Of course you know Achtung Baby. Well, at least I presume so. If you do not know is living on Saturn because he walked in the last thirty years or, worse, are too lazy to get out of his "musical comfort zone" and explore one of the most impressive records in the history of contemporary music.
But there is a review of the record that I write here. My business is to tell the stories that few people know about this work. Although he had not yet entered the journalistic field - at that time in the early 90s, I was just a dentist - my enthusiasm for music led me to follow as closely as possible what happened. And this included - and it includes - to understand the reasons why the band to record some discs. And the story behind the recording of Achtung Baby is one of the most fascinating ...
Rarely seen and heard a group dive into a process of reinvention and emerge with a work so powerful, but that all happened, so many were the mishaps that journey that almost cost the end of the band. If this had happened, the reason would be the same as always: to such "artistic differences".
The change was complete, but very painful to their members. At various times, even the loyalty between them was tested. The band had to go through it to rethink their union as a quartet of musical partners, and especially as friends, almost brothers.
During the "American period" when the disc Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum - the latter being the soundtrack to the documentary of the same title - went bust, burnout among members of the group was already evident. Skip touching stadiums not only increased the pressure on the guys, but made the internal environment to deteriorate rapidly. Even simple things like a promotional photo shoot was a source of discomfort and even squabble between the musicians and their manager. At each show, the confidence of the group descended ever deeper into the abyss of self-criticism.
The heads of Bono and The Edge began to contemplate such a musical and behavioral changes in early 1990, when the duo were involved in preparing the soundtrack for the stage adaptation of the book A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, made by the British company Royal Shakespeare Company, full of loops, sounds and electronic programming. At this time we both began to hear very different things, full of "noise", such as disks of My Bloody Valentine, Einstürzende Neubauten, Young Gods, KMFDM and even Nine Inch Nails.
Want an example? If you hear below what Bono and The Edge did one of the songs in the play, "Alex Descends Into Hell for a Bottle of Milk / Korova 1" - one of the tracks included in the 2-disc edition pair of Achtung Baby, filled with b -sides and bonus tracks, which was launched recently in Brazil - will understand how it helped the band reach the end result of the anthology album.
But the "plug actually fell" when both did a wonderful version of "Night and Day", a classic Cole Porter, for the charity album Red, Hot and Blue, which raised funds for the fight against AIDS. It was this work that cemented the need for a reorientation in the minds of sound Bono and The Edge. Watch and listen below:
The option to burn the disk in Berlin Hansa Sudio - where it was recorded the Heroes by David Bowie - was the quartet's option, approved by the co-producer Brian Eno, who already knew the place when he produced the said album English singer. For them, there would be inspired to write because of the strength of the environment. Once this proved a mistake ...
In trials, were common with Bono shouting over his fellow trying to enforce their ideas in the volume and aggressiveness of the voice. Ample space environment only added to reverberate discussions. Even the fact that they are staying in a hotel where everything was brown - all the same - just generalized influence irritation.
At the beginning of the recordings, the mood was tension and discouragement. There were songs ready, but only sketches of songs, which were discarded one by one. There was a clear mismatch between the musical band members. No one understood. Bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. were decorative figures at this stage of the process and were often asked to not appear on the recordings. To get an idea, Mullen once had to call from your hotel in Berlin for the band's Dublin office to ask for the address of the studio, since he could not remember more. This not to mention his deep irritation to realize that electronic programming would replace the rhythms of his work "organic" on several tracks.
To make matters worse, there were rare occasions where discussions between Bono and producer Daniel Lanois - who came to last day - were very close to degenerate into an exchange of punches. In fact, the entire band was close to disintegrate completely.
The turnaround began when a draft of the song, so far rejected by all concerned, had changed its course and the inclusion of a different chord sequence. Dismantled and re-written, which was an idea doomed to the trash became "One".
Even today there are many interpretations that give this song: a dialogue between a father and son with AIDS at the end of the marriage of The Edge, a metaphor for the reunification of Germany to the strengthening of friendship among the members of U2. Basically, all this can be ...
Yes, The Edge was going through the delicate moment to end their marriage of seven years with Aislinn O'Sullivan. Such sadness, coupled with the feeling of betrayal, was instrumental, for example, the emergence of "Love is Blindness" - a song that the guitarist wanted to write to Nina Simone - and his exciting guitar solo.
After five months in Berlin and having recorded only two songs, the band returned to Dublin to complete the disc. But the most important thing was to go home with a concept to guide the new album and, most importantly, a renewed unity among its members.
Bono has created an alter ego named "The Fly" ("The Fly"), which was nothing more than the addition of some sartorial icons of rock n 'roll in a single figure: the inevitable sunglasses Lou Reed, the leather pants of Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley black jacket. It was a character who rebut the criticism the band received at the time with the same weapons: sarcasm, irony and a misunderstood sense of humor. What once was not shown to the public had become explicit: the guys from U2 were a mocking.
Lagged behind the well-intentioned political messianism Bono, replaced by irony, often thin, but coarse and rude at various times. The heavy guitar riff that opens the first track on the disc, "The Zoo" was like a punch in the ears of those who expected a "Joshua Tree part 2."
Unwittingly, the band entered a "post-modernism" that emphasized even more European atmosphere of your sound. David Bowie, Brian Eno, Kraftwerk and raves have become references. The disillusionment of love and the strong presence of sex in the letters was another sign of profound change. More than change in the identity of a band, there is a rearrangement spiritual.
The consequence of such radical ushered in Zooropa, but there is already another story ...