U2 formed in their native Dublin in 1978 and remains intact with its four original band members: Bono, Larry Mullen, Adam Clayton and The Edge. The band has sold more than 120 million records worldwide in an extraordinary career that has firmly established them as one of the world's greatest rock `n' roll bands. Along the way, U2 has earned a phenomenal 14 Grammy Awards, seven of which were for their last studio album, 2000's `All That You Can't Leave Behind,' including two consecutive awards for 'Record of the Year.' As popular for their legendary live shows as for their groundbreaking albums, U2 innovates and inspires while packing football stadiums and sweaty clubs around the world. What is next for the group that continues to reinvent themselves and push the boundaries of music?
The album that carries U2 into its 25th year--and likely the mixed blessings of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame--is one of its most frank and focused since the days of October
. But its gestation was anything but simple, in part salvaged from '03 sessions the band deemed subpar. Enter Steve Lillywhite, the band's original producer and sometime collaborator in the decades since, who helped retool the track "Native Son" (originally an anti-gun screed) into the aggressive iPod anthem "Vertigo" and leaves his distinctive stamp on the muscular "All Because of You" and others. Perhaps weary of ceaseless, fashion-driven reinvention in the wake of monumental success, U2 seem only too happy here to re-embrace their original sonic trademarks in service of more daring, pop-melodic hooks than they've collected in one place in decades. The Eno/Lanois produced "Love and Peace or Else" may shimmer with the duo's electro-production conceits, but it's Edge's lugubrious, post-modern John Lee Hooker guitar swagger that drives it. Elsewhere, Bono's trademark dramaturgy is spotlighted on "City of Blinding Lights," the unabashed romance of "A Man and a Woman," and the confessional "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own." It may come wrapped in a conundrum--is it nostalgic retrenchment or sum of the band's endless musical catharsis?--but it's also the album where, Fly and MacPhisto
be damned, U2 boldly claims its arena titan mantle with apologies to no one. --Jerry McCulley
Recommended U2 Discography