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Entertainment

As epic, powerful & reckless as ever

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil -
Does anybody still create grand rock music these days? I do not mean grandiose with empty extravagance like Aerosmith’s. I mean grand as in epic, powerful and even reckless because it is not commercial and might not sell. The newer bands certainly do not but U2 still does. The Irish group has dared to do more for music than any other band during the past 25 years. And along with the successes and failures that came with those efforts, U2 has also ventured to save the world from its mistakes with evangelical zeal.

Now, take a listen to what Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. have to offer in their latest album. The title alone is enough to scare the buyers away. It is How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Truth to tell, while it is a fact that nuclear annihilation remains imminent, the bomb as a cause ceased to be fashionable with the end of the Cold War. It is now save the environment, fight AIDS, etc. etc. So what is U2 doing with something that sounds instructional? Besides, the devices they are suggesting like compassion, religion and love are not practical.

Then there are the cuts. To the horror of disc jockeys, the average length of the songs is four minutes. The shortest, the first single Vertigo clocks in at 3:13 while City of Burning Lights is the longest at almost six minutes. The themes are also not what we usually get from rockers these days and you might not want to dig deeper into what U2 is singing about in Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own or Love and Peace or Else or Crumbs from Your Table.

If you think of rock music as regular entertainment then you had better stay away from U2. These guys decided to take on the task of saving the world many years ago. Check out the moving New Year’s Day or Sunday, Bloody Sunday and whatever the results, remember the disastrous Rattle and Hum, which bombed as a book, album and video, U2 will continue to do so.

Used as we are these days to the feel-good philosophy of the younger rockers, I have to admit U2 can at times be gimmicky and ponderous. I didn’t like those extra noises they inserted in the album and the dark themes they chose to explore can be somewhat uncomfortable.

On the other hand though, this is U2 and U2 is anything but ordinary. I came across a quote from Jeremy Roland the other day which I think best describes what these guys are trying to do with their songs. "Heroes are merely men who do extraordinary things during extraordinary times." U2 has chosen to be extraordinary and will agitate, rile, irritate and do whatever needs to be done if it will benefit the common good. That accepted, you can now revel in the music which is truly excellent.

And revel indeed is what U2 fans have been doing since How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb came out. The album is a hit and is expected to surpass the 11 million record of All that You Can’t Leave Behind four years ago.
The Anti-Idol Compilation
U2 also figures prominently in the new compilation album Anti-idol with its hit song Vertigo from the new album. So what is a band like U2, which in truth is the idol of so many people in the whole wide world, doing in a collection titled Anti-idol? Might as well ask the same thing of Keane with This is the Last Time, Hoobastank with The Reason, 3 Doors Down with Here Without You, Bjork with Oceania, Puddle of Mudd with Blurry, The Cure with The End of the World or Maroon 5 with This Love.

It turns out that Anti-idol is not really about pop idols but the music one hears in those Idol singing contests. You know, the yelling and belting and adlibbing kind that now passes for excellent singing. Anti-idol has none of those. If that is the case, then I am all for it. For somebody who will certainly turn the set off or move to another channel or will walk out if somebody sings another Mariah Carey song, Anti-idol with its straight pop tracks comes as a much-needed blessing.

ADAM CLAYTON AND LARRY MULLEN JR.

ATOMIC BOMB

BLOODY SUNDAY

CITY OF BURNING LIGHTS

COLD WAR

DOORS DOWN

END OF THE WORLD

HERE WITHOUT YOU

IDOL

JEREMY ROLAND

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