12 Jan

Recurso: MUSIC GEEK BLOG, 102.1 the Edge


“Get On Your Boots” – A First Listen

Sunday, January 11, 2009

“Got it. 3pm?”

That was all, Paul, the record rep from Universal and fellow U2 fan, had to say.  A highly-encrypted, heavily watermarked digital copy of the first single from No Line on the Horizon had arrived in Canada.

For the last 20-plus years, a first listen to anything from a U2 album has always been surrounded by much ritual and security.  The first place I got to hear The Joshua Tree in 1987 was at the now defunct McLaughlin Planetarium in Toronto.

As the opening drone of “Where the Streets Have No Name Swelled,” the lights went down and the stars came out.  When the Edge’s guitar began to chime, the whole sky started to rotate.  It was a spectacular introduction to what would become a career-defining introduction.

Achtung Baby was a more low-key affair with a record company representative came in and played it for everyone—but not before we are treated to pizza and beer.  “The Fly” kind of confused us at first.

This was the same band that gave us The Joshua Tree?  What’s with all these new sounds?  It took a little while to get used to this version of U2, but now many (including me) believe that Achtung remains the band’s best record.

Zooropa arrived with no notice whatsoever.  It just…showed up on day in May 1993. Bands and labels could pull those kinds of surprises before the Internet.  Funny that I can’t remember the first single. I think it was “Numb,” but I’m not sure.

The unveiling of Pop was a much bigger deal with a satellite-delivered press conference from (of all places) a K-Mart in NYC. But all the hype couldn’t convince us that “Discotheque” was what all had been waiting for.

U2 fans hoped that there’d be something better on the album. There wasn’t. At least the PopMart tour was interesting.

Just after Labour Day 2000, Paul brought in “Beautiful Day” from All That You Can’t Leave Behind on a CD-R, something that was still kind of new.  I remember being relieved that U2 had decided to sound like U2 again.

I didn’t like “Vertigo” the first time I heard it. It was late August 2004 and Paul brought the CD-R to an industry golf tournament. He made me wait all eighteen holes before we sat in my car and listened to the song four times in a row.

It took another month before I began to get it. It’s now one of my three all-time U2 favourites (for the record, the other two are “Zoo Station” from Achtung Baby and the live version of “Bad” from Wide Awake in America. The long version of “All I Want Is You” and “40” aren’t bad, either.)

Now it was time to hear where the band was going in Year 33 (!!!) of their career.

Paul showed up in the office holding an unassuming, unlabeled CD-R at 3:01. By 3:04, we had all heard the first sample of U2 v2009.

I only got to hear “Get On Your Boots” (NOT “Sexy Boots” or “Get Your Boots On,” as reported earlier) so forgive the lack of detail. But here’s what I can tell you:

There are some new sounds that could only come from an Eno/Lanois production, which left me with a feeling similar to what I experienced when I heard “The Fly” for the first time.

This is NOT a back-to-basics guitar/bass/drums track like “Vertigo” or even “Beautiful Day.” There’s some definite sonic evolution going on here.

It does rock. To find the last time a first single was a ballad, you have to go all the way back to “With Or Without You.”  That worked out all right, but I can’t imagine U2 doing that again in the prevailing musical environment.

Bono manages to rhyme “submarine” with “gasoline” and says something about “don’t talk to me about the state of nations.”

There’s a portion of the melody that somehow reminds me of the cadence of the verses in Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up,” but as I write this, I’m not completely sure. Still, part of the song reminded me of…something else.

Did I like it?  I didn’t hate it—but I need to hear it more before I really make up my mind about what I think about….anything to do with the song.

Like so many U2 songs—especially ones produced by an Eno/Lanois/Lilywhite nexus—it’s filled with far more subtleties and complexities that anyone can hear with one listen. I need to examine it, ponder upon it and otherwise live with it.

But that’s the cool thing about U2. There’s just so much THERE there that it can take a while to sort through it all. Suffice it to say, however, that if you’re a U2 fan, you’ll be pleased.

If the song isn’t on the radio by the end of this week, I’ll be shocked.  I first heard bits of “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” from a broadcast on a Croatian radio station. There was a leak at the record pressing plant and somehow this dude got himself a big scoop.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you why that was a dumb, dumb move.

Bono in the NY Times

(Apologies to those who might get Bob Leftsez’s newsletter. He wrote something very similar to what you’re about to read—and, in all fairness, he wrote it first.)

Bono made his debut as an occasional columnist yesterday.

It was a little, erm, stream of consciousness (I’m not sure I understood his entire point, other that he was in thrall to Frank Sinatra.  But then again, wouldn’t you be?) and the reviews by other non-Times writers have been less than kind.

Check it out for yourself.