Ruminations on TV Shows, Comics, And Music
If Zooropa had a lukewarm reception, and the world who bothered to notice the Passengers EP gave it a raised eyebrow, then the Pop album tanked. I was in a band when Pop came out, and I remember the guiatrist saying "I know you're a big U2 fan, but NOBODY likes Pop. Tell me you don't like Pop."
I like Pop. It's marketing was odd. The live tour conceit was at best a stretch, at worst stupid and indulgent. The songs could have had better mixes, but ... I liked them. But I liked them in such a way that this is the first of two albums that I've majorly remixed. Cutting out entire verses of songs, using alternate takes, tracking down the vocal tracks and instrumental tracks and remixing them. But, in the end, I quite like the album I ended up with.
U2 remixed M's "Pop Muzik" as a B-side to "The Last Night On Earth". It's a much better intro to this album than "Discotheque", and because the instrumentation is so similar, it flows right into the album version of "Mofo", so my version Popmart opens with this "Mofo (Pop Muzik Remiks)". What can I say, I love albums that start with a slow build and then screeching guitars.
I debated following this up with the Allen Ginsberg version of "Miami", where he gleefully reads the lyrics while Bono songs. It's a bit much. And since he already appears on my version of The Joshua Tree, I decided to just use the album version of Miami. It's lyrically ridiculous, but I like the beat, and after the incredibly stupid you know some places are like your aunty / but there's no place like, I really enjoy Bono's screeching Miami!
Bubbling up at the end of that track is the single mix of "If God Would Send His Angels". The album track is severely lacking in the weird engineering decisions that make this an album, as opposed to a collection of unfinished songs. The single version also benefits from flipping the choruses, and adding a new set of lyrics where Bono "scat" on the album version.
A bright build out of the previous song brings us to "Last Night On Earth". I've never understood why this was a single. It's a perfectly fine album track, but it's not catch enough for radio play. Even though it's not one of my favorite tracks on the album, I haven't done any work on it. It appears just as it did on the original.
Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is such an overplayed song to cover. Jeff Buckley's cover is, of course, the gold standard. But, I have to confess, this version by Bono from the mostly atrocious Tower Of Song tribute album, is the first time I ever heard the song. It will never be The Greatest Cover Of The Song. I don't think I'd ever just listen to the song on its own (though I did in the 90s), but it fits really well on to the Popmart album, and I still have a nostalgic enjoyment of the track, even if Bono has publicly apologized for ever recording it.
"The Playboy Mansion" is another track with ridiculous lyrics. It's sort of a much less impactful "Zooropa" with a stupid conceit at the center (getting into the Playboy Mansion). It's dumb dumb dumb. But I love the warmth of the guitar on the track. It feels as Florida as "Miami".
A B-Side to "Staring At The Sun", "North & South Of The River" is in contention for my favorite song from the album. It's co-written and originally recorded with Irish folk musician, Christy Moore, but I enjoy the bubble popping Popmart version. It's a super melodramatic teenage love song song by Bono who was in his early two-hundreds when he recorded this.
Another B-Side that I like more than a bunch of songs from the original album, there are two very different mixes of "Holy Joe": The Guilty Mix and The Garage Mix. I've chosen The Garage Mix because it sounds dirtier. And I like this song filthy. I think I prefer the alternate lyrics from The Guilty Mix, but I'm willing to sacrifice them for Bono's desperate sounding vocals under the overmixed guitar and drums.
The Monster Truck Mix of "Staring At The Sun" is such an improvement over both the album version of the song, and the "new version" recorded for Greatest Hits 1990 - 2000, that I can't even listen to the other versions. I love the driving beats, the breakdowns, and the repetitive chaotic ending. It's a toss-up between this, "North & South Of The River", and "Please" for my favorite track from this album. I just think that if the band was going to play at making a Euro Dance album, they should have taken it as far as possible.
The White Album is my favorite Beatles album. I was in no way disappointed to listen to U2 covering "Happiness Is A Warm Gun". I've chosen The Gun Mix, from the "Last Night On Earth Single" to include here. Like "Hallelujah", my nostalgia for the original version helps propel it on to the album. It's not an amazing cover, but I appreciate that it doesn't, in any way, stay faithful to the original.
When U2 sat down to figure out which tracks to put on The Best Of 1990-2000, they decided to remix most of the tracks from Pop. This was a wise decision. I've chosen that album's version of "Gone", as it has a cleaner vocal mix, and more consistent guitars. I also much prefer the operatic climax of this version to the original.
"Please" is a track which I've heard several remixes of, and enjoyed all of them. I've stuck with the original album version here. I remember, when it came out, there was a documentary narrated by Dennis Hopper called "A Year In Pop", and he talks about how he was waiting for U2 to finally record something as timeless and important as "Sunday Bloody Sunday", and how "Please" is that song. It's not. I love the song, but it's not going on Rolling Stone's 500 Best Songs Of Classic Rock any time soon.
I used to hate "If You Wear That Velvet Dress". I debated not putting it on to this album. Bono's vocals are so low that he can't quite hit any of the notes. I don't know why I've grown to like that. But I like it in an almost ironic way. It's a bad song. It's almost album track on The Million Dollar Hotel Soundtrack bad. But buried this deep on the album, it amuses me. And the chorus is ... fine.
I very unironically love "Do You Feel Loved". Its chorus is the part of this album that most gets stuck in my head when I'm not deliberately thinking of U2.
Now that the album is almost over, it's time for the original album's intro track, which was also their lead single. I remember, to celebrate the album's release, MTV played every U2 video from "A Celebration" to whatever the final single from Zooropa was ("Lemon", maybe?), followed by the debut of "Discotheque". I enjoyed the cheesiness of both the video and the song. I've included the original album version because it just begs for people to do deliberately stupid dance moves to it. Look you know you're chewing bubblegum / you know what it is / but you still want some.
The close to the original album, and my interpretation is definitely Wake Up Dead Man, which is basically a new set of lyrics slapped over a "Numb", "Zooropa", and a couple of tracks from the Salome Sessions. I'm not a big proponent of Jesusy songs, but a plea to Jesus from a believer who is having a hard time keeping faith works for me. That it pisses off Christian Rights buffoons is an added bonus.
1. Mofo (Adam Stone's Pop Muzik Remix)
3. If God Would Send His Angels (Single Version)
4. Last Night On Earth
5. Hallelujah (from Tower Of Song)
6. The Playboy Mansion
7. North & South Of The River
8. Holy Joe (The Garage Mix)
9. Staring At The Sun (Monster Truck Mix)
10. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Gun Mix)
11. Gone (New Mix from Best Of 1990-2000)
13. If You Wear That Velvet Dress
14. Do You Feel Loved?
16. Wake Up Dead Man