on November 6, 2009
I own all of U2's albums, and all of the remastered editions as well. While I love the beautiful booklets accompanying these re-issues, and they all sound good, I haven't noticed a HUGE amount of sound improvement. Not that I'm complaining, but "WAR" for instance, still sounds a little "shrill" (to my ears at least). "Unforgettable Fire" is the U2 album most noticeably improved with the new mastering. "A Sort Of Homecoming" has a nice "roundness" to the sound and mix which the previous CD release lacked. There are even "incidental noises" which can be heard now that I never noticed before on the previous edition. Things like the odd cable buzz etc. actually add to the CD. U2 were, after all, recording fairly "live" in a castle. These "imperfections" really take you right into the recording session. These noises, I should add, are really only at heard discreetly at the start of certain tracks. The sound is GREAT. I have absolutely no complaints with this disc.
On another note, I've always felt that "Unforgettable Fire" was sandwiched between two rather celebrated U2 efforts "War" and "The Joshua Tree". For this reason I've often felt it's somewhat overlooked in the catalogue. True, "Pride" was a big hit, but listening back to this album now I realize how much artistic "gold" I had overlooked. "Bad" is absolute classic U2, "MLK" is beautiful, and "Unforgettable Fire" is another haunting piece. Basically, I've been most impressed with this particular U2 reissue. I'm really glad such an important artistic milestone for the band has now been given a proper release on CD.
on September 7, 2003
U2's "The Unforgettable Fire" is one of the most versatile albums I have listened to, either in the car cruising down the highway or even while cleaning the home. From the very beginning of the stage-amicable "Bad," which automatically offers an incredibly paenean sound to UF, and the retrospectively captivating ballad of "Wire," to the eighth track, "Indian Summer Sky," this album keeps you alive and desirous for more. It is impossible for these songs to become of hackneyed status as so many of the songs of the current music scene have accomplished, a majour justification in the apparent regression of such musical careers.
"Elvis Presley in America," in a way, casts out the immortal presence of this album to a point with its pseudo-hydraulic vocals and musical accompaniment. However, "MLK" revives the spirit of UF with a comforting vocal enhancement to the additional instrumentation, providing a sound that puts the listener in a mystic aura of quietude.
Initially produced by the respected Eno/Lanois duo, this is a chef d'oeuvre in the eyes of many (including mine) and is most definitely the chocolate cake that is to be found in my collection. This is candy to the ears, mind, and soul. 1984 was a good year (or so, I've heard). All this album did was make it even betta. :)
on July 3, 2000
How this wonderful album has gone underrated for so long is beyond me. This is the album where Bono and the boys mature beyond the angry young rockers they were on their first three albums, yet before they catapulted to mega-stardom with "The Joshua Tree." The songs here are grand, proud mini-epics, especially "Bad," perhaps the greatest U2 song ever. As the music in "Bad" builds, so too does the emotion. It's the soundtrack of a huge storm brewing on the horizon, and it still moves me to tears. Then there's the quiet glory of other notable tracks: "A Sort of Homecoming," "The Unforgettable Fire," "Promenade" and "MLK." The album is one of transition. Nothing before or after this album sounds quite like it. It still sounds like quintessential U2, but it's a sound that can be only be found here. Despite all the excellent work U2 has produced, none capture the hazy, ghostly quality that permeates this album.
on August 18, 2003
This album is their least commercial of all, but the most artistic, in my view. The cascading drums of 'A Sort of Homcoming' begins the passionate journey, which is The Unforgettable Fire. It's interesting to hear the musical progression from 'Boy' to this record, in only 4 short years (I'm assuming that Eno and Lanois' influence had a big part in that evolution). 'Pride' is the only departure on an album that cares more about taking you on a passionate journey, than feeding you songs with a hooky chorus. Some of my favorites include, ' A Sort of Homecoming', a great opening force of raw passion and spirit, 'Wire', which reminds me of some the music of today, although with more depth and focus, 'The Unforgettable Fire', with its haunting guitar overlaying and strong supporting string arrangement, 'Prominade', for it's beautiful story of falling in love in a seaside town and it's poetic lyrics, and of course, 'Bad', which is a fantastic build type song that reaches a pinnacle of emotional passion.
I love every song on this album, including Elvis Presely and America, and everytime I hear the opening of Edge's guitar on 'Pride', it reminds of of that fall of 1984 when the airways were filled with Cindy Lauper, Madonna, hair bands, and a host of New Wave synth [stuff] and remembering that great guitar work just blowing me away. For a 20 year old who wanted something raw, yet powerful, that was music to my ears and thank God U2 was there to keep mainstream rock honest and back on course.
