In celebration of U2’s headlining 2017’s Bonnaroo festival, BTRtoday presents a series on how our editor-in-chief learned to stop worrying and love U2. Read part one here. Want to see Bono and the boys at Bonnaroo? BTRtoday is giving away tickets. Click here for info.
U2 has a dizzying number of hits. But the big anthems and ballads with worldwide recognition only scratch the surface of their pacific-ocean deep catalog. Believe it or not, they have songs you are not yet sick of. Here are a baker’s dozen of the best.
1. Out of Control
This major key new wave banger U2 track is probably the second best song on U2’s debut album “Boy” (the first is “I Will Follow,” which is obviously great but too well known to qualify as a deep cut.) It’s maybe the catchiest guitar riff of their entire career—with a couple of minor changes, this lean and mean track could be a Strokes song.
One half of the good songs on U2’s lackluster solo effort “October,” Rejoice is an aggressive rocker weighed down by an unfortunate overtly religious title. It points towards the marshal energy of “War.”
This spare, drum-driven track blares out of stereo speakers. If it wasn’t on an album as accomplished as “War” and by a band with as many hits as U2, this wonder would’ve been their one hit.
U2 have never sounded as tense, contained and funky as they do on this “War” deep cut. Adam Clayton and The Edge hold a tight groove over Larry Mullen Jr.’s trashcan drums. Bono does some weird affected upper class accent over found sounds of soldiers in formation.
5. A Sort of Homecoming
The lead off track of U2’s first Brian Eno produced album wastes no time in showing off Eno’s presence. The urgency and directness of “War” is gone, replaced by contemplative, deconstructive echo. Bono’s vocals retain their passion and take on more power with the new framework.
6. Unforgettable Fire
The title track from their “Unforgettable Fire” album is pure ‘80s atmosphere in the verses. It could almost be a Miami Vice soundtrack cut for its cold scene setting, but then it bangs in with a stadium-sized U2 chorus.
7. Running to a Standstill
This is a low key remake of the “Unforgettable Fire” highlight “Bad,” only it nestles into a mournful lull instead of building into a release. “Bad” is one of U2’s all-time greats, so having a companion piece is more than welcome.
8. Satellite of Love
Bono and the boys tenderly strip the Lou Reed classic down to the bone. The band’s joy of playing their favorite song is palpable.
U2 stopped chasing classic rock ghosts for a couple minutes on the “Rattle and Hum” sessions and recorded a song that sounded like a U2 song. Bono and the Edge ring mournful notes over a steady rolling bassline and it sounds so unforced it’s easy to miss how perfect the combination is.
10. All I Want is You
The classic rock mess of “Rattle and Hum” closes out on a high note that would’ve fit in like a glove on “The Joshua Tree.”
This song seems like light irony. Then its deadly seriousness grips you and like Bono, you’re slowly slipping under and drifting from the shore, wondering if man made all of civilization out of a futile effort to hold onto something already lost.
12. The Wanderer
The bouncing Soviet bloc keyboards seem funny and Johnny Cash’s voice seems just like a joke contrast at first. Hidden textures emerge over the course of the song and it’s not funny at all. Just weird and beautiful.
13. Sleep Like a Baby
U2 get within striking distance of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams are Made of These” in the synth intro and keep up the near ‘80s vibe throughout, only building to bigger spaces than Reagan era music sought out.