVD is also worth picking up.
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2. The Joshua Tree (1987) - The Grammy-winning album that sent them into the stratosphere. It's their best-selling album, with classics such as "With or Without You," "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." This was a more mainstream sound than their early-80s post-punk albums, also showing their versatility in songwriting. The most underrated song on the album is "Exit" which starts with a slow build then explodes into a loud rocker. I'm a sucker for that. From top to bottom it feels like the album is full of radio friendly hits.

3. All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000) - It's not their most creative album, but the songs very simply kick ass and never seem to get old as the years go by. Another big Grammy winner, it features the amazing "Beautiful Day" as well as other hits like "Elevation" and "Walk On." One of their best tracks, "Kite", was never released as a single and shows that even the deeper tracks on this album have as much, and maybe more, strength than the singles. Often called U2's third masterpiece after Achtung Baby & The Joshua Tree. It took U2 into the 21st Century in the most perfect way, and they haven't looked back.

4. War (1983) - My favorite of their pre-Joshua Tree albums, this has a lot of energy for a politically charged album, their first album that deals with politics and war. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year's Day" are the well-known tracks, but most of the album has songs that are equally as good. War is one of their hardest rockers taking what they did on the first two albums to the next level. "Two Hearts Beat as One" is a rocker that makes you want to get up and move, U2 is always good at that. This is the album that proved they were more than a one hit wonder.

5. No Line On The Horizon (2009) - This one isn’t very mainstream, but it all flows together nicely, definitely an underrated album. It's a bit more experimental than the other U2 albums from the 2000s. "Breathe," "Magnificent," "Unknown Caller" and "Moment of Surrender" all stand out. It's their most visual album along with The Unforgettable Fire. "Get on Your Boots" is a good song, but is much better the way they perform it live with a different intro. Bono said the album would be more experimental that the previous two, but they probably could have taken that further.

6. Pop (1997) - This could turn some heads. It wasn't too well received by critics compared to other albums (though still well liked), but I think they were just looking for something to bash. It's more dance/electronic oriented rock than any of their other albums, which gives it a unique quality. Songs like "Please," "Staring at the Sun," and "Gone" should stand with their best work. It deserves a second listen from everyone, as many interesting songs can be found here. Hopefully they play a few live ones on the next tour.

7. Zooropa (1993) - This is their least mainstream album, and is the most heavily influenced by alternative and industrial rock, even more so than Achtung Baby. "Zooropa," "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)," "Lemon" and the unique "Numb" (which is sung by The Edge) are immensely creative and outstanding tracks. It seems to have a bit of something for everyone on it, even an appearance by Johnny Cash on "The Wanderer." It also has my favorite album cover of theirs, with the "zoo baby" that still appears in visuals on their tours.

8. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004) - Probably their second hardest rocker after War, it features "Vertigo" which helped send the iPod into even more homes, as well as "City of Blinding Lights" which is one of their all-time best tracks and a live staple. It's a safe album, but consistent and catchy one at that. "Miracle Drug" and "Crumbs from Your Table" are two lesser known songs that should please the ears. It helped solidify U2 as the biggest band in the world following All That You Can't Leave Behind.

9. The Unforgettable Fire (1984) - Many people would rank this near the top, and it has 4 amazingly classic songs "Pride (In The Name of Love)," "A Sort of Homecoming," "Bad," and "The Unforgettable Fire." I personally tend to go to the albums above it first though, maybe because this is a mellow outing. It has many amazing ambient sounds that should be heard through some over-ear headphones, which really make the songs stand out much more than they normally would.
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10. Boy (1980) - The first album, back when they were mainly a post-punk band. It's a great job for their first album, with frenetic songs like "I Will Follow," "Out of Control" and "An Cat Dubh/Into the Heart." Another high energy album, something U2 has always been good at. It's nice to hear how the band behind such memorable albums began their career. These songs still sound fantastic live over 30 years later. One of the better debut albums any artist has ever released.

11. Rattle & Hum (1988) - This one is full of a bunch of great songs like "Desire," "Angel of Harlem," "All I Want is you" and "Heartland." It's mixed in with live tracks from their tour though, which are nice but shouldn't be in-between the studio tracks.  A solid album, but it sits between The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, so it's like the middle child of U2 albums, released between their two best. Maybe the live tracks should have been tacked on at the end of the album rather than in-between the new tracks.

12. October (1981) - This one can't avoid the dreaded Sophomore Slump overall, but it still has great songs on it like "Gloria," "Tomorrow," "With a Shout" and "October." It's a solid album, just not quite as strong or memorable as the others since there are a couple forgettable tracks on here. Definitely has the funniest looking album cover, it just screams early 80s.

*13. Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1 (1995) - Their least known. It's not technically a U2 studio album, it's an experimental side project collaboration between them and Brian Eno released under the pseudonym Passengers. It has three great songs though - the futuristic sounding "Your Blue Room," "Slug" and the live favorite "Miss Sarajevo." Miss Sarajevo is one of their best tracks ever and has become a live favorite.

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