'Joshua Tree' and 'Achtung Baby!' may have a better collection of pop tunes, but when I want to hear U2 at their artistic pinnacle I always put in Unforgettable. This record is timeless and it still stands up today.
I'm somewhat looking forward to U2's next, which should be coming out late this year, but I'm not expecting anything to match what was done from '84-'91. I just hope they continue to be as passionate as ever, regardless of what Henry Rollins says about them. (...)
on April 26, 2004
U2 in the 1980's evolved in a way that many bands don't , or won't - they matured in a questing, yearning sort of way and progressed from adolescent ingenues in 1979-80 (Boy era) to highly-skilled artisans and richly-experienced globetrotters before the decade was out. 1984's The Unforgettable Fire album was the midpoint of this process, where the band tried more experimental soundscapes and semi-obscure imagery than before. True, they had often included half-realised ideas on previous LP's, but here they mixed "ambient sounds" in with unusual , passionate rockers that did not conform to the usual hit single style of many of their 80's chart rivals. The obvious high point of this set is Pride. I will never forget seeing the B&W video of this on a TV pop countdown in October 1984 when I was fourteen- my first knowledge of U2 - and being struck by the burning intensity of this song. It remains one of my top 20 all-time favourite songs. The other fantastic song is Bad, which evokes struggle, adversity and pain , but which is a song of rare beauty. A Sort Of Homecoming is a song I also love- it has taken many listens to fully appreciate this passionate tune. I believe MLK , though more a quiet, elegiac chorus than a "song" as such, is a restful companion piece to Pride (they both pay respect to the late Dr. Martin Luther King jr).The title tune is also very fine indeed. The remaining tracks are more experimental pieces. Wire is more uptempo and interesting.
The Unforgettable Fire still sounds excellent today, and I do not believe this music will date. Highly Recommended!!
on August 10, 2001
Probably the best band of the 80's and early 90's U2 have made a lot of great album. The Unforgettable Fire, passed almost unnoticed betweeen the amazing live set "Under a Blood Red Sky" and the popular breaktrough album "Josuah Tree" and it's a shame. To start with, I have never heard in any other U2 album (or any other band for that matter) such a perfect mix of guitar and keyboards. This perfect compromise resulting in such a unique sound on all the album might be due to the addition of producer Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois to the U2 team. The production itself is magnificient and for those who enjoyed more techno & alternative U2 album's like Achtung Baby, it all started here. The lyrics are also of a superior making. Bono had started his obscession on america and it's philosophy, but unlike the Josuah Tree and Rattle and Hum were the lyrics could sometimes sound pretentious or sanctimonious in Unforgettable Fire the lyrics are just strangely distant and beautiful, almost like poetry. This along with the almost hypnothic interplay between guitar and keyboards supported by great bass lines and impeccable drumming makes for a very relaxing, yet addictive record that encourages the listener to reflect on the various themes aborded by Bono (Such important themes as the bombing of Hiroshima, the life and death of Martin Luther King and the concept of entertainment and fame in America.) In conclusion unforgettable fire might lack the commercial appeal of the Josuah Tree, the in your face rock punch of War or Under a Blood Red Sky or the alternative coolness of Achtung Baby but it stand alone lyrically and musically as a perfect cocktail of all these elements that made U2 such a great band and in the end might be their real masterpiece.
on March 5, 2002
Mention the band name U2, and instantly people will probably think of The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby, and most recently All That You Can't Leave Behind, which just won 4 more Grammies.
As incredible as those 3 CDs are, it is this often times forgotten gem that really started my lifelong dedication to U2.
For those who remember what the music scene was like back in 1984-1985, it wasn't too much different than today - pop groups that are here today, then gone the next, only to show up on one of those "Where Are They Now" shows. I remember the first time I ever heard the 6 note introduction to "Pride", and I was awestruck. That's all it took to make me a lifelong fan of U2. I sensed there was something different about this band, and something told me "These guys are going to be around for a while...you might want to pay attention to them." A divine message or a premonition? I'll let you decide that.
Another reviewer called this disc the link between "War" and "The Joshua Tree", and be right. The trademark characteristic of U2 is that no two albums ever sound alike, but they truly are pieces of work. Here's a track by track run down, with ranking.
"A Sort of Homecoming": 5/5 Great guitarwork by the Edge, who has constantly proved to be one of the most creative guitarists ever. Adam and Larry, as always, doing what they do best. Good vocal performance by Bono.
