U2 / Kiss The Sky 1979 – 2004
1979 - 1988
01 Stories For Boys / U2 3EP October 1979
02 11 O’Clock Tick Tock / Single A Side February 1980
03 Shadows And Tall Trees / Boy November 1980
04 Gloria / Single A Side September 1971
05 October / October October 1981
06 A Celebration / Single A Side March 1982
07 Drowning Man / War February 1983
08 New Years Day (US Mix) / Single B Side March 1983
09 40 / Under A Blood Red Sky November 1983
10 The Unforgettable Fire / The Unforgettable Fire October 1984
11 Love Comes Tumbling / Single B Side May 1985
12 Bad / Wide Awake In America May 1985
13 Bullet The Blue Sky / The Joshua Tree March 1987
14 Running To Stand Still / The Joshua Tree March 1987
15 One Tree Hill / The Joshua Tree March 1987
16 Silver And Gold / Single B Side September 1987
17 Desire (Hollywood Mix) / Single B Side September 1988
18 God Pt II / Rattle And Hum October 1988
1988 – 2004
01 A Room At The Heartbreak Hotel / Single B Side December 1988
02 One / Achtung Baby November 1991
03 So Cruel / Achtung Baby November 1991
04 Love Is Blindness / Achtung Baby November 1991
05 Can’t Help Falling In Love / Single B Side November 1992
06 Zooropa / Zooropa July 1993
07 The First Time / Zooropa July 1993
08 Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me / Single A Side June 1995
09 Mofo / Pop March 1987
10 Wake Up Dead Man / Pop March 1987
11 Two Shots Of Happy One Shot Of Sad / Single B Side December 1997
12 The Ground Beneath Her Feet / Million Dollar Hotel Soundtrack April 2000
13 Stuck In A Moment / All That You Can’t Leave Behind October 2000
14 Kite / All That You Can’t Leave Behind October 2000
15 Electrical Storm / Single A Side October 2002
16 Vertigo / Single A Side October 2004
17 Miracle Drug / How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb November 2004
U2 are unique, now well into their fortieth year they are arguably the only major group or artist in the history of recorded popular music to have made such consistently, highly regarded records for such a long period. And yet, way back, U2 first found fame as a live band. Bono’s showmanship and acute sense of his audience, the Edge’s resonant guitar chimes and the dedicated professionalism of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen and all that surrounded them meant U2 were always ahead in any race for global domination. But such a start has often hindered their recording reputation. Critical arguments have raged over symbolic issues like their Irishness, their religious and political beliefs, or their reluctance to follow the usual band career path. Now even God wants to be Bono on his day off.
U2 have the uncanny knack of encouraging only extremes; heroes or charlatans, coloured in black or white with no shades of grey. More than any other icons they’ve rarely received coverage that’s neither worshipful nor damning. Consequently their music has often been drowned in the critical din. But through all their albums can be found a band of versatility with an extraordinary capacity to keep moving on.
Boy opened their career with a whoop and a whirl. That freshness and innocence leading to October, which, in the pecking order of U2 albums, has long been considered the runt of the litter. Saturated with Christian sentiment and imagery they were still striving to progress beyond the original blueprint. U2 had won their own fiercely loyal following so War, written in 1982, became the first big seller. Its unadorned sincerity and Americanised basic rock sound was clearly at odds with the new romantic and synth fashions of the time.
The Unforgettable Fire proved pivotal, the coming of age that saved their creative lives. Introducing Eno as Producer, his task helped mature a new, more experimental musical vocabulary while introducing Bono’s fascination with American icons. The next logical step was The Joshua Tree, an undisputed landmark album of its era with an imagery inspired by the dirty realism of America. A record of depth and discipline it proved beyond doubt that Bono and the Edge had mastered the art of songwriting. However, Rattle And Hum, unlike its predecessor was a sprawling, confused Americana mongrel, wallowing unashamedly in the tumbleweed of the sixties.
Something had to give and when U2 reappeared in 1991 they had undergone major surgery, the self-conscious traditional American influences long gone, Achtung Baby was defiantly futuristic and European, trashy, industrial and dark. Zooropa went even further, sonically intriguing and lyrically sinister, while Pop was anything but, non-rockist elements overlaying an undercurrent of heavy rhythms, each song inhabiting its own dense little world.
From classic rock to techno punk, from ambient abstraction to mutant funk, U2 had covered almost every colour in the spectrum. But in the new millennium All That You Can’t Leave Behind was a deliberate return to basics, biblical imagery and guitar rock with a smattering of grainy retro soul. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb improved even on that mega seller, injecting doses of post punk aggression, big songs and big anthems. And in between all these were numerous sideshows, soundtracks, off cuts, tributes to the great and good gods of rock’n’roll and B sides adventuring down new avenues that sometimes turned into cul de sacs but which also proved the first unsteady steps in new uncharted waters.
U2 have gradually found a superior energy. Their music has become a world tour of discovery. By standing on the shoulders of giants, calling on the ghosts and legends of a mythical America, then Europe’s darkest dreams in the crossroads zoo city of Berlin, they seized a gravitas no-one else could have mustered. But, they are still striving, staggering, suffering and dreaming in their dizzy sense of mission. This has led to a continued willingness to change direction and let the music take control. In among all the St Bono stuff and the record breaking tours, that’s the bit often forgotten.
I fell for them back in 1980. U2 were different, thrilling even with a unique perspective and sound. Seeing them live it was clear that the singer, though apt to be a bit of a prick, was clearly set to take on the world. I pledged that I would indeed follow. But by 1983 I had broken my promise. They kept making that same record, again and again, a one trick pony, bombastic and blustery. There was also the matter of their faith, my own Sunday school best Christian upbringing still too close for comfort. Of course Bono’s flag waving bullshit and my own natural instinct to run from anything accepted by the masses added fuel to the flames.
Since then I’ve dipped in and out. Just five months older than Bono, their personal journey back to Elvis, Cash, Dylan, Hendrix, even Hank Williams coincided with my own and got me interested again. Using a sprinkling of my own minor Irish bloodline I know where U2 are coming from. I guess they speak to me, not that I always listen. Even your oldest friends talk bollocks sometimes. But I do recognise them as the last, truly great band still up there exclusive to my blank generation. I have returned again recently, thanks strangely to my first-born sons search for his own musical nirvana. As he will find out, that search goes on forever. This playlist is my tribute to him and them, and hopefully serves to prove how U2 continue to run and never stand still.