U2 - An Experiement
‘The Unforgettable Fire’ was U2’s fourth studio album, and this time there was a change in direction. Part of the reason was they did not want to be seen as yet another guitar and drums rock band. They brought in Brian Eno in to produce the album and the album was recorded not only at the Windmill Lane Studios, but also in the ballroom at Slane Castle where they built a temporary studio.
The album was released on 1st October 1984 and went straight in to the charts at number 1. The album only reached number 12 in the USA, but they were still building their fan base there. The picture on the front cover of the album is not Slane Castle but Moydrum Castle in County Westmeath, Ireland.
The title for the album came from an exhibition of paintings and drawings by the Japanese survivors of the first atom bomb dropping on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. The band visited the Chicago Peace Museum while on tour, at which time the exhibition was taking place, four of the songs on the album were influenced by that visit.
‘A Sort Of Homecoming’ was the only track to have its lyrics printed on its album sleeve. The song was inspired by the visit to the peace museum, and ties in with the thoughts on nuclear holocaust. This was one of the tracks that were recorded at Slane Castle.
‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’ was another one of the songs written after the inspirational visit to the peace museum and was influenced by the section on the Reverend Martin Luther King. This song has always been a favourite live song of the fans. The song was recorded at both Slane Castle and Windmill Lane Studios. At the recording session Chrissie Hynde and BP Fallon are said to have added backing vocals. This was released as a single and became a top 3 hit in the UK.
‘Wire’, one of the most outstanding tracks on the album, and such a frenetic track compared to the others on the album. With the frantic riff and Bono’s anti drug lyrics make this one of the more memorable tracks.
‘The Unforgettable Fire’ shows the influence that Brian Eno had on U2’s musical direction during the recording of this album. This song is actually dominated by the music rather than the lyrics, and on this track Bono sings falsetto for the first ever time recorded. This track was also released as a single and reached number 6 in the UK charts but failed to make the charts in the USA.
‘Promenade’ was one of the experimental tracks on the album, and very different from what had gone before. There is a quiet musical background while Bono delivers a monologue. The images he talks about are thought to be about the promenade at Bray, just south of Dublin where Bono and Ali first lived.
‘4th of July’ is a quiet instrumental track, with the bass of Adam Clayton to the fore. This was also the B-side of the single ‘Pride’.
‘Bad’ was probably one of the most well known tracks on the album and is a live favourite. This song was part of the U2 set that they played at Live Aid, which also helped to catapult the band to international stardom. The newspapers reviews after the event called the U2 and Queen sets the best 2 sets at the Wembley Stadium gig. It is often said that this is written about the people in Dublin who fall for that oh-so-bad thing…heroin.
‘Indian Summer Sky’ is dominated by the bass, which is to the fore and guides the rest of the instruments on the track.
Throughout ‘Elvis Presley And America’ Larry’s drums can be heard at the fore. This is a track with some fantastic acoustic guitar playing from The Edge. It is said this track is about Bono’s fixation with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
‘MLK’ one of the tracks influenced and dedicated to Martin Luther King. It is a quiet and very melodic track, which closes the album.