"Pride" 5/5 Again, this is the song that kindled my passion for this band by rising above the sludge of mindless pop and metal that was around when this disc was first released. Passionate lyrics about Martin Luther King who gave everything to see a world in which racism is a thing of the past. Outstanding guitarwork by the Edge, as always.
"Wire" 5/5 Great opening with the Edge's rhythm guitar work, but this song really belongs to Adam, with his bass line that dominates the whole song. I've heard of two different intrepretation of the lyrics to this song, but I'll leave it up to you, the listener which you think fits better. One is that it is about Jack the Ripper, or possibly about suicide. Of course, U2 has always been ambigious with their lyrics, so songs can have different meanings to different people.
"The Unforgettable Fire" 5/5 This song is one of the most atmospheric on the whole album, and one of the tracks that I overplayed when I first got the record. Guess that gives away my age.
"Promenade" 4/5 Another slow, atmospheric song, with a great vocal performance by Bono.
"4th of July" 3/5 Probably the only instrumental that U2 has ever done. Again, a standout peformance by Adam. I see this song as sort of a link between Promenade and Bad.
"Bad" 7/5 I can't say enough about this song...this is the one that brought the house down at Wimbley Stadium during Live Aid. That performance marked the beginning of U2's rise to superstardom, and global dominance in the rock world. Outstanding vocals by Bono, with some of his most passionate lyrics, which deal with heroin use in Dublin. Great performance again by Larry (especially at the end), the Edge, and Adam.
"Indian Summer Sky" 4/5 Probably one of the most underrated song's on the entire disc. This is another song that I played constantly. This song is among my favorites on The Unforgettable Fire. Adam, again, dominates this song, with the Edge doing what he does best, in adding color to the song with his contributions.
"Elvis Presley and America" 4/5 A good song, but if I recall right, it used the drum and bass tracks from "A Sort of Homecoming" while Bono ad libbed the lyrics over it in just a stream of consciousness fashion.
"MLK" 5/5 U2 has a tradition of ending each release with a slow, thoughtful song, and TUF is no exception. This is among my favorite album closers. A passionate vocal performance by Bono, with lyrics dedicated to King. The best way, as another reviewer pointed out, to experience this song is to turn out all the lights and listen to the song in the dark on a discman. It becomes a lot more powerful.
This CD will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was the spark that ignited my passion for one of the greatest rock groups ever.
on June 30, 2001
Of all the impressive, oftentimes brilliant releases served up by U2 over the years, 'The Unforgettable Fire' still ranks as the most satisfying for me. From the angry, raw-edged 'War', through what might be their most complete release, 'Achtung Baby', and up to their current release, 'All That You Can't Leave Behind', U2 has never failed to impress me with their musicality and depth, and it is really no surprise that they have been so successful for so long. They simply make great music.
'The Unforgettable Fire' is not a flawless piece of work, however. I think that the most popular single, 'Pride', is a little too repetitive, if classic U2 in sound. An often overlooked gem is the short cut, 'Wire', which comes and goes with surprising brutality. Very edgy, very, very good stuff!
My choice (and many others') for the single masterpiece on this album is clearly the cut, 'Bad'. It has everything that you could ask for in a perfect U2 song-- musicianship, soaring Bono vocals sweetly done and profoundly moving, and the Edge's trademark guitar sound is always prominent, distinctive, and wonderfully varied.
While 'Unforgettable Fire', 'MLK', and other tracks also hold up well over time, it is fair to say that this record is a little uneven overall. I can't say that this is U2's absolutely strongest release from top-to-bottom (that honor surely must go to 'Achtung Baby' or 'War', and even 'Joshua Tree' and the latest release are worth that consideration), 'The Unforgettable Fire' offers us a glimpse of what U2 are capable of doing in their finest moments. And surely, some of those finest moments ever are captured on 'Bad' and 'Wire'.
on June 11, 2000
This is undoubtably the most fine U2 album written.What one of the other reviews says is true - it is the bridge of the gap between the albums such war and Joshua Tree. This bridge, in my opinion, makes for the best U2. What makes this album extra special is that each individual musician works his instrument to levels of mastery never seen in any other U2 album. Joshua Tree may be the best known album, but I can't help thinking that it is dominated exclusively by the guitar work of the Edge. The later albums although each of them are outstandingly clever and well crafted, become more dominated by information technology.
The Edge - in The Unforgettable Fire his work varies from the energetic vibrance of Wire and Pride to the sultry brilliance of Bad and Promenade. As far as guitar is concerned, the syle is so varied the album doesn't represent the mere product of a working musician, but a master in every area. Moreover I have never heard in any other band a guitarist with the same style of Edge - how many songs have you heard on the radio with the same guitar playing?
