Favourite Albums — U2’s Achtung Baby
You may recall my rant of a couple months back about how there’s too much new stuff coming out all the time, too much to try to keep track of etc. In light of this, I’ve decided to celebrate the old — to dig through that pile of mouldering records in the garage (and by that, I mean, scroll through my library in iTunes) find the ones that still mean a lot to me, and share them with you, the internet. This will be the newest ongoing series on The Culturatti (we’re up to four now — and, obviously, Beal, graeme, Frenchie, or anyone, feel free to get in on this one too) and will be thrown out there in no particular order.
First up is U2’s Achtung Baby. Not only do I love this album musically, it has a lot of sentimental meaning too. It was released in November of 1991, which was a time of both uncertainty (environmental issues, AIDS) and hope (the Berlin Wall coming down two years earlier and the collapse of the USSR), and all the imagery the band used for the album art and the videos sort of became, for me anyway, the defining look of that time; and, as you can see by the video for Even Better Than The Real Thing, U2 were also one of the first bands to really hit on the phenomenon of media saturation and upcoming digital revolution (or, at least, to bring these ideas to the mainstream).
The album is somewhat of a study in contrasts; you’ve got your rock tracks — Real Thing, Zoo Station, Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, Mysterious Ways — but there are some very dark and tender moments throughout which still have an emotional impact and just tend to stick in your psyche: One, with its hurt, sarcastic and angry lamentations; Love Is Blindness, which is almost the opposite, filled with despair and helplessness; and Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around The World, which is still one of those songs I can’t listen to (here’s a live version):
It was all downhill from here, unfortunately, to where the band now resembles nothing more than an aging parody of itself. They had a few good songs here and there, but never again would they achieve the thorough solidity that they had with Achtung Baby. I guess that’s what happens to most bands who stick around too long. 03971semajsmubla