Great Albums Series

U2- Zooropa

Island Records (1993)
Pop, Brit-pop, Electronic, Techno

Yeah that's right. U2's Zooropa. Don't believe me? Check out this track

Ok, now, tell me, have you ever heard anything like that from U2? No, you haven't. So the other day, I read a pretty scathing article on U2's newest album No Line on the Horizon. Since I hadn't heard anything from the album I looked up a few songs online, and they were pretty disappointing. Not really a shock. The last couple U2 albums have been boring. Albums made with sales figures in mind. But it sparked a memory in me. Zooropa.

Let me state here, that I don't think this is a perfect album. Bono's lyrics can be laughable at times, and "The First Time" is pretty much a remake of "All I Want is You". But what I think is worth while is how experimental it is. Up until Zooropa, the albums had always had that U2 sound, Zooropa seemed to come out of left field. Is it wrong to think that a band that doesn't need the money should try the expand their musical horizon?

The subject matter through out is man's obsession with technology, and the media overload that we're subjected to. Maybe that's why the album works so well. Most songs are over-loaded with synth swells, echoed guitars, and Brian Eno's Arcade Sounds. The other thing that makes this an interesting U2 album is that the musical influence seem to be taken from Europe as apposed to the American influences of their previous albums (and the overtly American influences of their last 3 albums). And maybe the most important difference is that this album never preaches to you. No "Sunday Bloody Sunday"'s here. You can listen to it without having to think about Bono sitting in on UN meetings.

Zooropa was followed by the even more techno flavored Pop. But unfortunately most of the experimentation was gone. Since then it's been one disappointment after another, so it's nice to go back to Zooropa and see what could have been. Here's a couple tracks that stand out for me.

The funky bass line of "Somedays are Better Than Others". And check out the brief Guitar solo

The falsetto and odd lyrics of "Lemon". The chorus makes me feel like I'm in Berlin for some reason.

Oh, and did I mention that Johnny Cash sings the last song "The Wanderer"? Amazing.


Dave Marcotte said...

I actually agree with this one...and I thought in was only a skeleton in my closet....although, I don't think these guys need much in the way of promo or props these days...but, it's a great album. It changed and widened my expectations for pop albums (then came "Pop" thud...and all the rest of it) This is the last U2 album I ever bought.

Shawn William Clarke said...

I couldn't agree more with you. I've never been much of a fan, but this album was great.