Larry Mullen Jr. in my opinion represents the very escence of U2. In The Unforgettable Fire he is more open in his drumming than in any other Album. Without his varying drum lines and patterns U2 would not be U2 at all. In this album he combines his Sunday Bloody Sunday brilliance with his extreme technical perfection to produce such an amazing result that it is hard to give any respect to other drummers. Try listening through Pride, A Sort Of Homecoming and Wire and The....every song and listen for the extremely understated excellence.
It is hard to count out Mr Clayton because his bass in this album is simply formidable.the sound of the title track is made by him in harmony with the Edge. When you stop to listen to the song, instead of letting it pass through ear to ear - like U2 does because it seems to be like life itself - Adam Clayton's bass work is what holds it all together. I won't go into the styles of Bono but I'm sure you will all agree that his input is absolutely invaluable.
A Sort of Homecoming, as #1 serves to get you in the rythmn of the new U2 beat. It's frenetic drumming and logical but random guitar create such an atmosphere as to actually lift your feet of the ground. It does actually sound like travelling from place to place on tour - which is I think what it is about. This is a relatively forgotten song but a delight that people only discover now, 16 years on, if they but the album. Pride simply goes without saying. Simply everything about this song is perfect. Down to a T. It doesn't seem to be remembered as a groove for Martin Luther King, moreover as a powerfull swerve into the reality of life and love. This song contains so much atmosphere that it is hard to forget where you were everytime you've listened to it in a public place. Wire is a great bridging song between 2 of the 3 greats of the album. This is the song though that, in my opinion, opitimises the 1980s U2 sound. Frenetic drumming, fast guitar work, groovy bass and Bonos vocal chords on full. Complete with all of his well-loved quirks. The Unforgettable Fire is the most atmospheric song of the album. It does not conform to the normal rules of U2 - it has musically more side to it. It is my favorite song of the album. It was written by Bono after visiting an exhibition (called the Unforgettable Fire) in one of the Japenese Cities hit by an atom bomb in WW2. I can't really see how the lyrics convey this fact but that is irrelevant. The song wells up such massive feelings of nostalgia and fogotten memorys that it is ill met in excellence, in my opinion, by any other U2 song. Promenade is another atmospheric great, along with 4th of July. It is fully understandable why they put both of these shorter tracks on the album - to give the listener a bit of a break after the first 4 and before Bad. Nevertheless, Promenade I see as a mini Unforgettable Fire. This song is utterly made by the excellence of the Edge. It has very much the same nostalgeic effect as the song before. Bad, is many people's favorite on the album. Many pop singers count it as their favorite song ever, when asked. I love it, as I do all U2 songs, but for me it does not conjure up the same power as the songs formerly mentioned. It is definitely the crescendo in Larry Mullen's drummin' that makes the song, and for all you out there who want to know what it is about. I'm running out of time, but all the other songs on the album have the same U2 effect and are no worse one from the other. Try listening to them, and maybe you'll get the same effect as me.
To close, if you have not bought this album you are missing out on a huge chunk of life. If I could I'd rate it 10*. Everytime you listen to the first line - "and you know its time to go" - it sounds different and more exciting.
on October 5, 2001
In 1984 U2 released their fourth studio album, titled "The Unforgettable Fire". It was a very important transitional record for them. Throwing themselves into the brilliant producing/engineering skills of Brian Eno and his associate Daniel Lanois, they managed to produce a more melodic, more coherent sound that U2 seemed to miss on their previous albums. They don't call Eno U2's fifth "member" for nothing.
This is one of those albums that will never die or be forgotten. It brought U2 the deserving attention of critics and fans alike. It features their best song they've written in the eighties (and one of the Edge's most recognizable guitar riffs), "Pride (In The Name Of Love)", a tribute to one man's courage and devotion for love and peace, the late Martin Luther King, Jr. "The Unforgettable Fire" and "Bad" displayed Bono's capability of writing lyric full of compassion and humanity, a thing that looks like he forgot how to do these days.
Adam's bass playing is fantastic (listen to "Wire" and "4th of July" - U2's only instrumental track to date) and you'll get the picture. If you're only familiar with the work that U2 does today, the listen to "The Unforgettable Fire" and you'll be in for a surprise. This is rock played with such passion and intensity that couldn't be done by many other bands. A truly unforgettable album. It marked the end of their first period and gave promise of a stronger U2 in the future to come.