Ruminations on TV Shows, Comics, And Music
If you're wondering what the most pretentious U2 album of all-time is, it's the non-U2 album Passengers, where frequent collaborators and producer, Brian Eno, is a full-time member of the band. The conceit of the album, that U2 have put together their favorite non-album tracks from various soundtracks on one collection ... only they're actually movies that U2 didn't actually do the soundtrack to .. or, more deviously, the supposed movie doesn't even actually exist ... is pretty cool.
The addition of Eno and Lanois also make this album an anomaly within U2's evolution, because you can hear that it definitely comes after Zooropa, but it also kind of sounds like it comes after No Line On The Horizon, which didn't come out for another twenty-four years.
But most of the album is completely underwhelming. There's no hits. They don't play any of these songs at concerts. But I still like enough of these tracks to keep it as an EP.
I really enjoy the way the opening track, "Slug" falls like rain before we get the bubbly, almost Pop like bubbly percussion, interweaved with the clearly Zooropa guitars. It really sounds like a video game soundtrack before the lyrics kick in, when it clearly becomes a U2 song. It's another Bono list poem. A whole song about avoiding responsibility! Doing the things you didn't want to do.
Things I wasn't looking forward to doing? Re-editing "Elvis Ate America". It's my favorite of the many, many, many U2 songs idolizing Elvis Presley. I like many of the lyrics, but as the track started, I remembered "Ooooh, there's a line that absolutely needs to be cut out of this or I can't listen to it." But it turned out that I made that edit several years ago. I cut out an entire verse, ridding the most offensive as well as the dumbest lyrics in the song. My favorite lyrics? Elvis: don't mean shit to Chuck D. Truth. And Elvis ate America before America ate him.
Brian Eno is the lead vocalist for the very Brian Eno-y track "A Different Kind Of Blue". This really sounds more like it belongs on a Brian Eno album with special guests U2.
The only single from the album, Miss Sarajevo, features Luciano Pavarotti on vocals. I remember buying this album in college, and putting it into my sleek, state of the art 5 CD changer. At some point in the first few songs, my roommate came in, and when this track was over, he said "I never realized how wussy Bono's voice was until he tried to sing a song with Luciano Motherfucken Pavarotti." Then he impersonated Bono's wispy Here she comes in a steady decrescendo. Bono claims this is one of his favorite songs from his catalog. It is not even my favorite song from this EP, but it's an interesting divergence from the rest of the album.
From Eno to Pavarotti to The Edge, there's a wide range of white, European vocals on this album. This song is a far cry from "Numb". You can definitely hear here how similar his voice is to Bono's. I like his falsetto better, though.
Wait. Now Adam Clayton is on vocals? And he, also, sounds kind of like Bono? Man, this band has spent entirely too much time together.
Another song that sort of drips in, this time with very un-U2 like percussion, is "Always Forever Now". I love the slow build here. The title, being the only lyrics, could have been cut, and this would have been a fun instrumental that sounds like it would have been right at home on Achtung Baby.
Closing out the album is a track from an actual movie, Ghost In The Shell, with the distorted vocals of Holi being chopped up and screwed into the background before Eno, Bono and Edge come in as sort of a chorus at the end.
Here's the actual track listing from, by far, the shortest album (eight tracks, thirty-three minutes) in the discography:
2. Elvis Ate America
3. A Different Kind Of Blue
4. Miss Sarajevo
5. Corpse (These Chains Are Too Long)
6. Your Blue Room
7. Always Forever Now
8. One Minute Warning