Thursday, March 7, 2013

Response to 10 Great U2 Guitar Songs

Bono & The Edge
Gibson recently posted an article that attempted to bring together the 10 greatest U2 guitar songs. Tough task because the iconic rock band has so many great songs and with that comes a variety of opinions. However, I noticed that all the songs in this list were hit singles. While there is nothing wrong with that, as all those songs are outstanding, when it comes to a band like U2 you can really dig into their catalog and find so much more. So here are more songs, in no particular order, that have some of the best guitar we've heard from The Edge. Mostly sticking to non-singles with a few exceptions.

1. New York (All That You Can't Leave Behind, 2000) - Bono provides some interesting lyrics as he describes New York City, however the real star of this song is The Edge. His guitar really comes blistering into the song around 2:10 into this underrated track. It has some of my favorite guitar work from The Edge, and considering it wasn't released as a single and hasn't been played live in a while, you should probably give it another listen. Check out this fantastic unofficial fan-made video for the song:
2. The Fly (Achtung Baby, 1991) - One of the singles I'm including, it tends to be a bit forgotten considering the popularity of the other singles from Achtung Baby ('One', 'Mysterious Ways', 'Even Better Than The Real Thing'). The distorted guitar hits you right away and carries you through one of the best songs in U2's rich history. This was the lead single from Achtung Baby, and the was the perfect choice to signal the band's new alternative rock/electronic/experimental direction of the 90s after their more serious output of the late 80s. I bet when many people first heard this song, their initial thought may have been, "Wait, this is the same band that made 'With or Without You'?!?" 'The Fly' helped signal U2 as a band with many tricks up their musical sleeves.

3. I Threw a Brick Through a Window (October, 1981) - Here's another example of the guitar taking the stage ahead of Bono's vocals/lyrics. That is no easy feat considering Bono is one of the strongest singers of all time. October is their least popular album, though still a great listen, so many of the songs remain unknown to the masses. Many of the songs on October are powered by the instruments. Bono's lyrics were stolen, so they had to be re-written quickly, which is part of the reason. That inadvertantly allows The Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton to shine and take a larger focus than on other albums.

4. Vertigo (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, 2004) - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb contains some of U2's most powerful and heavy guitar work. However, 'Vertigo' stands out and another hit single I just can't ignore. The "iPod" song will forever be a live favorite and staple thanks to the ear blasting guitar heard throughout in addition to the catchy lyrics. It gets people on their feet.

5. Surrender (War, 1983) - The guitar provides much variety throughout the 5 1/2 minutes of 'Surrender', going along with some of the chanting as I call it heard here. The length gives Edge plenty of opportunities to stand out. War, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and Boy are chock full of heavy, loud guitar for those who like harder rock.

6. Stay (Faraway, So Close!) (Zooropa, 1993) One of the greatest songs they've ever made. It was a single, though it should have charted much higher on the Hot 100 than its peak of 61. It makes for a great alternative ballad, and is mostly played acoustic in concert now. The guitar moves the outstanding vocals along nicely, and its the definition of what a ballad should be.

7. Breathe (No Line on the Horizon, 2009) Most people agree that this should have been a single, and probably the lead. However it opened many shows on the U2360 tour. The song soars and lifts you up, a U2 specialty. Mainly crafted by The Edge himself, he took influence from Jack White & Jimmy Page, whom he worked with in the guitar documentary It Might Get Loud. 

8. Bullet the Blue Sky (The Joshua Tree, 1987) The guitar slides are used expertly in 'Bullet the Blue Sky', and the song carries a lot of power especially when performed live. The studio track has a great distorted solo towards the end, which was nice considering most of the album is a mellower affair.

9. The Electric Co. (Boy, 1980) From their very first album, the young Edge gets to unleash his powerful guitar throughout the album, but my favorite is on 'The Electric Co.' Electric would clearly be the best word to describe it, as his guitar travels through your speakers like lightning.

10. Until the End of the World (Achtung Baby, 1991) The song is dark and exciting, with The Edge bringing his shimmering guitar along for the ride. Another non-single that has become a live favorite of many fans. The song is perfect in every way, and The Edge delivers one of his best guitar solos. The entire song was born of a guitar riff, so its only fitting.

11. Electrical Storm (Best of 1990-2000, 2002) The "William Orbit Mix" lacks the powerful guitar intro, but you can find the guitar "Band Version" as a B-Side with the 2-disc version of the hits album, which features 'Electrical Storm' as a new song.

Guitar lovers should check out these as well: 'Elevation' (All That You Can't Leave Behind), 'Wake Up Dead Man' (Pop, 1997), 'Desire' (Rattle & Hum, 1988), 'Window in the Skies' (U218 Singles, 2006), 'A Sort of Homecoming' (The Unforgettable Fire, 1984), 'Love Comes Tumbling' (Wide Awake in America, 1985), 'Crumbs From Your Table' (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb), 'Fez - Being Born' (No Line on the Horizon).

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