The Complete U2

Available Through iTunes

Should the MP3 Generation Download More Than Just Vertigo?


Reviewed by Jeannie Larrea-Manzano



          When U2 came onto the scene in 1980, not only did they bring in a new sound and style of music with riveting guitar riffs and powerful messages, but they changed human perception, at least for me. After 25 years, can one say these four damn-lucky Irish guys from Dublin are still doing the same?  Is it worth spending $150 on every song they ever made?  Hell yeah it is!!  Why else did you ask Mom and Dad for that pesky iPod?

            I became a huge fan of the group over 13 years ago and I still enjoy their classics just as much as their new material.  That’s no easy feat.  So many bands have seen the beaming lights of Hollywood only to end up as the latest edition of an E! Truly Hollywood Story.

            I started listening to U2 when the Achtung Baby CD came out.  Some guy purchased it while we were dating.  Ah, the days of high school.  It was so easy to score points with a girl back then.  Even Better than the Real Thing was on MTV one day and I thought it was catchy.  As with every teenager, it is not about the message of the music, it is about how cool it sounds.  Good Vibrations was second on my list.  I had NO idea that my life would change forever after that gift (Not only did I become a true U2 fan, I ended up marrying the guy who got me the CD!).

            Now you must be saying, “Changed your life, WTF???!!”

            If you ever get a chance to listen to more than what the radio plays on a Thursday afternoon, you’ll understand what I mean.  U2 didn’t start out with music you can dance to.  They started with music that came from their soul.  Demons they were fighting, political instability, religious doubt, family ordeals – all fueled their passion and talent for music.  Bono isn’t the world’s greatest male vocalist, but he puts on one hell of a performance.  Bono is completely off key (and that’s bad coming from someone who is tone deaf) in songs like Twilight.  They actually didn’t hit real Rock-and-Roll-God status till after Joshua Tree in 1987.  But it was those early pieces of work that made them who they are today.  Gloria, New Year’s Day and Pride in the Name of Love - all classics, all heart-wrenching, all done it true U2 fashion.  And if you get the message, you will thrive off the words from Like a Song and actually be able to enjoy what the music is about.

            Okay…that is their earlier work…and like most good artists, they sometimes come up with bad ideas of reinvention.  But if you are true fan and can appreciate growth, you will also appreciate U2 in the mid and late 90’s.  Now,  Zooropa and Pop are nothing to rave about individually.  But when you listen to the entire history of their music, you can understand why they made these albums and sort of appreciate ballads like Staring at the Sun or funky songs like Lemon and Gone.  Even though these were not their best works, there is still something to be said about this career move and being able to bounce back as the greatest rock and roll band in the world.

            Now I am going to get a little nostalgic here since 30 is almost around the corner for me.  Being a true fan of a band, you never want to see a greatest hits album appear on the shelf.  Then my biggest nightmare came true. Were they going to retire?  Did drugs and alcohol take away their spirits?  After graduating from college in 1998 and starting life as an adult, I could not bear the prospect of no new U2 music.  Britney and Christina’s bubble gum pop dominated the airways and Linkin Park was just a twinkle in a producer’s eye.  Good thing they signed 5 album deal with Island Records.

            As we came into the new millennium, an eager 24-year-old waited anxiously for her idols to release their new album - All That You Can Leave Behind.  What a fitting title!!  It killed me when I missed them performing on TRL on October 30, 2000.  I grew up, they grew up…what a Beautiful Day that was.  And then there was Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, while U2 elevated the soundtrack.  Those TRL kids probably are now responsible adults.  What a difference four years can make!  

            Back to the present day…

            While Vertigo is a catchy, pseudo-dance tune and Kidz Bop has honored it with a horrible cover, that is nowhere near the tip of iceberg when it comes to their true musical talent.  Yes, the soulful Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own, where Bono discusses his struggles with his late father, and City of Blinding Lights, where he pays respect to the GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD, are all in the new album and worth noting.  But the true essence of their music is held in each and every song they have written.  You can hear that in some of the sample tracks and recordings never released until now.

            What makes U2 truly exceptional, and what makes this purchase truly desirable, is what you are getting with your purchase. You hear a bit of history, laughter, passion, suspense and drama all through one band’s music.  Not only do the lyrics inspire thinking, but the energy the music brings to the audience makes me wonder.  And if you are a younger U2 fan like me, you can appreciate hearing these tunes as they were originally performed.


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